|Vol. 14 No. 5 May 2012||
Every Child Is Different
Louis Rushmore, Editor
(with review and supplemented by Rebecca Rushmore, special education
schoolteacher also with a Master’s Degree in school counseling)
Our oldest child has an issue with punishment. We have spanked her, used scare tactics, forced physical fitness (push-ups) and now have begun to have her write short messages of remorse. Nothing seems to shame her. I don’t want to make her hate her mother and me; I just want her to respect our direction for her.
There are some constants and there are some variables in childrearing. Definitely, a primary variable is that each child is different – even in the same family. Just when a mom and a dad think they have something figured out respecting parenting, another child comes along and doesn’t play by the same rules.
Some of the variables regarding the inconsistent behavior between children are owing to the uniqueness of a child’s individual personality. Often overlooked, other variables affecting child behavior have to do with at what time in the life of the family and what environmental circumstances differ from when other children entered the family. At what age are the parents? What are the living conditions? Are these happy days, or stressful times? Are grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and friends in the picture? Are both parents working out of the home? The answers differ at least slightly between the introduction of each new child into the family unit.
The constants in childrearing include these considerations. Ultimately, the father of the family has the responsibility for childrearing; “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 NKJV). “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). Yet, the mother usually has the most daily interaction with the children and experiences a weighty responsibility for childrearing; Lois and Eunice, the grandmother and the mother of Timothy were primarily responsible for his godly rearing (2 Timothy 1:5), especially since Timothy’s father appears to not have been a believer in God (Acts 16:1-3). The mother, then, works in concert with the father in childrearing – they are on the same page. Every wise husband listens to the recommendations of his wife and the mother of his children, but childrearing is doomed to failure if father and mother are not agreed upon how to raise their children. It is absolutely necessary for both father and mother to present themselves as a unified front to their children. Children need to understand that their father is the ultimate source of family authority as it pertains to them, and that their mother fully cooperates with him (Titus 2:4-5) in acting according to the children’s best interest (Hebrews 12:7-11).
Notice these additional biblical passages assigning to the father the role of responsibility for the guidance of his children. “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him” (Genesis 18:19). “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding” (Proverbs 4:1).
In addition to parental responsibility, children, too, have the responsibility to participate in their own upbringing. Consider again Proverbs 4:1, “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding.” Add to that Ephesians 6:1-2, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother…” Note also, “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). A child does not have to mature enough to be responsible for obeying the Gospel of Christ to be sufficiently aware that God expects him or her to obey mommy and daddy.
It is possible to discourage our children (Colossians 3:21) or to be too harsh with them (Ephesians 6:4). Not every disappointing action by one’s child needs to be a battleground, but sometimes it is more important to choose the battles worth fighting – incidents that have or could have significant consequences. Yes, open defiance and flagrant disrespect qualify as sufficiently significant because they undermine mom and dad’s whole program of family discipline, which is intended for the welfare of the children. Certainly, not every misdeed needs to be punished in the same way; not all offenses deserve the same degree of parental reaction. Too, discipline ought to take into consideration not only the infraction but also the age and understanding of the child.
Probably one of the most useful tools in the parental toolbox of childrearing is consistency. This applies not only to the rules children are expected to follow, but also to the consequences for breaking the rules. There needs to be consistency in the application of discipline for disobedience. However, children must be informed what is expected them before they could obey or truly be said to disobey. Mom cannot have one set of rules while Dad has another set of rules. Further, Mom and Dad cannot each apply different consequences for breaking the same rule. Likewise, the same consequences should be applied each time the rule is broken, not just when the parent feels like enforcing the rules. Mom and dad need to be consistent in application of discipline.
Structure is companion to consistency. Children need a stable daily routine. This does not mean that a routine cannot change for special occasions or that it has to be the same every day of the week. Routines on the weekend probably will reflect different needs and activities than during the week when children may be in school. The normal routine for most weekdays may need to change to allow for attendance at Wednesday evening Bible class. Routines may even be different for each child to accommodate different abilities or individual needs. If a stable routine is established in the home, changes in routine for special occasions should not cause any difficulty, especially if children can be told in advance about any changes. The combination of structure and consistency will provide a home environment that will allow most children to require only mild corrective discipline with an occasional stronger consequence.
