family law, part one
family law, part two
family law, part three
Our greatest challenge in applying the Family Law in our home was not in requiring the children to obey it. It came in requiring us as the parents to obey it.
Did I obey the Lord immediately when He asked me to do something? Did I respect Father as I should, and did Father respect me as he should? Did we argue in front of the children, or get nasty in a marital spat? Did we complain to the children about the other, or in any way show disrespect? Was I respecting myself if I did not practice self-control in my diet? Are we as parents respecting our possessions if we procrastinate with the house cleaning or the home repair or lawn upkeep? (In home schooling and home business families, time is at a premium, and it this is so easy to do.) Do we model respect for society’s authority by obeying the speed limit or seat belt laws? Do we carefully practice self-control and honoring others by guarding our tempers and our tongues?
As parents, we quickly learned they we had three options, when we began requiring obedience to the Family Law of our children. One, if we were unwilling to also be disciplined and obey, we could abandon teaching the Law to our children and allow them to have their own way, or only provide weak, inconsistent, or half-hearted discipline for them, because deep down we were wrestling with guilt ourselves. It is an option that many Christian families (although maybe not homeschoolers) choose, but our children will not respect us, or our Lord, if we follow that path.
Two, we could be hypocrites and ask our children to adhere to a code of behavior that we were unwilling to make ourselves adhere to. This was the option my father chose for our family when I was a child. Our children will not respect us, or our Lord, if we follow this path.
Or three, we can bow the knee before God as Lawgiver and find out if we really mean what we say on Sunday when we proclaim Jesus Lord. We can do our level best, and maybe fail sometimes, and have to humble ourselves before our family and ask for forgiveness once in a while. We can teach our children by example that we can choose to obey God. We can teach our children that we walk together, and learn together, and cry together, and love together, and forgive together, and grow together, all in this adventure of living in a relationship with the Lord Jesus.
The greatest learning, the greatest growth, and the greatest challenge of my life has been in requiring the same discipline and obedience, the same commitment to paying respect, of myself that I required of my children, and now that they are grown and on their own, I am still learning it, and will most likely be until I go home to Jesus.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” whether we choose to train them to be lax and self-willed, to be hypocrites, or to be servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you for posting this great reminder. I hope you are planning to do a scheduled chat here soon.
Nancy E. says
All of this is good, Chris, and helpful for parents in deciding what to require of their children and therefore of themselves. However, I needed a simpler system when my kids were young. It seems that we need to teach them to simply obey us, just as they will hopefully one day obey God, rather than just obeying a set of rules. In essence, when the kids are little, we are like God to them. Then, it's not so hard to relate to God Himself in a similar fashion when they are older. It's more organic than the law. It is living with them and before them, as you said in your last post. It is modeling obedience ourselves. Some rules may be necessary, but I would minimize that and teach & model simple obedience instead. I still think that Michael Pearl's To Train Up a Child and other materials are the best parenting books I've read along with Clay Trumbull's Hints on Child Training, which really helped me develop a sympathetic understanding of our children. They need to know that we are on their side, that we're rooting for them. And they need to know when they've blown it so they can make corrections.
I do agree that grace is probably being overamphasized in the church today with a consequent lack of discipline and self-control, which are so important. I'm just not certain that going back to a law concept is the best course except possibly for a short time when they are young. Instead, let's model obedience ourselves, hard as that is, and point them to God Himself.
Nancy, that children will come to their own obedience to God simply if you are obedient, and I am not convinced that we disagree. I am not advocating only one or the other. I am not saying that if we teach the Law to our children, that means they cannot learn grace. Or that if we teach grace to our children, that means they cannot learn the Law. I am saying let us add the teaching of the Law to our teaching of grace.
I am suggesting that Grace and Law are like two sides of the same coin, and they both have a role to play in bringing a person to faith in Christ. They seem like opposites, but are more like partners. But as Christians we do tend to get stuck on one side of the coin or the other: word or Spirit, mercy or righteousness, faith or works, free will or predestination, etc. I am saying both … both. The whole coin, the whole revelation of God's word.
The next day after I posted a reply to Nancy, I read Proverbs 3:1-6 in the scriptures. That is what I was trying to say!
parenting by law and grace