The Evangelical Universalist Forum

parents and children


I read Richard Beck’s blog from time to time. I ran across this one, and it really speaks to me because in the past I have witnessed so many well meaning folks use this verse as a reason for pointing the’ol finger. We are so far removed from the culture and context of the writers of these types of verses, yet somehow we think that we must, should, have to, constrict ourselves to these types of set biblical admonitions without taking our own culture and context into account. :open_mouth:

Interested in everyone’s opinion. :smiley:

[size=150]The Guilt of Parents and Children [/size]
Posted on 12.28.2017

*A lot of damage has been done in citing Proverbs 22.6 to parents:

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Parents whose kids don’t turn out as hoped tend to blame themselves because of an uncritical use of Proverbs 22.6. There’s something deterministic about the text, like dominoes falling and a clear chain of cause and effect. If we had trained up our child properly, we think, they would have turned out okay. So we must have done something wrong.

But the Bible is never so clear about such things. There are countervailing witnesses and testimonies. Against Proverbs 22.6, consider the witness of Ezekiel 18:20:
The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.
Your virtue is your own, says Ezekiel 18:20. Parents will not share in the guilt of their children. Nor will children share in the guilt of their parents.

All that to say, the Bible presents a complicated picture regarding the relationship between parenting and moral development. Yes, we do have the obligation to train up children in the way they should go. But at the end of the day, a righteous parent will not share in the guilt of an unrighteous child.

And from time to time, it’s good to remind parents of that fact.*


Dear MM:

Many of you may know from reading the posts I have made since joining this forum, that my beloved, recently-departed wife Alida and I raised nine children. They currently range in age from 29 to 50. They were all raised in a Christian home and brought up according to the advice in Proverbs 22:6. The Bible was read every day and prayers offered. I read through Pilgrim’s Progress to them after supper each evening. They all wanted me to continue after each segment of that wonderful allegory about a Christian’s journey. My wife would put the younger children to bed each night, read a story, and pray with them. They were all brought to church with us at least once every Sunday.

They grew up and married. So far, we have 27 grandchildren with another expected in July of this year. Six of the nine attend church regularly along with their own children. Of the other three (all boys), two can best be described as nominal Christians and one is anti-religion. Of some interest is the fact that these sons all married outside the faith, although one of their wives was brought up in a Christian home. In the dark years of the Judges, we read in Judges 3:6 and in many other places that the children of Israel took wives from the Canaanites and other heathen tribes. Wives turned Solomon’s heart away from God.

All nine children were baptized as infants or as young children. Although all, to one degree or another comply with the fourth Commandment to honour their father and mother, they are all very different in their spiritual standing. Three of our daughters and one son walk very closely with the Lord. The two other daughters less so. One thing I have noticed about my son who is not even a nominal Christian is that he has a very high respect for morality, more so than even the most spiritual of our children. Perhaps he has seen enough hypocrisy in the lives of so many church-going Christians that he now believes Christianity is hogwash, pie-in-the-sky nonsense. Not surprisingly, he completely rejects any belief that this world and all the universe were created and now upheld by God.

So, back to Proverbs 22:6 – did my wife and I follow the wise instruction? I think we did, but may have fallen short of the mark!

My very favourite scripture passage is the parable Jesus told, recorded by Luke in Chapter 15 about the two lost sons. I say two, because both the father’s sons were lost, not only the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal was disobedient, ignored his father’s instructions, and went away to sample what this world offers. The other son stayed at home.

When the wayward but penitent son returned home, his father welcomed him with open arms, gave him a new robe, shoes on his feet and a ring on his finger. There was great rejoicing and they all had a party, except for the deeply-religious elder brother who deliberately stayed away.
After the banquet, we read that there was music and dancing. O dear, dancing! Many, even my own pastor and an elder in my church, insist that dancing is sinful. They appear to ignore the fact that infants display natural movements when music is played; they clap their little hands, smile and move their tiny feet. They also tend to brush away all scriptures such as Psalm 30:11 and Psalms 149 and 150 where dancing is indicated to be good. That’s even in churches that practice Exclusive Psalm Singing.

I have also told everyone, through posts in several categories in this Forum, about the dream God caused me to have over a year ago. A wonderful dream, unlike any other I’d dreamed before. In the dream, Alida was dancing – for the very first time. She is no doubt dancing even as I write this. My sincere and firm hope is that I will join her and that all our children and grandchildren will one day join her in the dance.


Hey Norm!

Thanks for your testimony about your family and you do have much to be proud of.

I posted the post because I, as well as some of my close friends and relatives, have experienced points of disappointment with our kids or grandkids.

For me I have been energized by the understanding that God is working and that healing and change is happening in peoples lives.

