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Parental Rights & Responsibilities

Scriptural Authority

In His infinite wisdom, God has instituted three governmental organisms for man in this world: the state, the visible church, and the family. He has ordained that these three are to coordinate in rights and functions with a mutual independence, so that the state or the church have no more right to invade the parental sphere than parents do to invade the state or church spheres. These coordinate rights and responsibilities, which God has given to each sphere, have been clearly marked out in His Holy Word. This is especially true with respect to the education of children of Christian parents, in defense of which we state the following Scriptural truths:

  • God instituted the family before either the church or state had existence. Prior to man’s fall into sin, the family exercised total responsibility over all aspects of God’s creation (Genesis 2).

  • God has ordained marriage for the purpose of raising a godly seed through the home and the family institution (Malachi 2:15).

  • God has in the fifth commandment granted only to the parents the adequate and prior authority commensurate with the discharge of this great responsibility (Exodus 20:12).

  • The divine legislation given to Moses commands not the state or the church, but the fathers to see to the instruction of the children, that there might be faith and true knowledge in the race to come (Deuteronomy 6:4-7; Psalm 78:3-8).

  • The inspired apostles hold fathers directly responsible for consistently bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and exhort mothers to see to the godly upbringing of the daughters (Ephesians 6:4; Titus 2:4-5; 2 Timothy 1:5).

  • When children are consecrated to God, the Scriptures call upon the parents to bind themselves by vows before God and man to the faithful discharge of this duty by divine grace (Exodus 4:24-26; Genesis 17:7-9; 18:19; Acts 16:30-34).

  • In sacred history as recorded in the Scriptures, fathers such as Eli were condemned for their failure to instruct and discipline their children, thus bringing God’s judgment on themselves and their house (1 Samuel 3:11-14; 2 Samuel 11; 12:10-11; 13; 14:21; 15).

  • The Scriptures clearly state that failure to properly discharge this parental duty immediately disqualifies a man (i.e. the father) from the office of elder in the church (1 Timothy 3:4-5; Titus 1:6).

  • The blessing of God upon a household is contingent upon the faithful exercise of this parental responsibility, as is so clearly indicated in the case of Abraham and others (Genesis 18:19).

  • Christ, the only sovereign and true Head of the church, the Jehovah of the Old Covenant, who instituted civil government and founded and ordered His Church, has nowhere commanded the state to assume this function, and the state has no authority, as a divinely ordained institution under God and limited by His revealed will, to assume and usurp this responsibility (Proverbs 8:15-16; Deuteronomy 4:2).

  • The state, as a minister of God, is charged with the enforcement of the moral law in human relations, as a temporal ministry of justice among men, and is to protect the family and the church in the free exercise of all their God-given rights and responsibilities (Romans 13:1-10; 1 Peter 2:13-17; 1 Timothy 2:12).

Therefore, we believe, confess, and maintain that God has committed to parents the high privilege and solemn responsibility of training and educating their children in the fear of the Lord. We further believe that they dare not surrender this God-given right to any other institution, such as the state.

Relation to the Civil Authority

Education is religious, the Scriptures are the ultimate authority, and parents are accountable to God for the instruction and discipline of their children. Therefore, we cannot in good conscience come under the control of either civil or ecclesiastical authorities with respect to the education of our children.

As God-fearing, law-abiding citizens in full submission to the just and lawful authority of the civil magistrate, we are fully committed to the apostolic precept: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13-17; Romans 13:1-7).

If there should be a conflict between the explicit requirements of the Scriptures and the commands of the civil magistrate (an irreconcilable difference between the claims of Christ and of Caesar, which may God in His mercy forbid), we must consistently hold to the superior authority of God speaking through the Scriptures and adhere to that other apostolic precept that we ought “to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). 

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