TLP 389: Defensible Parenting
What is defensible parenting and how do you defend it when you have to? Today AMBrewster explains what truly defensible parenting is and gives examples of how we may defend it in the face of accusation.
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Discover the following episodes by clicking the titles or navigating to the episode in your app:
“The Sufficiency of Scripture in Parenting” (episode 174)
“Parent’s 5 Jobs” series (starts in episode 184)
“The 5th Way to Parent | the only parenting style that glorifies God” (starts in episode 26)
“The Spiritual War in Your Home” series (starts in episode 354)
“How Do You Become a Premeditated Parent?” (episode 228)
“The Indispensable Parenting Tool Called Revolving Priorities” (episode 39)
“Revolving Priorities: A Biblical Example” (episode 183)
“How We Learn | the Circle of Learning” (episode 208)
“Parenting Suffering Children” series (starts in episode 342)
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On our last episode we asked the question: What evidence can you provide to your family, church, neighbors, community, and God to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that your parenting — though it isn’t perfect — is objectively good, valuable, and beneficial for your kids?
Today we’re going to outline what truly defensible parenting is, and we’re going to equip you not only to have a defensible parenting method, but also be able to provide the only defense necessary.
But before we do that, I want to make you aware of an opportunity. As our world is craving interaction and personal contact, let’s talk about training and education for parents.
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Now, let’s talk about defensible parenting.
We need to start today’s discussion with an eternal truism that will act as a massive foundation stone on which we will build our defensible parenting,
And that truism is nothing we encounter in our parenting falls outside of the sufficiency of Scripture. That means that every answer to any question we may experience on our parenting journey will find its source in the Bible.
I often quote II Peter 1:3-4 because it’s such an incredible source of hope. “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, [that includes parenting] through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence [that true knowledge is presented to us in the Scriptures]. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises [and we find those promises and their fulfillment in the Bible], so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” And that’s what we want. We want incorruptible parenting. Parenting that benefits, not destroys.
I’m not going to make this revelation some kind of silly surprise. If you’re listening to this podcast you already know what I’m going to say.
The only defensible parenting in the entire universe is parenting that submits to what God has commanded of us in His Word.
And I’m not even going to attempt to try to prove that today. We have nearly 400 episodes that do that just fine. But I will include links to some specific episodes so that you can learn more about this topic if you’re not entirely convinced that the Bible has everything you need for life and parenting. You can find those episode links in the description of today’s episode.
Instead of trying to prove that the Bible presents the only truly defensible parenting, I want to remind us how the Bible does it, provide some practical applications for us in our homes, and then talk about defending biblical parenting.
1. The Scriptures declare themselves to be useful.
During our “Parent’s 5 Jobs” series we studied II Timothy 3:15-17 in depth, and we learned that the Scriptures accomplish two main tasks:
A. They “make one wise unto salvation.” That comes straight from II Timothy 3:15.
B. The Scriptures are useful to sanctify the believer toward Christlikeness. Those four sanctifying roles are the Parent’s 5 Jobs we discover in verse 16. The Bible teaches us what’s right and wrong. Reproves us when we’re wrong. Corrects us to return to the right. And trains us to stay right.
I love the way Psalm 119:1-12 explains the Scripture: “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the Lord. 2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart. 3 They also do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways. 4 You have ordained Your precepts, That we should keep them diligently. 5 Oh that my ways may be established To keep Your statutes! 6 Then I shall not be ashamed When I look upon all Your commandments. 7 I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments. 8 I shall keep Your statutes; Do not forsake me utterly! 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. 10 With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. 11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. 12 Blessed are You, O Lord; Teach me Your statutes.”
Submission to God’s Word makes our parenting blessed, blameless, righteous, established, unashamed, thankful, pure, and purposeful.
Isn’t that a fantastic set of desires for our kids. We want them to be blessed. We want them to be blameless in their righteousness and unashamed of their purity. We want them to be established on a firm foundation with a clear and eternal purpose.
Scriptural parenting is defensible because its sufficient for everything our children need to be and everything they will encounter.
Biblical parenting gives our children everything good and leads them away from all that will harm them.
2. The Scriptures are declared to be the “Sword of the Spirit” to use in the context of warfare.
We recently finished up our “Spiritual Warfare in Your Home” series. It had an amazing reception. It’s one of our most popular series to date. It was so incredibly helpful for me as a parent because it opened my eyes to absolutely vital Truth concerning demonic forces, the world, and my individual family members.
You really should work through that series.
And one of the things we discussed was Ephesians 6:17, “And take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
That particular use of the term “word” does not refer only to the Bible or Jesus Christ, but is used to refer to the actual speaking of Scripture.
Many of you will be familiar with how John 1 refers to Jesus as the “word” — which is the Greek word logos. Well, the Greek term translated “word” in Ephesians 6:17 is rhema and describes a word that is spoken.
Vines Complete Expository Dictionary provides this insight: “The significance of rhema (as distinct from logos) is exemplified in the injunction to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” Eph. 6:17; here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture.”
But the particular use of the term “word” isn’t the only thing that’s instructive about this verse.
