You might read all this talk of law, discipline, reaping and sowing, and think that the ideal Christian home is some sort of concentration camp. Quite the opposite, since the point of it all is warm friendship between parents and children. There is a danger not only that all this talk of odediance will sound harsh but that lazy parents will use it to justify a cold, rigid home, since legalism is always rooted in relational laziness. A home like that is not at all what I have in mind.
The truth is that many strict religious parents really do screw up their children, just like the Hollywood caricaturists say they do. See this essay: I agree with every word of it.
The home should feel like Eden. It should be quiet, pretty, laced with laughter, music, color, and not rigid. No emphasis on discipline contradicts any of this. It is the carnal mind that sees the law of God from a distance and thinks it cold and hard. The law, up close, is not harsh, but is itself filled with God’s love.
So, some comments to fill out the bones of discipline with the warm flesh of love:
First, no correction is complete until repentance and restoration. Restoration means not just that we are “emotionally ok” with each other again, it means that we are ONE IN HEART. Physical conformity alone is not the goal, and accomplishes little.
Fundamentalist parents have a healthy respect for God’s authority and so often insist that their children obey them. But simple obedience, though utterly crucial as a foundation, is almost worthless as a goal, and many of the more conservative parents seem to think they have accomplished something when they assert their authority and get their 13 year old to do what they tell her, even though she didn’t want to. They haven’t accomplished anything; the real problem is that she didn’t want what they wanted.
The implication is that we shouldn’t raise an issue of obedience, unless by practical necessity, unless you can bring it to a complete restoration. It is cruel to the child to leave correction half done. Physical obediance is, in itself, a cruelty to the child if it goes no further.
OBEDIANCE IS NOT THE POINT OF PARENTING. BUT IT LAYS THE FOUNDATION FOR THE POINT, WHICH IS TO INTRODUCE THE CHILD TO THE BEAUTY OF JESUS’ HOLINESS (not just get him “saved”).
Your law must contain AS MUCH BLESSING WHEN HE OBEYS AS IT DOES DISCIPLINE WHEN HE DISOBEYS, SO THAT HE COMES TO REGARD THE HOME AS PARADISE.
It is harder to bless than to discipline. You must know the child’s heart in order to bless him, because you must demonstrate to him that if he obeys, the desires of his heart come true. His heart changes every day, just like a flower.