THE BIBLE AND CHILD REARING (By: Mike Sherman)

Shortly after the creation, God instructed Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and increase in number.” Unlike most divine commands, this one was obeyed and the world quickly filled with people. In Old Testament times a large family was considered a source of special blessing from God and childlessness was regarded with reproach. In our modern era of over population, many people have chosen to limit the size of their families, but children are still very important. Jesus showed them special attention and he lauded their simplicity and trust. Luke 18:15-17 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. (16) But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (17) Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Biblical teaching on children and parental guidance can be divided into two categories: comments about children and comments about parents about parents and parenting.
1. Children. In the Bible, children are seen as gifts from God that can bring both joy and sorrow. Young people are to be loved, honored, and respected as persons; they are important in God’s kingdom and they are not to be harmed. Children are also given responsibilities: to honor and respect parents, care for them, listen to them and be obedient. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right,” we read in Eph. 6:1-3 “Honor your father and mother…that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Elsewhere in his writings, Paul strongly criticizes childhood disobedience, but it seems unlikely that children are expected to obey forever. If parents require compliance with unbiblical it should be remembered that God’s laws always take higher priority than human instruction. It would see, further, that adults who leave their parents and cleave to a spouse have moved to establish new families, but these families are never freed from the responsibility of honoring older parents.
2. Parents. Mothers and fathers have a responsibility to model mature Christian behavior, to love their children, to care for their needs, to teach the young, and to discipline fairly. “Do not exasperate your children,” we read in Eph. 6:4, “instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
We exasperate children when we abuse them physically, abuse them psychologically (by humiliating them and failing to treat them with respect), neglect them, don’t try to understand them, expect too much from them, withhold love unless they perform, force them to accept our goals or ideas, and refuse to admit our mistakes. In contrast, we “bring them up” by being examples to our children and by giving instruction and encouragement. All of this is more easily discussed than accomplished. Children, like parents, have different personalities and the biblical directives for child rearing are not as specific as many people might like. In the Old Testament, however, there is one section that puts all the principles together and summarizes the biblical teachings about child rearing. Although this was written for the Israelites prior to their entrance into the promised land, these paragraphs have great practical relevance for modern child rearing and parental guidance. Deuteronomy 6:1-7 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, (2) so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. (3) Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. (4) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (5) Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (6) These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (7) Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
So, Christian parenting involves Listening, Obeying, Loving and Teaching. May God help us as we strive to be the Christian parents we’re challenged to be. Of course Christian parenting can’t be completely described or summarized in a short bulletin article but it can help us renew or commitment and focus on being the Godly parents God can enable us to be.
By: Mike Sherman – (Adapted from the book “Christian Counseling” Ch.11-Child Rearing and Parental Guidance)

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