We must also consider the particular use of the term “sword.”
This Greek word refers to a short dagger used in close fighting and which allowed for more precision.
Premeditated parenting plans to know specific Scriptures that address the specific problems. In "How to Become a Premeditated Parent" we made the observation that premeditated parenting uses “The right Scripture with the right interpretation at the right time.”
The Bible not only teaches us that the Scriptures are the place to learn everything we and our kids need to know for life and godliness, but it also presents it as a tool that can be used by us in our spiritual warfare. It’s active and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword that pierces down into us when it’s wielded accurately by another.
If that doesn’t describe beneficial parenting, I don’t know what does.
During the Spiritual Warfare series we spent a little time talking about Jesus’ relationship and use of the Old Testament Scriptures.
And that’s out third point for today.
3. Jesus use of the Scriptures in His Temptation declares how valuable it is.
You can read Matthew 4:1-11 on your own later to appreciate the broader context.
For now, though, I want to draw our minds to some important observations concerning how Jesus used the Bible.
A. Jesus demonstrates the use of the “dagger” to address the specific attack and need of the moment. Matthew 4:3 is a pointed illustration of this and gives us a fantastic example of Jesus using Revolving Priorities.
But then something interesting happens. Satan actually attempts to use Scriptures against Jesus. Mathew 5:5-7 gives us that account.
But when Satan quoted the Bible, Jesus didn’t submit to it? Why Jesus didn’t submit to the authority of God’s Word when confronted by it?
B. Jesus demonstrates that the God of the Bible is the authority that makes the Scriptures so powerful.
We could say it this way . . . it’s not just the words.
First, there is a relationship between Jesus and the Word of God. He is committed to the complete fulfillment of the Word. He is also committed to the authority of Scripture. And He is the Word of God incarnate. It’s that relationship that allowed Him to understand when the Scripture was being misapplied to argue for a sinful course of action.
Second, authority is inherent only in the “rightly-divided” Word — not the speaker.
The Word of God when correctly interpreted as God would interpret it contains the power and efficacy of God. But when a human (or satanic) speaker twists the Bible for their own purposes, it’s stripped of its power and efficacy.
Satan tampered with inspiration and authorial intent, and he paid the price.
So, third, we can easily conclude that such distortions of the proper use of Scripture rob the authority of God’s Word.
So, what’s the application to our parenting? How does this knowledge make our parenting defensible and how are we to give a defense to those who ask?
4. Defensible Parenting requires biblical familiarity, submission, and usage.
Our parenting isn’t defensible just because our families interact with the Bible. Satan interacts with the Bible. The pharisee’s interacted with the Bible.
What we’ve learned today is that truly defensible parenting doesn’t only hang Bible verses on the wall and take the kids to Sunday school.
Number one, truly defensible parenting knows what the Bible says.
We could say it this way, failure to be familiar with the Word of God leaves us vulnerable to deception and misuse.
If we throw Bible around to fit our desires, II Peter 3:16 says that we’re doing so to our own destruction.
Truly defensible parenting requires that we actually know the Scriptures. Do you remember what David said in Psalm 119? All the blessings he described — all the blessings we want in our parenting — are a result of people who walk in the law of the Lord, observe His testimonies, seek Him with all their heart, walk in His ways, keep His precepts diligently, keep His statutes, live according to the word, seek God with their whole hearts, treasure God’s Word, and desperately desire God to teach them His statutes. Those action verbs are requirements of the conditional blessings David outlines.
Number two, the ability to properly use God’s Truth to handle life comes through being a “worker . . . rightly handing the Truth.”
I can read Psalm 14:1b which says, “There is no God,” and I can even put that to use in my parenting by teaching my kids that God doesn’t exist. But that wouldn’t be defensible parenting even though I’m working off of something I read in the Bible.
Of course, the first part of that verse says, “The fool has said in his heart . . .” and so my interpretation of that passage was incorrect.
It’s not enough to know the word, I also need to understand it, and that includes understanding it the way God intended it to be understood.
Recently we discussed II Peter 3:16-18. Speaking of the hard things written by Paul, Peter says, “the untaught and unstable distort [them], as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
God’s word means what God intends it to mean, and God did not intend it to mean whatever we want it to mean.
Let me say that again. God’s word means what God intends it to mean, and God did not intend it to mean whatever we want it to mean.
This is why II Timothy 2:15-17 admonishes us to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene.”
Therefore, it’s not enough to simply know what the Bible says, we have to understand it how God intended us to understand it. And defensible parenting is ready to do the hard work.
But . . .
Number three, if we don’t use the Truth we know and understand, we don’t really believe the Truth.
The fact that you’re a Christian who reads the Bible, attends church, sends your kids to Christian schools, youth groups, and camps doesn’t make your parenting Christ-honoring.
Your parenting is only defensible when you actually believe what you encounter in the Bible, and since believing always produces behavior your parenting is going to reflect what you believe in the bible.
Defensible parenting has done the hard work of knowing God and understanding how it’s to be interpreted, and defensible parenting actually does the even harder work of trusting God’s Word enough to put it to use in their parenting.
