Stoning Children

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! We’ve been looking lately at atheist sound bites that are thrown around on the blogosphere without proper study. Our next one to look at for this blog will be that the Bible teaches us to stone children.

The text is found in Deuteronomy 21:18-21:

18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

So obviously, if little Johnny does not clean his room, then the parents must take him out and stone him.

Or is this again wrong?

The reality is that first off, this was not just a case of a little kid talking back to his parents, which would have been something serious in a culture where parents were actually to be respected. In our day and age, we glamourize youth and mock adulthood.

In that time, the sons were the livelihood of the family. They were the ones who would be the strongest workers out in the field. They were also the ones through whom the family line would be passed down. The loss of a son would have a huge impact on a family and so they would want to make sure that they did not lose one so carelessly.

Furthermore, in our day and age, we do have sons getting married or going off to college or both and leaving behind their natural family. In that day and age, it didn’t really happen. It would be common for someone to live with parents and grandparents still.

Thus, a rebellious son could include one who was a grown adult and was living with his parents. Why would they want to stop such a case? Because it is teaching rebellion to YHWH and his holiness and the one little contaminant could spread through the whole populace.

In fact, we have a clue in the text that this son is of age. He is described as a glutton and a drunkard. While we do know children can be problems at times, we do not normally see small children as being gluttons and drunkards.

Was such punishment serious? Yes it was. It was deadly serious. However, it was also extremely rare. Any child would have known about what the consequences were for going against YHWH. Left unchecked, such behavior would have reduced Israel to the level of the nations around it. (Many condemn the behavior of Israel without bothering to consider how Israel was in relation to the people around it.)

What’s required to know about the reality of this situation? Some serious study. Too often, skeptics have simply read something they don’t like in the Bible and then figured the whole thing must be wicked and evil. Such shallow thinking shows a lack of true research on their part.