The Corporal Correction of Children – Part 5
Posted in In line with Scripture
“If they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail.” — Psalms 89:31-33
Spank with Love
Most of us probably believe that loving our children comes naturally. This is not entirely true. Paul told Titus to teach the older women so that “they can train the younger women to love their….children.” (Titus 2:4, NIV). Yes, we need to be taught to love our children. Why? Because we can never afford to forget or underestimate the deceitfulness of sin within our own hearts. With children especially, to love them means to love the baggage that comes with them. An infant’s incessant crying has to be the most stressful sound of all and has caused more than one parent to lose control. Children simply demand a vast amount of attention, when, really, we would love to be doing something else. I mean, who loves to be up to one’s elbows in pooed nappies, vomit-covered blankets and urine-soaked sheets with samples of the last several meals still lying on the floor, running down the walls and streaked through one’s hair? Expectant parents need to be warned, grandparents need to be reminded and new parents need support all along the way to continue to love their children when the inevitable hard times come.
Love means commitment. It is a rare commodity these days but even more priceless as a result of its scarcity. The love commitment to our children will often mean we must do things we really do not want to do at all. A job from which many of us will shrink and avoid if at all possible is spanking. In today’s climate where child abuse is seen as one of the worst evils, we may be afraid to do it or even to consider doing it. Even so, we should be even more afraid of ignoring the clear teaching of Scripture: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24 RSV).
Yes, spanking is a demonstration of our love, and in it we mirror the love of our Heavenly Father: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of His reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12 RSV). Therefore Biblically applied spanking has excellent benefits. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11 RSV). The Scripture here is promising the fruit of righteousness for our children if we will train them via proper (painful rather than pleasant) discipline. The most difficult aspect of this is the discipline we ourselves need in order to follow through consistently. Love is just plain hard work.
Again, love means commitment. The love commitment to our children will often mean we must do things for which we do not feel the least bit prepared nor qualified. This is not surprising when we consider what the King of kings has commanded regarding ourselves and our children: “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.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NKJV). Notice how God’s Word must first be in the hearts of us parents, so much so that we live it, breathe it, sleep it. Obviously the training here is by word and deed, our children getting to see and hear a godly sermon at the same time as they observe us, our lives being lived before their eyes. Is your life like that?
Spank Until It Hurts
Now again, our modern Western culture conceives of love as mostly sentimentality and gush. The “Tough Love” movement has worked out that this approach is lacking, but TL itself is off on a tangent because it is not based on the Word of God. When one has an accurate understanding of the doctrine of sin, one then will fear it above all things, never trifle or flirt with it and never ever compromise with it, especially when it is seen manifested in one’s own children. At this point, brothers and sisters in Christ, people of God, we are dealing with life and death issues of everlasting importance and implications. To drive sin out of our children is a fearful and awesome task which requires the resoluteness and discipline of steel, for we must implement the following Scriptural instructions: “Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart.” (Proverbs 20:30 NKJV). This is often far more unpleasant for us parents than for the children. But the alternative — ineffective discipline — is far worse for it allows the foolishness of sin to become entrenched in our children’s lives. The Scriptures have terrible warnings about allowing that to happen: “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.” (Proverbs 27:22 NKJV). The foolishness becomes fixed and permanent, unable to be removed by any human effort. Yes, the Lord can work miracles in such lives, and praise His Holy Name, He has done so on many occasions. But if we ignore this warning and the promise of righteousness in Hebrews 12:11 as mentioned above, we have no logical right to expect the Lord’s mercy at such a latter stage.
If our children do not cry with the one stroke we normally give, then they may require another. If they start hollering to raise the roof in protest, not repentence, they definitely get another. Pastor Al Martin tells the story of being whipped by his father, then slamming the door leaving the room. His mother called out, “Give him some more, Pa, he ain’t sweet yet,” referring to the evidence that her son was not yet in sweet submission to his parents’ authority. Now remember: the objective is to drive out the foolishness. If it is still manifesting itself after the spank by the child slamming doors, talking back, etc., then clearly the rod has not yet dislodged the foolishness. More stripes are required.
Yes, this is a difficult area, for giving some children (like one of ours aged 8) only one stroke of the rod is totally ineffective. For others (like another one of ours aged 3) simply asking, “Are you being disobedient?” often seems enough to drive the foolishness out. Each child is different and part of our job as parents is to observe each child carefully and know them enough to know when they are being rebellious (manifesting sinful foolishness) and when they are just having us on (being playful) and when they are truly unaware of having done wrong (childish misconceptions or ignorance due to our lack of instruction). In addition, we must be very careful to draw the line between willful sinful behaviour, which requires the rod of correction, and mere childishness, which may need only verbal admonition and counsel. Wetting the bed, spilling food and drink, dropping and breaking crockery, making a huge mess or loud noises when eating or playing are for younger children especially not acts of rebellion but indications of physical, mental and social immaturity. Same for getting the maths answers wrong or playing the wrong musical note: although many or our parents and grandparents were caned for such mistakes in school and at home, such treatment is little short of barbaric.
Spank Without Anger
This can hardly be overstressed. “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20 NKJV). Spanking is not hitting, beating or punishing. Punishment is God’s domain. Do not let yourself or enemies of the faith equate spanking with violence. Spanking is chastisement, corporal correction, discipline, driving out the foolishness. However, if spanking is done in anger, out of frustration or annoyance, in retaliation, to save face, carried to excess or done to cause humiliation (see Deuteronomy 25:3), then it does become a form of unBiblical violence, and then it will tend to breed violence, hate and resentment. But Biblical spanking, the sober, prayerful, fearful and judicial use of the rod of correction, is emphatically not violence.
Finally, do not hold a grudge. Spanking leaves the offense forever in the past. If you bring up a past incident, let it be a careful illustration; otherwise it will be a humiliation, a breaking of trust, unfair and unjust.
From Keystone Magazine
January 2001 , Vol. VII No. 1
P O Box 9064
Phone: (06) 357-4399
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