The Hierarchy of Parenting in Marriage

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Parenting is a major assignment within the institution of marriage. As a matter of fact, parenting is an integral part of marriage, parenting actually takes place in marriage. The only avenue through which God has made available by which you can become a parent is in marriage. Now, that does not mean that there are no other avenues by which you can become a parent, for example, you could adopt children, you will be referred to as it as a parent, or if you are a spiritual father, a spiritual mother, and you have spiritual children. You know, in some aspects, we can also refer to you as a spiritual parent. But when we are talking about biological parenting, it is only within the institution of marriage that you could be called a parent. And one of the ways in which that happens is that you come into marriage, you are married to your husband, you are married to your wife, and then you begin to procreate.


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So, when that takes place, you will be legally called a parent. So parenting is actually an integral assignment within the institution of marriage. And it is one part that God usually pays attention to. So, if God is going to be judging you as a married couple, one of the areas in which He’s going to be judging you or examining you is in the aspects of parenting. And we know that God Himself is a parent, we call God a father. So, we know that there is a way that God fathers us, there is a way that God refers to us as His children. So, in this piece, we want to examine: The Hierarchy of Parenting in Marriage, what is expected of you as a parent in the institution of marriage. So, if we talk about marriage, every now and then, and we don’t look at this aspect, we will not be doing justice to the assignment that God has given unto us. So that is why we are looking at this aspect in this piece, parenting in marriage.

Now let’s examine the book of 1 Samuel 1:1-7. There are a few things I want to show us in that passage before we move on. The Bible says:

Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there. And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb. And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.

Now let’s pause a bit in that verse seven. There are a few characters that the Bible introduced us to. The first was Elkanah and the Bible says Elkanah had two wives, the first was Hannah and the second, Peninnah. The Bible also shows us that Elkanah and his family were a religious family because the Bible says they go yearly to Shiloh to worship the Lord. Another thing we saw is that the Bible says Hannah, which happened to be the first wife, was barren, not of her own volition, the Bible says the Lord the Lord chose to close her womb. I believe it’s for a reason. And another character we saw was Peninnah, the second wife of Elkanah. The Bible says she had children, sons and daughters as at this material time. And the Bible also showed us that Elkanah loved Hannah his wife.

Also, the Bible showed us another character called Eli. Eli was the priest of the Lord. He was the one that spearheads or supervises the worship of the people anytime they go to Shiloh. And the Bible also showed us that the man Eli had two sons. Supposedly they were priest, Hophni and Phinehas. Now I want us to jump to verse 8-11, now let us consider other thing that the Bible showed us in that chapter one. Now the Bible says: Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? You know, in previous verses, the Bible showed us anytime Hannah was at Shiloh, she always fast, she does not eat because of what she was trusting God for, she was trusting God for a child. And so, in this particular year, her husband was asking shy she has chosen to suffer herself by not eating.

Am I not better to you than ten sons?” So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. 11 Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”

So, this was Hannah’s vow at Shiloh this particular year. Now, don’t forget, the Bible says the Lord shut her womb. So, but when Hannah was able to get the message and got to this realm with God, the Bible says that God heard her. And if you jump to verse 19-20, the Bible says: Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. So, Hannah made a vow to God while she prayed and God remembered her.  20 So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord.”

So, in that same chapter, another character was introduced to us by the name Samuel. So, God heard the prayer of Hannah after she made that vow, and the Lord who deliberately shut her womb for a reason, now opened her womb, and Hannah conceived and gave birth to Samuel. Now I believe we remember those characters. Now let’s jump to 1 Samuel chapter 2:12. Let’s begin to look at what we’re talking about in this article. The Bible says: Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord. The sons of Eli, Eli was the priest of the Lord. The Bible says his sons, Hophni and Phinehas did not know the Lord. Now, this statement is actually the genesis of bad parenting or parental failure. Pay attention! The Bible says the sons of Eli, the priest of the Lord, a man of God. The Bible says his sons were corrupt, and they did not know the Lord.

