Children are a gift from the LORD;
they are a reward from him.
(Psalm 127:3, NLT).1
Yes, in the Bible, children are considered a great blessing from God, however according to Mosaic Law, although a blessing, they had no rights.2 It wasn’t until the last century that much thought was given to the concept of children’s rights, apart from their parents. Until these modern times, children were basically the property of their parents, so the Good Book focuses not upon child rights, but how a parent must properly raise them into adults.3
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Although many people believe society should make laws protecting children, doing so can sometimes be disastrous. Off the top of my head, I can give two primary examples. Early in the history of the United States, lawmakers thought children should have the right to education, so schools were built. All the way up to the 20th century, the Holy Bible was used as their main text book4 for all subjects in public schools, but now the Bible is considered divisive and has been prohibited in many public schools, while all kinds of sinful subject material have been embraced for educating our children.
Also, most Christians will understand the following. There are now laws protecting the rights of children wanting to surgically change their gender, without even notifying their parents; that doesn’t seem to be an ideal protection to me. It seems that what passes for children’s rights now tread on God-given parental rights – they infringe on our right to provide instruction in accordance with conscience, and educate a child the way we believe is right for our children.5
What we need to do is encourage parents’ responsibility for raising their children according to God’s laws. Many children’s rights advocates want to supersede the right of parents who wish to direct their children along the correct path to understand right from wrong (see Proverbs 22:6). Any intrusion of governmental law should only be directed to parents who deny their duty, not give children rights that they do not understand.6
But just because children in biblical times were not treated as adults, God didn’t expect them to be treated as second class citizens. The disciples thought they are doing Jesus a favor by keeping children away from him. They thought children were not important to his message, as they had no strength or influence, but Mark the Evangelist wrote of one such case when Jesus became indignant. For Jesus, children were models of simple trust — just the kind of people he wants in his kingdom. He welcomed all children and blessed them with enthusiasm.7
“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’ Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-16).
Notice the verse underlined above, which says “. . . anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child . . .” which relates to how a person of any age or maturity enters his Kingdom. “A little child accepts what is given as a gift without asserting his rights or claims.” In other words, everyone must accept it as a precious gift, just as a child does.8
Another instance where Jesus related to ‘like a child’ as necessary for salvation is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew. Our Lord said these words when the disciples asked him who of them would be the greatest in his Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus brought forward a small child and said the following.
“I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:3-6).
The millstone mentioned was not one used by an individual to pound grain, but the large round wheel-shaped stone used for grinding grain in a mill,9 most times being pulled by a donkey.10 With the awful global child sex trafficking recently exposed and the medically approved child sex change mutilations and the rampant pedophilia activities, these verses have a lot to say about how harshly those responsible will be judged by God in the coming new kingdom. But for now, those are issues to write about at another time.
Anyway, while all these verses are commonly used to promote childlike innocence, Jesus’ statement really urged his followers to adopt childlike humility. His disciple’s display of pride was inconsistent with a genuine discipleship, for humility is the pathway to true greatness.11
Children are to honor their parents, which of course is one of the Ten Commandments, but that also includes offspring of any age, even older adults. If there is anything implied as resembling a child’s right within the Holy Bible, it is the right to be correctly instructed by their parents concerning our Creator’s love, his directions, and his expectations for living a godly life.
“Jesus’ actions in welcoming the little children (Mark 10:13-16) exemplify the care which parents and teachers should bestow on children who are under their protection. Parents are charged not to provoke their children (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21), a command that forbids all forms of abuse and neglect.” Furthermore, Judeo-Christians have a responsibility to expose and work to rectify acts which are harmful to others, especially persons who are innocent and helpless (Psalms 82:3-4, Jeremiah 22:3, Ephesians 5:11).12
Now, for a music video related to our theme, how about a song by children? Not a song for children, but a serious one performed by children. This group is known as the Detty Sisters. Their parents are committed to raising their daughters to be religious, respectful, and God-fearing — and they lead them by example. The family is Evangelical Christian and they live in Southern Ohio (United States).13 They are an example of what this article is all about: leading children in a godly way. The song is ‘How Great Thou Art’ recorded in 2021. See music video listing in References & Notes.14
Copyright © 2023, Dr. Ray Hermann
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References & Notes
- Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from Holy Bible: New Living Translation, (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015). Used by permission.
- Barbieri Jr., Louis A. in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, (Eds.) Walvoord, John F. and Zuck, Roy B., (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), vol. 2, p. 61.
- “What does the Bible say about children’s rights?” (Got Questions, retrieved 21 July 2023), https://www.gotquestions.org/childrens-rights.html
- Robbins, John W., “Is the Bible a Textbook?” (The Trinity Review, The Trinity Foundation, June 1979), https://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/The%20Trinity%20Review%200003a%20IstheBibleaTextbook.pdf
- “What does the Bible say about children’s rights?” (See above.)
- Knowles, Andrew, The Bible Guide: An all-in-one Introduction to the Book of Books, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2001), p. 459.
- McLaren, Ross H., in CSB Study Bible: Notes, (Eds.) Blum, Edwin, et al., (Nashville TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), p. 1578.
- “Millstone” (Britannica Dictionary, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., retrieved 22 July 2023), https://www.britannica.com/dictionary/millstone
- The NET Bible First Edition Notes, [New English Translation], (Nashville, TN: Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Matthew 18:6.
- Quarles, Charles L., in CSB Study Bible: Notes, (Eds.) Blum, Edwin, et al., (Nashville TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), p. 1532.
- Wright, Paul L., “Child Abuse” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Eds.) Brand, Chad, et al., (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), p. 282.
- “Just Who are The The Detty Sisters?” (The Facts Are First, 1 January 2023), https://thefactsarefirst.com/the-detty-sisters-wiki/
- “How Great Thou Art”, Artists: The Detty Sisters; Album: Just As I Am; (no copyright listed, but assumed to be owned by the Detty family; no YouTube licensing organizations listed). Used under ‘fair use copyright’ for teaching under Section 107 of the United States Copyright Act of 1976 — MUSIC VIDEO: https://youtu.be/p25bzfODvGA