By Pastor Stuart Weist
First Baptist Church of Preston
I heard this before, both in my youth and as an adult. I have heard more than a few times Christian parents weaponize this phrase out of Ephesians 6:1 without giving any thought to the rest of the passage. Their goal is to simply have children that follow their every command. But that’s not what the Bible says, and weaponizing scripture will only seek to push people away from God. In light of a recent Father’s Day service, let’s take a look at just what the Bible is talking about when we are called to obey.
I don’t know how you grew up, but I grew up in a city filled with big ideas. I often rebelled against authority and had a violent temper to match. This rebellious heart saw me moving out as a sophomore in high school, falling in with the wrong crowd at times, and walking down a rather dark path. My knowledge of God was jaded by those who had weaponized God’s Word against me, and I wanted nothing to do with “religion.”
It was not until I became an adult and was starting a family that I finally settled down to try and find the truth. I wanted to know how so many could love a God who seemed so mean. What I found was that most who claim to be Christian don’t truly know God at all, they just know about God or parts of God. However, when we actually read God’s Word we find the truth. Ephesians 6:1-4 indeed tells children to obey their parents, but only because their parents are to be following the Lord. For as much as children are to obey, fathers are not to provoke, and parents are to be walking according to God’s commands and trusting in His Word. It’s by His grace that we are saved and in His grace that we are called to walk. So, when we tell children to obey what we are telling them is to follow me as I follow the Lord.
The problem is that few parents truly practice what they preach. All too often they have a “do as I say not as I do” attitude. Many come to church only out of obligation, or because “that’s what we do.” Few are the believers who come to genuinely worship the Lord and give thanks for His Glory and grace. If we are to live as God commands and ask children to obey, then we must first have our own hearts right with the Lord. We must depend upon His grace, see His love, and partake of His mercy. Parents, if you want your children to obey, stop weaponizing scripture. Start by getting your own heart right with God, then you can show your children a better way. Then you can tell your children to obey as they see you obey in the Lord “for this is right.” May the Lord guide you this week.