Another passage that I find skeptics like to use is the command in Deut. 21:18-21. In this, we are told that if the parents have a child who is disobedient, then they are simply to take him to the elders and have the kid stoned to death. It seems a bit odd. Little Dave ignores curfew one night and he gets stoned. Right?
Not at all. This is the point that the skeptic always misses out on. There will always be discipline involved. The writer of Hebrews knew this when he said that all of us received discipline from our fathers when we were younger. The writer of Proverbs knew this when he talked about how to raise up a son.
For one thing, this son is hardly a small child. He is noted as being a drunkard and a glutton. Now some younger kids today can be overweight. How many of them though are drunkards? You didn’t have fat six year-olds wandering around Israel in ancient days with a hangover. This son was most likely old enough to know right from wrong.
Also, this would definitely be a last resort thing. Why? In our world, when we were growing up, most of us did not give back much to the family financially. In fact, most of us took. In the ancient world, a child was another hand in a world that relied largely on manual labor whatever the type may be. Consider a family of farmers as a parallel.
The family would not want to lose an extra hand around the house. That was income that was being brought in to help the family survive. Any loss of someone in the family led to a huge loss in incoming capital for those left behind. This is especially important in an age where you couldn’t just walk down the street to the grocery store.
Also, let’s remember that this was a very family-oriented society. A family out of bala morally would be a downfall to the whole community. While we may think the punishment of Achan is bizarre today, to the ancient worldview, it made sense. The community was responsible for itself. The same applies to the 42 youths and the bears with Elisha.
Finally, this wasn’t just a one-time thing. This was a lifelong thing. The kid was not just misbehaving once. His whole lifestyle was disregard to the authority of his parents and then ultimately, disregard for God.
Thus, the skeptic merely has an emotional appeal. Rest assured, if you see someone using this argument and making it sound like little Timmy gets killed for not cleaning his room, they don’t know what they’re talking about.