We at The Refiner’s Fire receive tons of emails and questions on a weekly basis – so much sometimes, we can hardly keep up. Some questions are really good and thought provoking, causing us to do some real research that helps us to continue learning and growing.
One of the recurring questions refer to "Deuteronomy 21:18-21 which calls for stoning a disobedient child." People read this as if it says "You, parent, go stone you child because he's bad." But that is NOT at all what Scripture suggests!
Though it is a Torah command that YHWH's capital punishment includes "stoning" (as brutal as it sounds to us today), two points of clarification:
First, the commandment NEVER permitted us, on our own, to "stone" anyone! The commandment could only be ordered and fulfilled by the Cohen of the community, and only after the proper presentation of evidence to the community elders. (Not talking about our modern civil government here.)
Second, today, our laws for handling crime and punishment STILL are not OUR responsibility to handle ourselves. So, though the commandment that stoning is still a permitted capital punishment, the fact that it is not done, does not make us break Torah! We cannot "stone" if we wanted to, because no Cohen leads us, and we have no scriptural form of leadership set up in our communities.
Third, if you'd read closely the rules set out by YHWH, such as Deuteronomy 21:18-21, you'd see the process of disciplining and even capital punishment (if necessary) is not unlike that of our society today. We just have "different" rules and procedures for handling unruly children, unruly adults, and criminals, and different processes for meting out punishment.
Also, notice that YHWH's rules are for the civil and righteous conduct of a society in which all eyes were on Him. Many of His rules end with "do this to rid such wickedness from among you." In our society, instead we "slap wrists" and permit the children to take the parents to court! We don't come close to "ridding" our society of any wickedness.
So, no, you don't kill people or stone your children these days if they misbehave. You would be breaking the commandment, and ironically, you would be breaking a law of man as well....