The Bible Is Not A Parenting Manual

This was our sermon last Sunday which we thought we would share as well


This is the title to a blog post I addressed for my magazine this past week.  It is not a statement or fact nor am I declaring the Bible to be inadequate for parenting guidance. It is the view of that particular person who wrote that post.

One of the things that author says about the Bible is:

“Scripture offers occasional parenting advice, and some of it is good, but the Bible was never meant to be a parenting manual”

This statement is only partially true. For while it does provide only a few verses specifically talking about raising one’s children it is meant to be a guide to all aspects of our lives—this includes parenting.

The Bible provides clear instructions though general in nature in some cases on how we are to look after our families, Those who make the claim that the Bible is not a parenting manual have not read it very closely nor listened to the HS when those passages come before their eyes.

We all know those specific passages referred to by the author of that blog post. Eph. 6: 1 & 2  are prime examples as they read:

“1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

2“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise:

or in Proverbs which reads, spare the rod spoil the child. Sadly too many people have taken the word ‘rod’ ultra-literally and have used rods, switches and other tools to discipline their children. They did not take the time to learn that God used the word rod here to equal ‘discipline’. If we spare discipline then we spoil the child. I am not going to get into a debate about the use of corporal punishment versus other forms of discipline for that is a conversation for another time

And I do not want to spend time in talking about the verses we all know about. I would like to focus on those issues and verses that we do not consider to be relevant to raising children. We do not think they are relevant because they are often applied to more adult situations. I will use some points from that blog post to help me bring home the point God wants us to learn about the Bible being a parenting manual.

#1. “There are a few scattered verses that talk about raising up children, discipline, and a handful of generic bits of wisdom, but few offer specific pieces of advice or relevant applications for today’s society.”

How is today’s society different from any other society in history? Parents have desires for their children, children want to play in games, and do other activities and so on. This has not changed throughout history despite the claims made by archaeologists and biblical scholars.

Then we must see that the ideas of obedience and sin have not changed from culture to culture. Children are given instructions and rules by their parents and the children either disobey on their own or they are led to disobey by their friends and other influences. When caught children are punished.

The modern society is no different from any ancient one and God’s words of parental guidance applies to all cultures and all civilizations whether ancient or modern. When God says as he does in Deut. 6

“Dt 6:1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess,

Dt 6:2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live   by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life”

Our children may not be going in to possess the land of Canaan but they are eligible to enter into heaven and while we do not have to teach all the laws of the OT we do have God’s instructions and commands in the NT to impress upon our children and grandchildren.

Those instructions and commands help us in raising our children as it gives them a clear path to follow and so that they know the difference between right and wrong; good and evil; morality and immorality.

What is an example of those instructions and commands that we might impress upon our children—Ph. 2

“14Do all things without complaining and disputing,

15that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

16holding fast the word of life,”

They are part of the light that shines in their crooked and perverse generations and they need to be shown how to hang on to the word of life, how to be blameless and harmless. This example shows parents what they need to possess themselves along with directing them to what they need to teach their children.

Another example comes from the OT, the book of Micah and it reads:

“8    He has shown you, O man, what is good;     And what does the Lord require of you     But to do justly,     To love mercy,     And to walk humbly with your God?”

Children do not come with these qualities of life and need to be shown as well as experience true justice and mercy then when to correctly apply the latter of those two. Then they need to learn how to humbly walk with God thus while God does not give us point by point instructions for each parenting problem, he does cover all child rearing issues with verses that cover everything. The parent knows that if he wants his child to be just then he must provide justice when disciplining the child.

Providing justice and the right mercy when it is called for is part of child rearing and avoids other problems as the child grows older.

#2. To make matters worse, Jesus—the central figure of Christianity—was never a parent. He didn’t have to worry about changing diapers, taking kids to school, protecting them, or transporting them to soccer practice

Jesus is the all-knowing God why does he have to be a parent to know how to tell his followers how to raise their children?

“Lk 2:40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.”

Surely the wisdom he received as he grew would sufficiently qualify him to talk about parental issues and be able to guide parents in raising their children. The following two examples are for children as well as adults:

“Mt 5:37 Simply let your yes be  yes, and your no, no? anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Children need to be taught how to keep their word and not to speak too hastily. If we are not sure how to teach  our children God has provided older believers to help and a parent can also pray for wisdom to handle the problems they face.

As for changing diapers well, the previous point has the answer to that and other distasteful chores— do all things without complaining

We do not know if he had to worry about changing diapers, taking kids to school or protecting them because we are not sure what duties he was given by Mary & Joseph since he was the oldest he may have cared for his younger siblings or so we can conclude.

As for soccer practice other sports and activities, the Bible has those covered as well as it teaches us to be honest, not to cheat, not to lie, to do all to the glory of God and many more instructions. The Bible does cover it all if we really look at all the verses pertaining to how we should live and interact with our neighbors.

#3. There are hardly any examples in the Bible of good parents, and even if there were, it would be hard to reconcile the radical difference between cultures that span over thousands of years. We would understand little of their parenting customs and find most of their practices confusing, repulsive, and completely unfamiliar.

We do not need biblical examples of good parents to follow because we have instructions from our Creator who knows how to raise children. We just need to honestly and correctly implement them as our families grow. Though this is not a guarantee that one will not have problems with their children but if we correctly respond to those problems biblically then we will lessen those problems and our example will make the right impression upon the child’s life.

God’s word transcends culture and gives all parents the same instructions to follow in living the Christian life and raising their children. We belong to God’s culture thus the instructions are all going to be the same for everyone, it doesn’t matter which country or era one lives in God’s word is to be followed.

#4. For Christian parents searching for clear, concise, and exact answers to all of their parenting questions, concerns, and dilemmas, the Bible is frustratingly thin on content.

This is difficult for many to accept because Christian culture often puts an extra burden on parents to raise their children in the most “Christian way” possible

The most Christian way possible is to follow God’s instructions and apply them correctly. We have clear and concise and exact answers to follow if we really look honestly at God’s word. The verse ‘do unto others…’ applies to parents in raising their children. If the parent would not like the discipline they render to their children for the offense committed then the parent should rethink that punishment.

If the parent does not want to be lied to, they should not lie to their children and if the parent wants grace and forgiveness then they should administer grace and forgiveness to their children.

If the parent wants their children to return good for evil, then the parent should set that example correctly.

The most Christian way possible is to follow God’s instructions not the expected way of those in the church for who is to say if others in the church are following God or the secular world’s ideas?

We are not without help in parenting as God has provided us the HS to guide us as we raise our children and if we have questions we only need to ask for help to get to the right answer, whether it comes directly from God or from a true believer in the church.

We are not alone when we raise our children and we do have the perfect parenting manual—the Bible. A parent must take the time to read all the verses not just the ones specifically talking about children but those which guide our lives as well. One last example

‘Turn the other cheek…’  parents need to set this example for their children and instruct them clearly on how it is to be done correctly for our children will face attacks that call for retaliation and revenge but God said vengeance is mine…’ thus the child needs to see it exampled by their parent then told how to let God avenge them.

While God does not give us step by step blow-by-blow guidelines he has given us intelligence to see what he is talking about and the ability to use that intelligence to learn what verses apply to which situation. God addressed all aspects of life in a concise way so that people will pick up his word and read it.

What applies to adult to adult relationships applies to parent to child relationships as Paul wrote

“22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law”

The child needs to see this in action as well

Let us pray