What Is The Biblical Authority Of Parenting?
The biblical authority of parenting is power that God has given to parents over their children to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Children are to obey their parents with the motivation that they are obeying Jesus through this authority structure. Parents obey God by exercising their authority over their children, and when children obey their parents authority, they can partake of two promises: blessings and long life.
Establishing Parental Authority
- Authority: God has made the parents the active authority over their children. Thus the authority structure in the home is as follows: Jesus has authority over the husband. The husband has authority over the wife. The husband lovingly leads his wife and she respectfully submits to him. Together they have authority over their children to raise them.
Ephesians 5:22-6:4; 1 Corinthians 11:3
- Responsibility: The purpose of parental authority is to: (1) “bring them up”—meaning it is the parents’ responsibility to look after and care for their children until they are adults; (2) “in the nurture of the Lord”—to train and educate their children through using discipline (the rod) to remove the foolishness from their hearts and cultivate what pleases God; (3) “admonition of the Lord”—to caution, advise and instruct (reproof) their children about all the ways of life as is relates to the will of God.
Putting Parental Authority Into Focus
- Parental authority is God given—meaning that parents can have confidence that this is the right way to raise their children (you don’t have to follow other methods). It also means that they have a duty to accept and act out this authority—otherwise they are living in disobedience to God. Every parent, despite their personality type, perceived inability to be firm or uncomfortable feelings of being in a position of authority over their children, has a decision to make, a command to obey and a promise to help their children receive. Both parents are accountable to act in accordance to God’s will for how they parent their children.
- Parental authority is “being in charge”—meaning that parents are the boss and the decision makers for their children. They are not just advisers, care-providers or servants for their children. Children learn through the authority structure that God has established. The absence of authority in the home leads to disorder (children do as they please), but the presence of authority in the home leads to order (children obeying authority).
- Parental authority is modeling the right way—meaning that parents are to be the example to their children of what it means to make wise decisions and live a life that is pleasing to God. Children are to learn by the parent’s example not through experience or experiment by making all their own decisions. This means that parenting is first about the parents spiritual growth. They need to be doing all the following so they can teach their children to as well: have a growing relationship with Jesus; repent of and overcome their sins; obey God and make wise decisions; love and serve Jesus; live the victorious Christian life.
Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 7:1-5
- Parental authority should be a consistent way of life—meaning that parental responsibility should be diligently carried out. Whenever the parent is with their children (sitting, walking, lying down, rising up) they are to be purposely and conscientiously teaching them to know, fear, love and obey God. This takes sacrificing time and energy. It also has to be regularly carried out to be effective—it is a continual teaching process.
Responding To Parental Authority
Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20
- Children are to respond to their parent’s authority with obedience and honor until they are old and leave to start their own family, but they only learn to do this when their parents teach them to do so. Therefore, parents need to understand what they are to teach:
- Obedience: Children should be taught that the standard for children to obey their parents is the same standard for obedience to God because through obeying their parents they are learning how to obey God. Thus obedience is children complying to the orders of their parents in the following manner: (1) Completely—children are to obey all the way not just partially or what they think is best. (2) Immediately—children are to obey right away and without delay. Parents shouldn’t have to repeat themselves or raise their voice for the children to obey. (3) Undisputedly—children are to obey without challenging the order, calling it into question or why it isn’t fair. They are to obey without disputing or grumbling. The order is not up for debate it is to be obeyed. (4) Unanimously—children are to obey without excuse or objection as to why they can’t obey. (5) Joyfully—children are to obey with a happy heart, choosing to be content in their obedience because it pleases God and their parents.
- Honor: Children should be taught that honoring parents means showing that their parents authority is highly valued by using their words, actions and attitude to be respectful and undemanding. They attentively and reverently listen to their parents instruction and don’t mock or despise them.
Proverbs 1:8; 13:1; 30:17
- Motivation: Children should be taught to obey and honor their parents with the following motivation: “in the Lord”—meaning that through God’s authority structure when they obey their parents they are obeying Jesus and when they disobey they are disobeying Jesus. They should obey Jesus because it is the right thing to do. He is their ultimate authority and we want to orient them to learn to glorify God and enjoy Him forever through the gospel of Jesus.
- For children who obey and honor their parents—meaning they are properly submitting to their parents’ authority in action and attitude—there is a two-fold promise from God: (1) “it may be well with thee”—meaning that the children will experience blessings from God; (2) “thou mayest live long on the earth”—meaning they will have a long life on this earth. Therefore, the safest place for children to be is under the authority of their parents and not rebelling against it. If they rebel against their parents authority then they are no longer in a position to partake of this blessing and need to be restored. Restoration takes place through the rod (discipline) and reproof (instruction).
Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16
Focusing On These Truths
- What is the authority structure in the home?
- What is the responsibility or purpose of parental authority?
- What are some of the characteristics of parental authority?
- How are children to respond to parental authority?
- What is the promise for children who obey and honor their parents?