Monday, June 25, 2012

Biblical Instructions for Discipline: How Should a Christian Parent?

The debate over Proverbs and spanking often seems to overshadow our view of what the Bible really teaches parents.  I do believe that it is important for believers to examine those passages carefully.  What often gets lost in the focus on spanking though is that the Bible has a great deal to teach parents in other passages, too.  One of the principles of gentle discipline is that instead of just telling our children what not to do, that we give clear, positive direction of what they should do instead.  I believe God does that with His Word.  Let's examine some other verses that apply to parental relationships!
3.17.08 Prayers
Image credit: robtxgal on Flickr

* "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."~ Deut. 6:4-7 (We as parents must hold God's Word in our hearts and then impart it to our children by spending time with them and taking advantage of every opportunity to share our hearts and teach them.  Discipline is about teaching and making disciples, not punishing them afterwards for our failure to teach!)

* "Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught doing something wrong, you who are spiritual should restore someone like this with a spirit of gentleness. Watch out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted too." ~ Galatians 6:1 CEB  (The goal is restoring relationship, and that requires gentleness and humility.)

* “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"  ~  Matthew 25:40  (Note: In Spanish, it says "the smallest" of these.  What an incredibly powerful thought--how I treat my little ones is a reflection of how I would treat my God.)

* "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment." ~ I John 4:18  (Letting go of fear, letting go of punishment, embracing love).

* "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." ~ II Corinthians 1:2-4  (Whether it is my baby crying in the night, or my toddler having a meltdown, or my older child distressed over a "little thing", my response should be to validate and comfort. )

* "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."  Matthew 7:12  (Would I want it done to me?  No?  Then I shouldn't do it to my children.  What do I want?  Respect?  Gratitude?  Thoughtfulness?  Am I demonstrating those qualities in the way I act toward them?)

* "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.   Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  ... Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. " ~ Colossians 3:12-15, 21  (Compassion, forgiveness, peace, gratitude.  Nothing that will provoke them or cause bitterness or discouragement.)

* "Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: "Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It's not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant."  ~ Luke 22:24-26 (The Message)  (My authority as a parent is not a justification for controlling my children; it is the power to care for them.)

* "And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them." ~ Mark 10:13-16 (Jesus showed physical affection to children.  He took them in His arms.  When He laid hands on them, it was an act of blessing, not punishment.  The children didn't flinch when Jesus raised His hands toward them.) 

* "See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. " ~ Matthew 18:10 (To despise means to see as of little value.  It is easy to want to depreciate the feelings of children, to consider their thoughts or emotions as less important than those of other adults.  Consider how your would treat an honored friend in the same situation, and how that could affect your response to your child.)

* "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:17-21 (Rather than looking for ways to get back at our children or "make them sorry" for their mistakes, we are to treat them kindly--they aren't even our enemies!--and meet their needs instead.)

There are many passages throughout Scripture that model for parents how we are to treat our children.  I believe that all Scripture is valuable, and when we look at the Bible as a whole, it becomes clear that God's purpose is always to bring about healing, restoration and connection with Him.  I wanted to focus on some passages that I feel are often overlooked by believers, but I also believe that there is tremendous wisdom in the Proverbs verses, the Beatitudes, the 10 commandments and Hebrews, as well. 

When I read over these verses, I see the consistency in the grace that God has lavished on me being poured out on my children, as well.  I breathe in the peace, patience, kindness, love and even joy that is the fruit of the Spirit, and realize that Biblical discipline starts in my own life and in the way I teach my children, and grows in our relationship.  It isn't something I do *to* my children--it is a part of who we are as we follow Christ.

Please join us all week, June 25-June30, 2012, as we explore the world of gentle, effective parenting. We have new posts each day by talented authors providing us with insight into why gentle parenting is worth your time and how to implement it on a daily basis.

We are also giving away several parenting book and other goodies from our sponsors this week. Please stop by and enter to win!

This year's beautiful motherhood artwork is by Patchwork Family Art. Visit the store to see all her work.


Paige @ Parenting Gently said...

Wonderful Dulce! I love how both of our posts have different verses about this! Just goes to show the bible has much more to tell us about parenting than the "rod" verse!

Bess said...

Thank you so much for the resources and links. As two individuals raised in punitive households, my husband and I find each day in the gentle parenting world difficult. We are committed to it and grow in understanding each day but it is not an easy process. It looks like I have a lot of reading to do.

Kalynn said...

Wow, just wow. I really needed this! I have been following gentle parenting but I love seeing bible versus to match it. I'm thinking about printing this out to put on my wall so that I can be inspired and encouraged when I feel drained. Thank you!