Timing for discipline is equally important. “Chasten your son while there is hope…” (Proverbs 19:18). Begin early to acquaint children with family rules and hold them accountable to them. Naturally, as a child matures, the rules will mature along with them. It does not work well to introduce discipline all of a sudden into the life of a child; from before they can possibly understand the reason why, parents need to guide their children with age-appropriate firmness.
Methods of discipline vary widely, and they should vary widely even within the same family. Parental response to misbehavior ought to correspond to the nature of the misbehavior. In addition, different types of discipline work better with different children, even within the same family. A cross look will adequately correct some children under some circumstances. Corporal punishment is in God’s book on rearing children, and when and if necessary, it ought to be at least in every parent’s tool chest; having sometimes experienced a spanking (not mistreating a child), some children will improve their deportment simply when reminded of the prior experience. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15). “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15).
Mothers and fathers must remember who the parents are! Though children may say hurtful and even hateful things that wound mom and dad, the parents still have the responsibility before God to rear their children in godly fashion. Remember, mom and dad, it is not your primary role to be friends with your children! “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). It is your God-given role to properly instruct your offspring, and God will deem you blameworthy for not correcting them when needed, as was the case with Eli (1 Samuel 3:13). It is true, though, that one’s children can choose for themselves to pursue wickedness, as was the case with the sons of Samuel (1 Samuel 8:1-5). However, training our children from a young age greatly improves the likelihood of their faithfulness (Proverbs 22:6). Sometimes, it is the father’s sorrow overshadowed with joy to receive the prodigal home again (Luke 15:11-32).
Obviously, parents are not limited to cross looks and spanking as the only means of correcting their children. Parents may need to experiment with several punitive measures, any one of which is applied – not because mom or dad is angry – for the physical, psychological or spiritual well-being of the child. Curtailing privileges (e.g., favorite TV show, video game, grounding, social event with friends, etc.) is one such possible path. However, discipline is not all punitive in nature. The verb “discipline” also means “to train or develop by instruction and exercise especially in self-control” (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary). Discipline is teaching, sometimes negative and even punitive instruction, and yet at other times, discipline is positive coaching. Both reward and punishment ought to be partners in family discipline. Reward children with positive reinforcement for successes and administer offense and age-appropriate punishment for violations of the parental rules.
Finally, let’s note some other practical considerations. Is the child misbehaving at school, or just at home with mom and dad? Is the child acting out in response to perceived or genuine bad behavior on the part of parents, other relatives or friends? Are mom and dad consistent and unified in their approach to discipline? Why is the child misbehaving? Knowing why the child is disobeying his or her parents is the first step in rectification of the problem. Mom and Dad, buckle down, do your best, don’t relent. Be the parents. Use God’s operators’ manual for life, including parenting. Sometimes outside resources may be helpful, depending upon the age of the child, the degree of unruliness, the seriousness of the consequences for the child’s rebellion, etc. Don’t hesitate to resort to the aid of elders, Christian counselors (or counselors with a Christian perspective), law enforcement, judiciaries, whatever is appropriate for the scenario you are facing and that is age-appropriate. We don’t get any do overs in life, and we don’t (unfortunately) get any do overs in parenting either.
Ideally, children should obey their parents because they love their parents and do not want to disappoint them. When childish love fails to manifest itself in self-discipline, it is up to the parents to bring children into compliance with the unpleasant – for child and parents – side of discipline. Family mechanics are the backdrop for the elder (and the elder’s wife) preparation for appointment to the eldership; “one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Timothy 3:4-5). Family mechanics are the basis of the scenario of Divine interaction with the children of God (Hebrews 12:5-11). One cannot overestimate the importance of the mechanics of parenting!
Louis Rushmore, Editor
The same Greek word for “go” appears in both Matthew 10:7 and Matthew 28:19, only the respective endings on the two instances of the word differ to distinguish verb tenses. Matthew 10:7 reads, “And as you go [poreuomenoi], preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (NKJV). Matthew 28:19 reads, “Go [poreuthentes] therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The root word is poreuomai, and it appears 153 times in 146 New Testament verses; it is translated variously in some form of the words “depart,” “went,” “go,” walk” or “journey.”
