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Exodus 20:18-21, The People Feared God

Thursday, June 7

Fear-Based Parenting

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

fear-based parenting

God knew that the only way this relationship with the Israelites would work was if the people trusted God. So God gathered the people and made God's presence known by engulfing the mountain in smoke, and speaking to Moses in what sounded to the people like thunder. God wanted the people to know that God was with them, and that they were being asked to follow God's laws.

The scene terrified the people. God hoped that the fear would be enough to motivate the people into compliance. Moses told them the fear was intended to help them refrain from sinning. What God would later learn is that fear is not a genuine or lasting motivator to keep people from sinning. Sin continued to reign over humanity until God had no other option but to send God's son into the world to save it.

If the fear of God isn't enough to keep people from sinning, why do some people still believe they can make their kids behave through tactics of fear? Fear-based parenting can have serious negative effects on a kid. They learn not to trust not only in their parent, but in themselves, too. They begin to resent the parent, making it even harder to parent. They fail to learn the "why" behind the "what" -- a necessary step toward good decision-making habits. They can become desensitized to fear through over-exposure to it. These are just a few reasons fear-based parenting can be more harmful than helpful. Lucky for us, God figured it out, too!

Narrative Lectionary Text: Exodus 20:18-21

When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.” Then the people stood at a distance, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.