Biblical Parenting Lessons
The Bible is a mixed bag when it comes to parenting advice.
Quick, name the mom or dad:
- Why can’t you act more like your delightfully obsequious little brother?
- I like you best: dress up like your sibling and steal some money from dad — he’ll never know the difference.
- I’m so glad I finally have a kid — I think I’ll let those nice people who work in the temple adopt you.
- I know, let’s go on a hike together. Maybe we’ll build an alter and kill something. Got rope?
- See those rods? No spoiling for you!
But the other day, I had a thought — a hopeful thought. You see, I’m feeling a bit . . . uneasy . . . about exposing my daughter to the, um, less-than-egalitarian aspects of church culture. That’s another post, I suppose.
While I was worrying, my mind drifted to the story of “The Woman Taken in Adultery” (no name, no shamed male counterpart). Jesus’ response is not only rhetorically brilliant, it shows a level of empathy and compassion that is peculiar within his cultural milieu.
It got me wondering, “Did Mary and Joseph tell him about the time when Mary was pregnant out of wedlock? Did Joseph explain how he was briefly tempted to shame her, but just couldn’t? Did Mary recount her trepidation at how Joseph would react? After all, 33 years later this crowd of men is threatening to STONE a woman in similar circumstance. How much of Jesus’ empathy toward women — his boundary breaking with Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha, and the Woman at the Well — came from listening to his mother’s stories of her own life, her heavenly encounters, her bold choices, her prophetic visions? How much came from watching his father embrace a woman whom others might have cast away? And in choosing Mary, Joseph yoked his fate to the primacy of hers — because really, was running away to Egypt in his original plans?”
Jesus displayed radical love, and part of the credit must go to Mary and Joseph’s radical parenting and rejection of their cultural script.
It’s not an answer to my fears, but it does give me hope.