Important Parent-Children Relationships in the Bible
The Bible describes various parent-child relationships that would be used as instructional materials in classroom settings. While some of these parent-child relationships are excellent and thus unproblematic in the classroom, others are not acceptable and are thereby problematic. Students may find it difficult to reconcile the overall ethical stance of the Bible with the conduct of certain characters in these parent-child relationships. Despite this dilemma, the Bible declares that all its segments are inspired by God and advantageous for teaching, reproving, and for setting matters straight. This declaration highlights that each parent-child relationship described in the Bible, no matter how problematic, has some specific spiritual importance. With skill, n teacher would use these parent-child relationships to deliver useful instruction to students, thereby helping to mold students’ morals, beliefs, and values. Some of these parent-child relationships are: the relationship between Lot and his two daughters, the relationship between Jesus and Mary, the relationship between Isaac and Jacob, the relationship between Isaac and Esau, as well as the relationship between Jephthah and his unnamed daughter.
The parent-children relationship between Lot and his two daughters forms a useful resource for delivering instruction inside the classroom, primarily because both the parent and the children engage in controversial actions. At the time the Bible mentions them, Lot’s two daughters appear to be in their puberty years. While teaching the passage describing this parent-children relationship, a teacher could ask each student to create separate tables enumerating the positive actions of either Lot or his two daughters. Students would also provide a brief explanation highlighting why each listed positive action is deemed to be commendable. The teacher would then take the students through a discussion of each of these positive actions. Given that the account of Lot and his two daughters is mainly comprised of negative conduct, the teacher would devote more time to analyzing the questionable behaviors of Lot and the two daughters. For example, the teacher would point out that in Genesis 19:8, Lot declares that his two daughters have never had sexual relations. This assertion constitutes an anomaly especially because Lot’s wife is still alive and would thereby be expected to have such intimate knowledge about the daughters’ sexuality. The teacher would request each student to voice his/her opinions about this matter individually in a chart listing the reasons why Lot’s utterances are unacceptable. The teacher would then guide a classroom discussion of these dissenting opinions where each student would discuss the points in his/her chart. Afterward, the teacher would ask the students to respond to the issues discussed by peers.
Reverting to the time after Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt, the teacher would ask the students to envision a situation whereby, as fathers, they are tasked with the responsibility of taking care of adolescent daughters. The teacher would ask the students to put themselves in Lot’s position and to evaluate the actions Lot takes. This task would entail each student creating a chart outlining the positive and negative actions Lot takes after the death of his wife. Students would also explain why a particular action is wrong or right. For example, the teacher would ask the students to analyze whether Lot’s action of leaving the town of Zoar is acceptable. This question would be informed by the fact that, given that Zoar was not destroyed alongside Sodom and Gomorrah, this town appears to have some inhabitants. These inhabitants would provide Lot’s daughters with marriage mates. It is thus controversial that Lot departs from Zoar and moves into a mountainous region that is evidently devoid of human population. The teacher would ask the students to ponder over the idea that, in moving to the mountains, Lot denied his daughters the opportunity of coming into contact with men who would become their husbands. In view of this idea, the teacher would ask the students to write down the possible reasons Lot took this controversial decision on the chalkboard. The teacher would then discuss each of these reasons.
Embarking on the task of analyzing the daughters’ controversial actions, the teacher would ask the students to evaluate the daughters’ decision of having sexual intercourse with their father. The teacher would ask each student to create a list of the ethical, legal, and religious laws breached by Lot’s daughters in this instance. Each student would then take the class through his/her ideas and provide corresponding explanations. Fellow students would be free to seek clarifications, ask questions, and elaborate on their peers’ points. Regarding the drastic action of Lot’s daughters, Hepner (2010) explains that these women breach the requirements of Leviticus 18:17 that prohibits sexual intercourse between a child and a parent. Hepner underlines the controversy surrounding the children-parent relationship between Lot’s daughters and the father.
The child-parent relationship between Jesus and his mother Mary is yet another relationship that would be useful in the classroom setting. When examining this relationship, the teacher would ask students to consider that, when Mary showed up at one of Jesus’ public instruction sessions, Jesus almost denounced Mary before a crowd. The teacher would ask students to put themselves in Mary’s situation and to write down the various negative emotions that must have crossed Mary’s mind when Jesus virtually denounced the mother. Students would also write down the reasons why they think Mary experienced these negative emotions. During a classroom presentation, each student would discuss his points and respond to the sentiments of peers. Afterward, the teacher would ask students to reflect on whether this event has any biblical significance. Each student would list any overarching positive aspects of this scenario and provide supporting reasons. After each student makes a presentation to the class, the teacher would ask the students to make an attempt at reconciling Mary’s negative emotions with these positive biblical implications. The teacher would then ask the students to write a brief paragraph explaining why the Bible discusses this event that caused sorrow to Mary but has spiritual importance.
