Parenting

Part 9: Biblical Commands We Don’t Obey

Many people today claim that spanking children is not only recommended in the Bible, but is an explicit command. Nevermind the fact that the only verses that supposedly advocate for spanking are the four from the book of Proverbs, and Proverbs are not commands… Let’s explore together how Jesus responded to the commands of the Old Testament.

At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.
But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him,
“Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.”
But He said to them,
“Have you not read what David did when he became hungry,
he and his companions, how he entered the house of God,
and they ate the consecrated bread,
which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?
“Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath
the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent?
“But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.
“But if you had known what this means,
‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,’
you would not have condemned the innocent.
(Matthew 12:1-7)

The religious leaders (Pharisees) attempted to subject Jesus to their interpretation of the Biblical command to “keep the Sabbath holy” by refraining from work. However, Jesus allowed his disciples to break the law of the day because He knew that the heart of God is for COMPASSION – not strictly following a set of rules.

Jesus was perfect and never sinned.  So while he may have disobeyed the religious law, he was operating in perfect obedience to His Heavenly Father.

It is essential that we can learn, as Jesus did, to obey our Heavenly Father by accurately interpreting His Word.  How do you decide which “commands” in Scripture to obey and how to apply them to our modern life?

 

 

Other “Commands” We Don’t Obey

Just like Jesus, there are plenty of “commands” in the Bible that we do not obey.  We understand that we are not expected to obey these commands for many reasons:

  1. WRONG GENRE.  They are figurative – not literal.
  2. WRONG CONTEXT.  They are intended for a certain people in a certain time at a certain location within certain cultures and certain contexts that are very different than ours.
  3. WRONG COVENANT. They are a part of the Old Covenant under the law of Moses – not under the New Covenant law of grace.
  4. WRONG APPLICATION. They are intended for a specific people at a specific time – not for every individual in all situations.

Just for fun, let’s read some passages of Scripture with the same hermeneutic that is applied to the “spanking passages.”

 

 

Mistake #1: WRONG GENRE
Interpreting Literally What Is Meant To Be Figurative

Put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite.
Proverbs 23:2

I highly doubt that anyone would attempt to claim that the Bible advocates for a command to commit suicide or to put a literal knife to your throat as an alternative to gluttony.  The same people who want to interpret the spanking verses in Proverbs as literal do not apply that same hermeneutic to this verse that is also in Proverbs.

 

Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none,
and anyone who has food should do the same.
Luke 3:11

I am guilty of this one… I have more than two shirts, and I know there are plenty of people in the world who do not have even one shirt. Is it a sin to have two shirts? No.  We are obviously not supposed to read this verse literally, but we should pay attention to the heart of this verse.  We should care for the poor and not be so obsessed with our own material gain that we neglect the welfare of others around the world who are in need. This verse in particular is a little difficult to wrestle with as an American… Our world would be very different indeed if we obeyed this one verse.

 

Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.
Proverbs 23:20-21

We are “commanded” in Proverbs to not hang out with alcoholics or gluttons.  Should we get rid of all our fat friends because they are going to be poor? Just as our spanking verses found in the book of Proverbs, we can easily see that these Proverbs are not meant to be interpreted as commands or promises or guarantees. There are alcoholics who are extremely wealthy, just as there are people who do not drink who are struggling with poverty.

 

 

 

Mistake #2: WRONG CONTEXT
Neglecting to identify the differences in culture and customs

“When men fight with one another and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand. Your eye shall have no pity.” Deuteronomy 25:11-12

I do not know of any Christian who would advocate for cutting off a wife’s hand for grabbing her husband’s attacker by the “private parts.”  This law was a part of the Law of Moses as a part of their legal system and not intended for us to obey today.

Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.
Leviticus 19:19

Adios, polyester!

 

All that have not fins and scales in the seas,
and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters,
and of any living thing which is in the waters,
they shall be an abomination unto you.
Leviticus 9:10

So sorry, shrimp eaters. “The Bible says…”

Mistake #3: WRONG COVENANT
Obeying what is no longer meant to be obeyed

Animal Sacrifices
Leviticus 4

Under the Old Covenant, the Jews were expected to worship God through regular, ritual sacrifices.  However, under the New Covenant, Jesus was our perfect sacrifice by which He has “perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).  There is no longer any need to obey the rules and rituals surrounding the animal sacrifices as atonement for sin since Jesus is our perfect atonement.

