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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 3: Parenthood - Joys and Responsibilities *
Introduction: Last week we studied the responsibilities of children
to honor their parents. At the same time, we looked at the
responsibilities of parents to lead and encourage their children to
obey their parents and God. This week we continue our study of what
God has in mind with this whole "having children" thing. Let's jump
in and see what lessons we can learn!
- Full Quivers and Full Partners
- Read Psalms 127:1-2. How would you summarize these two
verses in one sentence? (The only way to succeed is to
make God your partner.)
- Read Psalms 127:3. Is this statement always true? (It is
always true that God is the source of life.)
- Is there a relationship between the first two verses
of Psalms 127 and this third verse? (Yes. We read the
first two verses because they set the context. Sons
are a heritage and children a positive reward for
those who make God their partner in child-raising.)
- Is this like cooking: you put in the right
ingredients and the children turn out just right when
they grow up? (A few weeks ago a college official
looked at my children and said to me, "You must have
done things right." Frankly, I don't think it is
like cooking. Our children have free choice. We have
an obligation to God and our children to "do things
right." However, whether we do things right or wrong
does not always govern the outcome. If you doubt
that, re-read what happened in the Garden of Eden.)
- Have you seen children who were literally a reward to
their parents? (I have - both good and bad. On the
dark side of things, I watched as a woman grew up and
treated her mother terribly - even when this woman
was an adult. Now, this woman's children are doing
the same to her. It seems like the proper "reward.")
- Read Psalms 127:4-5. Is this still true today? (Although
we do not live in a "warrior" society, your children can
certainly defend you and help you in times of need.)
- Must your children be born "in one's youth" for this
to be true? (If you wait too long, you might not be
around for the reward.)
- The Bible tells us that having a lot of children is a
blessing. How many other blessings do you try to avoid?
- What is God's goal in having parents become partners with
Him in raising children? (Read Psalms 78:5-7. God wants us
to work with Him. By teaching our children a right
relationship with God, we encourage the following
generations to follow God too. It is these following
generations which continue to bless their parents and
grandparents with good works.)
- Partnership in Discipline
- Read Proverbs 19:18. How important is it to discipline
our children? (It is a life and death matter. Parents must
discipline their children.)
- I know some parents absolutely will not spank their
children. Our lesson quarterly says (Tuesday) corporal
punishment "must be the exception rather than the rule."
The newspaper I read this morning said that corporal
punishment is illegal in many countries.
- How do you know whether to spank your children?
- In God's wisdom, is there a blanket rule one way or
- Doesn't spanking seem rather tame when considered in
the light of Deuteronomy 21:18-21 - which we studied
- Read Proverbs 19:25. What does this suggest about God's
view of physical discipline for our children? (Have you
ever noticed that the people who are the loudest and most
strident about what kind of discipline should be applied
either have no children or just one child? This text gives
us obvious truth - each child is different. One child
needs physical discipline (or at least to see it applied
to someone else) to "learn prudence," while another child
simply needs a "rebuke" to "gain knowledge." "Full-quiver"
parents understand this Biblical principle. Our discussion
last week about the practical aspects of Deuteronomy 21
applies here. Just knowing that the possibility of
corporal punishment exists is a great deterrent to bad
behavior. My wife used to tease me about publicly speaking
about the merits of corporal punishment when I rarely, if
ever, actually applied it to my own children. I am sure
that my wife, who is extremely wise about "discipline,"
would never need to spank a child because she has so many
other creative ways to encourage good behavior.)
- Read Proverbs 19:19. What other forms of discipline can
wise parent apply? (You need to know when you should
rescue your children and when you should just let them
suffer. Parents who always defend their children against
the discipline of teachers are making a terrible mistake.)
- What is the future for parents who continually rescue
their children instead of letting them suffer the
natural punishment for their actions? (The "rescue"
opportunities will keep happening.)
- Letting the "Arrow" Fly
- Read Luke 15:11-12. What kind of attitude did the second,
younger, son have?
- Deuteronomy 21:17 tells us that the first born son
received a "double share" of the estate. This means
the younger son got (at most) 1/3 of the father's
property. How do you think the second son felt about
- Can you see a picture here? The second son lives in
the shadow of his older brother. He (of course) has
less to inherit. It is all a big conspiracy against
him and his freedom, right?
- Did the father have to give the young son part of his
property at that time?
- What do you think the father predicted would
happen with the property he was giving the son?
(My bet is this father could predict exactly
what his son would do.)
- Read Luke 15:13-16. If the father could reasonably predict
this outcome, why did he let the second son go?
- Why "empower" the son to make this choice by giving
him his inheritance then?
- Why not wait to give the son his inheritance until he
was more mature?
- Is this father disciplining his son?
- The Bible Exposition Commentary quotes Thomas Huxley
as saying, "A man's worse difficulties begin when he
is able to do just as he likes." Do you agree?
- Read Luke 15:17-21. Why did this son "come to his senses?"
(The discipline of circumstances and life was the most
important factor. Notice, however, that his positive view
of his home and his father was also a part of the son's
- This story has a happy, but not perfect, ending. The
son's life is harmed for the foreseeable future because he
has lost all of his wealth. Would you have done as this
father did? (This is obviously a parable. But, I believe
that it is played out over and over again in real life.
This father allowed circumstances to "discipline" his son
instead of personally applying his own discipline. While
the age of the child may limit the choices that parents
have in discipline, this father had a choice. Frankly,
the father was taking a huge risk. The verse 13 "wild
living," would today include drug use and the risk of
death. It would include sex outside of marriage and the
risk of aids. It would include the possibility that the
son would die from wild living.)
- Had this father considered that he might be turning
his second son over to his death by dividing his
estate early? (Read Luke 15:31-32. The father
considered the second son "dead." This is a parable
about our Father in Heaven instead of a parable about
child-rearing. But, I have the feeling that God has
shown His hand on how He would handle the "child-rearing" side of this story. At some point, we must
let our "arrows" fly.)
- Parents, if you open your hand to let your "arrows" fly
into the world, what role remains for you? (Our lesson
(Wednesday) says "one of the most important aspects of
Christian parenting is never to cease praying for our
- Friend, how about you? If you are a parent, do you take
your obligations to your children seriously? Do you try to
apply the wisdom of God's word? Finally, after you have
done all you can to save your children, do you make them
the subject of your earnest prayers?
- Next week: Marriage is Not Out-of-Date.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.