What the Bible Says About Parenting, by John MacArthur


In a world full of books offering parenting advice, I have learned very quickly that not everybody who makes it to publication really knows what they are talking about. If you want 101 reasons why giving your kids purple Kool-aid will make them a great kid, you can find it out there. But since the Bible offers the best advice in any other aspect of life, why not check out what It has to say about raising little ones? John MacArthur is an incredible author, and this book will evoke strong feelings from parents, parents-to-be, grandparents, anybody who has small children in the family.

With some authors, I might dig one or two really note-worthy statements. With MacArthur, it's every other sentence that you'll want to highlight. Obviously, in my line of work, I am an advocate of using the full resources of your local school or public library. 99% of the time, I will tell you to check it out and save that $10 or $20 for something else. This one, however, needs to go on your "must purchase" list....and go ahead and get yourself a new highlighter while you're at it!

What the Bible Says About Parenting is organized very well, with each chapter building on the one before it. MacArthur makes some strong statements, some I agree with wholeheartedly and others maybe not so much, but he uses hundreds of Scripture references to demonstrate what the Bible truly teaches about raising children. He states in the very beginning of the book that he is not offering a contemporary psychological study on child-rearing; rather, he is just here to pass along the timeless Biblical perspectives of parenting.

Some of the most powerful statements in his book are listed below. (Some are direct quotes, but others are themes or major thoughts within the book.) It would be an injustice to the book for me to attempt to summarize these few sentences:

~"Success in parenting is measured by what the parents do, not what the child does."(pg. 17)

~"Extreme isolationsim ("spiritual quarrantine") costs parents valuable opportunities to teach their kids discernment." (pg.39)

~"Teach your children the law of God; teach them the gospel of divine grace; show them their need for a Savior; and point them to Jesus Christ as the only One who can save them." pg. 43

~"Think of leading your children to Christ as a long-term, full-time commitment - the most important duty God has given you as a parent." (pg.48)
Small steps to take:
*Teach them about God's holiness.
*Show them their sin.
*Instruct them about Christ and what He has done.
*Tell them what God demands of sinners.
*Advise them to count the cost thoughtfully.
*Urge them to trust Christ.

~Teach wisdom (Scripture and Bible stories)

~Teach them to fear God: reverence and fear of God's displeasure (makes fear of your discipline incidental)

~Teach obedience through discipline (not as payback, but an aid to growth; pain inflicted is intended to make the consequence of disobedience unforgettable; Scripture does NOT support discipline out of sheer fury or exasperation); be firm and consistent; spanking is only one of many acceptable disciplinary tools

~"To attach a clinical name to chronic misbehavior (ADD, ADHD, ODD, APD, bipolar, etc.) and use it for an excuse for sinful behavior is a serious mistake." (pg. 87) As an educator, I would definitely concur that these disorders are often over-diagnosed and drugs way too freely prescribed to suppress the behavior that will inevitably surface as soon as the drug is gone. However, I know that there are some people who truly suffer with these conditions, and would never condone dismissing an actual disorder as fictional, as is suggested here. (my interpretation)

~Teach them to select their companions

~Teach them to watch their words

~Teach them to pursue their work

~Teach them to manage their money

~Teach them to love their neighbors

~Above all, live life in a way that gives you authority in instructing them in the ways of the Lord.

~Within the family, the Bible teaches that we all have unique roles designed by God. The role of children is simply to obey. The role of parents is to "teach them about obedience without exasperating them in the process." This happens when parents permit their own sinful attitudes and actions to surface in parenting (ex: favoritism, overprotection, excessive permission/spoiling, overindulgence, unrealistic goals, condescension, discouragement, neglect, withdrawing love, and excessive discipline).

~There are quite a few unfavorable comments about mothers who work outside the home in one of the book's final chapters. It seems very much that MacArthur has an "all or none" mentality here when it comes to a woman fulfilling her duties as a mother OR pursuing a career. There are a few pages of very harsh criticism for mothers who have careers. However, when seeking what Scriptures MacArthur offered for his stance, there were only about 12 or so verses in this chapter, and all had to do with the submission of wives to their husbands. I was in this for Biblical perspective anyway, but it's good to know where you stand, Johnny Mac.

So, overall, WTBSAP is a great resource for studying how to best raise those sweet little ones whom God has entrusted to you!