Should parents ever raise their voices when talking to their children? That’s the topic AMBrewster’s going to tackle in today’s episode. Determining God’s mind on this subject is a must for Christian parents.
Click here for Episode 48 Notes.
Continue for Transcript.
It seems like I’m making it hard on myself recently by choosing challenging topics. Why did I choose to talk about yelling parents? Did I really think I could find the answer to this question in the Bible?!
Actually, yeah. I’ll tell you why . . . in a minute.
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Okay, so what does the Bible have to say about yelling?
Let me start off by informing you that this is not going to be a show that tries to justify yelling and screaming at your children. But, let me also say that this is not going to be a show that advocates parental inside-voices.
I believe there are people who yell at their kids for very wrong reasons, but I also believe there are people who don’t yell at their kids for very wrong reasons. And today we’re going to really plunge into the Scriptures to reveal and answer this tension.
And while we do it, we’re going to exercise a very important life skill. It’s called applying the Bible to ourselves. Episode 42 was about applying truth to our children’s lives, but how do we expect to be able to apply God’s Word to them if we can’t apply it to us first?
Listen, I know you’ve yelled at your kids. I have too. But have you ever stopped to consider whether an Ambassador Parent should do that? And others of you may have managed to never raise your voice, but I need to ask you the same question: Should an Ambassador Parent do that? And, I’m not talking about whether or not it’s socially or culturally acceptable. If we’re First-Followers of Christ and functioning as His Ambassador in our homes, we’d better know for certain how God wants us talking to our kids. And that includes whether I should raise my voice or not.
Hopefully, your mind is scanning through passages trying to see if there’s any verse or principle that supports your actions. And that’s good became today we’re going to look at some Biblical commands, principles, and illustrations that will ultimately be your responsibility to apply to your parenting.
So, let’s get started by laying a groundwork.
- We cannot hope to know the mind of God if we go to His Word with preconceived notions. Let the Bible speak for itself.
- We cannot hope to know the mind of God if we go to His Word with an axe to grind. I know you may already have an arsenal of passages ready to refute whatever I may present. I recommend you don’t do that. Let’s start from scratch and let the Bible instruct us today. Others of you may be tempted to take notes on today’s episode hoping you can use them as ammunition against your spouse to validate your response to the kids. Again, let God speak to you today about how He wants you to parent.
- Apply a biblical hermeneutic. I know, that’s a fifty-cent word. Hermeneutics is something we all do when we read the Bible because it has to do with how we interpret it. Let me give you an example, Deuteronomy 28:6 says, “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.” Recently a lesbian pastor (I know, that’s a paradox right there) — she used this verse to suggest that God would bless her “coming out” to her congregation. That interpretation, my friends, can only come from a seriously unbiblical hermeneutic.
- And four, since there are no direct commands concerning the issue we’re going to discuss today, please understand that some of the conclusions you come to about the topic of parental-voice-raising will not be “Gospel-truth.” That means you should be very careful judging another person for parenting differently that you. Let me explain. Some people like to use the following words to describe how they apply God’s Word to their lives: Commands, Principles, Convictions, Standards, Preferences, and Hang-ups.
- Commands are clear Biblical mandates. They don’t change, and you have to do them. For example, “Don’t provoke your children to anger.”
- Principles are generally drawn from examples. For example, “Reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” This verse doesn’t command us to love people who reprove us, but the principle is clear. Commands and Principles come from the Bible. The rest of the list is how we apply those commands and principles.
- Convictions are personally held beliefs that you base on biblical commands and principles. God tells us not to provoke our kids. Undoubtedly someone believes that criticizing their child’s weight could be provocative. That’s an example of a belief that’s extrapolated from a biblical truth. It’s their conviction. So, number three, they create a Standard to live by.
- Standards are rules we create to help us keep our convictions. So, this person decides that they will never say anything negative about their child’s weight. They will only speak in positive terms or let their doctors handle it. Now, remember, God doesn’t tell us to do this, but someone may feel convicted about it, so they create a standard. Often this happens when we mix our feelings and personal experiences. People who refuse to speak negatively about their children’s weight often had negative experiences when they were young. Now, before I continue, I want you to know that I personally do not have this conviction. In fact, I have the conviction that it would be very unwise not to be frank with my child about their weight. But that’s my conviction I’ve come to by using biblical principles. My personal conviction isn’t stated in Scripture either.
- Preferences are things we believe please God, but have no biblical basis for. For example, I prefer not to shop at Target. That would be a preference.
- And then Hang-ups are the negative version of Preferences — they’re things we believe very strongly, even though we have no biblical basis for it, but which also get in the way of clear biblical commands or are allowed to hinder my relationships with others. Any time a personal preference causes us to disobey a clear command or principle — we have a serious problem.
The Pharisees got themselves into trouble not when they developed standards to keep them away from sin, but when they told everyone else that God wanted them to keep the Pharisees’ standards as well.
So, as we discuss this topic, please use the biblical principles we study to develop grounded convictions and standards. But don’t allow your convictions to cause you to judge someone else for not following your standards.
