Here’s yet another reminder that you shouldn’t take any life advice from author and theologian John Piper — especially when it comes to parenting.
On the matter of disciplining your children, Piper said this on Twitter:
Read to your children the stories of the rebellion of Absalom against David (2 Samuel 15-15) and the rebellion of Sheba (2 Samuel 20) and the rebellion of Adonijah (1 Kings 1). Then look them in the eye and say: Rebellion against the Lord‘s anointed never, never, never succeeds.
— John Piper (@JohnPiper) June 2, 2018
On the surface, it’s easy to gloss over all that, but the context is really important here. So let’s look at the verses he’s citing.
In 2 Samuel 15:15, King David commands his servants to follow him away from his rebellious son (Absalom) who is about to stir up trouble. The moral of that verse is basically not to question authority.
In 2 Samuel 20, Sheba, a high-ranking man from the tribe of Benjamin, plots against David to overthrow his authority over Israel. The moral there? Authorities chosen by God can’t and shouldn’t be messed with.
And in 1 Kings 1, we have Adonijah, another one of David’s sons, attempting to usurp his now-elderly father’s throne by sacrificing several animals in order to earn God’s favor. David makes Solomon, his son by Bathsheba, king instead. Moral: disrupting the plans of the authorities will never work out well for you, so don’t even try.
Piper’s point in mentioning these verses is obvious: Never disobey your parents, because they are divinely placed in authority over children. Ergo, disobeying them is basically the same thing as disobeying God.
I’m not a parent, so perhaps I shouldn’t comment, but fear-based tactics don’t seem like the healthiest way to build up trust with your kids. At any rate, it takes a great deal of hubris to claim that disobeying you is literally the same thing as disobeying “the Lord’s anointed.”
It’s worth noting a handful of stories from the Bible in which civil disobedience is tolerated, encouraged, or even rewarded. In Genesis, we have Sarah, the barren wife of Abraham, finding a creative way around God’s promise that “one day” her husband would be the father of many nations. Rather than wait for pregnancy to occur (she was in her nineties, after all), she offered Abraham her handmaid, Hagar, to have a child instead. This was a culturally-approved way of making sure she got what she wanted rather than trust God’s timing, and she still is honored with the title of biblical matriarch.
We also have the story of Esther, the girl who was chosen to be the wife and queen of King Ahasuerus — Persia’s answer to Donald Trump. When she learned of a plan by the king’s advisor, Haman, to wipe out all the Jews of the kingdom, she broke royal rules by entering the king’s chambers without an appointment to invite him to a special banquet, during which she revealed her Jewish identity. Her people were spared from death, and she is lauded as a biblical heroine.
There are other places in which God’s people circumvent their way around His instructions, but in Romans 13, there is a verse instructing Christians to disobey civil authorities — God’s servants — when asked to violate moral laws. It seems like common sense that the same teaching should apply to abusive parents as well.
There was a well-known preacher who even said Christians could rightfully disobey civil authorities based on that very verse.
John Piper should consider listening to that guy.
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