When proper parenting is abandoned, our children suffer:
Here is a simple truth worth bearing in mind: children do not need buddies or pals or friends – they need parents. Yes, parents can be friendly and someone kids like to hang around with, but they also need to act like parents. And that means doing parental things, including setting boundaries, providing discipline when needed, and steering a child in the way he should go.
A hands-off approach in other words does not cut it, nor does a ‘we’re all equal’ approach. While all people are of equal worth and value to God, parents are to have authority in the home over their children. This is of course the clear teaching of Scripture.
Passages such as Ephesians 6:1-4 may not be all that politically correct today, but they are true nonetheless, and Christians need to heed them. Those verses say this: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Yes, verse four, while affirming the need for parental discipline, does also speak to the need for parents to love and care for their children. So we need the balanced biblical approach. Other passages could be mentioned here. These biblical commands – if obeyed – would do a lot of good in countering and/or preventing so many of the problems we find today with young people.
Far too many have never known any discipline, have never had any clearly-defined boundaries set before them, and have never heard the word “No”. And in far too many homes far too many kids are being raised without a father, which makes all this even more difficult.
I raise these matters for two reasons. One, we all know of sad cases where noted Christians (leaders, pastors, teachers, etc) have seen their kids going off the rails, either denying their Christian faith, or getting into grievous sin and so on. The other thing is an Old Testament passage I just recently read again which ties in with all this.
As to Christian kids who reject their Christian heritage, there are plenty that come to mind. One of the most recent examples involves the son of famous pastor and theologian John Piper. One write-up about this begins as follows:
Well-known Desiring God‘s founder, theologian, and Bethlehem Baptist Church‘s retired pastor John Piper has something in common with his son Abraham Piper. The younger Piper is almost as influential on social media as his father is, but they don’t preach the same message. Abraham Piper is one of five children who grew up in the household that taught biblical values, but that didn’t guarantee the biblical truth he learned growing up became his own faith. In fact, in Abraham’s case he has created a following and uses his platform to speak out against the gospel message his father preaches.
Abraham Piper was excommunicated from Bethlehem Baptist Church when he was 19, because he wanted to stop pretending that he was a Christian. Four years later, he returned to the church after as he put it: “God made it possible for me to love Jesus” after reading the book of Romans one day. He has since walked away. The deconstructionist has over 925k followers on TikTok. That’s almost as many followers as his father John Piper has on Twitter (over 1 million). Abraham’s focus is geared toward debunking Christianity and the truth of the Bible. churchleaders.com/news/394762-not-desiring-god-john-pipers-son-criticizes-his-upbringing-to-925k-tiktok-followers.html
I know next to nothing about Abraham Piper, but I do know a bit about John Piper – at least through his many books, of which I have around 35. How and why Abraham has turned away so strongly from the faith and from his own parents I know little about. And I am NOT saying John was a derelict father. But some wise words from Michael Brown who recently wrote about this are worth sharing. He concludes his piece this way:
Now is the time for us to fall on our faces in fervent prayer, searching our own hearts and repenting of our own sin and hypocrisy. Along with that, we must cultivate an atmosphere of openness and honesty where people feel free to ask their questions and express their doubts and where we can respond to them with patience and with truth. The fact is that none of the attacks on our faith are really new, and Christian leaders in every generation have had to deal with their own society’s serious objections.
But our faith is based on truth, and that truth comes from the one and only God, and those who put their lives in His hands fully and without reservation will never regret doing so. Yet just because we feel secure does not mean that others do. And just because our faith is strong does not mean that the faith of our children is strong. History teaches us that every generation must have a fresh, personal encounter with God, otherwise apostasy will set in. And that’s where we find ourselves today. What are we going to do about it? askdrbrown.org/library/why-has-john-piper-s-son-become-bible-bashing-tik-tok-star
As to the Bible passage I had just read, it is this: “His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, ‘Why have you done thus and so?’” (1 Kings 1:6). That certainly jumped out at me when I read it. The fuller story is found in 1 Kings 1:5-10 which speaks of Adonijah setting himself up as king:
Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” And he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom. He conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest. And they followed Adonijah and helped him. But Zadok the priest and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and Nathan the prophet and Shimei and Rei and David’s mighty men were not with Adonijah. Adonijah sacrificed sheep, oxen, and fattened cattle by the Serpent’s Stone, which is beside En-rogel, and he invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah, but he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the mighty men or Solomon his brother.
A few things need to be stated right away. First, just who was this lax father? None other than King David! The Bible does not gloss over the weaknesses and sins of God’s servants. In this area he certainly had failed, as he had failed elsewhere (recall Bathsheba and Uriah).
Second, normally it is the case that royal succession goes to the oldest son. But this was no ordinary dynasty. It was a divinely ordained one leading to the Messiah. Often other sons were chosen by God instead of the first-born. Indeed, David was the youngest son, but he still got the top job. So while Adonijah may have been technically correct to think that he was owed the kingship, since he was the oldest surviving son, God had other folks in mind.
But it was the inaction of David in contrast to the action of Adonijah that I wish to focus on here. Let me offer a bit of commentary on this text. John Woodhouse says this about verse 6:
This rather telling comment on David’s indulgent treatment of his son is consistent with the king’s dealings with his two older sons. When Amnon raped Tamar we read that David was “very angry” (2 Samuel 13:21), but he did nothing. David’s grief over the death of Absalom was seen, at least by Joab, to be excessive and improperly overlooked the boy’s violent crimes (2 Samuel 19:5-7). David was a passive father. The problem was not anything he did, but what he did not do.
Parents who love their children (as David certainly did) understand how difficult it can be to deal firmly with unacceptable behavior. Some (like David) try to avoid conflict. They do not set or enforce boundaries for their children. It is hardly surprising when these children grow up without valuing self-control, but rather with a sense of entitlement to whatever they want. Children spared the experience of frustration in their younger days will not be well equipped to deal with reality. This is a failure of parental love.
Hmm, sounds just like life in the West today! Philip Graham Ryken also speaks to this matter of parental discipline in some detail:
This is a terrible indictment of David for his failure in fatherly discipline. It also happens to be one of the most important comments made anywhere in the Bible on the subject of raising children.
The implication is that David should have been holding his sons accountable, and that if only he had done so, Adonijah would not have been living for the glory of a crown that was never his to claim. The Bible further implies that such discipline necessarily would have displeased him, even though it would have been for his own good. But Adonijah was rebellious—spoiled rotten. David had not loved his son wisely, but too well. An excessively indulgent father had produced a self-exalted son….
These are all principles we can take straight into the Christian home. Fathers and mothers have a responsibility to hold their children accountable for their actions. “Why have you done this?” is a good and often necessary question to ask. It forces children to explain their actions and, hopefully, to examine the underlying motivations of their hearts. This may have the happy result of helping them see how sinful they are, and how much they need a Savior. It may also help them to see the difference between living for their own pleasure and living for God’s pleasure, between “kinging” themselves and living for the glory of God.
Parents need to know that this kind of accountability often makes children angry. Of course it does! The fallen nature is going to be angry any time its sins are exposed. But a child’s very displeasure may well be a sign that he or she is receiving the discipline that is needed….
If you are a father or a mother, do you love your children enough to displease them? Parents who never displease their children are not doing their job. It is often tempting to make one’s day easier by making one’s child happier, but to do so in ways that relinquish parental authority. However much peace or popularity this buys when children are young, it will only bring heartache in the end.
That is some much-needed advice which we all need to take to heart. And it goes a long way in explaining why we see so many out-of-control, rebellious and spoiled kids today: too many lax and indulgent parents who just did not do their job properly.