I mentioned in an earlier post that there are things in the Old Testament which are contrary to our modern way of thinking. The portion of Scripture for this post is perhaps at the top of the list. It’s found in Deuteronomy 22:18-21:
“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.”
In Yahoo Answers, it’s usually referred to along the lines of “killing my kid”, implying a young child. It can’t mean that, because then there would have been no next generation.
There is an idea that there weren’t any instructions after the Fall, that God left Adam and Eve to the leading of their conscience, an idea popularized by the Scofield Bible. It is true that there is no record as such of any revelation from God between Adam and Moses, yet there are indications of it. To name just one, cf. Genesis 26:5, where God talks about Abraham obeying “My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Moses wouldn’t be born for centuries. So it’s clear that there was something to which men were responsible before the giving of the Law at Sinai. We just don’t have any record of it.
We’re not told a great deal about the instructions God may have given Adam and Eve, but we are told enough. He set some precedents. There is, for example, marriage, Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Our Lord referred to this in Matthew 19:4-6, “…He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’. So then, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together. let not man separate.”
When God created Adam and Eve, He told them to “multiply,” that is, to have children. This introduces “the family.” The family is the basic unit of society. Marriage is the glue that’s supposed to hold the family together.
God told the first couple to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth….” Unlike most of the animal world, bringing human offspring into the world isn’t just a matter of preservation of the species. It means much more than just bringing the next generation into the world. It has more to do with the idea that the next generation is raised in such a way that it doesn’t destroy the species. We see this all around us. Where the Biblical idea of the so-called “traditional” family has been destroyed or distorted, the younger generation often grows up in such a way that if they don’t literally destroy, that is, kill, each other, then they engage in “destructive life-styles” which just take longer to accomplish the same thing. The concept of family as it’s found in the Bible is the foundation of society; if the family goes, society goes.
Human children require far more care than any other offspring in the world. Most animals are able to carry on by themselves after just a few days or weeks. Not so, children. Not only is there the protecting of them because they are helpless, there is the nurturing and teaching which takes several years. While it may be true that in their first three or four years children learn most of what they will ever learn, no five year old is ready for his own apartment. Even teenagers struggle with the change from child to adult. Parents are to be there, indeed, “the family” is there, to be a support system.
In addition, it is here, in the family, that we first learn to interact with others: our parents, and perhaps brothers and sisters, and then, to the society and world in which we live. As we grow, our circle expands until, as adults, we enter society on our own, away from home and family.
It’s in the family that we first learn about authority and sharing. It’s a shame and tragedy when youngsters grow up without ever learning these lessons. The first thing a baby demonstrates is that he or she is completely absorbed in himself or herself. I grant that the baby has a very limited understanding of what is going on around him. At the same time, all he knows is that he is wet, hungry, thirsty, tired, or in some other way uncomfortable. He wants immediate gratification; it doesn’t matter what needs his mother, usually, might have – his are more important.
The state license plate that says, “kids first”, sounds good, but the thought is too often misplaced. I understand that children are important and in many instances they do come first. With God’s blessing and help, my wife and I raised four children to mature and responsible adulthood. What I’m concerned about is the idea that the kids run the family, and that parents have no real say. What the kid wants, the kid gets. Unfortunately, he grows up with this attitude and those around him are the ones who suffer for it.
The idea of learning authority in the home is that we might come to know that there is an ultimate authority: God. Parents are just the first link in the chain of command. Too many people never get even to that point; for them, there is only one link in the chain: themselves.
It is these last thoughts that are emphasized in Deuteronomy 22:18-21. The relationship of child and parent is very important in the Bible. One of the sins Israel later was judged for was they had “made light of father and mother,” Ezekiel 22:7. In the New Testament, Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for depriving their parents of necessary support by saying that what they should have used for that was “dedicated to God,” so was unavailable to care for their parents.
So important is this relationship that God considered it worthy of death for a child to defy his parents. Again, we must point out that this doesn’t mean a young child. It refers to one old enough to know better, one who is a drunkard and glutton, probably an older teenage, although the concept of “teenager” is relatively new. Even in the history of the U.S., the first Secretary of the Navy was given command of his first ship when he was twelve. It’s only relatively recently that “teenagers” have been consigned to the wasteland of the Xbox or X-rated activities. thereby wasting the tremendous energy and enthusiasm they have, and setting them on the path of wasting a great deal of their time and talents.
In our time, things have been turned completely around. You see this everywhere, little children in a restaurant or at the supermarket screaming their heads off because they’re not getting their way. Parents are at a loss to deal with this because children have “rights,” or so we’re told. You see older kids swaggering down the middle of the street, their pants down around their knees, arrogance spread across their faces. “Juveniles” commit the worst of crimes because they know that their “juvenile” records will be sealed, and they basically can get away with it. High schools have become hotbeds of violence and terror, with things happening almost daily which were beyond imagining in my high school days (where, by the way, we had a rifle range in the basement for ROTC, with rifles and ammunition, locked away, of course, but still there. Never a hint of any trouble with them. I qualified as a marksman on that range). That high school was in what is now “the ghetto,” but we had less trouble than preschoolers get into now.
Then, of course, there’s the complete absence of any teaching about “God.” If anything, education is against the idea of God, or of absolutes, or of morality, which has been replaced by “political correctness”.
I’m not advocating a return to Old Testament practices, but heading in that direction would certainly take care of a lot of the problems caused by the “troubled youth” in our time.