No one is forcing us to do anything. Only God has the authority to command us, and we must follow Him. Christ has saved us, not to live for ourselves, but, “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor 5:15). So the next time you’re tempted to think that you must do something that violates your conscience to be a good parent, just remember that you don’t have to do anything.
“You have to let your kids watch/do/experience that! It’s so iconic. They’ll totally miss out!”
No. No they won’t. I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but parents, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. There is literally no one mandating the things that your kids must experience to be a full human being. Let me say it even more clearly: There is no movie that your kids must watch in order to function properly in society. There is no music your kids must listen to in order to really thrive. There is no destination that your kids must visit in order to really fit in. No one is forcing you to do any of those things. And while the world is trying to convince you that there are certain things that you must do for your children, I want to talk about the real imperative for all Christian parents.
Christian Parents Are Bound to Obey God
Christian parents have a duty to God, and God alone, in raising their children. “Each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12). God is the One who guides our parenting choices. If we know that we will give an account of our parenting to Him, why would we let the world have any say in what we do? We are commanded to, “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
You Might also like
By David T. Crum — 1 month ago
Written by David T. Crum |
Saturday, January 20, 2024
We pray for our neighbor because we believe that our sole purpose in life is to honor, serve, and love God and to do the same for our neighbor. This does not mean that Christians cannot have strong political opinions or disagreements with people. However, we should center our motives on Christ’s love. Believers should always care for the salvation of others; even those you might disagree with.
Prayer is your opportunity to communicate directly with God. We should praise Him, thank Him, and seek His understanding and guidance.
In the Old Testament, David and Daniel both prayed throughout the day (Psalm 55:16-22, Daniel 6:10). Such should be the standard for us.
Prayer should be the focus of our life. J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) shared, “I suggest to you that it is most important to make prayer a regular part of your day… it is essential to your soul’s health to make prayer part of every twenty-four hours in your life. Just as you make time for eating, sleeping and work, so also make time for prayer.”
Jesus taught us to pray for others, including our opposition, in Luke 6:28. Well-known in Christian teachings is the need and requirement to serve, pray, and honor one’s neighbor.
The late George W. Truett (1867-1944) defined the concept of a neighbor:
“Your neighbor is anyone on the face of the Earth who needs you. Maybe he lives next door to you in Dallas; maybe he’s the most distantly removed citizen from you in Dallas, or the most distantly removed citizen from you in the state of Texas, or in America, or maybe he’s on the other side of the world, so bedarkened and benighted and paganized that he doesn’t know there’s such a country as America, much less about you. Very well; wherever in all the world there’s anybody who needs you and me, there’s our neighbor.” 
Jesus set the standard with His remarks on “loving your neighbor.”
By Dr. Trevor Laurence — 2 years ago
Written by Dr. Trevor Laurence |
Monday, April 18, 2022
The imprecatory psalms are the liturgical, prayerful means by which the sons of God protect the sanctuary and subdue the earth, enacting their appointed role as characters in the story of the Scriptures. Adam was exiled from Eden for failing to drive out the serpent, and a Psalter without imprecation would be a recapitulation of his original abdication.
Break the teeth in their mouths. Let them be put to shame. Cut off my enemies. Cast them out. What in the world are the psalmists praying?
The imprecatory psalms are, for many, among the most uncomfortable, perplexing, even morally reprehensible portions of the Bible. They are violent prayers for justice against violent injustice. Where lies destroy lives and the innocent are slaughtered, these angry psalms beg for God to interrupt the assaults of the wicked, to vindicate the suffering righteous, to enact just judgement according to his promises.
We have little trouble understanding how the experience of violence may prompt a human being to pray such angry psalms. Amid the scourge and scars of unjust attack, some of us have known firsthand the unspeakable pain the psalmists manage to speak. What many cannot come to grips with is how these understandable prayers can be good. But here they are in the songbook of the Scriptures, intentionally included in a liturgical collection that shaped the worship of Israel, canonically commended to the people of God as words from God to offer back to God—and without the slightest hint that within them there is anything ethically dubious at all. Neither the psalmists nor the writers of the New Testament seem to share our reservations.
Instead of asking what in the world the psalmists are praying, then, perhaps we might turn the question around and ask, In what world are the psalmists praying? Ethics emerges from narrative: our deliberations about what constitutes faithful action are always shaped by the narrative in which we believe we are characters.1 If the psalmists are as confident in their judgment prayers as we are incredulous, that may very well be because they perceive themselves as actors within a world governed by a different controlling story.
The psalmists assume, allude to, and act within a theologically charged story of the world, taking their cues from the authoritative, ethically determinative narrative of Israel’s Scriptures. The theological coherence and moral intelligibility of the imprecatory psalms is grounded in the story within which they prayerfully participate. Consequently, we who have difficulty imagining how the psalmists may pray as they do must first reconsider how the psalmists imagined the cosmos and their place within it.
The Story of Sacred Space
There are many legitimate ways to synthesize the story of the Scriptures, but one telling of the tale that is underutilized in contemporary biblical theological discussions and yet particularly illuminating for the imprecatory psalms foregrounds creation as the house of God’s holy presence.