Now, don’t forget, Eli was a priest and his sons were also co-priest with him. They were in the same assignment with him. And the Bible says even though they were priests, his sons did not know the Lord. The Bible says they were corrupt. When you see statements like this, it is actually where bad parenting or parental failure begins from. Now jump to 1 Samuel 8:1-5, let us look at another thing about those characters. The Bible says: Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways…”

Now, don’t forget that Samuel also was a priest and judge in Israel. As at this time, Samuel had grown, the Bible didn’t so much talk about his wife and also the wife of Eli. There was no record about their wives, but we know that the two men had children, maybe they got divorced from their wives, it could be anything. But the Bible didn’t show us. The Bible says further: “they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. Now don’t forget the Bible says the sons of Eli were corrupt. In summary, the sons of Samuel also were corrupt. The Bible was just trying to show us the level of the corruption with the case of the children of Samuel because when you take bribe, that is corruption, when you pervert justice, that is corruption. The Bible says further:  Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

Now what is the point I’m trying to make by reading this Scriptures to us? Eli and Samuel failed at parenting. They failed to raise their children in ways and manner that will make them know the Lord. Now one thing you must never forget is that salvation is personal. Salvation is individualistic in nature. The salvation of a father does not cover the salvation of the children. By virtue of the fact that you are a pastor does not mean that your children or your family, you know, they automatically saved. There is a deliberate effort in parenting whereby you bring your children in the way of God. So, we saw that Eli and Samuel failed even though they were priests, even though they were men of God, at some point I was even excusing Samuel, he grew up with Eli and so, he saw the pattern. Did we see that?

So, they both failed in that obvious responsibility. Now, we are not going to blame their wives because we did not see them in the picture. So practically speaking, their children grew up with these men and the Bible showed us that they failed at parenting because these children were corrupt. Now, this is going to lead us to the very first hierarchy of parenting. Now what is that hierarchy? It is COMMANDING YOUR CHILDREN AFTER THE LORD. The very first hierarchy in parenting is commanding your children after the Lord. This is where your assignment begins from as parents. Now let’s look at Genesis chapter 18:16-19. Let’s leave those characters and begin to examine the Scriptures on commanding your children after the Lord. Now the Bible says:

Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. 17 And the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”


So contextually speaking, the Lord was talking about Abraham in this place, that He God knows the heart of Abraham, that he will command his children and his household after him, the LORD, first after him, Abraham, that they may keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.

Now, don’t forget the covenants of God with Abraham was not supposed to end with Abraham. Now, the only reason that God is going to fulfill that covenant is that Abraham command his children after him. Now there is a point I quickly want to make. You see as parents that have dealings with God, especially if you’re a parent that God is dealing with, or God is relating with, you see the dealings of God with you, is not supposed to end with you. One of the features and characteristics of God is that God thinks trans-generationally. God is a transgenerational God, if God begins a walk with you, God wants to extend that walk beyond you. And that shows why God is actually talking about Abraham, that I know he will command, because the only way God is going to continue that walk with you, when you have gone, is if your children know the Lord.

Now look at the example, God began with Abraham, and then the covenant shifted from Abraham, to Isaac, and then the covenant shifted from Isaac, to Jacob, and from Jacob to Israel. That is how God thinks, that is how God sees parenting. As a matter of fact, this is how God works on the earth. When God is so keen about marriage, it is not because God is less busy. And all he’s thinking about is the institution of marriage No, it is about the work. God works on the face of the earth through marriages and through families. And that is why when you read Malachi 2:15, the Bible says “God seeks a godly offspring.” Not in the sense of a godly parents so to say, it is beyond you; a godly offspring because the work of God begins with you and continues with your offspring. Do we get it now.

So, when God says, I know Abraham that he will command his children after me, it is because the assignment is beyond Abraham. God has been to the future. And He knows what he’s doing per time with our marriages. And that work does not stop with us as parents, it continues with our children. And that is why you can’t be lackadaisical with child raising in marriage. So, the first hierarchy is commanding your children after the Lord. Now we saw that Eli and Samuel failed in that regard. And the moment they failed, the Bible says God, especially concerning Eli, God changed His mind. Let us examine 1 Samuel 2:27 because the moment that God sees that you have failed at commanding your children after Him, He does not have dealings with you again, you have cut short that transgenerational idea that God has for that family. Look at 1 Samuel 2:27. The Bible says:

Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Did I not clearly reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? 28 Did I not choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest…” So, you will understand that that priesthood of Eli did not start with Eli. It started with his own father. Now, the Bible says: to offer upon My altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod before Me? And did I not give to the house of your father all the offerings of the children of Israel made by fire? 29 Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me…” So obviously, the failure of Eli began by honoring his sons more than God.

The Bible didn’t teach that we should honor our children more than Him. You see, over spoiling children is not evidence that you love those children more than God or over pampering children. This is just by the way. What God requires is that you raise children after Him. If you like, give the whole world to your children all in the name that God has given them to me to take care of, it is good to take care of them. But if you give your children the whole world, and you don’t give them God, you are as good as a failed parent. So, the first thing you give to a child is not car keys, you know there is something going on, it is a good thing, I just want to say it in passing, if you have the capacity to do it, do it. Many celebrities today, what they do now is when they give birth to children, they go to buy a plot of land in their name.

