Obedience, or Idolatry?

Our only direct instruction as parents regarding what our job is, other than the many references that we are to discipline our children, are found in these two verses:

  • These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
    Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and
    when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
    Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
    Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates
    . Deuteronomy 6:5-9
  • Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the
    nurture and admonition of the Lord.
    Ephesians 6:4

There is nothing about punishment in these verses. Actually, the second verse talks about not provoking our children to anger and many spankers will openly admit that spankings provoke some, if not all, children to anger. Yet spanking has remained the preferred method of ‘discipline’ within Christian circles. Even if spankings are questioned or abandoned many parents still feel the necessity to punish.


These verses speak of teaching God’s ways. What are we to teach as we walk along the road, sit and lie down, and rise up? ‘THESE COMMANDMENTS I GIVE YOU THIS DAY.’ We are to teach what pleases God! We are to teach the way of life that God has laid down in the Bible for us to live. And one very key element of God’s Law is that children are not held to its standard! The time of childhood (which the Rabbis understand is not completed until the child is 21) is the time for teaching God’s Law. Adulthood is the time for being held to its standard. And another key element of God’s Law is that when a sacrifice was required for a violation of the Law, it was the sacrifice of an innocent animal. Our sins have always been atoned for through the sacrifice of an innocent. This was prophetic of Jesus who would be the perfect and final sacrifice.

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