 

The 10 Commandments
Exodus 20:1-17

I know this may come as a surprise to many of you, but the 10 Commandments are a part of the Old Covenant.  God has promised that as believers, his New Covenant has been written “not on tablets of stone but on tablets of [our] human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3).  We are no longer held accountable for our obedience to the 10 Commandments, but we now relate to God through the blood of Jesus Christ and the communion of His Holy Spirit.

Tithing
Genesis 14:20

The first time that tithing is mentioned in Scripture is in Genesis 14:20 when Abraham tithed 10% of the spoils of war – not to God, but to Melchizedech.  The Jews were commanded under the Mosaic law to tithe their crops, animals, and even spices!  However, under the New Covenant, we are no longer obligated to live under the law of tithing.  We see no mention of tithing to the believers in the New Testament, but they are encouraged to give generously.  See: Acts 2:43–47; 4:32–37; 11:27–30; Galatians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 16:1–4; 2 Corinthians 8:1–9:15)

 

Mistake #4: WRONG APPLICATION
Personalizing what is not meant to be personal

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs 26:4-5

So… which is it?

 

Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones,
and kill every woman who has known man intimately.
But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves.
Numbers 31:17-18

This was God’s command to His people. But I cannot say that I have heard a sermon preached on this passage in which the pastor tells the congregation that we should also obey this command.  This command is not personal to us, but specific for the Jews at that particular time.

 

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son
who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother,
and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them,
then his father and his mother shall take hold of him
and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives,
and they shall say to the elders of his city,
‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious;
he will not obey our voice;
he is a glutton and a drunkard.’
Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones.
So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear. Deuteronomy 21:18-21

This passage is extremely interesting to examine in light of the spanking controversy. This is another passage which seems to support corporal punishment for rebellion, but there are some interesting points to identify:

  1. The son is mentioned as being stubborn and rebellious because he will not obey the voice of his parents. The parents have not administered any kind of physical punishment to him.
  2. The parents disciplined him, but he would not listen. Here we see again the connection between discipline and listening. He was disciplined (taught and instructed) by his parents’ words, but he would not listen to them. Listening is NOT obeying. Listening is listening.
  3. The parents take him to the elders of the city. When their son does not respond to the verbal teaching and correction of his parents, the parents again do not administer physical punishment, but instead take him before the elders of the city. This scene is a legal confrontation. In Jewish culture, a person could not be found guilty without the presence of two witnesses. By taking the son before the elders of the city, the parents were serving as witnesses, but it was the elders who found him guilty or not guilty.
  4. The son was a glutton and a drunk. The son they are referencing in this passage is not a small child. He is most likely a na’ar.
  5. The elders of the city were the ones to administer the physical punishment. The parents did not stone their child, the elders of the city did. There is no passage of Scripture in which parents are responsible to carry out the physical punishment of their children.

There are tons of other “commands” in the Bible that we do not obey – nor do we expect others to obey. If we can use proper Biblical hermeneutic through analyzing the genre,  context, covenant and application, then why would we not examine just as closely the four passages found in Proverbs that supposedly advocate for hitting a small child as a means of teaching and instruction in godliness?

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Parenting

Part 8: How did Jesus discipline?

The word “discipline” is the same root word as the word “disciple.”  Let’s explore 12 ways that Jesus disciplined His disciples.

  1. Teaching – Just as God has compassion on His children, Jesus was also known for His compassion on sinners. This verse tells us that when Jesus felt compassion on the crowd, He demonstrated His compassion on them by teaching them.

    When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherdand He began to teach them many things.  (Mark 6:34)

  2. Modeling – Jesus taught His disciples to pray, to live, and to love through modeling.  He was the perfect example for them (and for us) to follow.

    For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. (John 13:15)

  3. Serving – Jesus did not lead His disciples the way the rest of the world’s leaders do. He did not come to be served but to serve others and to give His life for us.  He served His disciples to teach them to serve others.

    So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.  
    But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10:42-45)

  4. Forgiving – Jesus taught His disciples to forgive others by forgiving them.  He did not hold their sins against them.  He did not throw their past crimes in their faces.  He gave them the gift of a clean slate.  Relationships are broken through sin, but relationships are restored through forgiveness.

    Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  (Luke 7:48)
  5. Loving – God is love, therefore Jesus is the living representation of love.  Jesus loved His disciples just as God loved Him.  He loved His disciples by giving His life for them – even when they did not deserve it.