On this account, the story of the Bible is, in the simplest terms, the story of sacred space.2 In the beginning, God creates the heavens and the earth as a cosmic temple in which he will dwell, and he plants a garden in Eden as his primal sanctuary—the first in-breaking of heavenly sacred space onto the soil of the earth.3 The Lord installs Adam in his sanctuary garden as a son of God who bears the image and likeness of his divine Father,4 and he commissions the man to serve as a royal priest.
As priests, human beings are to serve and guard God’s Edenic sacred space (Gen 2:15) like the Levites and priests would one day serve and guard his tabernacle (e.g., Num 3:7–8),5 and this includes the responsibility to expel any encroaching unholiness. As kings, image-bearers are to exercise royal dominion and to subdue the entire earth (Gen 1:28)—expanding the borders of God’s sanctuary, adorning the land with beauty and glory in wisdom, preparing creation as the holy house of a holy God.6 When the wicked, deceiving serpent encroaches into the garden, God’s royal priesthood is to exercise the prerogatives of their office by subduing the threat, exercising dominion, protecting the sanctuary, driving out the unholy intruder. In a tragic irony, they are subdued with a lie and are themselves driven from God’s sacred dwelling place, and the Lord stations an angelic guardian at the eastern gate to guard his sanctuary from them (Gen 3:24).
Yet, before the Lord casts out Adam and Eve from the place of his holy presence, he makes a promise: the offspring of the woman will be at enmity with the line of the serpent, and a seed will arise who crushes the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15). Where the first royal priesthood failed, the Lord announces that the line of the woman will embrace the calling of the son of God to oppose the serpent and his seed until a climactic seed-son appears as a faithful Adamic priest-king to subdue the serpent and to consummate creation as sacred space in fulfillment of humanity’s original commission. This protoevangelium—this first announcement of God’s good news—is not so much the introduction of something radically new as it is the promise that the task given to Adam will be completed by a son of Adam who answers his calling as a son of God.
It is no coincidence that Israel is called a son of God (Exod 4:22–23) and a royal priesthood (Exod 19:6). As the offspring of the woman through the line of Abraham, the covenant community is the corporate heir to the Adamic office. With the tabernacle of God’s presence pitched among them as a renewed Edenic sanctuary, Israel is to guard sacred space by guarding the covenant in obedience (Exod 19:5)7 and by purging evil from her midst in accordance with the covenant (e.g., Deut 13:5), and the son of God enters the New Eden of Canaan from the east to drive out the unholy nations and subdue the land as the dwelling place of the Lord.8 Both Israel’s pursuit of holiness and her conquest of Canaan are royal-priestly exercises ordered toward the creation and cultivation of sacred space, and God vows further still that “all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Num 14:21).
By Mike Littell — 2 years ago
Paul is saying that God has been very patient with the wicked, specifically to make the riches of his glory known to the saints when he pours out his full wrath upon his enemies. We absolutely do not deserve the mercy of God, as we also “were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds” (Col 1:21). We have obtained it by grace alone, through the free gift of faith in Christ, who came to save sinners. As a result, we will not boast, but we will be awestruck at the depth of his love toward us when we see the glory of God specifically in the destruction of the wicked.
The goal of every Christian is to love what God loves, and hate what God hates. Most often, this means to love doing good and to hate when we do evil. This is as it should be. However, Christians are often unprepared to know how to think about others.
We know that we are supposed to love all people in some way, as it says in Lev 19:18: “Love your neighbor as yourself!” Jesus says this the second great commandment, and the corollary to the greatest commandment to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and might.” He also says to, “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you” (Lk 6:27).
However, this is only one side of the way we are taught to think about enemies. The other side can be seen in Luke 10:13–15:
13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.”
Here Jesus is speaking words that do not fit our normal definition of love. Surely, he has loved the people in these cities, because he preached and did mighty works there. In fact, most of the twelve disciples were from these cities. But what he says to them here is better captured by the word “hate.” He hates that they have not repented. He hates them for rejecting him. He says the evil Gentile cities on the Mediterranean coast will be better off in the judgment than Chorazin and Bethsaida. Then he taunts Capernaum, which was his home base for ministry, and says they will be brought down to Hades.
To Hate The Wicked
What we are looking at is the other side of the way we are supposed to think about enemies. The Bible is very clear on this point: we are supposed to hate the enemies of God.
I first noticed this when I memorized Psalm 139 in a Bible memorization program with my church. We went through a couple of verses each week, and after a few months we had memorized the whole thing. Well, almost the whole thing. We memorized Psalm 139:1–18, and 23–24, but we skipped four verses. I wondered about it at the time, but it wasn’t until later that I realized what a mistake it was.
Psalm 139 is a glorious prayer to God about how intimately involved he is in our lives. In it, we confess with David that God knows us in every last detail (vv. 1–4). Even if we were to run to the opposite end of the earth, he would be there (vv. 9–10). In fact, he even knew every one of our days before we were born, because he authored them all (v. 16). Then we contemplate how great God’s thoughts are (vv. 17–18), and finally we ask him to search us out and see if there is anything evil in us, so that he can lead us in the way everlasting (vv. 23–24).
