Tuesday, June 05, 2012

PARENTAL LOVE OR FAVORITISM

"Mom always liked you best" was a funny line in a comedy album I listened to as a child. The Smothers Brothers made it work, but in real life it's not funny to be the child that is unloved. All children have intrinsic value, since they are children of God, and they all have the same need to be loved and nurtured and led in the right way. I have heard parents speak of their children in ways that suggest favoritism. Sometimes it shows that they love one child over another. But we parents have a moral obligation to love all of our children exactly the same. This is what is means to be loving like God because loves all of His children equally, the good and the bad ones, Mt. 5 When I read in Gen. 37 that "Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age", I have to conclude this was one of those examples where the Holy Spirit pointed out one of those embarrassing shortcomings of an otherwise godly man. All of the children of Jacob deserved to be loved the same. The parent Jacob, by giving such preference, may have been partially the fault of the rivalry between Joseph and the ten half-brothers. What else are sons going to do but be jealous if they know they aren't loved like Joseph? Some might wish to interject here and point out that God shows partiality, even in the matter of Joseph, by showing him that the brothers would bow before him. True enough, but that partiality is understood and is unimpeachable being the kind related to working out the plan (e.g. choosing Jacob over Esau before either had done good or bad, Rom. 9:11), and is not the kind that gives preference on the personal level to love some and withhold it from others. My observation here is not to dismiss that God's scheme of redemption requires the choice of one man over another. Here my observation is only about the love of a father or mother for the children. Israel's choice of Joseph over the rest of his children isn't related to some high and noble choice plan. His loving Joseph over the others seemed to be evidence of a base and fleshly preference which I sometimes hear vocalized by parents. Any temptation to love one child more than another should probably be squelched in favor of showing impartial love for all children. To love one child over another is detrimental to both. That's my opinion as a father and as an observer.

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