Parents, Teach!

In chapters 5-7 of Proverbs, Solomon focuses on adultery with frank discussions of its high costs, warnings about the ways temptation comes, and preventive measures one should take. Though the first part of chapter six turned to some other issues, when the wise man resumed his warnings against adultery in Proverbs 6:20, he began with the instruction of one’s parents, a thought we want to focus on.

            “My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother.

            Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck.
            When you roam, they will lead you; When you sleep, they will keep you;
            And when you awake, they will speak with you.
            For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light;
            Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,
            To keep you from the evil woman, From the flattering tongue of a seductress.” Proverbs 6:20-24

            That Solomon would have to exhort his son to keep his father’s command and not forsake the law of his mother suggests one can be properly taught and still not obey, but in this article we will not emphasize the child’s ability to choose; instead, let’s focus on the ability and responsibility of parents to equip their children with knowledge. This one who was blessed with a wisdom which sprang from the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10) knew that proper parental instruction, if heeded, would keep one from the evil seductress and her flattery.

            Parents, begin with the realization that the father’s command and the mother’s law are to be harmonious and accomplish the same goals. Too many children don’t have the kind of unified teaching represented in this passage and such can result in confusion and conflict. Some will have the wisdom to make the right choice anyway, but when dating and choosing a mate, the ability to present a consistent, unified message to your future children should be a major consideration. Once married, both parents need to get on the same page; i.e. they both need to be guided by the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17). When difficult judgment matters arise, private discussions are best and respect for God’s order in the home (Ephesians 5:22—6:4) needs to prevail so that the command and the law are one and the same.

            Parents, teach! Teach your children about that which you least want to talk about with them, viz. sex. We need to do this is in a dignified and matter-of-fact way, but it must be done because they are certain to learn the commands of the Internet and the law of popular culture. Teach your children that God made them male and female (Matthew 19:4) and their sexual desires must be directed toward those of the opposite gender (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Be sure they understand that our world of casual hookups or even “as long as you are in love” will lead to condemnation. Your children must understand the importance of waiting until marriage (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

            But don’t stop with telling them that sex before marriage is wrong, but do as Solomon did and talk about the consequences of sin (Proverbs 5-7; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; et al). If the sin occurs and your child is penitent, do everything you can to help them pick up the pieces and live as normal a life as possible, but do all you can to prevent it with the kind of warnings Solomon sounds. In addition, provide the kind of instruction and counsel that will help your children see the way this temptation comes on us. You may think of others, but consider how these three chapters point to…

            Flattery and smooth talk (5:1-3; 6:24; 7:5, 21). Teach them to cut through the chatter and know how foolish it would be to give in. Seek to instill in your children a genuine humility and trust in God that will never be flattered into failure. No matter how alluring someone makes it seem, our children must be taught that “fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

            Make them aware of how powerful physical forces can be. Beauty is not a bad thing, but if our children (and grandchildren) do not have a solid foundation of biblical teaching, they may be allured by flirtatious beauty (6:25). And in conjunction with this, teach your children not to dress in enticing ways (7:10). Sensuality is a common component of clothing today and parents must talk with their children about the power of sensual dress (cf. Matthew 5:27-28; 18:6-7). Teach your children to dress properly. Teach them to turn away and control their thoughts when others fail to dress as they should. Sensual dress can be a temptation, but we are not powerless to resist and our children must be taught that another’s failure cannot become their downfall.

            Parents, our children may be properly taught and then choose to reject those instructions, but it is our responsibility to so teach that if our children do keep the father’s commands and the laws of the mother they will be will following the way of life.


All quotes taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1994, Thomas Nelson Publishers.