And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death … and he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death … if a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear. (Exodus 21:15,17; Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
Law Of Moses Parenting
There are two things to understand about the Law of Moses: first, the Law was given only to the Jewish nation and to no other people; second, the Law has been abolished and is no longer in effect. The purpose of the Law was to facilitate the coming of God’s Son and help bring the Jews to Christ. Paul would remind his readers the old law was helpful to understand the nature of God and His will. Reading the Law of Moses gives a deep sense of respect for the mind of the Lord God and His view towards the relationship of man to man and man to God. While the force of the law has been removed, the impact of its principles is clear. Speaking of the family relationship, the Lord has left a pattern of absolute reverence children should have toward the parent. A refusal to listen to the word of God will bring great judgment in the final day.
God looked upon the family unit as a very precious commodity. Adam and Eve were formed in the Garden of Eden for the purpose of family. The blessings of God have always been upon the parent/child relationship and the respect that was to be given for the role of the father and mother. In the Law of Moses there was no room for rebellion of a child to a parent. Many laws were less punitive in nature than what God said should be done to a rebellious child. Cursing a parent or striking a parent brought the death penalty. Not everything brought the enforcement of death but a rebellious child would be taken out of the city and stoned to death by all the men of the city.
The impact of the Law of Moses was colossal. Consider for a moment parents who have a child that is unruly, disobedient and refuses to honor his father and mother. The parents know what the Law prescribes. They take their son to the elders of the city and declare how he is uncontrollable and without regard to anyone. After an examination it is determined the boy is a disobedient child refusing to bow down to the law. All the men of the city take the boy to a place in the field where they surround him and begin throwing stones at him until he is dead. Being stoned to death is a horrible manner of death. Each man of the city is responsible for the death of this young man. They do not leave until it has been determined the boy is dead. The father gathers up the lifeless body of his son, takes his mother and they bury him. Returning home, there is one less place at the table and one less name uttered in the home. The father looks at his hands and knows what he has done. His children look at their parents and see the sadness in their faces. It is impressed on their minds the penalty of disobeying their parents. And all of this was exactly what God commanded to be done to a rebellious child.
Across town, another man returns home. He speaks softly to his wife telling him the tragic news of the young man who was brought to the elders. The children hear the story of how he was stoned to death. They know their father was part of those men who stoned the young man. The family knows the death of the boy was in accordance to the will of God and they praise Him. Honor is given to the Lord because His Law is righteous and His will is to be obeyed.
This story horrifies men today. There is nothing that prepares the modern mind with the concept of taking a child out and stoning them to death. The outrage would be without precedent. But what is lost in the fury of rebuttal for such a thing being carried out is the sanctity God places upon parents to bring their children along the path of truth and righteousness. There can be many reasons the child is rebellious. Parents could be so lax they refuse to punish their child. They allow their son to do whatever he wants to do and speak to them in any fashion he desires. His rebellion is fueled by the lack of respect his parents teach him. It could be the case of an incorrigible child who dishonors his parents and cursing them. Whatever the reason, a rebellious child was to be put to death because God holds the family unit as holy. The mode of punishment has changed (there is no death penalty) but the view of God has never changed. Young people who are rebellious to their parents will face the consequences of a wrathful Lord. Parents who coddle their children with everything but discipline will also face the punishment of God. The Law of Moses shows how important the family unit is to God. Can we do any less than honor the will of the Lord? Parents (and grandparents) must hear and fear the word of the Lord.
My father considered himself to be the head of the family, and the rest of us were inclined to agree with him. He was not opposed to the posterior application of superior force, if necessary. He was not afraid he would frustrate Junior. He saw no conflict between love and discipline. Neither does the Bible. Our Lord said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten” Revelation 3:19. (Vance Havner; 1901-1986)