This is my first blog post, so I thought I would just jump in with both feet with something I have been writing about on a parenting message board. (Gentle Christian Mothers)
These are some of my thoughts on the idea of what it means for a baby/child to have "original sin" or a "sin nature". Punishment is very often a parent's first response to seeing their child do something they consider "sinful", the goal being to make sin so distasteful and painful that the child will try to avoid it... but is this really how God wants us to respond to sin?
What is sin anyway?
Sin is what happens on the inside, it is not what you do on the outside.
If a child wants to hit his brother, but he does not because he is
afraid of being punished... you have not dealt with the sin, which is
the DESIRE to hurt his brother in the first place. All you have done is
kept the sin from being seen on the outside. If you focus on replacing
that sin with love, by teaching compassion, empathy, patience,
forgiveness, then you are dealing with the sin. Love extinguishes sin
the way light banishes darkness. Where there is love, there is no sin,
it just cannot exist. The way to deal with sin is to sow LOVE. You
cannot do this with punishment.
Christian parents often punish what they see as "sinful behavior"
because they think they are making their child more pleasing to God. It
might be a good idea to find out what God actually wants from us in the
first place. The most important command God gives us is to LOVE.... LOVE HIM and
LOVE EACH OTHER... and he tells us that everything else hangs on these two
things, so if you do not LOVE, then nothing else you do means anything.
I Cor. 13 tells us that no matter how GOOD your behavior is, if you do
not LOVE, it is completely worthless. So if you are making your child
behave in a way you believe is pleasing to God, but this behavior is not
motivated by love, God is not impressed. You have accomplished
NOTHING. So what if your son jumps to obey at your every command... if he is
not obeying out of love, it is nothing. So what if your daughter never talks back
or argues, if the only reason she is "respectful" is because she knows
that if she is not, you will punish her? This does not please God,
If you truly want to make your children pleasing to God, you have to
teach them how to love him. Punishments cannot do this. The best way to
teach your kids how to love God is to demonstrate his love towards
them. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were
still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom. 5:8 "We love him because he first
loved us." 1 John 4:19 "he does not treat us as our sins deserve or
repay us according to our iniquities." Psalm 103:10
My biggest hang-up when I was learning about gentle discipline was that I
could not figure out how to make my kids "not sin" if I was not
punishing them. Paul ran into that, too. "What shall we say, then?
Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" Basically, if God
isn't going to punish us, can we just do whatever we want?
Paul's answer was that because we were set free from the law,
we are also free to CHOOSE to obey, not out of fear of punishment, but
because of our relationship with Jesus. We learn through building our
relationship with Him to make better choices, and when we DO miss the
mark, we are told to "come boldly to the throne of Grace to find mercy
and help in time of need".
So if we are going to model that relationship to our children, we have
to treat THEM the way God treats US. We need to show them how to make
good choices, and when they inevitably make poor ones, we extend grace
and show them how to fix their mistakes.
THIS is how you deal with the sin nature, you irradiate it with the Love
of God. You, as the parent, make love the foundation of your life, to
the point that everything you do is directly motivated by your love for
God. This is what will draw your child to God, not fear of being
punished, but a personal understanding of what it means to be loved so
fiercely and unconditionally. We love Him because he first loved us...
LIVE God's love to your children. That's all he asks you to do.
"Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself".
THIS is the core of the Gospel, this should be the core of every
Christian home. If you love, you will not hurt others. If you love,
you will not lie. If you love, you will not steal. If you want your
kids to act this way, put love into them. " If you LOVE ME, you WILL
keep my commands".
The love has to come first.
more to come....