Rules and parenting are things that go together. But there is more to life than rules. Rules, by themselves, will not produce spiritual maturity. What rules may do is keep you safe and keep you from breaking laws. But God wants you to have more than that.
Rules address behavior
Relying primarily on a set of rules to govern your family is toxic. Paul warns you about being taken captive by the human traditions of this world. Here is his warning found in Colossians 2:8:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
Later on in this chapter of Colossians Paul talks about the danger of rules such as: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch” And then he says:
“Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”
The fact that these rules have some value here on planet earth is what makes them attractive and deadly. However, with regard to spiritual safety and well-being these rules are of no value at all. Such rules only require the strength of the flesh to obey. They will not hold back the lusts of the flesh. In fact they will encourage them. Why? Because anything that does not require faith in Christ and humble reliance upon his Spirit leads to pride and failure.
We want more
By all means, teach your kids to know when to be quiet to know and follow the laws of your community and country. But do not rely on these directives for spiritual well-being. Simply giving your children rules to: be quiet, keep the house clean, don’t do drugs, don’t have sex, and don’t look at pornography is not enough. Loving and living for Christ must come first. Understanding the gospel truth of our deep dependence on Christ is the highest priority.
Rules are deceptive. Keeping them apart from knowing Christ breeds contempt for Christ. Remember the story of the rich young ruler. He kept ALL of the rules but rejected Christ.
Paul pleads with you to live all of your life in dependence upon Christ. Go for more than rules. Go for the heart.
Jay Younts is the author of “Everyday Talk: Talking freely and Naturally about God with Your Children” and “Everyday Talk about Sex & Marriage.” He blogs at ShepherdPress.com, where this article (reprinted with permission) first appeared.