God’s Command to All Parents

In the Bible, parents are given a special responsibility: they are to bring up their children in the nurture and discipline of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).  As their Creator, God claims the children, who bear his image and name: all life is a gift….

The Lord claims the children not only as their Creator, but as their Redeemer.  Since we and our children are alike sinners, God could claim us all in judgment….

This special claim of God upon the children in his family underlies his charge for their nurture, a charge pointedly made to parents in both the Old and New Testaments.  Bringing up children in the nurture of the Lord means acknowledging that they belong to him, and that he is bringing them up….

Our total dependence on God’s grace in this nurturing task does not eliminate accountability.  Judgment awaits those who cause one of his little ones to fall into sin (Matthew 18:6).

To accomplish their task, parents are given authority over their children.  Paul commands nurturing, but warns fathers not to abuse their authority so as to provoke resentment (Eph. 4:6).  Parental authority does not mean that children belong to their parents.  Neither in the womb nor out of it do parents have the right to dispose of their children as they wish; children are not exploitable property.  Yet parents must exercise responsible authority, and the Lord commands children to obey their parents in him.  Even Jesus was subject to his parents (Lk. 2:51).  As his example shows, however, obedience to the heavenly Father comes first.

The famous Shema in Deuteronomy shows how household nurture was to be conducted:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:6-9)

Such nurturing goes far beyond formal instruction.  The passage describes a life saturated with the Word of the Lord.  Late and early, at home and on the road, God’s law is a subject of conversation; it governs all thought and action.  In vastly different setting of contemporary life, how can parents (you) provide such nurture?

Edmund P. Clowney (1917-2005), The Church, 149-51.

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Filed under Applied Theology, Bible, Christian Education, Christian Living, Christian Thinking, God, Theology, Will of God, Worldview

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