So, here we go. What are some biblical principles and illustrations that could be applied to this topic?
Let’s start with some clear biblical commands. We will go through these quickly, and I’m going to spit out a lot of references, so please just follow the train of thought and you can always download the free Episode Notes PDF which is linked in the description
- The first command that relates to yelling is Be in Control. Titus 2:1-8 tells older men older women, younger women, and younger men to have self-control. Proverbs 4:23 commands us to guard our minds. And Ephesians 5:18 reveals that the only way to have true, Christ-honoring self-control is ultimately to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. You can’t have godly self-control if you’re not submitted to God and His will. Yelling that is the result of a loss of self-control is a sin.
- The second command is Be Loving. There are over 300 passages I could reference, but I’m going to remind you of our theme verse, Ephesians 4:15: “Speaking the Truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” It doesn’t matter if you’re screaming or giving the silent treatment, if it’s unloving, it’s a sin.
- Of course, everyone knew this verse was coming – Be Angry without Sin. A few verses after our theme verse tells us to speak always in love, we see the admonition in verse 26 to “be angry and do not sin.” This passage has given many people trouble because they often look at it in a vacuum. How can you be angry but not sin? Doesn’t the Bible condemn anger in other passages? The key lies in our first point; when we lack self-control our anger is nearly always motivated by sinful desires. It’s not founded in God’s holiness and love. That may sound confusing, but I believe it will make more sense later. And since it’s so easy to angry for the wrong reasons, we have Proverbs 22:24, 29:22, and Colossians 3:8 (just to name a few) that prohibit sinful anger and command us to throw it away from us. Regardless, we can know for certain that if our blowing up or clamming up is motivated by selfish desires, neither glorifies God. But — keep in mind — anger itself is not inherently sinful.
- Another command people like to apply to raising our voices is Be Gentle. Colossians 3:12 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones . . . compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness.” Later in Colossians 4:6 we read, “Let your speech always be gracious.” Let’s start with the first verse, how could we ever be considered compassionate, kind, humble, meek, or patient if we’re raising our voices? Well, as we’re going to see in a few minutes, individuals who perfectly fit that description have — in fact — yelled at people. Our misunderstanding of these words relates to definitions. Compassion is most closely related to emotional longings and desires. Kindness is most often defined as moral goodness and integrity. Humility is giving proper place to God, others, and ourselves. And meekness is similar to humility, but also carries with it the idea of strength under control. The term translated “graciousness” in Colossians 4:6 is also difficult, but has the idea of that which afford grace, good will, loving-kindness, and favor. Again, I believe this will all become much clearer in a few minutes, but for now, if we know that if we raise our voice or speak quietly in an un-compassionate, unkind, prideful, impatient, ungracious way . . . we’re sinning.
- The next command is Be Patient. Galatians 5:22 tells us patience and long-suffering are a fruit of being Spirit-filled. And Ephesians 4:2 tells us that our calling is to humble and gentle, with patience, bearing with one another love. Responding to people out of impatience is a sin regardless of the decibel.
- There are two commands left, and the next is Be Peaceful. In Mark 9:50 Jesus tells us to be at peace with one another. In Matthew 5, Christ teaches us that we are blessed if we’re peace-makers. In Romans 12:18 and 14:19, Paul tells us that being peaceful is so important that we should pursue it if it’s even remotely possible. If we’re yelling or silent, but our motivation is to divide, we’re likely sinning.
- And though there are likely other commands that can easily weigh in on today’s discussion, I end with the command to be Be Joyful. The Fruits of the Spirit is a memorable passages where we’re commanded to have joy. If you’re not joyful, you shouldn’t be speaking at all — no matter the volume.
Now, let’s look at some biblical principles. Remember, principles are not commands, but they provide information that gives us boundaries within which to live.
- Proverbs 15:1 informs us that, “A soft answer turns away wrath.”
- Proverbs 29:11 explains that only a fool gives “full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
- Proverbs 17:19 reveals that, “Whoever loves transgression loves strife.”
The “don’t yell at your kids” side of the debate is silently rejoicing right now. Though these verses don’t contain commands, it’s clear that strife is avoided when we don’t sin by foolishly letting our mouths run, and — instead — use a soft answer.
But there’s another interesting principle in the Bible. I call it the Principle of Divine Shouting, and there are five main categories.
- Shouting in Joy – There are so many verses that deal with this, but I want to look quickly at an extensive list in the Psalms (20:5; 32:11; 33:1; 35:27; 65:8; 66:1; 71:23; 81:1; 132:9; 136:16). No fewer than 10 times, scattered all throughout the Psalms we read the words “shout for joy.” I also love Ezra 3:13. Referring to the people of Israel praising the Lord, it says, “The people shouted with a great shout and the sound was heard far away.”
- Shouting in Triumph – This is similar to the first, but is unique in that its motivated by overcoming something or someone. Twice in Psalms (60:8, 108:9) we read, “Moab is my washbasin; upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistine I shout in triumph.” And who is saying these words? God is.
