Monday, April 05, 2004

Parenting style...

What are our responsibilities, as Christian parents, with regards to our methodology in disciplining our children? Does our style of discipline actually affect the way our children eventually respond to the Holy Spirit? I've heard comments from people who state that, while growing up, the disciplinary actions of their harsh and restrictive parents actually drove them away from Christianity. Personally I think there's a hint of "victim" mentality in that analysis. To be sure, one's parents can and do have an influence on one's spiritual life, but doesn't the ultimate decision on whether one faces up to God rest with that person, and that person only? I choose Christianity because it is true... That there may be someone close to me who claims to be a Christian, while also living a hypocritical lifestyle, is beside the point. Yes, all things being equal, it certainly will make for an easier life to not have to deal with the issues involved when one encounters contradictory influences, but that should not change one's reason for belief. Consdier the mutual aspect of the following:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment accompanied by a promise, namely, “that it may go well with you and that you will live a long time on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. - Ephesians 6:1-4 (NET)
The quote in the quote is from the Decalogue, and is also known as the fifth commandment:
Honor your father and your mother just as the Lord your God has commanded you to do, so that your days may be extended and that it may go well with you in the land that he is about to give you. - Deuteronomy 5:16 (NET)
Let's correlate what Jesus said when asked which was the greatest commandment:
Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. - Matthew 22:37-38
The Decalogue has been grouped into two portions or, tablets. The First Tablet contains commandments one through five. These commandments deal with God and who He is, His qualities, what is due Him, etc. Theologians combine the fifth commandment, to honor your father and mother, into the First Tablet because God has appointed the father and mother in the same type of role that He occupies for us. If this is the case, then the fifth commandment is summarized within the first of the two commandments that Jesus declares the entire Law to consist of. Seen in this light it then appears that the onus is upon children to honor their parents. Do we, in the Evangelical community, reflect this priority in our approach to rearing children? Or do we gravitate towards catering to our children's desires so as not to offend them? Ah, but there is a flip-side to the equation isn't there? Rules in and of themselves do not complete the equation. Note that the passage from Ephesians cautions the parent not to drive their children to anger. Ultimately we are tasked, I believe, with providing our children with sincerity not only in our belief, but in our actions as well. The usual result from this approach is a well structured family environment in which the seeds of resentment are not sown. This is nothing more than an approach of wisdom, as modeled especially in the proverbs. Our primary responsibility as parents, therefore, is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind."

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