Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Book Note: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Raising Children God's Way


About this book:

The author is D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). He was a Welshman, a physician by training who was called into the ministry as a young man in 1927. From 1938 to 1968 he served as pastor of Westminster Chapel in London where he had a very influential ministry and drew large crowds to hear his expositional preaching series. Many of those sermons were published in various series. The Banner of Truth publishing ministry also began with the church at that time.

One of Lloyd-Jones’ most memorable sermon series was an exposition of the book of Ephesians (now published in 8 volumes by Banner of Truth). This booklet is taken from five sermons in that series taken from Lloyd-Jones exposition of Paul’s “household code” instructions regarding the relationship between children and parents (Ephesians 6:1-4) (in volume 6 of the series).

After a brief publisher’s introduction, there are five short and highly readable chapters in the book, one from each sermon.

This format would easily lend itself to a five-part book study series.

The five chapters:

First: Submissive Children (3-20);

Second: Unbelieving Parents (21-34);

Third: Discipline and the Modern Mind (35-52);

Fourth: Balanced Discipline (53-68);

Fifth: Godly Upbringing (69-85).

This booklet is not a pragmatic approach to parenting. It is not “parenting in a box.” It is not filled with “five ways to teach potty-training,” or “three ways to make your kids eat healthy” kinds of advice. On the other hand, it does, especially in the last couple of chapters provide some very practical exhortations about parenting and, most importantly, it lays a Scriptural and doctrinal basis for Christian parenting.

If you work through the book, you might find the first three chapters a bit slow, but if you are patient, you will be especially rewarded in the last two chapters.

A description of each chapter and a bit more about the last two:

The first chapter (Submissive Children) focuses on Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord.” It talks about the contemporary problems of disobedient children (Things haven’t changed that much since Lloyd-Jones wrote, and perhaps they’ve become even worse!). One of the key points is, “It is unnatural for children not to obey their parents” (11). He emphasizes that the child-parent relationship is to reflect the Christian’s relationship to God Himself (14).

The second chapter (Unbelieving Parents) addresses an interesting subject, namely, how are believing children to treat unbelieving parents. Lloyd-Jones writes, “The obedience required of the children must be yielded to every kind of parent” (22). In our study this chapter led to some good discussion among the adults, including some who came from non-Christian homes, as to what our duties are to our own parents.

The third chapter (Discipline and the Modern Mind), as the title indicates, addresses the discipline of children. Lloyd-Jones draws a contrast between a “Victorian” approach that sometimes lacked flexibility and charity and a “modern” approach which often tends toward an overly permissive attitude. He suggests the modern secular view fails, because it lacks a Christian understanding of atonement, redemption, and regeneration.

The fourth chapter (Balanced Discipline) follows up on the third chapter, based on Ephesians 6:4a, “fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.” It offers a series of seven practical (yet open) principles related to discipline:

First, “we are incapable of exercising true discipline unless we are able to exercise self-control” (56).

Second, in discipline a parent “must never be capricious” (57). We are not to be moody, unpredictable, changeable, and uncertain.

Third, “parents must never be unreasonable or unwilling to hear the child’s case” (58).

Fourth, “the parent must never be selfish” (59).

Sixth, “Discipline must never be too severe” (61).

Seventh, “We must never fail to recognize growth and development in the child” (62).

This chapter is a quote factory.

He summarizes his argument: “Discipline must always be exercised in love” (65).

“The child’s good is to be your controlling motive” (66).

“So you must look even at your own children primarily as souls, and not as you look at an animal that you happen to possess, or certain goods that you possess” (66).

“What if God dealt with us as we often do with our children!... There is nothing more amazing to me than the patience of God, and His longsuffering toward us” (67).

The fifth chapter (Godly Upbringing) focuses on Ephesians 6:4b: “but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Lloyd-Jones states, “When the child comes we must say to ourselves, we are the guardians and custodians of the soul” (70). Nurture refers to general care and admonition, especially, to our speech.

Four principles are presented:

First, nurture and admonition must be done in the home and by the parents. This duty cannot be handed over to the school. Some of the discussion here is directed to the “boarding school” system in the UK, but can be applied in any context. His main point is that the benefits of a good academic education should never outweigh the importance of parental spiritual nurture.

He even says, “We should be considering to what extent the system of boarding children away from home is responsible for the breakdown of morals in this country” (76). One wonders how this teaching was originally received. We might compare it today to a contemporary call for Christian families to leave public (government) schooling. He warns against the teaching of evolution and higher criticism of the Bible, adding, “The whole emphasis is anti-God, anti-Bible, anti-true Christianity, anti-miraculous, and anti-supernatural. Who is going to counter these trends?” (77).

Second, “Never be entirely negative and repressive” (79). Beware “a false Puritanism” (79).

Third, don’t make “little prigs and hypocrites” of your children (79).

Fourth, “we must never force a child to make a decision” (80).

More worthwhile quotes here:

“Christian parents must always remember that they are handling a life, a personality, a soul” (80).

“Do not bring pressure to bear on your children” (81).

“So our teaching must never be too direct, or too emotional” (81).

“Above all, there should be an atmosphere of love” (81).

Use “general conversation” in the home “conducted in Christian terms” (82).

The “Christian point of view must be brought into the whole of life” (82).

When questions are asked, parents “must not brush the child aside” (83).

“Then you can guide their reading” (84).

“What else? Be careful always, whenever you have a meal, to return thanks to God for it, and to ask his blessing upon it” (84).

“In other words to sum it all up: what we have to do is to make Christianity attractive…. We should create within them the desire to be like us” (84).


So, in closing I commend this book to you for personal reading or for group study in your church. I think you will find it profitable whatever your station in life.

I think you will be blessed if you take up this book and read.


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