The Bible spells out three God-given institutions of authority in our fallen world: The sword, the keys, and the rod.
God gives the “sword” to civil governments in Genesis 9. To the Church, God gives the “keys” (Matthew 16, 18).
But God gives the “rod” to parents. Proverbs 13:24 says, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
The rod represents the rights and responsibility of parents to discipline and instruct their children. God never gives this authority to the government. Not once. Another way of putting this is that parental rights are both God-given and given only to parents.
Thus, we have the sword, the keys, and the rod. And given what has been in the news about the evils pervading our public schools, let me suggest that it is high time for Christian parents to take back the rod. Here is why this is so important.
The Greatest Challenge of Faithful Christian Parenting: Not Raising Pagans
One of the greatest challenges facing God’s people throughout the history of the faith has been this: How can they live among people who don’t worship God and yet not become like them? Or, put another way, how can they live in Canaan and not become Canaanites.
God is deeply concerned with this question. We know because right after Moses reminds the Israelites who they serve in Deuteronomy, he commands them to teach this to their children. Deuteronomy 6:6-7: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…”
The commands are to “be on their hearts.” But they aren’t supposed to stay there. No, they are to be taught — transferred — diligently to their children.
God didn’t bring the people of Israel out from slavery in Egypt by the Exodus just to have a one-generation witness to His glory and sovereign purposes. No, God wants an enduring, multi-generational witness.
The only way that happens is if the people of God teach their children how to follow in their footsteps. Their children, who didn’t witness the Exodus, must be taught about who God is, what He has done, and how they must serve Him.
Because if they don’t do this, their children will become Canaanites before two generations have passed.
The Same Challenge Faces Us Today
First-century Christian parents under Roman rule in the New Testament faced the same task: How do we raise children in Rome without them becoming Romans? Paul echoes Moses in Ephesians 6:4, encouraging fathers to bring up their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
And the same challenge faces Christian parents today.
Christians must take total responsibility for their children’s education. Part of that task (which is not optional but rather a matter of obedience) is to teach their children to know, love, and fear God (Deuteronomy 6:24-25).
So, Christian parents, embrace the glorious God-given responsibility of overseeing your children’s education. Take the rod — and wield it. If you have children in the public school system, get active. Perhaps get out. But at least get involved, starting yesterday.
Also, make sure you teach your children about God. Teach them Christian doctrine, theology, and ethics. We must be trained for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7-8). This doesn’t guarantee your kids will become Christians, but it honors the Lord, and it certainly helps.
Finally, you must face the facts on the ground with open eyes and clarity. The Canaanites and the Romans — they are the ones currently teaching our kids. And they are teaching them to be Canaanites and Romans.
So, take back the rod. God gave it to you, not to the government. Take back your kids. God gave them to you, not to the government. And by doing so, you take the first step in taking back our country.