Try to put the following child parent conversation in Biblical context:
A man was overheard talking on his cell phone: â€œI know it's something
you want," he said earnestly, "But I don't think tattoos are a good
idea. And the same goes for body piercing. As long as you're living in
my house, I think you should respect my wishes."
"Besides, Mom, you're 75 years old! You don't need a tattoo!"
We all expected obedience between a father and his child didnâ€™t we?
But perhaps youâ€™re not exactly certain what to do with a child giving
orders to his mother. Today we take a look at the relationship of
children to their parents. The bulk perhaps is focused on children
growing up still in their parentâ€™s house. But there are applications
to adult children relating to their parents.
1 Children to Parents (Exodus 20:12)
Let me give you three key words to Biblically describe the relationship
between children and their parents. There may be some overlap between
them, but they are used with fair regularity in varied Spots.
The first aspect of the child parent relationship is Children your
first order of business when it comes to your relationship to your
parents is to Obeyâ€¦
The Key passage Iâ€™d like to point to is
(Ephesians 6:1-3) "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is
right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment
with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live
long on the earth. " (NASB95)
Itâ€™s actually repeated in brief form in Colossians 3:20
(Colossians 3:20) "Children, be obedient to your parents in all things,
for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.â€ (NASB95)
Obedience has its limits of course, if a child is commanded to do
something wrong, than obedience to God takes the precedent. Ezekiel
20:18 gives this mandate for children to avoid the sins of their
â€œI said to their children in the wilderness, â€˜Do not walk in the
statutes of your fathers or keep their ordinances or defile yourselves
with their idols.â€ (NASB95)
The majority of parenting however is bent towards that which is good
and worthy. For this reason Solomon started teaching his Son Rehoboam
with these words from Proverbs 1:8-9)
â€œHear, my son, your fatherâ€™s instruction And do not forsake your
motherâ€™s teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head
And ornaments about your neck.â€ (NASB95)
The burden, parents, is on us to do more than passively wait for our
children to learn from someone else what is good – but instead to be
teaching our children and training them in righteousness. Bringing them
up in the Nurture and Instruction of God.
Earliest then for children is the requirement to obey their parents. A
faithful kid, one who claims to love God will obey their parents
because God has entrusted those parents with the charge of training you
But obedience for obedience sake eventually has to give way to
something betterâ€¦. Submission.
As elsewhere in the scriptures, Submission is an act of
the will. Itâ€™s something that you have to decide to do. Early on
itâ€™s â€œeasierâ€ for a child to live in obedience, but as time
progresses and you begin to gain your own mind; obedience has to turn
on the willful act of submission.
Nowhere is this exemplified better than in the life of Jesus. When he
turned 12 years old, his parents took him to the temple – without them
knowing he remained behind. When Mary and Joseph noticed he was gone,
they went back and found him still in Jerusalem teaching the teachers.
After that we read in Luke 2:51 â€œAnd He went down with them and came
to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother
treasured all these things in her heart.â€ (NASB95)
The word â€œSubjectionâ€ there is the same word used elsewhere for
submission. Culturally there are huge clashes between parents and
teenagers as you begin to find your own voice – but in terms of being a
â€œFaithfulâ€ child, finding your voice should take place with an
attitude of submission.
One of those key areas where submission is needed early on is in the
area of discipline.
Submit to Discipline.
(Proverbs 29:17) "Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He
will also delight your soul.â€ (NASB95) The assumption there is that
discipline is not merely received but also learned from.
The goal of discipline early on is ultimately so that discipline will
no longer be needed. This is what the writer of Hebrews alludes to in
â€œAll discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful;
yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the
peaceful fruit of righteousness.â€
Kids, especially as you grow older you have a choice to make in your
heart. You can either become bitter and angry over discipline – or you
can choose to learn from it. The book of proverbs makes very clear
distinctions between those who are wise and those who are fools. Chief
among the differences is the response to a â€œrebukeâ€ or discipline.
A fool despises discipline and someone who is wise accepts it and
learns from it.
So whatâ€™s it going to be? You have the choice to make – I trust that
you will choose to bend your own desires to wisdom and accept not only
discipline but the instruction and guidance of your parents. Of course
you wonâ€™t enjoy it at the time, but if you will allow yourself to be
trained by it, you will be wise indeed.
Ultimately something greater than mere obedience is needed. And
submission – to a certain degree- has its limits. Both are rules. It is
a rule to obey, a rule guided by a principle. It is a rule to submit,
and that rule is guided by the same principle. The principle is
overarching, and it doesnâ€™t change – in fact all that changes is the
application of that rule.
When very young a child must obey. As you grow, obedience should turn
from blind ascent to willful submission. And through it all the one
principle remains. In fact the principle remains through childhood into
the teenage years and should by all rights stay put through the years
of adulthood. That principle is nothing less than honor.
The core text in the bible for the faithful
functioning of children towards their parents is Exodus 20:12. Right
square in the middle of the Ten Commandments, the fifth commandment is
this one which forms a bridge between the first four – bent on the Lord
and the last five which are bent towards human relationships.
(Exodus 20:12) â€œHonor your father and your mother, that your days may
be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.â€ (NASB95)
To honor your parents is a never ending task. It means giving them
â€œâ€¦the proper weight of authority that they deserve…â€ Value them
highly, care for them and respect them.
What that looks like, will vary at different stages of life. Honoring
your parents as a child might include not rolling your eyes at them
when they say something you may not agree with. Or it might mean that
your behavior when away from them is flavored by their wishes even if
theyâ€™ll never find out.
As you grow, honoring your parents takes on different facets. For
instance Respecting their advice, and even seeking it. For instance
when Theresa and I have had either of our parents over, we have
insisted that they get our bed, while we take the couch. It may seem
small and silly, but it was a conscious effort to honor our father and
And in the later stages of life, honoring your mother and father should
take on a role reversal where the children become the caretaker in
payment for their parentâ€™s long years of sacrifice.
Thatâ€™s the principle of 1 Timothy 5:4.
(1 Timothy 5:4) â€œbut if any widow has children or grandchildren, they
must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to
make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight
of God.â€ (NASB95)
Leviticus 19:32 also teaches that honoring your parents, or your elders
in general is actually showing reverence toward God.
(Leviticus 19:32) â€œYou shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor
the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.â€ (NASB95).
Whatever your age, the principle of honor remains behind the way you
should treat your parents. With Obedience, Submission and intentional
choices to honor and even take care of your parents. That is
faithfulness, and that is what God has called all of us to as children.