You have asked me how it is possible to have a rebellious and out-of-control son when you have not ever thought of yourself as an indulgent father. You are right to see that radical indulgence on the part of a father is a disaster for sons — boys need direction, counsel, admonition, and correction. Of course. And if a father does not provide this, the boy grows up rudderless. That being the case, other more powerful voices will step in to provide direction. Those voices are best categorized under the heading of lusts.
But rebellion in sons can come from another direction as well. If a father’s disposition is negative, if he provides nothing but direction, counsel, admonition and correction, then the father has become nothing but law to his son. And what does law do when it comes into contact with sinners? It reveals sin (Rom. 3:20). More than this, it provokes sin (Rom. 5:20).
Grace deals with sin. Indulgence does not. Law would like to, but cannot. To cover up for its impotence, law in a father can deliver yet another disapproving lecture. And the son concludes that if he is going to be hanged for a thief no matter what he does, he might as well steal something.
Gracious fathers lead their sons through the minefield of sin. Indulgent fathers watch their sons wander off into the minefield. Legal fathers chase them there.