The Bible on Children and Parents

According to the Bible, children are to treat their parents with great respect. In fact, if a child strikes or curses his or her parents it is as serious as murder, kidnapping or adultery. “He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 21:15).

Notice that the parent does not need to be killed or even badly injured to deserve the death penalty, the child only needs to strike the parent. Such a concept would be outrageous in our society today when parents are dismissed by our leaders and even told that children should teach them instead of the other way around.

The very idea that parents should be held in such high regard so as to issue the death penalty for striking them is offensive. We might say that the family, not just the child needs to see a counselor or that the child might need anger management classes but the death penalty? Hardly.

Yet, the Lord commands that a child who curses or strikes his mother or father should be put to death. The Lord apparently has a different standard that we have, that should not come as a surprise.

“He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.” Exodus 21:17

What does it mean to curse one’s mother or father? The traditional understanding has not been using foul language, although we might think otherwise, but to use the holy name of the Lord to purposefully curse your parents. While this carries the death penalty, there has not been a nation operating under God’s law and no one has been put to death in over two thousand years.

The guiding principles at work in these passages of scripture are that there are certain things needed in order for a society to be stable and at peace. A biblical worldview places an importance on the family as a foundational part of a healthy society. Disrespect, rebellion, and violence toward one’s parents is as much of a threat as murder, kidnapping, and adultery.

We should also understand that this does not absolve parents of the obligation to not exacerbate their children but instead reminds us to start early in training up our children. When parents use proper discipline on their children to correct their selfish and rebellious tendencies they will have better behaved and more polite children who are a joy to the family and society at large.

By contrast, parents that allow their children to become insulant and disrespectful are a shame to the family and really no one can stand to be around such children.  Today, children are taught to be disrespectful and it is not uncommon to hear those children mouth off to their parents. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul warned of in his second letter to Timothy:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” -2 Timothy 3:1-5

The company we keep is as important for our children as it is for us. If we knew that our children’s friends were thieves or gang members, we would not allow them to hang out with them. The same should be true for the disrespectful friends, not to mention hanging out with their parents. According to the bible, these things are seriously equal in importance.

Is Santa Clause Dangerous for Christian Children?

At the risk of being called an Ebenezer Scrooge, I wanted to address an issue every Christian parent should consider. The issue of Santa Clause.

Let’s face it, Santa Clause is the worst thing to happen to a Christian celebration of Christmas. We make kids believe in a fat man who hands out gifts unfairly and makes out with mom, and then ask them to believe in Jesus.

modern American beliefs about Santa come from Dutch settlers in New York and reach us by way of department store marketing and Thomas Nast cartoons. But, as many people know, the modern Santa Claus evolved out of St. Nicholas.

Nicholas lived in southwestern Turkey in the fourth century and, according to legend, performed a number of miracles involving sailors and children. He was from a wealthy family and, in a prefiguration of modern stockings, would occasionally toss gold through the windows of less fortunate neighbors to help them through hard times.

In one particularly gruesome miracle story, he resurrected three children who had been murdered by a butcher for their meat. The miraculous feat earned him the status of patron saint of children and put him on course to becoming the bearded fat man in the red suit.

You might be asking, If the historical St. Nick was a good man, where is the harm, where is the foul?

We don’t teach the historical St. Nicholas as a lesson to our children, we teach them about a fairy tale in the same breath we teach them about a historical Jesus.

Consider that we give Santa almost God-like qualities. He can travel around the world in a single night. He sees you when you are good or bad, sleeping or waking. He knows if you have been eating your veggies and doing your chores.

elf-on-the-shelfThese days we have added the Elf on the Shelf to assist Santa. Here is an excerpt from the Elf website.

The Elf on the Shelf® is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their elf each morning.

But even a five year old can see that Santa doesn’t give gifts fairly. My kids always noticed that wealthier families seemed to get a whole lot more than they did, even if those kids were naughty!

There is nothing more difficult to explain than why Santa brought a new iPad or laptop to the Nelly Olsen down the street and your child got pens and paper.