- Being able to shout in triumph often follows Shouting in War. I love the historical accounts of Joshua and Gideon. They’re amazing accounts with so much to learn, but both of these men led armies into a humanly impossible situation where they were commanded by God to have their armies — among other things — to yell as loud as they could.
- If you and I were facing an impossible battle, we may be tempted to participate in this fourth category of yelling, Shouting in Prayer. The phrase “cried to the Lord” appears throughout the Bible over 30 times. I love the prayer Stephen offered as he was being stoned to death. Acts 7:60 reads, “And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord do not hold this sin against them.” Even Jesus cried out in prayer to His Father from the cross, “Why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:14). Of course, our word “cry” has a couple meanings. But this word is the same word used to describe the crowds crying out, “Crucify him!”
- And the last category of Divine Shouting is Shouting in Preaching. All twice in the book of John (7:37, 12:44), Christ cries out to the people to believe in Him.
There are so many other verses I could have added to this list, so I encourage you to get online or use a good Bible app like Olive Tree and just search the words “shout,” “cry,” and “cried.” It’s not a word search many people do, but it will open many of your eyes.
But the point is, based off the above principles, we have an important realization — sometimes God commands us to yell, and sometimes He commands us not to.
Lastly, I want to consider just one biblical illustration. You’ve been so patient with me, and I want to respect your time. I think the commands and principles we’ve seen will fit together perfectly in this passage. And when w’re done we should have at least a good start to know for sure whether our yelling glorifies God.
Here’s the illustration. Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 2 all relate a staggering incident.
Let me read John 2:13-17.
“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeon, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’”
I know many of you are familiar with this scene. The messiah, Jesus, God Himself just made a whip and used it to drive the animals and people out of the temple. He’s physically turned over tables and threw money on the floor. And though the word “told” has many possible meanings, it can refer to a haranguing; which is a forceful or angry speech.
Now, many people do not like this picture of the Savior. It rarely shows up in movies or Easter plays. It seems almost at odds for the meek and mild servant-Lamb of God. But I believe this account is recorded in all four gospels for a number of reasons. By the way, Jesus’ miraculous birth wasn’t even recorded in all four Gospels, but this was. This passage shows us exactly what God means by, “Be angry but do not sin.”
Is it ever appropriate to get angry with your children? Is it ever appropriate to yell? In order to answer those questions, we must ask ourselves this:
Why are you angry? If I’m angry, it must be motivated by the same zeal that Christ had for His Father’s temple. It must never be motivated by annoyance, impatience, or a lack of self-control.
Why are you yelling? There are very appropriate times to raise our voices. For example: is a car careening toward your out-of-reach child? But beyond that, I’ve developed some personal standards based off my study of Scripture and believe that there is only one time that is appropriate for me to raise my voice when talking to someone.
If you haven’t listened to Episode 38 or don’t remember what The Communication House is, what I’m about to say may confuse you a bit. Just listen to that show, and it’ll make sense.
If my child has stepped outside The Communication House, and I’ve quietly tried to coax him back in with God’s truth in God’s love for God’s glory, but the conversation escalates to a point where there are only two options left, I will occasionally go with option one, and sometimes I’ll decide to move straight to option two. Option two is the discussion must be tabled and the child given time to calm down. However, sometimes I’ve found that — like Jesus in the temple — you can startle people back into their senses. Jesus could have gone into the temple and preached and yelled all He wanted, but He went all out — including personally making a whip for the occasion. When I’m dealing with a person who has refused to communicate in The House and they’ve just now started yelling, I will raise my voice and intensity to match theirs in an attempt to bring them back down.
Listen, we’ve discussed in Episode 37 that when a child is being a terrorist, we’re engaging in a spiritual war. If a controlled, loving, War Shout awakens their senses and allows them to cease their sinful tirade long enough for the Truth I’m speaking to pierce their hearts and drive them to a willing submission to God — that will be warrant for a Shout of Joy to God!
But we must be diligent! I cannot stress this enough. Too many of us have made it a habit of yelling when we’re selfishly angry. Every time we raise our voice, we’re sinning against God. For people like that, it will take much repentance, growth, and time before I would recommend you try this tactic.
And yes, there are other ways to quiet a terrorist.
And now we’ve made full circle. As I said before, I’m not saying you must or you must not ever raise your voice to your children during an argument. I led you through this journey not so that you would have a definite answer from me on the subject, but so that you could learn to find God’s answer for you and your family.
Please check out the episode notes at EvermindMinistries.com for a list of the passages I discussed today. You mustn’t formulate an uninformed response. To be an intentional, premeditated parent, you and your spouse must go to God’s Word to decide whether your yelling, correcting, feeding, buying, playing, discipling, working, and celebrating truly honors the Lord.
I’d love to have you join me next time. Our show will be entitled “The Millennial Pendulum: Parenting a Post-Millennial.” That will apply to many of you, and for those with Millennials still in the home, it can actually apply significantly to your families as well.
Don’t forget to LSR today,
And remember, life is full of difficult decisions, but God’s Word has everything you need, and we’re hear to point you to it.
Have an amazing week.