Category Archives: Parenting

Disobedient Sons and Single Mothers

“If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. “They shall say to the elders of his city, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ “Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear. Deuteronomy 21:18-20 NASU

One situation we have faced in the past is an adult rebellious son [or daughter] living at home and manipulating his mother.  The mother often feels guilty about mistakes she has made in childrearing and so feels obligated to compensate for those mistakes to the child.  The disobedient son lives at home off the mother’s income and upsets the home.  We have seen that with single mothers and with married mothers.  How are we to shepherd these folks?

We have a special obligation to the single women to help them overcome their feelings of failure and practice tough love with their sons.  The masculine instinct is to protect while the feminine instinct is to nurture.  Without masculine input, these women can be swayed to continue giving their unworking, abusive sons too many chances.  Maybe they tell themselves that they deserve this treatment because of the terrible job they did parenting. Or unconsciously, they fill the (real) desire for companionship through their sons.

The above passage makes clear that there were times when chastisement did not work.  Then the parents were to have him judged before the elders of the city.  If found guilty, he was to be put to death.  There is no judgment about the quality of their parenting.  The judgment is on the heart of the child.

Based on the situations we are facing, I think several suggestions are in order.

1. We need to educate these women on the typical thoughts mentioned above and at the same time indicate that those are not reasons to keep the sons at home.  We can let them know that their parenting is done.

I heard an excellent analogy from a man who compared parenting to working with concrete.  “The great thing about working with concrete is that 45 minutes after you mix it you are done.”  In other words, there is a time limit to working with concrete and you are done whether you did it right or not.  We need to help these women realize there is a time limit to parenting. After 18 years, they are done.  They can still be the child’s mother but the teaching/discipline/provision stage is over.

2. For the single women, we can keep encouraging them to protect themselves, to find their companionship in other adults and to not let past failures be used for manipulation.  If she wants to make amends for sinful parenting then she can devote herself to hours of prayer on his behalf.

3. We can point out the above verse and show the obligation to bring the rebellious child out of the home to be dealt with by God.  Practically speaking, these children need to be out and living with the consequences of their sin.  If you dont work you dont eat. (2 Thes 3:10)  A mother does her child no good by enabling his sin and shielding him from the consequences.

4. We can also point out that disobedience to parents is evidence of sinful hearts (Rom 1:30, 2 Tim 3:2).  Modern thinking emphasizes that we can blame our parents for our misbehavior.  Thus parents feel overly responsible for their grown child’s misbehavior.  Scripture puts the obligation on the child not the parent.

5. For married couples the situation is more complicated.  By siding with the child, the woman has made the mother-son relationship stronger than the husband-wife.  Perhaps the husband does not see the problem, is too passive or has fought the battle in the past and given up.  As a result his home is upset by the child but he cannot or will not protect it.

Perhaps bringing up this verse in Deuteronomy and inquiring about the situation can help spark a discussion and some action.  If there is disagreement over what should be done, then one principle from Matt 18 would be to bring the discussion before some elders of the church for advice.

This will be an issue in the future. Let’s help moms parent God’s way and not out of guilt.

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Good Pastoring Seminars

Sovereign Grace Ministries has made their 2009 pastor’s conference workshops available online. The elders have benefited from a number of these. Though all may not be applicable and some might be a little different than we would see things, they are helpful.

For future elders, the paper/mp3 on plurality is particularly helpful.

For parents, the paper/mp3 on parenting on older children is particularly helpful.

More Questions – This time from Tim Shorey

The use of questions to help people see the needs and issues of their hearts is a common biblical approach to personal care and correction.* It is not the only valid approach but it is an extremely effective one. One of its advantages (in contrast to a more informational and advice-giving approach) is that it allows people to hear their own thoughts and attitudes without having to be told them by others. In this way, under the blessing of the Holy Spirit, the process of conviction goes on more personally and directly.**

If you obtain my full booklet on this topic (Live Together or Die Alone: a Call to Radical Fellowship), you will see an example from my own life of when I was led into seeing my own heart through a brother’s effective use of questions. In that situation, I do not think I would have seen my heart as clearly if I had been approached by someone loaded with observations and words of wisdom or correction to bring to my attention. The use of gentle questions was effective in opening my heart to see my own issues without proud defensiveness or argument.

