Ask Your Preacher
Does God give us advice on how to correct our children, such as spanking? Today, society tells us to use time-outs instead... but that doesn't seem to always work.
Dear Tired Parent,
The Bible is very clear that spanking is an acceptable and effective method of training children. Pr 29:15 says that “the rod” and reproof give wisdom to a child. Pr 23:13 says that spanking a child will not kill them, so don’t withhold correction. Pr 22:15-16 says that all children need the rod of correction to drive foolishness from their hearts and that spanking them will help protect their soul.
The Bible never teaches that parents should abuse, torture, or hit their children out of anger or frustration, but it does teach that corporal punishment is part of a healthy parenting method. Part of nurturing our children up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord does involve punishment, and that includes spanking (Eph 6:4).
I have spoken with people who feel our job as christian parents is to homeschool our children. Are there verses in the Bible to support this idea?
Educate Me Please
Dear Educate Me Please,
There are lots of verses that say parents are responsible for the education of their children, but none of them say you must formally homeschool your children. Whether a child goes to a public, private, alternative, or home school, Mom and Dad are responsible for making sure their child is properly trained up (Pr 22:6). Many parents believe the only way they can properly train their children is to homeschool them. On the other hand, just as many parents feel that taking advantage of the opportunities provided by various education systems is a wise way to responsibly educate their children. The Bible doesn’t specifically tell us how to train our children; it just says it is our duty. We should be very wary about creating a law like “christians must homeschool their children” if God hasn’t made that law. If the Bible gives only the general command to train up our children, we shouldn’t go beyond what He wrote (1 Cor 4:6). Parents should use whatever tools they see fit to nurture their children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4).
I don't understand this scripture: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5 NIV)
Was I born a sinner? I thought all children were born sinless?
The NIV reading of that text sure sounds like David is saying that he was born in sin, but the NIV isn’t a word-for-word translation and takes liberty in translating that verse (read “What’s The Best Translation” for more details on Bible translations). Other translations, such as the New American Standard and New King James (much more literal translations), simply say “I was brought forth in iniquity.” (NKJV) This is a much more generic statement than saying David was born sinful. Ps 51:5 could mean one of two things:
- David was born sinful.
- David was born into a sinful world.
We need to look at other verses to see what the Bible teaches about babies being born in sin. The sum teachings of the Bible say that babies are born without sin, and babies are perfect in God’s sight (even David, the writer of Psalm 51, recognized that his dead child was going to be in heaven [2 Sam 12:23]). Sin is not a birthright; it is a choice (Gen 4:6-7, Jas 1:13-15). Humans sin when they choose to do wrong; they are not born in sin.
The false teaching of ‘original sin’ is very common in today’s society. If a congregation teaches that you are born in sin, they are false teachers. Sin is a choice we make in life (Isa 7:15-16), and all humans are born upright and good (Eccl 7:29).
What age is it when you know right from wrong and if you sin you go to hell?
Counting The Years
Dear Counting The Years,
The age of accountability is the age when a child becomes accountable to God for their sins and would be judged for them… exactly at what age that happens is the tricky part of your question. We can tell you what the Bible says on the subject, but it doesn’t say much.
We know any baby that dies goes to heaven. David’s son died, and David made it clear that his son was in heaven (2 Sam 12:23). Also, Paul uses the immaturity of children as an example (1 Cor 13:11). This tells us God doesn’t have the same expectation of a child’s behavior as He does of an adult’s. Children are not bound by the same rules as adults. A child doesn’t have the mental capacity or maturity to be held accountable for their mistakes like adults are.
In order to become a christian, there are several things God expects you to be capable of doing:
- Take responsibility for your sins (Acts 3:19).
- Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
- Be responsible for your own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).
If a child is not capable of doing those things, they cannot be held accountable for their eternal future.
This still doesn’t answer the question though because every child matures at a different rate. Everyone agrees that a five-year-old can’t be held accountable, and that a twenty-year-old can. It is the age spectrum in between where our judgment gets fuzzy. Only God, who knows our hearts (Lk 16:15), can accurately judge the hour in which a child makes that transition into accountability.
If my children were born out of wedlock, are they automatically damned to hell?
Absolutely not. Ezek 18:2-4 says that God holds each person accountable for their own individual sins. It is a sin to have children out of wedlock, but that is a sin the parents need forgiveness for, not the children. Your children are not damned because of your choices.
However, your choices do greatly influence your children’s future. Our kids look to us as role-models and guides. God says that how we train up a child will affect where they go (Pr 22:6).
It is a sign of a healthy parental instinct that you are already worried about your children’s spiritual future. The best thing you can do for them is to make your own life right with God. We would be happy to get you in touch with a faithful church (not all churches are faithful) that can help you get on the right track for you and your children. Just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will happily assist you in whatever way we can.