There are two explicit commands in Deuteronomy that require parents to initiate the execution of their child. The first is regarding general disobedience:
Deu 21:18-21 ESV “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.
The second command seems even more difficult to implement. It not only requires the parent to (or sibling or spouse) to hand over their child for execution by stoning, but that parent was to be the first to throw the stone.
Deu 13:6-11 ESV “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, 8 you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. 9 But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. 10 You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 11 And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.
Why would the Lord require such harsh justice? I think these commands are included for the following reasons:
- As is the case with much of the Old Testament, the commands are given to help us understand how God interacts with His people.
- A parent executing a child is analogous to God executing one of His own children.
- Or put differently, at the judgment seat of Christ where the children of God are judged, some will suffer eternal punishment delivered by the hand of the Lord.