One of the giant incongruities of being a credobaptist in a Presbyterian church is all this talk of covenant children. I’m still not entirely sure what they mean, but we believe our children are born depraved and lost.
Which is depressing.
But also inspiring. Because the Bible speaks to Christian parents, credo or paedobaptist, in two large subheadings: responsibilities of Christian parents, and promises for Christian parents.
Responsibilities of Christian Parents
If I look at all the verses to do with parenting in Scripture, I see three main themes emerge:
1. Train them in the way they should go.
- “Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Proverbs 22:6a)
- “…a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15b)
- “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24)
- “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.” (Proverbs 23:13)
- “Discipline your son…” (Proverbs 29:17)
- “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” (Proverbs 19:18)
- “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
Further, we see disobedient children are in the group of condemned people who will appear in the latter days:
“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,” (2 Timothy 3:2)
Disobedience is a profoundly serious thing. In Deuteronomy “stubborn and rebellious” children who would not relent from their rebellion were taken out by their parents to the elders of the city and stoned (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
2. Teach them diligently, formally, informally, and by example.
- “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,” (Titus 2:7)
- “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.“ (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
- “…from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus…” (2 Timothy 3:15)
- “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
3. Treat them rightly.
- “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
- “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)
- “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, “(Matthew 20:26-27)
Promises for Christian parents
They will bring you delight:
- “…and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. “(Proverbs 29:17)
- “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)
They will be wise:
- “The rod and reproof give wisdom…” (Proverbs 29:15a)
they will be saved from death:
They will continue in the way of the Lord:
- “…even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6b)