Poor Eli. He was a victim of grace-based parenting.
Maybe it was because he was a priest of YHWH, serving daily in the Tabernacle. Maybe when he would place his hand on the head of an animal to be sacrificed, the sins of his childhood would flash before his eyes. His heart was heavy over the ways he failed YHWH, and he was truly sorry for the things he had done.
So when his little boys, Hophni and Phinehas, would show disrespect or flagrant disobedience, he would feel bad about disciplining them. He kept silent, his own heart accusing him of the times he himself had disobeyed his heavenly Abba. Even when the boys were cruel to the people visiting YHWH’s Tabernacle, Eli would show tenderness, mercy, and patience with them.
Even when his son’s list of crimes extended past rebellion toward him and even their mother, even after they started to deal lustfully with the young women who came to worship, and even when they cheated those who brought sacrifices, Eli kept quiet. He didn’t want to be a mean dad. He wanted to extend grace and mercy. And after awhile, when his sons were just that bad, he felt too tired to deal with them. He’d rather study the Torah or spend hours in prayer.
Even though Eli felt he was honoring YHWH by extending grace and not doing more than speaking a word of rebuke to his sons, a man of God came to Eli with a message:
“Why do you honor your sons more than me?”
The great sin of Eli, according to 1 Samuel 3:13, was that “he failed to restrain” his sons, even when they did things that were “contemptible” (NIV) or “vile” (KJV).
Just as Israel was to drive out all evil practices from the nation, we need to guard our families from all evil practices. While we do acknowledge that we have been extended grace for our sin and that Yeshua offered Himself as a payment for our sin, should we allow sin to continue in our homes so that grace can abound (Romans 6:1-18)?
Rather, we need to honor YHWH more than anything else and to clean out the sin from our homes. (See Hebrews 12.)
There are certain evils that should just not be allowed in our homes. Yes, they will occur at times, but fathers and mothers need to rise up to honor their God by saying, “No, this sin cannot stay. We will not permit it. We will restrain our sons and daughters from doing these evil things.”
Thankfully, we don’t have to guess at which sins cannot stay. We don’t have to make up a legalistic list. Rather, we can read straight from the Scriptures, neither adding to nor taking away.
Proverbs 6:16-19, ESV
There are six things that YHWH hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
1. Haughty eyes
2. A lying tongue
3. Hands that shed innocent blood
4. A heart that devises wicked plans
5. Feet that make haste to run to evil
6. A false witness who breathes out lies
7. One who sows discord among brothers
You can use this list as a checklist, but we recommend that you take the time to study out each of these phrases. Where else are these things mentioned in Scripture? Can you think of any people who practiced these sins? How did YHWH deal with them? What blessings come to those who do the opposite? What heart issues are behind each of these evils? What would these sins look like in a toddler or preschooler? What memory verses could your children learn to help protect them (Psalm 119:11)?
You could also look up Proverbs 8:13, which contains a similar list. In addition, read Psalm 15, which contains a list of behaviors that please YHWH.
“O you who love YHWH, hate evil!” (Psalm 97:10, ESV)
I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O YHWH, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.
Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.
I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.
Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land,
cutting off all the evildoers from the city of YHWH. (Psalm 101, ESV)
You don’t seem to have any idea what grace-based discipline or parenting is at all. You confuse it with permissiveness. Discipline means to teach; the Hebrew word most often translated “chastise” or “correct” means verbal correction or “come let us reason together.” None of the things that God says we should not do would be tolerated in a grace-based discipline home – but neither is slander, which is what you have engaged in here. You are spreading false teachings about your brothers and sisters in the Lord who choose to raise their children differently from you as though you are the only one hearing from the Lord. That is a violation of the Command to not take the Lord’s name in vain. I honestly encourage you to seek your heart and ask the Lord to root out the judgmental spirit you have revealed here. Had you left out your mischaracterization of grace-based parenting you would have had a decent encouragement here to not allow misbehavior to go unaddressed. You may also wish to consider a study in your home on grace and what it means and how God would like to change your lives to better reveal it. My prayers are with you and for your children that the Lord would reveal what Shema really means and how to better embrace shalom.
Kraig Elliott says
I first want to say thank you for posting, and we appreciate your willingness to do so. I know it is not always easy to post and state your opinion on matters… and it takes time, which is not always easy to give up.
You state that we do not know what either parenting or grace-based parenting, is which is a great leap of a statement. My wife and I have done much study into “grace-based” parenting, reading many published books by proponents of it. As parents for the past 18 years with 7 children, ages 4-18, who are highly appreciated by all who meet them (and I don’t say that arrogantly), I believe we know well what parenting and grace-based parenting/discipline is about.
We have counseled many who are struggling with their children after applying its principles and are currently dealing with family struggling because they have taken on grace-based parenting principles instead of Biblical parenting principles…and, yes, I do mean just that. We agree with you that discipline means to teach/train. Throughout much of the Tanakh and Apostolic Scriptures there is teaching on the need to train our children and teach them and instruct them in proper behavior and self-discipline. We as parents also need to practice patience and forgiveness and love. I believe that we would agree on these things.
However, punishment is where we disagree. Unlike what grace-based parenting authors teach, when teaching or discipline is not accepted, we are to follow our Heavenly Father’s example and deal out punishment. It is extremely easy to see this and to prove it from Scripture, both Old and New Testaments. Our Heavenly Father believes in physical punishment in correcting His children (us) and will hold us accountable for His commanding us to use it when our children fail to follow our discipline. This is the point of this article which I believe you saw clearly. There were both earthly and eternal consequences for Eli because he failed to punish his sons for their disobedience and lack of following his discipline. Simply looking at Hebrews 12 paints a very clear picture of how YHWH looks at discipline and punishment. Obviously Eli “reasoned with” his sons, just like graced-based parenting advocates and we do also. His failure, just like grace-based parenting advocates, was failure to deal out punishment for their failure to listen to instruction. Grace becomes synonymous with discipline. I would highly disagree with you on your statement that the things God doesn’t allow would not be allowed in a grace-based home as I have witnessed it time and time again. And, just like Eli, God will hold each parent accountable for the way they parented and whether they followed in obedience to God’s commands.
Because of our love for others, we are willing to state unequivocally the whole counsel of YHWH and not just what is popular and easy. We are willing to say the difficult things of the Scriptures and not just say what others want to hear. We mention a system that is unbiblical and wrong and based upon pagan and humanistic practices and beliefs, not on Scripture. We are willing to share where in Scripture it shows it to be wrong and why it is wrong, even if that causes others to ridicule us and bring accusations against us. We are not slandering anyone nor are we spreading false teaching. Yes, we do have a “judgmental” spirit, as the Scriptures say we are to have. We test everything to see whether it is false, and grace-based parenting is not based on Scripture but on the false teachings of this world. We want to be a voice that is willing to share that with others even when it is not popular. I am sorry you have chosen to attack us personally instead of using Scripture to show how grace is all there is to parenting and how our Heavenly Father in His love and mercy, never punishes us when we do wrong.
Thank you for your prayers on our behalf and we will be praying for you also.