Summary: Helps to Train Children
The Bible, God’s inspired and authoritative Word, has a great deal to say about parenting, the home, and children. For a sampling, compare the following:
(1) Psalm 128:1-4 teaches us that children are gifts and rewards from the sovereign hand of God; they are blessings and trusts from God. But Psalm 127:3 5 warns that for this to be a reality, parents must allow the Lord to build the house (the home) which includes the training of our children.
(2) Proverbs tells us to train up our children in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). This means getting children to go in the right direction.
(3) The Bible also teaches that parents are to bring up their children (nourish them) in the discipline (training) and instruction (admonition) of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). God trains children in His ways through the parents.
(4) Fathers, therefore, are to have their children under control with all dignity (1 Tim. 3:4). Why? Because children are born without controls.
God gives this authority to parents, but parents are ultimately accountable to God in both the responsibility for discipline and for the manner and method of discipline. This fact is evident from what we learn in Ephesians 6:4.
Ephesians 6:4 has two words which describe the responsibilities and the methods that are important in the nurture of children. “Discipline” (NASB) or “training” (NIV) is the Greek paideia from pais, “child.” According to the use of this word there are two ideas in biblical discipline: (a) instruction or education and (b) correction or discipline as with the rod or some form of corrective control. This is particularly applicable to the smaller child. “Instruction” is the Greek nouqesia from nous, “mind” and tiqhmi, “to put, place.” According to the use of this word, it involves the ideas of reasoning, counsel, warning, and gentle or friendly reproof.
The Principle of Authority
The Right of Authority
As the sovereign Creator of the universe and the One who has established the divine institution of marriage and the home, God has placed children under the authority of their parents. This is more than evident in Scripture by the fact that over and over God addresses parents and gives them the responsibility for the training of their children, not the state (cf. Deut. 6:7-9; Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20). Parental authority, then, is a delegated authority which means parents are not free to do with their children as they please. Ultimately, the authority we exercise as parents is God’s authority. Children are stewardships from God, blessings He has given to parents to manage for Him. In our goal to teach them to obey as an obedience to God, it means parenting is designed by God to bring about a changing of parents (Eph. 6:1f).
As parents, then, we are to be in a subordinate relationship to God; we are to exercise only the authority God has given us and do so in accordance with His standards. We are never to arbitrarily establish what is right and wrong by our opinions or those of society unless those standards are based on God’s Word. The parent’s job is to declare what God’s Word says is right and wrong and then seek to promote that in their own lives and in their children’s lives. When this is not the case, the parents are acting in rebellion themselves and ruining, by negative example, the stewardship God has entrust¬ed to their care. This naturally leads to our next point.
The Meaning of Authority
Authority means the delegated right to rule or lead. It means the power to act, decide, command, and judge; it is the right to set policy and this means the responsibility to bring about controls in our children’s lives within the limits of the authority given by God. God has absolute and complete authority and the right of complete control because of who He is as the sovereign Creator (Ps. 47:2; 103:19; 115:3; Dan. 4:34b; Rom. 9:20b-21). There is an important lesson here. Even God’s authority and control is never arbitrary because it is based on His perfect righteousness and goodness; it is always for the good and blessing of people. For instance, the commandments of God’s Word are not designed to take away our fun and make life miserable. Rather, they are designed to bring safeguards that enhance our capacity for blessing. This is so because of the very character of God who is perfect holiness. This includes God’s perfect righteousness and justice. Inherent in all of this is God’s goodness as our loving Benefactor.
The Principle of Control
The Problem of Rebellion
Why do parents need controls? Controls are needed because of the immaturity and foolishness of children, but also because of the natural tendency for rebellion. Because of the fall and man’s sinful condition, rebellion is inherent in all of us. In fact, the words rebel, rebellion, rebellious, etc. occur 170 times in the NIV, 131 in the NASB, and a 143 in the NRSV translations. Before we look at a few princi¬ples regarding rebellion, control, and au¬thority, let’s note a few verses on this issue: