Parental authority is a good thing

Posted on · Posted in Authority

If we conducted an opinion poll of children raised in Christian homes not many would list parental authority as a blessing. This is a sad reality. Authority is a gift of God to his people and especially to families. Authority is often abused on the one hand or grossly neglected on the other. However, it is important not to frame your view of biblical authority based on abuses.

Parental authority is a daily object lesson that all of creation is under the authority and rule of the Lord of the Universe. However, viewing authority as a gift requires an attitude adjustment for many.  Authority is said to curtail imagination, stunt creativity, restrict freedom, and diminish individual worth. This misconceptions have filtered down to families.

In contrast let’s see how the Bible speaks about authority. The first thing to remember about parental authority is that it is derived and not earned. Parents are not necessarily better people than their children.  Thus, respect for authority is not directly tied to the person in authority, but to the Person who established that authority.

Secondly, human authority reminds us that all of creation is subject to the rule of God. We all live and die at God’s will and pleasure. This is not a popular notion in our culture, but it is true.

Thirdly, parental authority is established by God for the benefit of your children. In 2 Corinthians 13:10 Paul says that God has given authority to build up and not to tear down. Building up is a primary benefit of authority. Too often parents think of authority merely as a tool for controlling children.

To faithfully implement authority biblically, much thought, consideration, and prayer must be given. Building up is done with pleasant words. Words that are crafted to build up according to the needs of the hearer are indeed pleasant words. These are the true words of authority.

Situations are different in each family. But the need for kind, constructive, building authority is the same in all families. Biblical authority must be done with humility or it becomes something ugly and tyrannically self-serving. Authority is about building up, it is about leading your children to cross of Christ.

Shepherding a Child's Heart

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.