Poreuomenoi in Matthew 10:7 is a verb: present tense, middle voice, participle, which is masculine, plural and nominative. Poreuthentes in Matthew 28:19 is a verb: aorist tense, passive voice, participle, which is masculine, plural and nominative. The Greek present tense usually carries the idea of continuing action, hence, Matthew 10:7 is translated accordingly, “as you go.” Greek aorist tense usually carries either an idea similar to past tense in the English language, or it refers to an activity that has a definitive beginning point as well as a definitive ending point. Therefore, Matthew 28:19 is translated differently from Matthew 10:7 as “Go.” Thomas B. Warren observed because of the aorist tense for “go” in Matthew 28:19 that it could also be translated correctly a little differently than the quotation already noted herein. “‘Go ye…’ is the aorist, passive, participle, nominative, masculine, plural of poreuomai. It could be translated ‘having gone.’”
A participle is “a word having the characteristics of both verb and adjective; especially : an English verbal form that has the function of an adjective and at the same time shows such verbal features as tense and voice and capacity to take an object” (Merriam-Webster). Commentators disagree upon the significance of the word “go” in Matthew 10:7 and Matthew 28:19 being participles. “The Greek verb translated go is actually not a command but a present participle (going). The only command in the entire Great Commission is ‘make disciples’ (‘teach all nations’) Jesus said, ‘While you are going, make disciples of all the nations’” (Bible Exposition Commentary). To the contrary, another commentator observed:
Merely because expressed as a participle, Go ye (poreuthentes) is no less a command. Since it is subordinate to a principal verb in the imperative mood (matheteusate), this renders it no less a command than that verb itself. (Cf. e.g. 28:7, [= 10]; Luke 19:5 in Greek.) Had Jesus desired to say, “as you go, preach, ” He could have expressed Himself differently, (poreuomenoi kerssete, 10:7). The ASV is correct in rendering this participle and its main verb, Go ye, and make disciples. Often those who argue that the Greek means, “Having gone,” as if it were not imperative, are not consistent in using the same logic or grammar with the other two participles in this commission: baptizing (baptizontes) and teaching (didaskontes). Although these actions are admitted on all hands to be absolutely essential, the going is no less imperative than either of these. So, the main point of this commission is to bring the message of life in Christ Jesus to all, not to wait to do so if and when we happen to go. (Fowler 940-941)
The contrast between “as you go” in Matthew 10:7 and “go” in Matthew 28:19 is between (1) teaching the Gospel to souls who happened to be around a Christian as he goes throughout life and may from time to time travel from place to place, and (2) purposely and urgently traveling to where the lost are to acquaint them with the saving Gospel. In truth, though, the apostles of Christ to whom our Lord gave the Limited Commission were no less expected to proclaim actively God’s Word than were the apostles to whom our Lord gave the Great Commission expected to do likewise. The primary difference between the Limited Commission and the Great Commission pertains to the respective audiences to whom the Word of God was to be proclaimed, Jews and every creature or all nations, respectively. Although there is a valid point to be made between “go” in Matthew 10:7 and Matthew 28:19, activity is obligatory in both passages; the difference between the renderings of “go” in these verses is not huge or deserving of adamant profession. After all, “…we cannot stay where we are and fulfill the Great Commission. You and I are called, literally, to go” (Bunn).
Bible Exposition Commentary, The. CD-ROM. Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1989.
Bunn, John. “Poreuomai.” Thinking Outside the Bunn. 27 Jun 2007 12 May 2012 <https://www.johnbunn.net/2007/06/poreuomai.html>.
Fowler, Harold. The Gospel of Matthew. Vol. 4. CD-ROM. Joplin: College P., 1985.
Merriam-Webster, I. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. CD-ROM. Springfield: Logos Research Systems, 1996.
Warren, Thomas B. “Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage Forum, No. 6.” Studies in 1 Corinthians. Dub McLish, ed. CD-ROM. Denton: Valid Publications, 1982.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Dear Rushmore, I read your article, “Does Freewill Exist?” The Biblical text supporting Calvinism is too overwhelming to allow for your argument. Especially on the points: Salvation is by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8; John 6:63, etc, etc.), as spiritual dead person could not answer the salvation call. The Holy Spirit must first help such a person. And indeed God chooses from birth (Malachi 1:3), “…I loved Jacob… and I hated Esau.” On the point, those who once tasted of salvation fall away if they should fall away… I believe accepting (Calvinist?) view is easier to understand based on the First Epistle of John, 2:19, “If they were of us they would have continued with us…” To be fair, I understand there are verses that appear to contradict “salvation by election/calling alone” doctrine. Those in my view, can be explained more easily from Calvinist standpoint than from the other side. Please correct me if I am wrong. Thank you and God bless, Zoe Abate
If Calvinism teaches more than the Bible, then it teaches too much, and Calvinism ought to be rejected. If Calvinism teaches less than the Bible, then it teaches too little, and Calvinism out to be rejected. If Calvinism teaches exactly what the Bible teaches, then Calvinism is not needed and ought to be rejected because we already have the Bible – God’s inspired Word.
