Family Worship

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Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
Attended a small conference that Joel Beeke was speaking at. He gave his family worship talk that he's given before. You can watch it over at Desiring God.

In it he said that if your child doesn't wish to sing during family worship, you need to make him sing. He even said, no singing, no food. Then five minutes later he quotes from George Whitefield about not giving God insincere worship.

This seems very inconsistent but also makes no sense to me. Why would you make your child give false worship to God?

What would you do in this situation?


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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
This seems very inconsistent but also makes no sense to me. Why would you make your child give false worship to God?

What would you do in this situation?
I think I would have made my child sing. "Made" in this context sound a bit harsh but I do not mean it that way. Maybe "encourage over time" is a better way to say the same thing. I would be gentle but resolute. I don't think a young child is always aware what true and false worship is and therefore not responsible in the same way as an adult. In singing as in all areas of life, the child's duty is to obey. It is the parents will that should govern. Be gentle, loving, but, unless there is some special circumstance, firm.

There are some ages and some situations where I would come to another conclusion.

I remember with sorrow one time thirty-six years ago that I was too harsh with my then dear three or four-year-old daughter at family worship. I remember the verse and even the version that I reacted poorly to. I spanked her when she persisted in being unwilling, or more likely unable, to recite the verse. What a lovely verse. What a terrible father...

Proverbs 4:18 (NKJV)
But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
 
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Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
From the section "Objections against Family Worship" in Dr. Beeke's little book Family Worship, pages 38 and 39:
  • Some of our family members won't participate. There may homes in which it is difficult to hold family worship. Such cases are rare, however. If you have difficult children, follow a simple rule: no Scripture, no singing, and no praying means no food. Say, "In this house, we will serve the Lord. We all breathe, therefore every person in our home must praise the Lord." Psalm 150:6 makes no such exception, even for unconverted children. It says, "Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD."
  • We don't want to make hypocrites of our unconverted children. [Note that this is listed as an objection to family worship] One sin doesn't justify another. The mindset that offers this objection is dangerous. An unconverted person may never plead an unconverted state to neglect duty. Don't encourage your children to use this excuse for avoiding family worship. Stress their need to use every means of grace.
 

Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
My children sing...or else. :)

Seriously, it's part of discipling covenant children as Christians. When I was growing up, we didn't do singing with our family worship, but we did go to church twice every Sunday. My Dad always said, "You live under my roof, you go to church twice every Sunday." It took a while for it become heart-felt, but this discipleship proved to be a blessing. Whenever parents make church attendance for their children optional, the results are predictable. I think something similar can be said for singing in family worship. You teach them, you lead them, and you pray for it all to come from the heart in due time.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Threatening to starve children if they do not sing does not sound like a very good idea. Surely it would be better to physically chastise them or give them extra chores (depending on the age/capacity of the child)? Let's face it, who is actually going to carry out this threat? If someone did and the child ended up starving to death, I very much doubt that any of us would commend the parents.
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
Threatening to starve children if they do not sing does not sound like a very good idea. Surely it would be better to physically chastise them or give them extra chores (depending on the age/capacity of the child)? Let's face it, who is actually going to carry out this threat? If someone did and the child ended up starving to death, I very much doubt that any of us would commend the parents.
It takes weeks to starve to death. I've never seen even the most obstinate child being willing to carry a defiant hunger strike into a second day. Surely you can't be serious with this comment?
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
It takes weeks to starve to death. I've never seen even the most obstinate child being willing to carry a defiant hunger strike into a second day. Surely you can't be serious with this comment?
Correct. I am not being entirely serious, but let's just imagine that a child did refuse to sing for weeks on end (or even for a few days). The logic underlying the argument "don't sing, don't eat" could not justify preventing them from starving to death. My basic point, however, is that there are more sensible ways of dealing with this issue than refusing to feed children.
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
Correct. I am not being entirely serious, but let's just imagine that a child did refuse to sing for weeks on end (or even for a few days). The logic underlying the argument "don't sing, don't eat" could not justify preventing them from starving to death. My basic point, however, is that there are more sensible ways of dealing with this issue than refusing to feed children.
I think that's debatable. Withholding meals can be an effective means of discipline but, like any, it can be overused or used improperly. In the same way that hunger in fasting reminds us of our sin and dependence upon God, hunger as discipline serves as a constant reminder in that state of their sin and obstinacy. Saying "don't sing, don't eat" can't justify preventing death by starvation is no different to my mind from saying that "don't sing, get spanked" can't justify preventing death or serious injury by beating. In all cases punishment must be used wisely and judiciously. It should be obvious that this is assumed in the original prescription.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
I think that's debatable. Withholding meals can be an effective means of discipline but, like any, it can be overused or used improperly. In the same way that hunger in fasting reminds us of our sin and dependence upon God, hunger as discipline serves as a constant reminder in that state of their sin and obstinacy. Saying "don't sing, don't eat" can't justify preventing death by starvation is no different to my mind from saying that "don't sing, get spanked" can't justify preventing death or serious injury by beating. In all cases punishment must be used wisely and judiciously. It should be obvious that this is assumed in the original prescription.
Fair enough.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
There have been rare occasions when my kids have not felt like singing because they were upset. I urge them to work through it and sing anyway, but I don't force it. I think the principle that we don't fake our worship of Christ is more important than the principle that I am in charge of the house.

I'm not sure what I would do if there were an extended refusal, but I'd be wary of insisting on hypocrisy.
 
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