Randy Alcorn says in his book The Grace and Truth Paradox, “The Christian life is far more than sin management.

Behavior modification that’s not empowered by God’s heart-changing grace is self-righteous, as repugnant to God as the worst sins people gossip about.

Children who grow up with graceless truth are repelled by self-righteousness and attracted to the world’s slickly marketed grace-substitutes.”

Guys like Tom may take pride in how well their children behave, but the harsh way Tom gets his results, and the connection he builds between their behavior and their acceptance by God, sets them up to look elsewhere for their security, significance, and strength. It is the lack of grace in well-behaved homes that turns children’s hearts away from God when they’re finally too big to intimidate and too old to control.

“I have come to see legalism,” says author Philip Yancey, “in its pursuit of false purity as an elaborate scheme of grace avoidance. You can know the law by heart without knowing the heart of it.”

There is a place for rules, even for strictness, in a grace-based home, but how they are presented makes all the difference on how they are received.

On the other hand, seeing grace as an excuse not to parent your children within the boundaries of godliness is equally repugnant to God. It is not grace that condones the crooked paths our children may take.

Rather it is cowardice, laziness, and selfishness. Home has got to be a place where our children are safe from the traps of the world and assured that they have parents who won’t surrender God’s standards— even to them. Look at what this passage in Titus reveals about grace going hand in hand with godliness.

Tim Kimmel, Grace-Based Parenting (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005).