That is beautiful. That is fine. But that is not all there is to parenting. They sell a plot of land in the moon now, if you like buy a plot of land in the moon for your child, if that child does not know God, he has not known anything. The first assignment of a parent is not to give the world to your child, it is to give God or is to give your child God, the knowledge of God. When they have the knowledge of God, they have everything; “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and every other thing shall be added to it.” Now, there is nothing bad in that, if you can afford it, go ahead and do it. Give your child the best education. Give your child the best care, give your child all that you know will help their upbringing and development but do not fail to honor God in the life of your child, do not fail to give your child the knowledge of God. So why did Eli fail? Eli failed because he honored his sons more than God. So, in other words, those children just knew God superficially, there was no knowledge because the knowledge of God brings about fear. The Bible says “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. If those children actually feared God, they will not be pervert, they will not be corrupt.

So, God showed him his failure. He says: you honor your sons more than me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?’ 30 Therefore the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ God is transgenerational; forever. This was the covenant I had with your fathers. Did we see that? But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me. So, Eli in his time and in his generation, God cut short that transgenerational blessing because of his failure in parenting, because he failed to command his children after the Lord. That was it. Eli had the prophet, he had the word, he knows the word of God. In fact, it was even more difficult for Abraham to command his children after the Lord than Eli, because Abraham never had any Scripture. Abraham related with God directly, whatever Abraham heard from God was what he was telling his children.

In the time of Eli, they’ve the 10 commandments. So, how come his children failed, and the children of Abraham did not fail. Something was wrong somewhere. Did we understand that? He says: But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 And you will see an enemy in My dwelling place, despite all the good which God does for Israel. And there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33 But any of your men whom I do not cut off from My altar shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart. And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age. And the Lord said all those things to him.

Now, why did Eli fail so much? Why did it get to this level? Because the Bible says he honored his children more than God. So, what is the first hierarchy in parenting? It is commanding your children after the Lord; your children must know the Lord first. And if you look at the world today, that is exactly where many parents are failing. Many parents do not have the knowledge of God. How do you give what you don’t have to your children? Nemo dat quod non habet It is a Latin word for you cannot give what you don’t have. If you don’t have the knowledge of God, you can’t give it to your child. So, the first hierarchy in parenting is commanding your children after the Lord. Abraham was the model, God testified of Abraham, “I have known him. I have known him that he will order his children after him.” So, Abraham was a model. Because God says he will order his children after him to know the Lord. So as fathers, you must be a model, you must be an example to your children, what are they seeing in you? What is the reflection of God that they are seeing in you?

Now let’s look at the second one. The second one is TEACHING AND ESTABLISHING THEM IN THE PRECEPTS OF GOD. I want us to see Deuteronomy chapter 6:4-9. Now that they have known the Lord, you’ve shown them God, you have commanded them after God. The next thing is to teach them and establish them in the laws of God, in the precepts of God. The Bible says:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

He says you shall teach your children the words of the Lord, the ways of the Lord, the characters of God, he says you shall teach. It does not fall on them like ripe pawpaw, you will have to deliberately teach them. No wonder when it was time for Isaac to get married, the Bible says Abraham supervised the process. He felt far be it, the boy is left alone and he goes to marry from the tribes that God had warned them not to marry from. You must teach them. What exactly has God be saying to you? You must teach your children. Children become wayward nowadays simply because there is no teaching of the knowledge of God. No, there is a particular family in Nigeria, you know that I love so much, a particular family, celebrity family. Now don’t forget, even as Christians, we can be celebrities. Now, celebrities in the context that the world can know you. But they can know you with God. I’ve never met this family before one on one, but I know them. How? Through the works that they are doing. All their children followed after them, I think is about the second generation of children that are following what the fathers have been doing.

Many of them they went to school to study different things, but they ended up doing what their parents were doing. Whatever you model for your children is what they grow up to pick up. Values are taught in the homes. Children must be taught because if you don’t teach them, they will not pick it. Now, our education is so bastardized that they teach little of God in schools. If you think that it is school that will model God for your children, that’s the beginning of failure. You, the parents, must be deliberate about showing God to your children. It says you must teach them; you must establish them. The laws of God must be written, it says when you are walking on the way, you must discuss it with them; when you are at home, you must discuss it with them; until it enters their consciousness. Look at Second Timothy 3:15. Let’s look at an example of Timothy.