    As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  (John 15:9)

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

  6. Being Patient – Jesus was extremely patient with his disciples.  He patiently endured their constant questions (Matthew 17:10), their lack of understanding (Matthew 15:16), their overwhelming needs (Matthew 15:29-31)… sound familiar, parents of toddlers?

    “Love is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:4a)

  7. Extending Grace – Jesus did not deal with people according to the law or their mistakes or their sins.  He extended grace – over and over and over.  Jesus ultimately extended grace to His disciples when He gave His life in their place.  Instead of giving them the punishment that they deserved, He took their punishment for them (in the same way my own father did for me).

    For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  (John 1:17)

  8. Rebuking – Jesus also rebuked his disciples.  Ironically, the word “rebuke” in Greek is the word “epitimao.”  It means “to reprove, to censure severely, to charge sharply.”  It also means “to honor.”   Jesus was not afraid to tell his disciples sternly when they were wrong.  However, notice that Jesus did not rebuke His disciples for differences in personal preferences, but rather He rebuked them for not concerning themselves with the things that matter to God.

    But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”  (Mark 8:33)

  9. Correcting – Jesus corrected lies with the truth.  He corrected false doctrine and false teaching.  Jesus not only corrected belief, He also corrected behavior.  Once, He even corrected two bickering disciples by giving them the example of a child!

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’
      
    But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  (Matthew 5:43-44)


    An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. 
     But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”  (Luke 9:46-48)

  10. Instructing – Jesus also took the time to instruct His disciples.  He gave them instructions on prayer (Luke 11:1-13) and fasting (Matthew 6:16-18).  His instructions were specific (Matthew 21:1-7) and clear (Matthew 10:1-15).

    The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them…  (Matthew 21:6)When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.  (Matthew 11:1)

  11. Training – Jesus trained His disciples for ministry by giving them opportunities to put into practice the things they had seen and heard from Jesus Himself.  A disciple’s training was in stages: (1) listening/observing, (2) practicing while the Master listens/observes and (3) being sent out on your own to make more disciples. In Luke 9:1-27, we see Jesus sending out the disciples to proclaim the Gospel. Scripture teaches that Jesus gave them power and authority.  What a beautiful picture of our role as parents!  From the day our children are born, we are training them to one day be sent out with power and authority to proclaim the Gospel.

    And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases.  
    And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing…  (Luke 9:1-2)

  12. Showing Compassion – Jesus was known for being a man of great compassion.  He felt compassion to His followers physical needs like when they were hungry (Matthew 15:32), but He also had compassion for their emotional needs (Luke 7:13).

    And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”  (Matthew 15:32)
    And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  (Luke 7:13)

REFLECTION QUESTIONS
(You may need to ask your children for their help on these)

1. How would our parenting transform if we sought to disciple and discipline our children the way that Jesus did?

2. What am I teaching my children?

3. How am I modeling Christlike attitudes and behaviors for my children?

4. What example do I set for my children in dealing with their attitudes and behaviors?

5. Am I “flaunting my authority” over my children like worldly leaders do?  Or am I seeking to serve my children as Jesus served His disciples?

6. When was the last time that I asked my children for forgiveness?

7. Do my children know and believe that they are completely forgiven by God and by me?  Or are there certain “sins” or “behaviors” that I continually bring up over and over?

8. What motivates forgiveness in our home: fear of punishment or love for the individual I have offended?

9. How can I love my child in the midst of their sadness, anger, frustration, etc.?

10. What does it look like to live out 1 Corinthians 13 as a parent with my child?

11. Would my children consider me to be a patient parent or an impatient parent?  (ASK THEM!)

12. How do my children feel when I am impatient with them?  (ASK THEM!)

13. How do I feel when others are impatient with me?

14. What is a situation in which I am tempted to be impatient with my children?  What changes can I make to my behavior and attitude in order to remain patient and calm?

15. How do I extend grace to my children?

16. Do I rebuke my children for differences of opinion/preference?  Or do I rebuke my children in love because of their sin against God?

17. What beliefs am I correcting in my children?

18. What behaviors am I correcting in my children?

19. How am I correcting sinful beliefs and behaviors?

20. Are my instructions to my children specific and clear?

21. How do I respond when my children do not follow my instructions?

22. How am I training my children to be “sent out”?

23. In what areas do I need to give my children power and authority?

24. How can I respond to my children’s physical needs with compassion?

25. How can I respond to my children’s emotional needs with compassion?

26. In what ways could I represent Jesus more to my children?  (ASK THEM!)

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