The teacher would then embark on a particular parent-child relationship between Mary and Jesus that was highlighted when Jesus was hanging on the cross. The teacher would ask students to enumerate the various emotions that Mary experienced while watching Jesus suffering on the cross. Every student would read out his/her version of Mary’s emotions to the rest of the class. Given these negative emotions, the teacher would ask the students to explain why Mary chose to be beside Jesus’ cross. Each student would also list the emotions that Jesus was experiencing while watching his mother from the cross. Every student would further read out his/her list of emotions to the class. Moving on to the subject of Jesus’ action toward Mary while on the cross, the teacher would ask the students to ponder on why Jesus appointed a protector for Mary. Students would also be asked to put themselves in Jesus’ situation and explain whether they would act as Jesus did. The teacher would also ask students to make educated guesses on how Mary must have felt when Jesus appointed a protector for Mary. The teacher would further ask the students to discuss what lesson the Bible teaches in this event. To emphasize that Mary and Jesus’ parent-child relationship was excellent, Garland (2012) explains that Mary and Jesus’ mutual faithfulness was exhibited from an early time and endured up to the time of Jesus’ death. Garland underscores that Jesus’ child-parent relationship with Mary would not be problematic in a classroom setting.
Isaac’s parent-child relationship with Jacob also constitutes a significant teaching material that could be used in a classroom setting. In analyzing this child-parent relationship, Williams (2007) explains that Jacob took advantage of Isaac’s physical blindness and thus fooled the father. With reference to this trickery by Jacob, a teacher would ask students to identify specific wrongs that Isaac and Jacob committed. Each student would then introduce his version of wrongs to fellow classmates and explain why these are considered as wrongs. From the students’ presentations, the teacher would come up with a master list of the specific wrongs committed by both Isaac and Jacob. The teacher would write these wrongs on the chalkboard and ask the students to discuss the specific biblical principles breached by each of these wrongs. The teacher would afterward ask students to assess whether this passage highlights any positive traits on the part of Isaac and Jacob. Each student would make a presentation on what is considered a positive trait of Jacob and Isaac. A teacher would then ask students to place themselves in the position of Isaac and to figure out how they would react after discovering Jacob’s deceit. Each student would write several paragraphs of how he/she would react based on principles that are clearly outlined. Moreover, the teacher would ask students to analyze what truth this passage reveals about God. To set off the students’ journey of inquiry, the teacher would ask leaners to consider whether this passage shows that God tolerates deception. Each student would be required to write a paragraph answering this question with facts derived from the passage. Lastly, the teacher would ask students to explore what lessons the Bible seeks to convey using this passage. Students would be required to investigate and report on whether this passage shows that an individual has to give something so as to receive parental blessings. The students would as well be required to evaluate the applicability of this passage in contemporary parent-child relationships.
Isaac’s parent-child relationship with Esau likewise comprises an important learning material for use in the classroom. This relationship is problematic because it shows that Isaac favored Esau over the other children. While teaching this passage, a teacher would ask students to assess whether Isaac sets a good example to parents. Students would specifically point out some negative traits that Isaac demonstrates. The teacher would request student’s to assess what Isaac’s policy of showing preference for Esau highlights about Isaac’s parental ethics. The teacher would also ask students to explain whether, in tolerating Isaac’s blatant favoritism, Esau committed any wrong against biblical principles. An examination of Martin’s (2014) analytical look at this parent-child relationship would be of help. Martin explains that Isaac’s favoritism was injurious to the family in a number of important ways. The teacher would further ask students to evaluate the scenario where Isaac declares that Esau would be master over Esau’s brothers with a critical mind. Students would be required to specifically ponder over what sibling ethics Isaac is passing over to Esau. The teacher would ask students to put themselves in the place of Esau and explain how they would henceforth treat their siblings after listening to Isaac’s controversial pronouncement. Further, the teacher would ask students to write down adjectives that could describe Isaac’s sentiments toward Esau versus toward Esau’s siblings. The teacher would also ask students to speculate on what God must have felt about Isaac’s problematic utterance. Each student would describe and defend God’s anticipated reaction in a brief paragraph.
