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There are a couple of verses in the Bible where God commands people to kill children who rebel (Deuteronomy 21:18) or curse their parents (Leviticus 20:9). Please imagine for a moment that you lived in BC times. Can you imagine, even for a moment, following God's command to take your child, or the child of anyone else, out to be killed for cursing or being stubborn and rebellious? Personally, I'd risk an eternity in hell first.

Please answer the question and do not talk about God being a pottery maker and therefore gets to break his own pots. I want to know if you as a parent could imagine yourself following these verses.

This question is only for parents. If you're not a parent, please do not answer as you do not possess the life experience to comprehend the true conflict.

Leviticus 20:9 New King James Version (NKJV) God speaking... 9 ‘For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 New King James Version (NKJV) God Commands... 18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. 20 And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by H3br3wHamm3r81, Matt, warren, David Stratton, El'endia Starman Apr 19 at 5:31

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

"Risking an eternity in Hell" is a curious proposition. It seems that were I to say something like that, I would be saying, "If God wanted me to do this thing, I would reject him." –  mojo Apr 18 at 4:01
Absolutely! Especially since it was a man claiming that God had told him that. –  Darryl Apr 18 at 5:15
It actually seems more likely that someone would go to hell if they did what the verse suggests. I think the risk would be in your favor not to follow the verse. What god in his right mind would send someone to hell for protecting their child, even if it means disobeying a guy who said he was talking for god. –  Darryl Apr 18 at 7:19
Welcome to the site. This next is just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": help page and How we are different than other sites? –  David Stratton Apr 18 at 21:08
Thanks. I see how this question is poorly written as it asks what someone would hypothetically do in their own personal opinion. I should rethink it. Is there a way to remove it? –  Darryl Apr 18 at 22:36

2 Answers 2

Not Concerning Young Children

You pose the question as if young children were considered for execution. The description of the "child" (a word that connotes "offspring" more than the "tender, innocent years") is a description of someone who is old enough to be an adult but still living with his parents (17-married?).

As a parent, I don't know how long it might take to reach that point with my children. Perhaps never, perhaps if they got angry enough to threaten (or attempt) to hurt my other children. Who knows. The commandment here is not a black-and-white situation. It's left entirely up to the judgment of the parents.

I also don't read this as commanding parents to kill their children as much as giving parents the option of doing so, should it become necessary. I can at least imagine scenarios in which an older child is such a burden on and threat to the family that execution is the only sensible recourse. The Hebrew community didn't have prisons, so this was pretty much the only thing you could do with someone who was determined to be a serious troublemaker. People in those days didn't have the same kind of security that people enjoy today in places like the US. Survival was the focus of every day, and that was everyone's job. Troublemakers posed a serious threat to the survival of the individual, the family, and the community, and people didn't have the time or means to tolerate much of it.

Suppose your (older) child went and raped/murdered/'d some innocent person and you knew he was capable of such enormity. Would you feel guilty that you didn't prevent this from happening? Whose death would you feel more guilty about? If my child was really that awful, I think I would feel morally culpable for not preventing his actions. Consider Ex 21:29

Exodus 21:29 (NASB)
"If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death.

Sure, this is about cattle, but the principle is similar, and the punishment is serious. There's at least something to be said for reining in things over which you are responsible.

Disciplining/Punishing Offspring

There are other commands to execute people who worship idols or break other laws. If one of my (adult) children did this, I would probably feel obliged to "turn him in" to the elders for the sake of the rest of my family and the community, first trying to get him to repent in some fashion before judgment was executed. I don't think I would ever be happy about it, but doing what's right isn't always easy.

I didn't choose to become a parent so that I could dote on my children regardless of how they turned out. I chose to become a parent because I wanted to help my children to become healthy people who know the truth and do it. That means that it is my job to teach my children through their successes and failures (much more the latter). There's a lot of pain involved, but that's what being a parent requires. It's not a job for the squeamish or faint of heart.

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I find your answer terrifying. If Child Protective Services saw your answer they would take you kids away from you. What about everything Jesus said about love? Do you think that just didn't make sense before he arrived? Is there some place in your mind that you imagine Jesus killing a child/teen for being rebellious or cursing their parent? You're correct that the verses are not very clear, but that just makes it worse, because the command from God is left way too open for unjustified killing. –  Darryl Apr 18 at 4:10
@Darryl, You asked about living 3,500 years ago. That was a different time. Would CPS have taken Isaac from Abraham? Would they have jailed Hannah for abandoning Samuel? CPS wouldn't even have existed long ago. People had more important things to do. The community had an obligation to look out for the welfare of everyone (including children), but they didn't employ complete strangers to monitor the choices of parents. –  mojo Apr 18 at 4:26
@Darryl, I don't know precisely what might have constituted "being rebellious" or "cursing your parent," but I suspect it's a lot more egregious than what you're thinking. The textual example of "being rebellious" includes things like being a drunkard and a glutton. I can't thing of an occasion when the Scripture records that anyone ever took this prerogative with their children. –  mojo Apr 18 at 4:33
The other option is to look at these words as being words of men. This seems far more plausible than God demanding the death of a child for rebelliousness, drunkenness or gluttony. –  Darryl Apr 18 at 5:09
To believe them to be merely the words of men is to deny the divine origin of the Bible and to rob it of any authoritative power. –  mojo Apr 18 at 13:13

We are expected to be obedient to God's word. Our emotions are of no concern. All through the old testament are mass killings by armies, good and bad, and by angels. The purpose being to eradicate evil. Sodom and Gomorrah, and the flood are classic examples.

Deuteronomy 21;21

And all men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put away evil from among you; and all Israel shall hear and fear.

Proverbs 4;14

Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

Joshua 7;24-25

24 And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them to the valley of Achor.

25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? The Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

We are admonished to shun evil, and not harbor or sympathize with those who do evil.

Galatians 5;9

A little leven leveneth the whole loaf.

The earth and the evil in it are temporary.

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So you're suggesting that if your religious leader told you that God spoke to him and said that his congregation must put evil out of this world by killing bad people, then you would follow those instructions? That's evil. –  Darryl Apr 19 at 5:46
I'm not suggesting anything. 1 Timothy 2;5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. I chose the example of Achan to show how his evil deed jepoardized the whole camp. Evil and righteousness cannot survive together, if evil is allowed, it will prevail, and righteousness will disappear.Genesis 6;5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. –  V. Rollins Apr 20 at 5:59

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