Merely claiming “The Biblical text supporting Calvinism is too overwhelming to allow for your argument” is not substantiated simply because you affirm it to be true. Characteristically, as you, too, have done, when Bible truth is presented that goes contrary to one’s perceived notions, people often summarily dismiss the Bible truth without attempting to address it directly. For instance, was the biblical principle of Ezekiel 18:20 in the former article too inconvenient to address, because it establishes that babies are not born in sin or that they do not inherit sin (from Adam or anyone else)? Why did you not respond to the passages cited in “Does Freewill Exist” that demonstrate the true role of the Holy Spirit in conversion (2 Peter 1:20-21; Acts 2:1-11; Ephesians 4:11-12), which is not direct operation of the Holy Spirit on any human for the purpose of saving him from anything; passages of Scripture wherein the Holy Spirit acted directly upon a person for the purpose of saving him do not appear in the Bible.
Why did you ignore the passages cited throughout the former article and the references made to them (Acts 8:29, 38; 10:48; Hebrews 5:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Romans 1:5; 16:26; John 8:24; Luke 13:3; Matthew 10:32-33; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 22:16; 8:22; 1 John 1:9; Revelation 2:10; Matthew 7:13-14; Ephesians. 3:9; Colossians 1:23; Romans 1:16; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Corinthians 10:12)? Why did you not respond to any of the “whosoever” passages that show anyone can respond to the Word of God (Acts 2:21; 10:43; 13:26; Romans 10:13; 1 John 4:15; 5:1; Revelation 22:17)?
Your statement that “Salvation is by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8; John 6:63, etc, etc.)…” would be hilarious if it were not for the seriousness of salvation versus condemnation. I looked at Ephesians 2:8 in over 30 English Bible translations and in a Greek New Testament, and not once does the word “alone” appear in that verse. You may believe that doctrine, but it is not a Bible doctrine, and simply citing a passage does not make it mean what you want it to mean. Scripture citations that are meaningless to your assertion of ‘salvation by grace alone’ followed by “etc., etc.” are poor responses to Bible truth. John 6:63, for instance, has nothing to do with “grace,” but Jesus defined His words in that verse as spiritual truths.
In the next place, I am positive that you do not truly believe (and I know that the Bible does not teach) that salvation comes by grace alone. Do you believe a person must believe the Gospel to be saved, or put another way, do you believe that a person can be saved if he or she is an unbeliever? Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16 NKJV). If you do not accept what Jesus said, then talking about Bible matters is completely useless for you. However, if you do accept what Jesus said in Mark 16:16, then you have surrendered your affirmation that one is saved by grace alone, because you acknowledge that one is saved in faith, too. We could go through the same exercise respecting repentance as well (Luke 13:3). Since grace, faith and repentance are involved in salvation, one is not saved by grace alone. In addition, there are several other New Testament references to elements involved in the salvation of souls besides the ones we noted already: the blood of Christ (Ephesians 1:7), confessing or acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ – the Son of God (John 8:24; Matthew 10:32-33), immersion (baptism) in water for the remission of sins (Romans 6:3-5; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:20-21), hope (Romans 8:24). Those who are saved are not saved by any single thing alone!
Reference to Malachi 1:2-3 as proof that God chooses persons for salvation or condemnation from birth is flawed. The words “from birth” are not in Malachi 1:2-3. In addition, the context was not dealing with individual persons but with the nations that descended from those two brothers.
Contrary to Calvinistic claims, 1 John 2:19 does not say that the false teachers (“antichrists” verse 18) had never been Christians. At some time, they became false teachers because of their false teaching and action; they did not continue in faithfulness and became manifestly evident as false teachers. If they had continued in faithfulness, they would have continued, but because of their unfaithfulness, they did not continue with faithful Christians. Those false teachers could not have gone out from other Christians had they not been themselves Christians, too. Calvinism is out of sync with the New Testament about apostasy, such as with the following passage.
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Peter 2:20-22 KJV).
Until such time as you somehow show that this passage does not mean what it apparently says, it stands that Calvinism is wrong and that a Christian can so sin as to be lost.