Lee was out until late last night taking care of a sick baby in the hospital. You would think I would have taken the time to write one of the ten posts I’ve been thinking of. Maybe cleaned the kitchen better? Or gone to sleep at a decent hour? No, I did none of these things. However, I have had a cup of coffee and a good quiet time with my Bible this morning, and since the children are not awake yet, I am ready to write before getting started on the rest of my day.
Here’s the question I’ve been pondering, and it rather relates to a conception I had before I became a mother, that the best mothers use a gentle tone of voice for any reprimand of their children, no matter how serious. Is there any occasion where a godly mother will righteously and effectively raise her voice when reprimanding her children? I imagine Caroline Ingalls saying in a slow voice, “Girls…” and knowing that on the outside at least, all the Ingalls children quickly stepped back in the line of good and right. On the other hand, my own mother, whom I hold in deepest regard, did on occasion raise her voice. I remember clearly that for at least some of those occasions, it served to demonstrate to me the seriousness of my offense, even though I didn’t completely understand exactly why it was a problem. In other cases, I remember thinking about everything except the lecture. Perhaps the intensity was appropriate, but it was not necessarily effectual.
Here are a few scenarios:
- Several children are making a great deal of noise in the car and cannot hear a normal tone of voice instructing them to be quiet.
- A young child is swinging a metal chain around a group of children.
- A young child has impulsively run out in a busy street to get a ball.
- A young child accepts candy from a strange adult at the park.
- A young child is biting offensive peers in retaliation.
- A teenage girl has stayed out late innocently chatting with her coworkers after work, while mom and dad sit at home worrying.
- Parents find out that a teenage son has been accessing inappropriate images on the computer.
Here’s what I’m thinking. In many, if not all of these cases, children may not truly understand the gravity of the offense. To them, the offense is the same as a relatively minor infraction even though in some of these cases, the offense has grave potential consequences. An occasional raised voice can be very helpful in signalling to them the importance of obedience and trust in a particular matter. We sometimes say that there are no differences among sins, but beyond a basic acknowledgement that Christ died for all sins equally, it is not biblical to suggest that God does not dislike some sins more than others or that all sins have equal consequences.
In fact, passages such as Proverbs 6 lose their meaning if we suggest that the writer’s use of abomination is hyperbole when refering to God’s attitude toward certain sins. Knowing that God HATES a proud look does help me understand its importance to Him, especially since I don’t readily see this sin as something of significant destructiveness in my life.
My tendency as a mom is to be intense (raise my voice) too often. I do struggle sometimes with selfish anger at my children’s sins. Because of my tendency to be self-deceived and selfish, I desperately need to be walking in the spirit, to be seeking for wisdom in my dealings with my children. Yet, it does not follow that it is impossible or undesirable to raise a voice or be righteously angry with our children on occasion.
There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
“Because of my tendency to be self-deceived and selfish, I desperately need to be walking in the spirit, to be seeking for wisdom in my dealings with my children.”
This is a valuable question – definitely something I’ve been dealing with myself about lately! Thanks for posting.
I suppose to answer the question, intensity is appropriate and effective when it’s not driven by the flesh. 99% of the time, I raise my voice when I’m both self-deceived and selfish (as you so excellently put it above! lol). This is sin on my part, and I’ve been convicted over and over again recently.