Parents have God-given authority over their children

The Bible makes plain that it is parents who are entrusted with the responsibility of bringing up their children.

The fifth commandment requires a child to honour its father and mother (Exodus 20:12) – a biblical mandate repeated by Jesus, as well as the apostle Paul.

In keeping with their God-given authority, parents are expected to lovingly discipline their children to help them learn qualities such as kindness and self-control. As part of this, some parents may use reasonable physical chastisement (Hebrews 12:7-11). Scripture reminds us that discipline must not be harsh (Ephesians 6:4).

We should resist attempts to criminalise good parents who, in the context of a caring relationship, use an infrequent, light smack as a disciplinary approach with their children. Other moves which undermine the rights and responsibilities of loving parents should also be opposed.

Christians ought to be particularly concerned by any weakening of protections that keep children from being led into behaviours which harm themselves and others. Jesus’ stern words of judgment for those who cause children to sin (Matthew 18:6) serve as a warning for our own time, when children are increasingly in danger of having their innocence stolen from them.

© 2021 The Christian Institute