Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Parenting in the Bible

July (Web-Only) 2008, Vol. 52. Christianity Today online.

Parents and Prodigals
As my daughter leaves for college, packing up her belongings, she is still a stranger to me.
Virginia Stem Owens posted 7/29/2008 08:35AM

This article was originally published in the June 23, 1978 issue of Christianity Today.

This is the year my first child will leave home: Over the past 18 years I have often had cause to lament the fact that Jesus never had any children. The area where I have needed the most guidance and the clearest pattern of behavior has been a great grey mist through which move the bewildering and sometimes contradictory figures of Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, David and Absalom. My own mother's favorites were Hannah and Samuel, but then he left home at the relatively uncomplicated age of 3, not 18. From the very first, however, something had gone awry in human families. Cain was a prodigal who went off to a far country but never returned.

If the Old Testament is full of the all-too-human failings of families, the New Testament supplies the opposite problem. We see few families and scarcely any children. We know Peter had a mother-in-law, so he must have been married. Several of the disciples were close kin and at least two had a pushy mother. Philip had three daughters whose spinsterhood was presumably alleviated by their gifts of prophecy. Timothy's mother and grandmother were obviously virtuous women, but where was his father?

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There are a few examples of good mothers but can anyone tell me of an example of a good father in the Bible?

note: The father in the parable of the prodigal son doesn't count as he doesn't exist.


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