As you first start coming to grips with your responsibilities in your son’s defiance and rebellions, you will have sort through the attempts at comfort that many Christian friends will offer. You will also have to learn how to reject the same suggestions that proceed every human beings natural inclination to self-justification. That false comfort runs like this: we are of course sad about our son’s condition, and it grieves us, but it is a misfortune for all of us, and not something that any one person, father or mother, can be held responsible for.
But while there is certainly grief that you experience over this situation, it is a different kind of grief than what you would be going through if you discovered he had, say, inoperable cancer. This grief is the grief of shame, and shame in the Bible is not separated from connectedness and responsibility.
This point really is a simple one to establish, and so I won’t take much time. But it is a hard point to make stick because shame is a state of mind and heart that we dislike so intensely that we will go through all kinds of emotional convolutions to get out of it.
But the Scriptures say that laziness in sons is a shame to his parents. “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (Prov. 10:5). A son can be outdone by a faithful servant, causing shame. “A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren” (Prov. 17:2). A son who rejects his parents causes shame and brings reproach. “He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach” (Prov. 19:26). And all of proceeds from a parental refusal to teach the child wisdom early on. “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Prov. 29:15). So the bottom line is that when you are first coming to grips with your responsibility in how your son is currently behaving, you should not allow the well-intentioned words of your kind-hearted Christian friends to trump what Scripture says. But at the same time please know that these (admittedly hard) words from Scripture are not given in order to rub your nose in it — they are given because true repentance is the beginning of all restoration. That is the goal here. But true repentance for fathers cannot happen without owning it.
The second simple point to make is that when the Bible talks about the qualifiations for ministry, among other qualifications, it gives us this.
“One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Tim. 3:4-5).
According to the Bible, households are ruled. They can be ruled poorly or well. When they are ruled well, the children are “in subjection with all gravity.” When they are not ruled well, we may fully expect the mismanagement to carry over into the church if such a man were to be ordained. Now if your son is not in subjection to you, with all gravity, but simply laughs at you when you try to rein him in, what conclusion should you draw from this?
In a world where excuses were not so quickly offered, it would not be necessary to go over this, and I am sorry that I have to. But hard truth is far better for you and your family than the soft comfort is.