So ‘love never fails’ works for me.

Norm, I truly believe from the bottom of my calloused feet to the top of my hair loss head, that you and Alida will be dancing together and all of your offspring will enjoy also. And you will all have a smile on your face.

Peace my friend.

Love, Chad


Thank you Invernessian! Beautiful and meaningful!


MM, what disappointments do you have?


A can of worms…

We all have expectations. My expectations of you are (to be honest) quite small, as we have never met, I do not personally know you and have invested very little in our relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I care and am interested in what is going on in your life, but it is not the same as a child that you poured everything you had into the child and yet he or she went and did things that you wonder where they got that from. The child totally did things contrary to what you taught him or her.

It used to bother me, now I try to truly love and show respect. :wink:

The prvb 22 verse was as Mr. Beck noted a litmus test for the Christians I used to know and fellowship with. I am disappointed that for a while I fell for the BS. There are no hard and fast rules. Love never fails. :wink:


MM, God makes all things beautiful in their time. It is sometimes very hard and painful to wait, though. You are not alone, my brother.


Thanks :smiley:



More details on this please.


Without even looking up the verse, I am sure you are referring to “train up a child in the way he should go, so that when he is old, he may not depart from it” or something like that. I can’t remember the technical term, but those were not absolute statements from Solomon (or whoever wrote the book). They were not a promise. They were just common sense wisdom, hopeful wisdom, you might ad.

If you ask my parents, they will tell you that both of their sons received a good upbringing, similar, and one turned out good, the other not so good in their eyes. I take no pride in being the ‘good’ son, because, the truth is, we all have have a mind of our own. Life experiences cannot allow certain people to accept certain things. Not to mention that what the parents think a child should do are often up to opinion and wishes rather than simple right wrong. They may see a child drink and think that is shameful and wrong, when, in fact, it is quite neutral. Granted, no one wants a drunk for a child, but people don’t often look past the symptom. They don’t see behind the substance abuse/behavior addictions that there is a hurting person who is drowning out pain and yet many don’t recognize they do the same thing already, except that their method of drowning the pain isn’t taboo. Show me a person and I will show you their vice. No one lives without vice, no one and the one who claims to be free of it is naive, self deceived! Beware of the demons in his/her closet.


Look around you, Gabe. There are millions of people without VICE!

Look around you openly, sincerely, and honestly for people without VICE! That is my AD-VICE.


MM, what BS did you fall for?


I’m guessing this is what MM refers to:

Which I’m told could also be translated thus:

The question has also been raised as to whether this is a promise (as is often alleged) or a warning (under the second posited translation). I would agree that, whatever it may be, it is not a promise, but rather a general “wise saying” in either case. We all know people who, despite a lax upbringing, have done phenomenally well, and vice versa. I can personally attest that the teaching of the church that this is a promise or some kind of “law of nature” have caused horrible suffering to many a parent who has done the best job they knew how to do and been bitterly disappointed in the results.


I wonder why the Septuagint translation of Proverbs does not include verse 6 in Chapter 22.
And, of course, the Orthodox Study Bible doesn’t contain it either, since this translation is based on the Septuagint.


It does, but it depends on which version of the LXX is in use. There are various codices (Vaticanus / Alexandrinus / Sinaiticus / Ephraemi, to name but a few) and even within these some variances (Sixtine / Aldine of the Vaticanus), of which is the following…

Prov 22:6 Dedicate (ἐγκαινίζω) the child according to his way; and indeed if he should grow old, he will not depart from it.

<ἐγκαινίζω> egkainizō = consecrate / dedicate. The actual word in that particular text is <εγκαίνισον>. It appears only 3 times in the NT… Jn 10:22; Heb 9:18; 10:20, but features quite a bit in the LXX.

Interestingly with regards to John’s use… 1) dedication, consecration 1a) in particular the annual feast celebrated eight days beginning in the 25th of Chislev (middle of our December), instituted by Judas Maccabaeus [164 BC] in memory of the cleansing of the temple from the pollution of Antiochus Epiphanes.


Well, this is drudging up an old thread but Don started it. :wink: Cindy’s point is true, but from my perspective (just me personally) I came to a point that I had to admit that this passage as stated and as believed/taught by many fundamental Christians was just not as bulletproof as many want to admit. As opposed to being bitter, I started to look at it in different ways.

davo’s comment leads me to believe it (prov 22:6) ‘could’ possibly have been a usable truth in context of a culture and society that had strict adherence to these ideas across the generational board. In other words in that given culture there would be great pressure for a child to listen to and not stray from what mom and dad taught them. Just a thought.

But this really could open a good discussion on how Christianity is changing and to be quite honest, floundering. Outside (of the church / family) pressures are immense now a days.