Here is a list of questions that can be useful for our conversations/fellowship together:
1. What evidences of grace are you experiencing these days (i.e.-clear signs of growth in Christ and joy in the gospel)?
2. What is one specific truth you gained from that sermon or study or book?
3. What is one specific application of it that you plan to make in your life?
4. What are you struggling with these days?
5. What are biblical terms for this struggle?
6. Why do you think you are struggling with it?
7. How might your view of God affect this struggle?
8. How does the gospel affect you in this battle?

Fatherhood Myths in the Media

Al Mohler gives us some Fatherhood Myths that will appear in the media. Beware!

Complementarian Thoughts for My Daughter

With the current misunderstanding of Biblical masculinity and femininity, and with one daughter headed off from home, I have penned the following summary overview for what I believe Scripture teaches. It is not complete but touches on points I want her to understand. –

1. You are made in God’s image and extremely valuable to him (Gen 1:26-27).

2. Both men and women are on equal footing when it comes to salvation and access to the Father (Gal 3:28). Both men and women are equally beloved by Jesus. Both men and women are equal recipients of the Holy Spirit.

3. Scripture says that God created us male and female (Gen 1:27). There are certain qualities that are involved in being masculine and feminine. We are not the same with a few different body parts. Science and common sense have proven that over and over again. We do not socially construct our masculinity. Men are more task oriented and less relational. At the heart of true masculinity is initiative.

4. Genesis 1:26-30 shows that men and women are partners given the dominion mandate to reflect God, reproduce, reign over creation.

5. Genesis 2:20-25 adds further detail, showing that woman was created as a helper to Adam. Adam and Eve were not made separately like the other animals; Eve was taken from Adam. She was brought to him as a helper fit (corresponding) to him. He named her. (A sign of authority). Thus while they are to coreign together, there is a prefall hierarchy in marriage. Adam is head and Eve is his helper. There are different primary spheres of responsibility.

6. Genesis 3:1-7 records the sinful reversing of this prefall hierarchy. Eve takes the lead. Adam is silent and passive.

7. Genesis 3:9-20 records the cursing of each person’s primary sphere of influence. Eve as the relational one, will have problems with children (and body functions related to children) and will have a desire to rule her husband. Adam, “because you listened to your wife,” will suffer thorns at work (his primary calling). As head of the human race, the authority, he receives the judgment that he will experience death.

8. However, a primary sphere of influence does not equal an exclusive one. For example, fathers are addressed as called to bring up their chilldren before the Lord, even if much of this is delegated to the mom. Running a household well is a requirement for being an elder (1 Tim 3:4). On the other hand, while a wife’s primary call is to run the home, godly women obviously also provided income as well (see Proverbs 31, Romans 16:1 and others). Each family needs to determine how they will express the overlapping of their spheres.

9. Paul makes clear that subordination of function does not mean subordination of value (1 Cor 11:3). Jesus is submissive to the Father in function but equally God. Complementary in roles does not mean inferior in worth.

10. The NT redeems singleness, but our masculinity or femininity will still be expressed in our singleness. Thus, single men are still men and single women are still women.

11. It is important that Jesus displayed exceptional closeness to many women and accords them special  status of first witnesses of the resurrection, while only calling men to be his apostles.

12. If a part of masculinity is leadership and initiative, then a young women, while still exercising her gifts, should seek to encourage the men around her to take the lead. There are many ways women can strongly influence a man while still yielding to his leadership.

13. Young women must also realize that they have a sinful bent to dominate men just as men have a sinful desire to passively withdraw from responsibility.

14. It is not wrong for a woman to have individual points of initiative with men helping her as long as the general pattern is one of encouraging leadership in the men around her.

15. In marriage, the most intimate of male – female relationships – the husband is the head of his wife.  (1 Cor 11:3, Eph 5:23). As a result he is to lead the family and his wife is to yield to his leadership. This suggests that the primary question a young woman ought to ask herself is, “Can I respect and yield to this man.”

16. Applying #12, 13 and 14 to marriage, a wife should seek to develop the initiating gifts in her husband as much as he is possible.