Written by Rachel Brown*
"For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry."-1 Samuel 15:25a
Rebellion is nothing new to mankind. God has had to deal with man's rebellion ever since Adam and Eve's sin in the garden of Eden, the Israelites in the wilderness, up to 21st century Christians of today. It is a never-ending story, for there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). For this cause, every parent has had to deal with the same willful clash of subordinate despising authority: the stubborn, defiant child resisting the parents' authority (i.e. submission crisis).
The specific problem is every man wanting to do that which is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6). From the very beginning, children are born with the tendency to want their own way. This is called the depraved sinful nature of the human being. Therefore, each child will actively use their sinful, rebellious will to somehow force or coerce others and circumstances to get what they want when they want, so they don't have to submit to a higher authority who tells them what to do (this is the hard way of finding out that we can't always do what we want when we want). This can be seen in the five-year-old who throws a screaming tantrum in the store because he can't have the toy he wants, to the seventeen-year-old who rolls her eyes when her mother tells her to change her clothes. Rebellion reeks among the youngest to the oldest of children, and even amidst adults.
Rampant rebellion is seen throughout all of society. From clothing, music, movies, books, attitudes, government-run schools, colleges, media, bumper stickers, television, and Hollywood promotion, even so far as to say in the church, rebellion is everywhere in-our-faces. We cannot escape its desperate clutches, especially this modern world of 2012. Rebellion is far worse than ever before, and we are seeing a catastrophic sweeping of terrorizing rebellion amongst youth and adults alike. Even among Christians and godly families. Rebellion is everywhere.
All rebellion stems from man's sinful heart and is directed at God, first and foremost. However, there is also a huge conflict between children and their parents. As we see listed in the numerous Scripture passages below (see further reference), this is an age-old and very common problem. Parents have had to deal with defiant, unruly, ungrateful, rebellious, disrespectful, and wicked children ever since the world began (read the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4).
As we can see from the above Scripture passage of 1 Samuel 15:25, God strictly forbids the sin of rebellion, which in all actuality, and according to His Word, is as the sin of witchcraft. Oh c'mon, give me a break! Rebellion likened to witchcraft? That's crazy. That's insane! I'm not some maniac, mentally-disturbed lunatic who believes in the weird forces of supernatural, magical trickery!
Apparently God thinks so.
There is zero tolerance for insolent rebellion of any kind. A child still under the household of his or her parents has no right to question the parents' authority over him, for, as Romans 13 declares, rulers are ministers of God for good.
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinace of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth the sword not in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." -Romans 13:1-4
I had never before thought of a parent as a minister of God exactly like a government official. Yet here is clear proof to further the corporal punishment view of Proverbs for children (see Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15, 17-18). A parent is ordained by God to be authority to children, whether father or mother, and the child is instructed to give proper respect and obedience to both father and mother. A child can't get away with giving respect and honor to just one parent and not the other; no, God commands children to honor both parents, even if the child is able to get along with one, and not the other. If the child has an issue of trouble submitting to one parent (though not the other), there is still a problem of rebellion. That problem will continue to be a problem later on in life. Rebellion must be conquered now, in the early stage of childhood, for it only grows bigger and stronger as the years pass. If a girl has no problem submitting to her father, yet she despises the authority of her mother, she will still have difficulty submitting to her husband once she is married. It is crucial that young women learn this before they are married, or they will find themselves questioning, and rebelling, against the authority of their husband, which will then make for a miserable marriage.
Great is the love of a parent. They give birth to a child, they feed the child, they love and nurture the child, they walk that child around the room for what seems decades in the wee hours of the morning because they love the child, they give the child clothing, shelter, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, toys to play with, material aspects to indulge in, playmates to enjoy, and countless other blessings, while they the parents sacrifice so much for that beloved child. Not a day goes by when the parents are not looking out for the best interests of that child (and even other children that eventually come along). But what always happens with each child? As they grow in age and "wisdom" they learn to despise their parents. What do parents receive after many weary years of training and raising and correcting and loving and sacrificing? The answer is ripe, hearty rebellion.
Those ungrateful, despicable children! We all do it, as children to our parents, and as children of God to our Maker Himself.
Although rebellion surfaces in the very early stages of child development, "teenage" rebellion seems to be the worst. It's that time in life when we know we know more than our parents, and they only think they know what we know, when really, we know they don't really know us at all! It is the confusing logic of a not-so-wise young girl or boy. We can all attest to this fact—whether we are still in our father's house or not—we all know what it is like to be in such rebellion. The excuses and justifications made for our bad behavior (like "they provoked me to this wrath!" while mentally quoting Ephesians 6:4), the unwise decisions of not submitting to our parents' authority, and despising anything they had to say simply because we didn't want to listen, we wanted to be our own boss, and because they were the ones who said it.