A teacher would also deliver a classroom lesson based on Rebekah’s parent-child relationship with Jacob that is described in Genesis 27:5-17. This relationship is problematic because Rebekah advises Jacob to deceive Isaac and thereby defraud Esau. To elicit students’ critical analysis, the teacher would ask students to ponder over how Rebekah thinks about Jacob based on her problematic advice. To highlight that this advice was problematic, Wright (2011) explains that Rebekah engaged in scandalous abuse of her parental authority and demonstrated outrageous disrespect for Isaac. The teacher would ask students to list adjectives that would describe Rebekah’s attitude about Jacob. Each student would make a presentation explaining his/her version of adjectives. Students would further be asked to describe how Jacob feels about Rebekah in a short paper. The teacher would then guide the students in a classroom discussion of Jacob’s views about Rebekah. Students would also be required to evaluate why God allowed Rebekah’s problematic parental behavior to be preserved and included in the Bible. The students would also explore whether this passage shows that is it permissible to employ deceit in some instances.
Jephthah’s parent-child relationship with his unnamed daughter is an additional example that would form a useful instruction piece in the classroom. While analyzing the Bible passage that describes this relationship, a teacher would ask students to explain whether Jephthah’s relationship with the daughter is typical of parent-child relationships. Students would further discuss whether the daughter agreed to keep Jephthah’s promise to God because of her devotion to God or because of her devotion to her father. Citing Judges 11:37, the teacher would ask students to assess whether Jephthah’s daughter was blaming the father for making a somewhat rash promise. Students would also speculate on what Jephthah’s daughter and her female friends talked about during the two-month sojourn in the mountains. The teacher would further ask students to make educated guesses on why Jephthah did not visit the daughter alongside the other Israelites who would visit the daughter every year. Finally, the teacher would ask students to put themselves in the place of Jephthah’s daughter and to write down what feelings they would experience after learning about Jephthah’s promise. Students would also place themselves in Jephthah’s position and speculate on how they would feel after encountering the daughter upon returning from the battlefield. Students’ reflections would be aided by a particular argument advanced by Bohmbach; Bohmbach chastises Jephthah for making a rash vow with regard to the daughter.
In conclusion, the relationship between Lot and his two daughters, the relationship between Jesus and Mary, the relationship between Isaac and Jacob, the relationship between Isaac and Esau, as well as the relationship between Jephthah and his unnamed daughter constitute useful parent-child relationships in the Bible. These relationships would form useful instruction materials in the classroom setting. Various factors may however cause students not to relate to some of the characters in these parent-child relationships. Teachers need to bear this in mind when planning lessons. Accordingly, teachers would initiate discussions that would enable students to voice dissenting opinions in a free environment. Such wholesome discussions would enable students to appreciate that the problematic parent-child relationships convey useful biblical lessons. Similarly, a teacher can employ the unproblematic parent-child relationships to facilitate deep thinking and comprehension in students. Such skillful instruction approach would enable students to understand the innate spiritual themes conveyed by these parent-child relationships.
BOHMBACH, KARLA. “Daughter of Jephthah: Bible.” Jewish Women’s Archive. 6 April 2017. https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/daughter-of-jephthah-bible.
CORNWALL, ROBERT D. Marriage in Interesting Times: A Participatory Study Guide. Cantonment, FL: Energion Publications, 2016.
GARLAND, DIANA R. Family Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide. 2nd, Revised Ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012.
HEPNER, GERSHON. Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel. New York City: Peter Lang, 2010.
MARTIN, J. Marriage: Until Death Do Us Part. Bloomington, IN: WestBowPress, 2014.
WILLIAMS, JAMES G. The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred: Liberation from the Myth of Sanctioned Violence. Reprint Ed. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2007.
WRIGHT, BRYANT. Seeds of Turmoil: The Biblical Roots of the Inevitable Crisis in the Middle East. New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2011.
2 Timothy 3:16.
Genesis 19: 7-8.
Genesis 19: 8-38.
Genesis 19: 26.
Genesis 19:20-22, 30.
Genesis 19: 30.
Gershon Hepner, Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel (New York City: Peter Lang, 2010), 879.
Diana R. Garland, Family Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide, 2nd, Revised Ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 342.
James G. Williams, The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred: Liberation from the Myth of Sanctioned Violence, Reprint Ed. (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2007), 44.
Genesis 26: 18-29.
J. Martin, Marriage: Until Death Do Us Part (Bloomington, IN: WestBowPress, 2014), 38.
Genesis 27: 29.
Bryant Wright, Seeds of Turmoil: The Biblical Roots of the Inevitable Crisis in the Middle East (New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2011), 69.
Robert D. Cornwall, Marriage in Interesting Times: A Participatory Study Guide (Cantonment, FL: Energion Publications, 2016), 67.
Judges 11: 30-40.
Karla Bohmbach, “Daughter of Jephthah: Bible”, Jewish Women’s Archive, 6 April 2017, https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/daughter-of-jephthah-bible.