Paul said concerning Timothy “that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise…” is it to make the parents wise? The boy! from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. If any work that God has started with you as a parent, will continue after you have gone, it will be dependent upon how you raise your children. God forbid you are gone and your children were like “all the things that our father did for God, that’s it. We are going our own way”, No!

Let us look at the last point because of our time. The last point is PROVIDE FOR THE CHILDREN which is the third hierarchy. Now what many parents do nowadays is they put this last one first. You are preoccupied about “oh I must provide for my children, I must give them food to eat and clothes to wear, house to live in, send them to the best schools. All these are fine, but they should not be the first. I read something in the book Breaking the Jewish Code. And I read in that book that every Jewish child starts reading the Torah, from the age of five. From the age of five, those Jewish children have started memorizing the commandment, the laws of God; not when they get to school, from home and that’s how it should be. It is good to provide for your children but see, as much as you provide for them, provide the Word of God for them. What are they reading? What are they watching? What are they viewing?

You know, sometimes you begin to wonder how come a little child is so pervert, so perverse, you know, there was a time when I was practicing real estate, I went to a particular house to do inspection on a weekend. So, the mother of these kids, she happens to be so busy, she doesn’t stay at home. But these kids were about seven or eight at the time. Anytime you go to visit this woman, you will not mee this woman, but you will meet the kids watching this channel and I think MTV base, soaking themselves with some of those songs, and I will not be surprised if those are not musician right now. Now, have you ever wondered why many of these generations’ children, they grow up dancing. Almost every video you see now you see teenagers, everybody dancing, like dancing, I was like what is going on? Where’s this spirit of dancing, just dancing coming from?

Now I know they make a lot of money from that but see, it is beyond making a lot of money. You see teenagers doing all manner of things in Dubai, their parents are in Nigeria, thinking they were on excursion. God have mercy. In the bid of trying to provide for your children, your children are going wayward. Now, don’t think you will appear before God and God will say “weldone, thou faithful and wonderful parent, we saw that you provided three square meals for your children. The only thing that they did not have is just the knowledge of God, but in that area; you tried.” No, providing is not the first. Your children must know God first, you must command them after God. God says “teach them the knowledge of God, when you sit and when you are on the way, let them understand it. Provide for them.

Let me just show you this Scripture in second Corinthians chapter 12:14-15 as we begin to tidy it up now. This is the third hierarchy. Paul said: “Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; now Paul was writing this in the context of his spiritual children, but it is applicable… for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. Now Paul was writing about his spiritual children that see “I am the one that will provide for you.” So, parents are expected to provide for their children, but much more than providing for them, do not neglect to teach them about God. Do not neglect to command them after God. Praise God.

So, command them after God. Let them have the knowledge of God. That is the most important thing. See, if your son or your daughter, you know go to Harvard and they graduate and they established companies and those companies are doing well fine, it’s good. But see, if they don’t have the knowledge of God those things will not matter. What matters is the fact that your children know the Lord. So, in marriage, parenting must be gotten right. Parenting is not what we leave to frivolities, parenting is not what we leave to chance, we must be deliberate. The more you are deliberate about your own marriage, trying to make it work, the more you must also be deliberate about parenting. Because when you appear before God as a parent, God even though God will not judge you and your wife together, so to say, but God will ask you question.

Now, don’t forget, the Bible says, children are the heritage of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. So, children are God’s property, and we will give account. When you appear before God, what will you give account for? What exactly will you ay you give to your child? I pray that the Lord is going to help us in Jesus’ name. You see, the moment we miss out in parenting, we have miss out marriage already. The Bible says “God seeks godly offspring.” How do you raise godly offspring indeed? By these three things that we’ve looked at. I pray the Lord will help us!




[Centre for New Dimension Leadership]



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Obayomi Abiola Benjamin
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I am Abiola OBAYOMI Benjamin, a Writer by Grace, an Author: (Developing Yourself Spiritually), a Blogger (Fridayposts.Com), Director, School of Marriage at Centre for New Dimension Leadership, Abuja and a passionate Nigerian. I believe Nigeria will be great again, but the change we need in Nigeria begins with all of us doing things differently. Collectively, we can make Nigeria work.

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Obayomi Abiola Benjamin

I am Abiola OBAYOMI Benjamin, a Writer by Grace, an Author: (Developing Yourself Spiritually), a Blogger (Fridayposts.Com), Director, School of Marriage at Centre for New Dimension Leadership, Abuja and a passionate Nigerian. I believe Nigeria will be great again, but the change we need in Nigeria begins with all of us doing things differently. Collectively, we can make Nigeria work.

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The Hierarchy of Parenting in Marriage

by Obayomi Abiola Benjamin time to read: 21 min