A Mother's Discipline Should Point Daughters to God's Truths
- Monday, May 22, 2006
It wasn't an easy decision, but it was time to pull Kristin out of school. The year before, after being homeschooled for three years, Kristin had begged C. J. and me to let her attend a local private Christian school. We agreed, under one condition: She was to be a difference-maker. But Kristin had not kept up her end of the deal.
Outwardly she was a "good" kid, even an exemplary one. She wasn't deceptive or openly rebellious. She worked hard at school and didn't hang out with the wrong crowd. She did all the "right" things. Yet she remained silent when she should have graciously confronted the ungodliness of her classmates. She was tolerant of sin in her own life and the lives of others. We didn't observe a passion for God. She also failed to show consistent love for home and family, one of the foremost characteristics of biblical womanhood. Though subtle, these were serious concerns.
I knew Kristin wouldn't be happy about our decision to homeschool her again. I knew she might resent us. It was tempting to give her what she wanted in order to avoid a potential conflict and retain her affection. But in reality we had no choice. We knew that God was not pleased with Kristin's lukewarm attitude. So C. J. and I deemed it necessary to take action. As parents, we had a deep sense of our responsibility before God to lead, train, and discipline our children for the purpose of holiness. We were bound to the commitment we had made even before our children were born that, "as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Josh. 24:15). (I don't intend to imply here that parents are biblically required to homeschool a lukewarm child. This was simply the option we believed to be most beneficial for our daughter's spiritual growth at that particular time.)
All parents are bound to the command in Ephesians 6:4 to "bring [our children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." While this verse is addressed to fathers, Scripture is clear that a mother's participation is equally significant (Prov. 1:8; 6:20; 31:26; Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20).
Pastor John MacArthur explains that the word discipline in Ephesians 6 means "enforced conformity of the heart and the life to God and His truth."1 Discipline is a strong word that implies deliberate and committed action on the part of parents. It insists that we go to whatever lengths are required to deter our children from sin and to instead direct them in paths of righteousness. My husband used to express his resolve to obey this command by telling our daughters, "If necessary, I will throw my body in front of you to prevent you from sinning."
C. J.'s statement might sound extreme; however, I believe it is biblical. Given the seriousness of sin before a holy God, we as parents must seek to restrain our children from bringing reproach to God's name and pain to others—not to mention sparing them the bitter consequences. We must make every effort to train our daughters and redirect them toward a lifestyle that brings glory to God and that aligns with His Word. Ultimately, our desire is for our daughters to experience the blessings and favor that flow from a life of obedience to God.
Our biblical charge to discipline our daughters means that we cannot be passive parents. We must not think that we are helpless or without recourse to deal with our daughters' sin. Neither turning a blind eye nor remaining ignorant are acceptable options. We cannot afford to assume "this is just a phase" or "this is normal for her age." And we must not subscribe to the theory that allowing our daughters to experience the world will make them stronger. Effective discipline requires more than reactive parenting, which only swings into gear when a crisis hits.
Left to themselves, our daughters will not naturally conform to the Word of God. The truth is that we all go our own way apart from the intervention of the Holy Spirit and the correction of godly friends. (This fact should help us guard against self-righteousness.) And if we ignore, minimize, or are at ease with the discrepancies between our daughters' behavior and God's standard, there may be dire consequences.
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