We all have our own relationship with authority. Some people grow up with two loving parents and experience the benefits of good authority: Mom sets boundaries for her children, yet instills the value of choice, and presents her children with options. Dad might come across as firm, or even strict, but when a harmful behavior needs to be nipped in the bud, he uses his God-given authority to do just that. The children learn from their mistakes and grow up and flourish in the safe environment created by their parents.
The Bible says that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15). Because of this, children need parents to exert their position of knowledge and control (authority) to teach them. Good parents teach their children the skills they will need when they live on their own–how to cook, do the laundry, handle money, change the oil in the car, use a computer, make decisions about their education, job, spouse, and many other things. The children of these parents become emotionally and mentally healthy adults because as they were disciplined, they also knew they were loved and provided for.
The Lord says that He disciplines those He loves and considers His legitimate sons and daughters (Hebrews 12:6). If our perfect God says, to discipline children is to love them, then to not discipline children is to not love them. Children need discipline. But they also need to be disciplined by parents who show that they love them.
Many people grow up without parents who show them this kind of love. In some families, the dad is too strict and emotionally absent. While he may discipline, he does so harshly and without affirmation of love. Or maybe the mom is too controlling and instead of teaching her children how to think for themselves, she tells them what to do without any explanation. Other families might only have one parent and that parent is either overbearing or too lax. Or perhaps they have remarried or brought a partner to live in the house, and that person tries to be authoritative over the children.
Children from these families tend to buck authority and feel the need to assert their independence, usually during their teenage years, when they still need nurturing and discipline. These kids experience early on, the rejection of a parent’s correction without love. This rejection goes very deep and affects every area of their being. They may even experience correction in the form of abuse–teaching a child that authority can hurt you.
This type of discipline is not from God, but from sinful humans exercising their God-ordained positions of authority without Him. God meant for the hierarchy of authority to begin with Himself. He is the Creator of humanity and our heavenly Father. Everything He teaches in His Word is absolute truth and trustworthy, and all of it is rooted in love. We don’t need to buck against His authority in our lives, and yet we do. More on this in the next article …
What do you think about God’s authority and what this means for you and your life?