Self-government is first learned in a family where both mother and father instill in their children a healthy fear of God. This is accomplished as boundaries and rules are established from the earliest age, so that the child is not left wondering what is acceptable and what is not. Thus, parenting is a very hands-on activity, and one that needs much training to execute well. The Bible is the great textbook for learning how to (and how not to) be a parent. Godly parents need to know and practice the law of God if they wish to transmit this to their children.
Biblical self-government is the most effective government in the world. People tend to put their focus on civil government and, at that, the offices at the very top. However, without individuals who will govern themselves according to God’s Word (the standard of what is right and what is wrong), there is little hope for true dominion living in the institutions of the family, church, and state, as well as in the spheres of school, or business professions.
Parenting can teach a child about judgment. Good parenting brings sudden judgment to a child for infractions. If the parents postpone or refuse judgment, the child learns that there is no consequence for bad behavior. Because many believers are without grounding in the commandments of God, they have a skewed view of what punishment and judgment look like. In a culture that identifies “wrongness” with “getting caught,” rather than something measured against an unchanging standard, punishment and judgment take on humanistic meanings. Instead of contemplating one’s words or actions from a standard outside of themselves, many feel quite comfortable in doing what seems right in their own eyes, with their major concern being avoiding detection or punishment.
This faulty thinking often considers that judgment is something that occurs at some future time, with little awareness that the act of sin itself chains the sinner to its consequences. Proverbs 5:21-23 points this out:
For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.
Instead of expecting future judgment, it is best to recognize that sin brings about present-time judgments. For example, we see present judgment in graduates from state-run educational institutions who expect the civil government and society to provide for all their needs and future success. Likewise, a very present judgment occurs when a woman pays someone to kill her unborn baby. The judgment is tied to the sin.
By missing this obvious fact, our culture demonstrates its toleration of evil. Instead of seeing the judgment that is currently around them, people posit that things must become worse to be truly considered judgment. R.J. Rushdoony notes,
Criminals, rioters, and sexual perverts are dangerous people, but they are normally no problem to a healthy society. If men are by and large godly in their standards, the criminal element is readily controlled.
Problems arise when men become tolerant of evil. The really dangerous people to a society are those who are tolerant of evil…Their false emphasis on appearance is more deadly to a society than the acts of criminals, because it is this stress on appearances which leads to a tolerance of crime and a breakdown of standards. Nothing is more effective in undermining faith and morals than an emphasis on appearance rather than the faith.
To give appearances so clear a priority is to say that faith and morality are less important than a facade. It is a way of praising clever wickedness. *
Our work is cut out for us because we place ourselves under present judgment when we disobey the law of God. Judgment is not always postponed to our future. And by tolerating evil, we bring it on ourselves in the present.
“They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them” (Prov. 28:4).
R.J. Rushdoony, A Word in Season, Vol. 5 (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2014). 78