In my next few blogs, I’m going to tell you everything I know about raising children.

Sue and I used to joke that when we had no children, we had seven theories on how to raise children. Then we had seven children, and now we have no theories. There’s some truth to that, but it’s also true that we’ve managed to pick up some wisdom from scripture along the way.

Sue and I have been through just about all of the typical joys and disappointments of raising children. We’ve experienced everything from joy to tragedy. We’ve seen a daughter who didn’t make cheerleader. We’ve seen a son who missed a free throw that would have won the game. We’ve seen kids struggle in school, and we’ve seen kids do well. We’ve seen our grandchildren born, and we’ve seen two of our grandchildren die.

Over the years, we’ve put together several principles based on Biblical passages that tell us about God’s relationship to his people and our relationships with our children.

What can the Bible teach us about raising children?

You’ve probably heard dozens of sermons about training up a child “in the way that he should go,” but I want to take a different approach here. The Bible calls God “our Father,” and I think that, by studying the relationship between God and his children, we can learn how we should relate to our own children.

The Shema

This theme is found throughout the Bible, and we’re going to start with the central, shaping text of the Old Testament, the Shema:

Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

This powerful passage gives us the central creed and confession of Old Testament scripture. When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” he answered with a reference to the Shema:

And He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

The Shema goes on to stress the principle of generational teaching:

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

“You shall teach them diligently to your sons…”

The Language of Family

The language of family is used throughout scripture. We call God our Father, and the scriptures refer to the church as our mother. Jesus is the Son of God. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. The relationship between Christ and the church, for example, is paralleled in the relationship between husband and wife in Ephesians chapter 5. The same is true of God’s relationship to his people, Israel or the church, and our relationship as parents to children.

I’ll say more about this in my next few posts, when I’ll point out some more scriptures that describe God’s relationship with his people and explain what these scriptures have taught me about parenting.

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