Monday, March 9, 2020


Stoning a Rebellious Son?

"If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid."  
          Deuteronomy 21:18-21 New International Version (NIV)

It’s hard to imagine more severe discipline than this oft quoted text from the Bible! Obviously, stoning is way beyond what we would call child abuse today. In our age, hitting children is illegal in some places and a violation of various policies in other places. Certainly, there is no justification for taking a son’s life for “stubborn and rebellious” behavior.

As you might expect, conservative Christian scholars have addressed this verse. No credible Christian leaders consider stoning to be a Christian way to treat sons. So, what does the verse have to do with Christian discipline? This, when Christians look to the Bible for guidance, they must be aware that Christians do not have to include the ancient laws of Israel in their discipline plans. You may also note that there is no evidence this law was ever put applied.

Sure, you may be curious about this old law about stoning. Unfortunately, if you look up what others have written, you will find many opinions. If you remain curious about the verse, I suggest looking at the information about the “rebellious son” in the Jewish Virtual Library online.

Good parenting is about relationships.

Discipline with Respect takes a distinctly Christian approach based on the loving relationship between Jesus and the church family illustrated in the New Testament texts.

 Parents in a loving relationship with children will focus on encouraging responsible and respectful behavior toward their parents and others—including themselves.

Christians are mindful of the letters of Ephesians (6:4) and Colossians (3:21) warning fathers against provoking their children to anger.

Negative consequences belong in the context of a loving relationship 
and a plan that emphasizes positive consequences for following the rules.

Discipline programs do include negative consequences linked to what happens in life. That is, depending on how we act as adults, we lose the privilege of interacting with others, lose jobs, lose opportunities, and pay fines. Thus, losing privileges, losing opportunities, and paying for mistakes are among the negative consequences for misbehavior covered in Discipline with Respect.

Also, lead a discussion with this low-priced Christian Parenting leader's guide.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Moral Education for Children

"Trying to make children behave ethically by teaching them to reason well is like trying to make a dog happy by wagging its tail." Jonathan Haidt

Jean Piaget hypothesized that children's moral development accompanied growth in cognitive development. Kohlberg studied the answers children and adults gave to moral dilemmas. Unfortunately, reasoning well does not guarantee that a person will act well.

Moral arguments often make sense but often fail to influence behavior. As many from the apostle Paul to Ben Franklin learned. We may try to do the right or virtuous thing but it isn't easy. We are frequently driven by our passions, our desires, to respond to that which feels good in the moment.

Role models teach moral values.
Clearly parents ought to have a moral compass and communicate their family values to their children. Experience, supported by research, teaches us that children and adults learn so much more from role models than from learning rules. Role models are effective educators, but they may not always teach our moral values. Thus, it is critical for parents to provide positive role models early in life when they have a measure of control over what their children read, see, and hear.

Experience teaches moral values.
Rules matter as do the positive and negative consequences attached to rules. Children often learn what's right and wrong by experiencing the consequences for their behavior, whether those consequences are rewarding or unpleasant. Like adults, children learn from experience.

Practice, practice, and more practice teaches the habits that provide the foundation for moral behavior.
Children and adults learn to automatically act morally when they have learned a habitual way of responding to common life situations. It takes time and practice to walk away from temptations and remain focused on one's values. Habits can be learned from role models and consequences, but to create a strong habit requires practice. Truth telling and lying can be one-off events but they can also become a habit pattern.

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