But there’s a glaring omission in that overview, because right before we ask God to examine us the Psalm says this:
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
These are the words we did not memorize in our memorization program. They seem completely out of step with the rest of the Psalm. They’re like a mysterious pothole on an otherwise pristine road. But whenever the Bible says something that seems wrong, the proper thing to for us to do is figure out why it seems wrong and correct our own thinking.
In this case, the whole force of the Psalm depends upon it. Immediately after David confesses his vitriolic hatred of the wicked (vv. 19–22) he asks God to make sure he’s on the right path. Sure enough, he didn’t go back and scratch out those vicious verses. They are right there in the Bible, as the Holy Word of God.
Whatever you may feel about these sentiments, the Bible is very clear at this point: We are right to hate the wicked. In fact, we are supposed to hate the wicked. If we do not hate the wicked with a complete hatred, and long for them to be slain by God, then we do not love what God loves and hate what God hates.
Another example comes from the great Psalm 104, which is primarily about God’s amazing care for his creation. After marveling for 34 verses about God’s majesty and love, it ends with v. 35: “Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!” Again, the thirst for God’s destruction of the wicked is injected into a Psalm where we would think it has no place.
This happens over and over again in the Bible.
Hatred In the New Testament
Consider Romans 12, where Paul reminds us to love our enemies:
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
We love these verses. They fit perfectly with our understanding of the first side of the Christian attitude toward others: that we are to love all people. But then Paul reminds us why we must never repay evil for evil:
19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
He is saying, “You must not take vengeance, because God will avenge on your behalf.” For Paul, the ability to bless and love our enemies is a direct outgrowth of the fact that God will repay them in full with wrath.
20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
It is specifically because of the wrath of God that we can and must show love to people.
This doctrine is not limited to Romans 12. Paul comforts the Thessalonian church by reminding them, in 2 Thessalonians 1:6–9:
…God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might…
He goes into such detail that it is hard to avoid the conclusion that he intends the church to derive some amount of comfort from imagining the future punishment of their persecutors.
Revelation depicts exactly this principle in 6:9–10:
…I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
We often think that the saints in Heaven have given up caring about the problems of the earth, or at least thinking about their own suffering. But here we see the opposite. Of course, they are worshiping God, and giving him the glory, but their prayer to him is that he would avenge their blood.
In the end, when Babylon the great is destroyed in a sea of blood, it says (Rev 18:19–20):
“Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste. 20 Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!”
The message is clear: The citizens of heaven will be radiant with joy when the wicked of the earth receive their just desserts. In fact, God will command them to rejoice over the destruction of Babylon.
What It Means Today
This realization changes everything about the way we think about life. When we see the tyrants of our day cravenly consolidating power and spurning every form of decency, we are right to hate them. We must also pray for them (1 Tim 2:1–2), and do good to them (Lk 6:27), but we can and should look forward to the day when they will receive the just reward for their evil.
If we do evil, we must hate that as well. We cannot for a moment imagine that we are constitutionally incapable of committing the same evil as our enemies. But that fact does not permit us to overlook their evil, or to hate it any less.
It strikes me that a great part of the schism of the church today has to do with the loss of this core doctrine of Christian love and hate. I have not seen an argument for hating God’s enemies in recent literature, which is why I am taking it upon myself to write it. However, there are many arguments from Christians scolding other Christians for rejoicing over the downfall of the wicked.
It also seems to me that much of the argument about how to treat sexual deviance in the church would be far simpler if we understood that we are to hate the wicked and all their ways and do good to our enemies. I cannot imagine that the Apostle Paul would be interested in adding some lines in 1 Tim 3 about how it’s okay for a church officer to identify as a homosexual as long as he doesn’t act on it. More likely, he would say, “repent and never speak of those vile desires again” (cf. Eph 5:3).
I furthermore suspect, that Paul’s warning in 1 Tim 4:1–2 about “liars whose consciences are seared” applies to a growing number of pastors in the American church who have learned that as long as they express the requirement of Christian love in terms of what the world calls “tolerance” and “niceness” they can be praised by the world, and simultaneously trump any Christian who is attempting to “strengthen what remains” (Rev 3:2).
The Glory of God
I conclude with a reminder that if we have no appetite to hate the wicked, then we will never appreciate the riches of God’s glory that he has prepared for us:
22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory… (Rom 9:22–23)
Here we see the principle in its fullest expression. Paul is saying that God has been very patient with the wicked, specifically to make the riches of his glory known to the saints when he pours out his full wrath upon his enemies.
We absolutely do not deserve the mercy of God, as we also “were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds” (Col 1:21). We have obtained it by grace alone, through the free gift of faith in Christ, who came to save sinners. As a result, we will not boast, but we will be awestruck at the depth of his love toward us when we see the glory of God specifically in the destruction of the wicked.
If we do not desire their destruction, then we will be completely lost in that moment. We will think it’s time to weep for their poor souls, when in fact it is time to rejoice and glorify God.
Therefore, it is right to hate the wicked, and good to love our enemies.
Mike Littell is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of South Dayton PCA in Centerville, Ohio.