Parenting and Faith

Posted on · Posted in Parenting

Biblical parenting is first of all an exercise in biblical faith. This fact makes biblical parenting different from every other parenting methodology. A journey of faith cannot always be accurately measured by visible markers. Other forms of parenting are measured by evaluating immediate responses–if behavior doesn’t change quickly, then the methods must not be correct. Thankfully, God calls us to trust him in faith. In biblical parenting, the primary objective is not to make the child happy, but to bring him to the cross of Christ. This, of course, will result in happiness for your child. But this happiness cannot be the primary goal.

Deuteronomy commands that children be taught about the things of God at all times during the day, not just when discipline needs to be administered. Parents are to bring the wonder of God to every corner of everyday life. Ephesians picks up on this perspective and adds the dimension of children obeying “in the Lord” in verse 1 of chapter 6. This teaches us that parental instruction begins with the commands of God, not with the behavior of children. Let me say that again:

Parental instruction begins with the commands of God, not with the behavior of children. 

Thus, biblical parenting is proactive, not reactive. Biblical parenting assumes that there are absolutes that must be taught to children. Practically, this tells us that children must be disciplined to conform to God’s direction. The child is ultimately accountable to God. It follows that children do not have the option of deciding that they won’t or can’t obey.

If God commands that children should prefer others before themselves, that command becomes the standard for their conduct. The parent is also directly accountable to God. If God has commanded that parents train their children according to his law, then that is what the parent must do. Just as the child does not have the option to disobey God, neither does the parent. Ephesians 6:4 directs that children must be brought up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Stability in parenting comes from asking this question, what is it that God has commanded? If there is disobedience to the direction of God, discipline is not only appropriate, it is required.

Thus discipline and instruction are acts of faith.  Raising your child in the instruction and discipline of the Lord means putting your life and the life of your child in his hands. This is often a scary place to be. But even so, there is no better thing than to put your faith in the one person in your life who is completely trustworthy.

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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.