Let’s review from where we’ve come on this episode and then conclude by discussing how we actually defend our parenting.
God’s plan for our parenting is the only defensible parenting method on the planet.
And how do we know God’s plan? We turn to the Bible. It declares itself to be useful, it’s designed to be used in our spiritual warfare, and even Jesus Himself used it to every day of His life.
Therefore, defensible parenting is going to know, understand, and apply what the Bible says to the practical elements of our parenting.
But how are we to defend our parenting before the judge and jury? How do we defend it when our parents suggest that they would do it differently, how do we address the school system’s judgement of how we handle our kids, how do we answer the passing question lobbed at us from a casual friend? How do we stand in the face of a godless society telling us that biblical parenting is akin to child abuse?
I Peter 3:13-18 provides the answer.
“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed.”
There is no human mistreatment that can overpower the sustaining grace of God. But even if we do suffer discomfort and trials and persecution, God actually uses those situations to bless us.
I strongly encourage you to listen to our “Parenting Suffering Children” series to learn the glorious Truth about how God uses our difficulties and stresses and pressures to bless us.
And if you join the TLP Family you can have access to the Quarantine Video Bible Study I did in 2020 that works through the book of James. The first chapter also goes into great detail about this subject.
But then Peter continues . . . “And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled.”
Last time I mentioned that the only people who have the right to judge our parenting are those who are going to do so according to God’s standard. Anyone else is judging with a faulty standard, and so we don’t have to worry about what they think.
Our politicians may think that homeschooling is wicked and taking your kids to church is vial. Even “progressive Christians” have been known to say that we shouldn’t “colonize” our children with our faith.
Guess what? They’re wrong! Therefore, though I still love them as people, I’m not concerned about what they think of me when I’m following Christ.
But when God, the Scriptures, and those who know, understand, and obey the Scriptures pass righteous judgement on my parenting, that needs to mean a lot to me.
That means that I never have to actually defend my parenting.
If God is judging my parenting to be out of line with His expectations, I would be foolish to try to defend it. But if the world is trying to judge my biblical parenting by their Failure Philosophies, I don’t have any need to defend what I do.
However, I do have the responsibility to “make a defense” in or to explain to them the Gospel.
In verse 15 Peter continues, “15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”
This is our Ephesians 4:15 Truth in love for the purpose of building people up. Yes, I will be called on to “defend” my parenting when it is righteous, but I don’t do so in order to protect and defend myself, I do so to explain why I do what I do in order to point that person to Christ.
If you study Paul’s various defenses through the book of Acts, you quickly realize his political defenses were always done for the benefit of his hearers. He wanted them to know God. In fact, after one such defense, King Agrippa replied, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”
And then Peter further stipulate what the love part of Truth-in-love looks like: “16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.”
Earlier in the passage Peter gives even more detail of what it means to “keep a good conscience.” In verses 8 and 9 he says, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”
When those words describe our parenting and everything else we do, people may judge our faith in Christ to be foolish, but they’ll have a hard time accusing us of anything significant.
And yet, even if the fact that you parent according to the Bible is enough for them to persecute you, God once again reminds us in verse 17 that, “17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”
The only judge abut whom we have to care is God Himself. As long as we parent to His honor and glory as laid our by an accurate understanding of His Word, our parenting is eternally defensible.
We may have to “give a defense” to worldly judges, but we don’t do that because we’re seeking their blessing or acceptance.
We say with the apostles, “We must obey God rather than men.” Yet, we defend our parenting for the purpose of pointing people to the God Who is so marvelous and glorious that He deserves to rule over my parenting.
So, if someone were to challenge why you do what you do, remember these 3 points.
I’ll provide a very simple example, and we’ll be done.
A casual mom-friend of yours asks, “Why do tell your kids ‘No’? I’ve read so many articles that say kids need to experience life and learn from their mistakes.”
You could respond something like this: “That’s a good question. As a Christian, I try very hard (and fail very often) to live the way God commands me to live. God loves us and doesn’t want us hurting ourselves by pursuing dangerous and deadly things. He tells us ‘No’ to protect us and to teach us to protect ourselves. I want to do that same thing for my kids.”
And, I’m sure you can tell how — with that introduction — you could easily expound more on the Gospel — our sin, our need of a Savior, God’s love and grace, His desire to have a relationship with us, and so on.
Of course, that was short and sweet, and real life “giving a defense” isn’t as easy or sweet.
But I hope these episodes have equipped you to determine if your parenting truly is defensible and know how to explain why you do what you do when you have the opportunity to explain to people why your hope is in Christ.
As always, please subscribe to Truth.Love.Parent. and share this episode on your favorite social media outlets.
And don’t forget to check out our Conferences tab at TruthLoveParent.com. I’d love to spend time face-to-face or virtually with your parenting community or family and unpack more of God’s plans for our families.
You can even reach out to us for individual help at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call (828) 423-0894.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love. That Truth is always going to be found in God’s Word, and the Bible will explain how we’re to love.
To that end, join us next time as we look at “Parenting Like the Rich Young Ruler” and prepare for our 16th season and 4th full year of parenting ministry.
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