There is no room for excuses or justifications in the commandment of God. As long as the parent is not forcing the child to sin, that child is to obey and honor without a second thought, not matter how stupid or unjust it may seem to him. But grudging obedience is not true obedience. If we obey, after being told the third or fifth time, while rolling our eyes, sighing in disgust, and clearly showing our displeasure that we would rather not be doing this, it is not true obedience, nor honor. This is clearly rebellion.
A child, whether three years old, or nineteen years old, has no say-so in the matter with regard to submission to his or her parents. Once a command is given, it is to be carried out with full compliance. His parents are his authority until he begins a home of his own. God has ordained parents to give the orders; children to carry them out. There is absolutely zero tolerance for rebellion and defiance. A child must obey in all things (or suffer the consequences of "the sword"), and not just simply obey, he must obey with a right attitude (which stems from a right heart)—not grudgingly—but with a cheerful and enthusiastic disposition to please both God and his parents.
Too many young people fall into the trap of thinking their parents don't really understand them or what they're going through, when the truth is, their parents went through the exact same things. That's a little bit difficult to understand. After all, times change, circumstances are different, technology becomes a new thing, the world becomes more modernized, and on and on we go. Our parents did not go through what we go through today. They're old fashioned and eccentric. Maybe even a little behind the times.
No, I'm afraid we can't excuse our rebellious ways that easily. You see, this is just another excuse that we fall into. The fact of the matter is that, boys, your dad knows you better than anyone because he was once a boy himself; girls, your mother knows you better than anyone else because she was once a girl herself. As unbelievable as it sounds that they were once our age. Remember Ecclesiastes 1:9? There is nothing new under the sun; therefore we can't be going through something completely new and bizarre that no one else has ever gone through before. Our rebellion of today is just like the rebellion of our parents' day. We may think that it is our peers who understand us better because we are the same age, but consider this: who would know better how to design and build a skyscraper? Someone who had done it before, or someone still in the learning process? So who can best tell us how to live life? Our parents who have more years on us, or the self-same peer-type of kids who really don't know anymore than we think we do, and who definitely do not know more than our parents?
As Christians, we are following the pied piper's fife with the crowd of people going down to destruction, only we don't know it. Without a doubt, rebellion leads to destruction. If we will not honor and submit to our parents, we young women will never honor and submit to our husbands. If we will not honor and submit to our parents, we as young men and women alike will not submit to God. No submission means no wonderful life. Every aspect of life requires submission. The child to his parents and God. The wife to her husband and God. The husband to the church, God, and civil government. The employee to boss. The civil government and church to God. Ultimately everyone and everything is to be in submission to God, but God has also placed other certain institutions and individuals above us. We can't escape authority even if we wanted to.
With authority surrounding us, we can't escape. We can, however, escape the rebellion that raises its ugly head whenever authority is near, which is an all-the-time, every day scenario—children, teenagers, and adults alike. Although rebellion is simply a root of sin, and we can never be completely free from sin, if Christ truly rules our lives we can only be strengthened through Him (Phil. 4:13) to fight the rebellion that seems to take over our lives. God has implicitly commanded strict obedience to His Word. We cannot fight Him in our rebellion and win, for sin can never be victorious over the All-Powerful. Therefore, it is our duty to submit to those in authority over us, no matter our situation, no matter how differently we may think, it is our duty. And our duty should not be taken lightly or thrown to the wind. Our duty is to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, and to follow His commandments found in His Word. Only then can we have a fulfilling life.
In stark contrast to a wonderful and fulfilling life, is the life that rebellion brings. In the world's [seemingly] grand life of rebellion there can only be found unhappiness and wasted years. Rebellion is a certain killer, and very dangerous. If we give in to it, we will destroy the very life that God has blessed us with. No wonderful life for the rebellious man.
For further reference:
"The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother." -Proverbs 10:1
"Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish." -Proverbs 12:1
"The way of the fool is right in his own eyes: but he that harkeneth unto counsel is wise." -Proverbs 12:15
"A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke." -Proverbs 13:1
"A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent." -Proverbs 15:5
"Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die." -Proverbs 15:10
"A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother." -Proverbs 15:20
"He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding." -Proverbs 15:32
"A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him." -Proverbs 17:25
"A foolish son is the calamity of his father." -Proverbs 19:13a
"He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach." -Proverbs 19:26
"Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right." -Proverbs 20:11
"Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old." -Proverbs 23:22
"He, that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." -Proverbs 29:1
"There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother. There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up." -Proverbs 30:11-13
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." -Ephesians 6:1-3
"Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." -Exodus 20:12
"Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord." -Colossians 3:20
*Rachel Brown is the eldest daughter of eight children born to James and Sonya Brown. Her greatest passions lie in her avid reading and writing to the glory of God. She also enjoys music, dancing, knitting, crocheting, sewing, and cooking. Her greatest desire, beyond that of glorifying God, is to one day be a wife and mother. She is the writer of her many hopes, dreams, failures, thoughts, beliefs, and expectations for the future at Covenant Maiden.