At some point, you have to fess up that Santa is not real. He is just a fairy tale. Someone everyone made up to get the kids to behave. But, Jesus is real. He sees everything and knows what you are up to without the elf. Jesus was born of a virgin, did miracles including healing people and multiplying bread and fish. He can even take away your sin.

Jesus is nothing like Santa.

The modern Christmas elevates Santa Clause to equal status to Jesus for church going children. I would even say that Santa has superseded Jesus even in Christian homes. So when Santa is exposed, how do we expect Jesus to remain unscathed?

Is Santa Clause dangerous for Christian children? I hold that Santa can steal your child’s faith.

Can God Still Bless America this 4th of July?

Independence Day.  I hope you know the history. I pray you’ve read the Declaration. Most of all, I pray that you understand the biblical underpinnings of where liberty and self-government come from.

I grew up in small town Texas until I moved to Albuquerque at 12. The elementary school I attended was a public school, but there was corporate prayer and bible reading and the entire school recited the pledge of allegiance together.

I recall the pride I had in decorating a bicycle for the 1976 4th of July parade. I love the color blue, so taking my blue bike and wrapping paper streamers of red, white and blue and finding ways to decorate the spokes even more, I thought for sure I would win the prize for the best bike in the line up.

It was a different time for sure, but it was not all that long ago. I remember seeing so many people lining the streets we paraded down, waving flags and cheering to see the veterans of this war or that.

Granted my developing a mild case of heat stroke interrupted the event for me, but my mom got me into the shade and gave me a never-ending cup of water or Gatorade. As a nine year old, this parade and the fireworks and speeches that followed re-enforced a patriotism that is deeply rooted in me to this day.

Something that goes deeper is the understanding that this nation came about not as a result of the will of man, but the providence of God. If you haven’t done recently, read the Declaration of Independence.

Really, go read it.

Did you read it all the way through? If you did, I would image that you recognize that our liberty comes from the Creator. That He gave men the right to choose their government.

This is nearly impossible for an ungodly people to understand. They prefer tyranny because sin draws them to it. The enemy understands this too. That is why he employees the doctrine of Balaam.

The scripture (Torah) portion for this week is Numbers 22:2-25:9. It is the story of Balak hiring Balaam to curse Israel. I won’t give you a full on commentary here, but the story ends with Balaam telling Balak that if he would like to stop Israel, the secret is to corrupt Israel and remove the protection of God and worse, bring the judgment of God on the people of God.

The doctrine of Balaam shows up again in Revelation 2, but suffice to say if what Abraham Lincoln stated is true, America will not be destroyed from the outside but from within by choosing immorality over righteousness.

Let’s face facts here; around New Mexico and around the United States, the parades have mostly stopped. If they happen at all, they are smaller affairs and poorly attended.

The 4th of July for many Americans has become just another excuse to eat and drink too much while fulfilling their inner pyromaniac with pathetically weak fireworks due to over regulation by the nanny state.

There are many planning to burn US flags this 4th of July because of real or perceived injustice, but how many are willing to change their lives and do the hard work needed to restore liberty and freedom.

We are more concerned about abolishing the Confederate flag because we have no moral standard to live by. Many feel better by driving this flag from the public square to appease the nagging voice in them that says things are wrong.

True independence is achieved by drawing near to God. Liberty is found in the Spirit of God and the rejection of sin. Real freedom can only come from humbling ourselves before the King and submitting to His authority.

Can you see how the doctrine of Balaam being embraced by the people of our country is removing the protection of God and setting the stage for a plague to sweep across America?

The cure is available and it is the same as it was for Israel, reject the worship of idols and reject sexual immorality.

Here is a practical way to start. If your church or group of friends is not already planning something for the 4th, call up other believers and agree to come together for more than burgers, hot dogs and fireworks.

Bring the kids, and have a time of prayer, read the declaration of Independence out loud. You may realize that a few of the grievances the founders had with England sound familiar.

You can still eat some great food, shoot off some fireworks, even stage a little parade with some decorated bikes the kids decorate. But take a little time to rediscover the principles that created America and determine it is not too late for God to bless America.

Pastor Paul Holt
First Baptist Church of Magdalena, NM