I was asked about how we should understand the text about the stoning of the rebellious son in Deut. 18.:18-21. Here's a quick run down of my observations:
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
Notice that he's a drunkard (a pot head) and rebellious. The charges are likely indicating extreme cases, rebellion possibly being crimes (and not just that "He won't go out and get a job"). It would seem to me that the combination of drunkard & rebellious indicates a person who is violent when high, to the point of threatening his parents.
Such would parallel other texts of Scripture that talk about the son who deserves death because he "strikes" his father and mother.
Also, both parents have to be in agreement: so there is a great deal of exasperation after all attempts of reconciliation and mediation have been attempted. Their discipline is being rejected. So there is a high level of noncompliance by the kid. A child who is so stubborn that he rejects all forms of discipline & exhortation is one that is extremely hardened and is likely a threat to others in society, let alone the parents themselves.
It is also significant that the text says that Israel would see and "fear." The mere threat of legal action might straighten him out to some degree.
The elders also would provide a fair trial to determine if the kid really deserved death (i.e. this is about the limits of parental jurisdiction & keeps a balance of power; i.e. parents can't be judge, jury, & executioner.)
One point is sure, the parents are not allowed to harbor a criminal. We hear so many parents today say, "He's a good boy" when he in fact has committed many crimes (even murder). These parents are to be concerned with justice and not favor the life of their kid when he deserves death.
All in all, the Lord's law is just and good and should be implemented in societies that desire order and wish to preserve the social stability of the community.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.