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By Deacon Gary D. Kirk Bartlett, TN

The Apostle Paul wrote concerning the responsibilities of parenthood in Chapter 6 of Ephesians. Some parents believe they have absolute authority over their child. This is not so. As Christ is the authority in our spiritual life, He is also to be the authority in our natural life as we interact with our family.

As long as the parents instruct their children within the parameters as established by the Lord, the child is to obey their parents as they would the instructions of Christ. Under the Mosaic law, honoring your parents was as important as keeping the Sabbath (Leviticus 19:3). God intended for the natural bond between us and our earthly parents to represent the same bond we have with our Savior; one of love and devotion.

Why are we to obey our parents? Paul said, by the authority of the Lord, that it's the right thing to do. As though further explanation should be needed, let us consider that the natural affection we have toward our parents causes us to look to them for advice. After all, we owe our existence to our parents. But more importantly, God commanded us to love our parents (Exodus 20:12).

A child, no matter how old he or she may be, can honor their parents by treating them with respect, showing gratitude toward them, being helpful to them, and by attending to their words of instruction.

In similar fashion, we are to have the proper attitude toward our children. Paul mentions two specific things; do not provoke your children to wrath,



and rear your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We are to provide for our children, we are to teach them right from wrong, we are to correct them when they are disobedient; but most importantly, we are to life a Christian life before them.

Parents provoke their children to wrath when they act outside the realm of what is right before the Lord. This wrath is an agitated condition of anger. A parent can agitate their children to anger by requiring more from the child than they can reasonably render, by harping on their failures, by placing unfounded blame on the child, and by expressing a hot temperament toward the child.

Bringing up a child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord includes applying discipline when appropriate.

Discipline must always be given out of love with the intent of guiding the child toward mature Christian development.

Parents are not to exasperate the child by scolding or threatening the child.

As Christians, we don't fear the coming of the Lord, but we do fear His punishment when we have been disobedient. Likewise, the child is not to fear the parent, but have a deep dread of the application of the instrument of correction. Take time to ask yourself two questions. Am I venting my anger on the child, or is the punishment being applied to make the child a better person? Secondly, ask yourself if the punishment is equal to the offense.

It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children good habits and judgment by reason and by example.