Attack of the Antinomian Parents

Empty Swing

By Cindy Koch

It was an ordinary day at the local park. A toddler unsteadily trudged through the sand, hands spread out wide, undoubtedly to catch his next stumble. A girl smiled quietly as her mom pushed her swing. The air was quiet except for the morning birds and a dog’s bark from the other end of the park. That is, until they arrived. 

Suddenly on the horizon, a dusty mass appeared. It tumbled closer and closer, and the screams grew louder. The head of an exhausted mother peeked out from behind an empty, oversized stroller. Several little hands and feet scurried around and over and behind the approaching ball of chaos. Without warning, a creature shot out and tore around the playground, knocking down the frightened toddler. The little girl on the swing gave a tiny yelp. Her mother scooped her off the swing and ran for protection. The loud little group finally arrived at the sandbox. And the Antinomians took over.

Now, you may not be familiar with the Antinomians. You can always tell when they are coming because there is a cloud of disorder that surrounds them. This parenting philosophy rejects teaching the Law to children. Children are not taught by discipline, demands, and punishment. Rather, the antinomian parents release their children from the standards of society, morality, and even the Law given by God.

Early in my parenting career, even I began down this unsavory road. As a Christian mother that firmly believed in grace alone by faith alone on account of Christ alone, I longed to teach this to my children. So, when they were bad, my discipline was confused with mercy. When rules were broken, a punishment was absent. My “love” for my children was actually just approving of their sins and faults.

I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly.

Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. (Psalm 85:8-10)

Then I heard the way that our Father in heaven loves us, His children. He promises peace, exactly what I was unsuccessfully trying to teach my little sinners. There was an extreme opposite of peace in the Antinomian mindset. We hear that God cares for His children with both His Law and His Mercy.

Lucas_Cranach_(I)_-_The_Law_and_the_Gospel (1)

The Love of God is that amazing unconditional, overflowing, merciful love that I was meekly trying to imitate. But the key here is that God meets that love with His truth and faithfulness. He completely keeps the Law He made. He holds the standards true, and they never change. He is completely righteous, without ever bending the Law or dissolving the punishment. At the same time, there is peace.

On the cross, God’s merciful love and righteousness meet. The punishment for sin was not changed. As sorrowful as it was to enforce the Law, God held his only Son accountable. But on the cross, God’s merciful love and righteousness meet. He allowed his Son to stand in for you. You didn’t deserve this kind of love, but God gave it to you freely.

As Christian parents, we are both Law and Gospel for our children. It’s not enough to only be one or the other. We enforce and teach the Law of the house, the land, and our God. There are consequences and discipline. But on the cross, God’s merciful love and righteousness met. We forgive and forgive and forgive when our children miss the mark. We love unconditionally when they fail and sin because that is the underserved mercy Christ gave to us all.