What Is The Biblical Purpose Of Parenting?
The Biblical purpose of parenting is to shepherd your children’s hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel. The purpose of every person’s life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever through the gospel of Jesus. But we enter this world with a rebel’s heart that is oriented towards ourselves and foolishness. Thus parents are to be used as God’s agents to care for and guide their children’s hearts so that it finds the right way in a sinful world.
Establishing A Biblical Purpose
- The Reason Children Exist: God created us to share with us the joy of His glory. But we sinned against Him and were separated from Him—meaning we could not longer glorify or take joy in Him. However, God decided to show us grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection. He called all of us to repent and believe in Jesus, thus restoring our ability to glorify Him and experience the true joy that is in Him. Therefore, all children also exist for this same reason: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever through the gospel of Jesus.
Psalm 16:11; Isaiah 59:2; 2 Peter 3:9
- The Purpose of Parenting: For children to fulfill the reason for their existence starts with their hearts. The heart represents the “inner person” or the real orientation, belief, motivation and attitude of a person. It is from the heart that we think, feel and make decisions. It is the source from which everything we do in life is issued from. The problem is that a child’s heart is born sinful—meaning it is not neutral but deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked or incurable on its own and if left untouched will lead to destruction. Each child is born a sinner in rebellion against God. Parents are God’s instruments to give hope to the child—pointing the child to Jesus. Therefore, the biblical purpose of parenting is: to care for and guide your children’s hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel so that they can fulfill their reason for existence.
Proverbs 4:23; 13:20; 22:6; Jeremiah 17:9; Psalm 58:3; 51:5
Putting Biblical Parenting Into Focus
- Parenting is about correcting your children’s hearts (inward attitudes) and not about correcting your children’s behavior (the outward actions). All wrong behavior is a heart problem, therefore to focus on changing the wrong behavior without changing the heart is only temporarily covering up the problem—keeping your children’s hearts far from God and leads towards condemnation. An outward change doesn’t cause an inward change, but an inward change does cause an outward change. Thus, parenting focuses on addressing and changing the problem in the heart of your children that caused the wrong behavior and not just on addressing and changing the action itself.
Mark 7:20-23; Luke 6:45; Matthew 15:8-9
- Parenting is about training your children in the way they should go and not letting them follow their own way. Children are born into a world with many “ways” but there is only one “right way” and you are to train your children in that way. If parents start training their children when they are young then they will build lifelong habits—meaning that when they are old they most likely won’t depart from it. The right way that parents are to train up their children in is the way of God through the teachings of the Bible. The Bible is every parents training manual for how to teach their children how to function in this world. Children should be taught the Bible so that it can: (1) make them wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus; (2) make them learn doctrine; (3) give them the needed reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; (4) make them equipped to do good works.
Proverbs 22:6; 2 Timothy 3:15-17
- Parenting is about disciplining and instructing your children so their hearts can receive wisdom and not just a method to punish wrong behavior. Children don’t need to be taught to do wrong because foolishness is tied to their hearts. This foolishness is untied and removed from the child through discipline and replaced by wisdom through instruction. This wisdom starts with teaching your children to fear the Lord. Wise children learn to respond positively to rebuke, instruction and teaching. They will treat those who correct them with love. But children who aren’t taught to fear the Lord become scorners. They learn to respond negatively to reprove and rebuke. They will treat those who correct them with hate, shame and insult. Thus, parenting focuses on imparting wisdom through discipline and instruction.
Proverbs 9:7-10; 22:15; 29:15; Ephesians 6:4
- Parenting is about holding your children accountable to the highest standard of God’s law and Christian attitudes and then pointing them to Jesus when they fail and not about excusing their sins as childish behavior. Parents are to diligently teach their children to know, fear, love and obey God from the heart, but children will discover that it is an impossible task to accomplish on their own thus pointing them to their need of the grace of God offered through Jesus. If parents excuse their children’s sins by not showing their children the offense is ultimately against God and has a consequence, then they are leading them away from the cross and not towards it.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:18-21; Galatians 3:24
Committing To Biblical Parenting
- Believers should commit by faith to faithfully carry out the biblical purpose of parenting. As believers, our lives have been radically changed by Jesus and we are to live according to His ways—including the way we parent our children. There are many “philosophies” about parenting that are handed down by human tradition (by your parents or culture) and corrupt influences of this world (based on worldly principles) that go against the teachings of the Bible. Therefore, we need to beware of these wrong philosophies and be committed to parenting according to the teachings of the Bible—even if it goes against out tradition, culture or family.
- Believers should not commit to any other purpose for raising their children. As believers, we need to make sure that our focus isn’t blurred by focusing on worldly goals. This means that if any of the following are setup as the ultimate purpose of our parenting it will change the focus and the outcome of our parenting: having your children work hard to develop certain abilities and skills (musical, athletic, artistic); pressure your children to study and get a good education often to earn a good salary; raising well mannered or behaved children; raising children with good self-esteem who try their best; etc. These things are not wrong in themselves, but they are unqualified to be the “all that matters” purpose of our parenting and they should only be pursued in reference to the ultimate purpose—to glorify and enjoy God.
- What is the reason children exist?
- What is the purpose of parenting?
- Is parenting about correcting your children’s hearts or behavior?
- What else is parenting about?
- How should believers be committed to parenting?