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The Intentionally Harmful Parent

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

In Deuteronomy 27, there is a curious verse tucked among a series of curses hurled at different types of disobedience. It reads, “Cursed is anyone who dishonors his father or mother” (Deuteronomy 27:16). The Hebrew word for “curse” is ‘arar. To curse someone is to wish harm to a person or to bring difficulty to the person. The first time this word appears in the Bible is in Genesis 3:14 when God punished (cursed) the serpent for intentionally enticing Eve to disobey God’s directives. In Hebrew, the word “dishonor” is qalah, and it means to despise someone or regard them lightly as though they do not matter or are worthless. Every human being is a magnificent, wonderful, complex, and an intentional creation of God (Psalm 139:14). We cannot consider anyone as worthless – and we cannot consider those through whom God created us, our parents, as worthless in our eyes.

Unfortunately, there are parents who intentionally cause harm to their children, by physically, emotionally, or sometimes even sexually abusing them. In such instances, putting a distance with the abusive parent is not dishonoring the parent. It is simply the child holding the parent accountable for their sinful behavior and not enabling the parent to continue their immoral actions. In ‘blocking’ the parent to continue to engage in sinful behavior, the child is honoring the parent. However, learning to not give their parent opportunities to abuse is emotionally and spiritually exhausting. And the child more than ever will need the Lord’s wisdom and protection – something the body of Christ can offer.

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