One of the fundamental ingredients in successfully parenting your children is that you would discipline them. This has been a hot button topic for many years with all sorts of opinions. However, this subject is not treated lightly in the Bible, but with great clarity. God doesn’t have opinions on it, but commands parents to discipline their children. It is not optional if you would influence your children.
One area that greatly affects the way you parent is your belief on the depravity of the human race. For example, do you believe that people are inherently good or evil? Your answer will determine your paradigm on many topics in life, especially the way you parent and discipline (or fail to discipline) your children.
Here is the Bible teaching in a nutshell – children are born with a rebellious nature, not a good nature. There is no question about this in God’s Word.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
Actually, our natures are corrupt from conception! This is difficult to comprehend, but also taught in the Scriptures.
“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5) I (and you) had a nature prone to sin from the moment we were created in the womb.
This is why putting a child in a good environment will not prevent them from doing wrong. This is commonly believed today, but it is just wrong. Our first parents (Adam and Eve) were placed in a perfect environment and still sinned. The problem was not in their surroundings, but in them!
Consider what our children will do in a sinful environment with a heart that is already predisposed to do wrong. No environment can neutralize that active pursuit toward evil. We have seven children and not a single one of them had to be taught to do wrong, we had to teach them to do right. All children are the same way. Doing wrong comes natural to a sinner.
If you do not accept this premise then you will not practice discipline, but rather focus on the self-esteem of your child and blame his surroundings for his sin. This is why so many blame other people for their child’s failures. It is all rooted in their rejection of the depravity of the human heart.
Comments from parents that reject the inclination of the heart to sin include, “My son is a good boy, he would never do that”…“My daughter has a good heart, that is beyond her ability to do something like that”. Friend, either you are right about this or the Bible is. (Even human experience tells us the Bible is correct on the matter).
Discipline is not an option for parents! Here are a few passages dealing with child discipline given to us in the Bible.
“Withhold not correction from the child….” (Proverbs 23:13) We are commanded from God to not withhold discipline from our children. To do so is sin on the parent’s part. If you restrain from disciplining your child you will raise a rebel. It is inevitable.
Christan families are certainly not immune to this neglect of disciplining their children. Samuel was a great leader and a godly man, but a failure as a parent. The Bible gives us the reason why – “…his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” (I Samuel 3:13)
The problem was not that his boys were sinners, but that he knew about their wicked behavior and did nothing to stop them. I think one reason we neglect to discipline our kids is because it is hard and unpleasant, not only for them, but for us. We must do what is good for our children in the short them so that they might have a good and profitable life in the long term.
The Bible speaks to this trade off – “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:11) Note the pain of the “present”, but the blessings “afterward” of discipline.
I believe one of the greatest ways to evangelize in our society is to have children that are obedient and respond to your authority. Likewise, one of the worst hindrances to reaching people with the gospel is having disobedient and rebellious children. It gives credence to the power of God’s Word in your life.
In the next few posts I’ll give some practical admonitions from the Bible on how to discipline your children. Just a thought for you to ponder as I close this one – what is your view on the depravity of the human heart? It will affect many areas of your life that you have never thought about before.
The good news is that Christ came to not only deliver us from hell, but from our own selfish, sinful and destructive nature in this life. That’s why the most important and helpful thing a parent could ever do for their child is to bring them to salvation so that God can help them to overcome their natural tendency to sin.