O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
I agree. We first must establish that in Romans when it is talking about the "flesh," it is referring to the Old Covenant system of works. Along the same lines Paul, in Romans (and most of all he wrote) is trying to tell his audience that we/they are no longer under the law but under grace.
So, our children are no longer "in the flesh" which must be beaten out of them. They are in the garden. My only question is how to leave the garden. When Jewish children were born were they also born covered by their parents?
I say yes.
I think the problem is that most (modern) Christians come at this from a radically individualistic conception.
But what do we see in Scripture? God promises to be a God to his people and to their children. I would think that has some implications for the NC as well, since the Church is actually Israel reborn/resurrected.
The biblical perspective is that God deals not only with individuals, but deals with households as well. In fact, if a household belongs to God, then everything in that household belongs to God. The story of Abraham is one good example.
I don't believe that God splits up families so that parents live in God's Garden while the children are castoffs out in the wilderness to fend for themselves. That strikes me more as modern American individualism than biblical Christianity. After all, Paul called children of believers "clean" due to the faith of the believing parent.
How much more so if both parents believe the gospel?
I have been reading some books written by Alfie Kohn. Don't know if you are familiar with him or not but he is the leading person in transforming schools by getting rid of rewards and punishments (which includes grades, standardized tests, etc.). He not only is against punishments and rewards (which are not opposites but rather different sides to the same coin) in schools but also in the work place and in parenting. His reasoning is supported by tons and tons of research. Case study after case study proves that rewards and punishments do nto work long term and often they don't even work short term for most every task.
Basically all parenting books, education philosophies, and work place practices are rooted in behaviorism. He destroys behaviorism and basically proves it is a bad theory. We are not animals (he is not a Christian and even he says agrees with this).
What does this have to do with parenting in the garden? Well, I think Churchianity and parenting are rooted in behaviorism (in fact our whole western culture is). Which is ironic because behaviorism is about as anti-Christian a theory as there is yet the church has based everything (how we interpret the Bible, how we parent, how we define the gospel, etc.) on behaviorism. I would argue it goes way back before Skinner and others gave it the name - but that's for another post.
Behaviorism is about one thing = CONTROL
It's about controlling other people's behavior. Whether that is with good intentions or bad. Control is control. But the (true) Gospel is about FREEDOM. Jesus didn't come to control us, he came to set us free. Religion is about control. Whether it's making women dress conservatively and guilting them into filling their quiver or whether it's preaching that it is a sin to not tithe (gross income), get a tattoo, miss church, drink alcohol, smoke, and listen to secular music. And just for good measure Christianity hangs the reward of Heaven out in front of us to get us to comply and also wields a paddle called Hell for added control measures.
I am still piecing all of this together but it is just interesting to see that science is behind the true gospel message which is freedom. We now have over 50 years of research supporting Grace both in the work place (see the work of Demming), school (see the work of David Langford and Kohn), and parenting (see Kohn, Vanvonderan, and others).
Here are some quotes from Kohn's book, Punished by Rewards, I am currently reading: