“Sally is such a precocious child, she has such a creative and strong will. We found ourselves fighting with her all the time so we just decided not to make her obey. We let her choose what to do and it makes our family life so much more pleasant.”
-Missionary couple at Seminar
We as parents must realize that although the way we raise our children does not guarantee how they will turn out, it does guarantee that they will have the proper tools. The goal is not that our children “turn out right” but rather that we as parents “turn out right”: if we turn out right, that greatly increases the opportunity for our children to do so! However, nothing will guarantee that, upon reaching adulthood, our children will choose God over self.
To discipline our children, to train them, gives them options. They may or may not use these options wisely in later life, but they have them nevertheless. In contrast, the undisciplined child has no options. He has only his nature, which is moving down a very slippery slope. Apart from an intervention by God he is doomed for destruction. But – this is not God’s first choice.
God’s first choice is intervention by the parent on behalf of the child. Without this parental intervention, the child is left to his fallen nature. The bible is clear on the results of the fallen nature of the child (the fact that all children are born sinful and in need of the salvation of Christ) when accompanied with the lack of parental discipline:
1. FOOLISHNESS: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15)
The Word of God says that within a child lies foolishness: children are born this way and are, if left to their own devices, doomed to stay this way – it is their natural bent. This results in foolish children, foolish teenagers, and foolish adults, all doing foolish things to their own hurt and sorrow.
We live in an age when things are turned upside down: unborn babies are not babies, they are fetuses; homosexuality is not a sin, it is a life style; the way to prevent teen pregnancies is to teach teens to have sex; the list goes on and on. One of these upside down myths which is moving within our culture is the “from the mouth of babes” myth:. in the lives of children there can be found a purity and wisdom that parents have lost because of the extended time they have spent in the world. Not so – nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible clearly teaches that children are born:
Despite these two overwhelming truths we see a growing “child wisdom” movement in our society. This takes the form of peer mediation in our schools, it takes the form of a lack of confidence in our parenting, it takes the form of parents wanting to discuss and reason with a child concerning issues of obedience, it takes the form of the children rights movement. Do not be deceived – your child was born sinful, and with that sin came foolishness. Your child rebels against you, resists what is right and spoils many things which are for his benefit and fun, not because he is bad but because he is a sinful and foolish child. If you begin to believe the problem is yours, that your child is not sinful and foolish then you will never be able to solve this problem for him.
Remember, the Word of God says that within a child lies foolishness, children are born this way and are in and of themselves, if left to their own devices, doomed to stay this way – it is their natural bent. Foolish children, foolish teenagers, foolish adults, doing foolish things to their own hurt and sorrow.
2. DEATH: “Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.” Proverbs 19:18
For example: Sexually active children between the ages of 12 and 17 are the fastest growing group of HIV positive individuals
The ultimate price of this foolishness in moral and spiritual decisions will be death. The stakes here are not philosophical, they are not matters of simple lifestyle emphasis, they are death.
In 1970, my senior year of High School, the worst consequence of being sexually active was pregnancy; today this consequence is quite favorable compared to the worst consequence today: death. The worst consequence of substance abuse then was a severe hangover, today that is favorable compared to the worst consequence today: death. Parents have abandoned their children to foolishness, and as a result our children are becoming permanently ill, disfigured, emotionally scarred or dead at alarming rates.
3. HELL: “You shall beat him with the rod, And deliver his soul from Sheol.” (Proverbs 23:14)
Since children left to their natural bent will constantly choose wrong they are in great peril for both their moral and spiritual well being. Left to themselves they are doomed, both to physical and spiritual destruction.
4. GOD: God can and does intervene and it is His will to do so at an early age through the obedient parent. He is not limited to this but this is His first choice. It is the obedient parent in action, then that is the safeguard of the children. The parent, in obedience preserving the children and the family through submission to the Word of God.
The results of a lack of discipline affect the entire family, not just the child:
The MOTHER: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15)
The FATHER: “A foolish son is a grief to his father, And bitterness to her who bore him.” (Proverbs 17:25)
The BROTHERS AND SISTERS: “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.” (Hebrews 12:15 – 16)
“Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (I Corinthians 15:33)
The FATHER’S TESTIMONY AND ELIGIBILITY FOR CHURCH LEADERSHIP: “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)” (I Timothy 3:2,4,5)
“Let deacons be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.” (I Timothy 3:12)
The moral? Proverbs 19:18 “Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.” While the child is young we must go to work to protect him from the fate of death. If we fail they are in great peril both morally and spiritually.
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