Summary: A sermon on child abuse
1. The command for children to obey their parents doesn’t give parents the right to be rigid & harsh with their children. Children should be treated with love. They are not yet adults & shouldn’t be expected to have that level of maturity. They should however, be expected to obey. All of us at one time or another have observed a child who wasn’t made to mind & watched as the parents obeyed the child rather than the other way around. That is out of balance & reminds me of the statement about the "tail wagging the dog." Children need discipline, but it should be given with love.
2. The Greek word used for Fathers here refers to both parents, although Paul’s words seem to stress the discipline administered by fathers. Parents are not to make their children bitter by treating them as a nuisance.
The command for children to obey does not give parents license for harsh treatment. Children must be handled with care.
3. When children are treated as a "problem," it destroys their self-esteem and ultimately does great damage to their hearts. Belittling children has no place in the parenting of the Christian mom & dad.
The purpose of parental discipline is to help children grow, not to exasperate and provoke them to anger or discouragement.
4. I like the point the Life Application Bible Commentary makes about this passage. It says, "Parenting isn’t easy— it takes lots of patience to raise children in a loving, Christ-honoring manner. But frustration & anger shouldn’t be causes for discipline... Parents should act in love, treating their children as Jesus treats the people he loves. This is vital to children’s development & to their understanding of what Christ is like." 12
The purpose of parental discipline is to help children grow, not to exasperate and provoke them to anger or discouragement. 12
5. Parents can take the heart out of their children by failing to discipline them lovingly and instruct them in the ways of the Lord. However, they can take the heart out of their children even more quickly by being harsh & inflexible. When parents are too harsh their children lose heart. This isn’t what God intends for us as parents. Our children need to know that although we don’t approve of everything they do, we do approve of who they are and what they are. We love them just because they are our children. Nothing more is required for us to love them.
1. I want to conclude with some reflections that I think are healthy for us as a church. In recent years the Catholic Church has received an incredible amount of bad publicity because some of their leaders have been more concerned about protecting the image of the church, than in protecting the children of the church. When they have done that they were wrong.
2. More recently the way the Jehovah’s Witnesses have covered up repeated examples of abuse has come to light in the media.
3. How should a church handle an allegation of child abuse leveled against one of her members? That’s a legitimate question & one that must be considered. Earlier I mentioned Charles Swindol as a leader that I respect. When he pastored the First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, California a leader in the church was accused of abuse. When it became clear that the leader was guilty the church didn’t try to cover things up, they cooperated fully with authorities.