The Biblical Answer to the Foolishness in Every Child’s Heart
Posted in In line with Scripture
“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15).
This is foundational. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Children are NOT blank tapes who learn evil from elders. They do not pick up sin from the environment: it is in their (our) hearts from conception (See Psalm 51:5). Children are NOT little bundles of innocence: they are little bundles of depravity and can develop into unrestrained agents of evil unless trained and disciplined according to God’s Word. It is essential to be totally convinced of this truth in order to understand and effectively deal with our children’s misbehaviour. Selfishness, violence, lying, cheating, stealing and other such behaviour are just the child unpacking some of this foolishness from the vast store in his heart.
Our verse tells us that the rod of correction will drive these manifestations of foolishness out of the child’s personality lest they become permanent fixtures. “He who spares his rod hates his son.” (Proverbs 13:24). Because foolishness is bound up in the child’s heart, if it is not driven out, the child grows up to be a big fool. Foolishness in a child is often seen as cute and funny….in an adult it is no longer cute, but literally as ugly as sin. For a parent to allow that to happen to his child is, as the Bible tells us, to hate the child.
Let us look at this term “the rod of correction”. Note that it is for correction, not punishment. Although spankings are referred to as corporal punishment, I do not believe this is Biblical. Spankings are corporal correction, driving out tbe foolishness. Punishment is God’s domain. If we set out to punish our children, the Bible tells us that there is only one proper penalty for sin: death. That is why Jesus diedon the cross, to pay the penalty of death for sin. Now, the Bible also specifically forbids parents from executing the judgment of death upon their own children, even when they deserve it. Read Deuteronomy 21:18-21. For comment on this passage let me quote from R.J. Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law, page 360. “First, the parents are to be complaining witnesses against their criminal son. The loyalty of the parents must thus be to God’s law-order, not to ties of blood. If the parents do not assist in the prosecution of a criminal child, they are then accessories to the crime. Second, contrary to the usual custom, whereby witnesses led in the execution, in this case, ‘the men of the city’ did. Thus, where the death penalty was involved, the family was excluded from the execution of the law. “
The objective is to correct our children, not to punish them.
Now note that it is “the rod” which is to drive out the foolishness. Why a rod? Psalm 23, everybody’s favourite, says in verse 4, “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” How does the rod comfort here? By being an instrument of protection. It is also an instrument or symbol of authority: proper, legal authority which is always a comfort because of its protective value. Revelation 227 says, “He shall rule them with a rod of iron.” The rod is like a scepter, a symbol of authority. Now when giving a spank, our verse recommends a rod. Using the hand may not be the best. Our hands should be used to minister love and provision, while a separate instrument, the very sight of which can remind children that there is a law in effect, can be used to administer the spank. We use something which is smooth and flexible: not as flexible as a belt with a buckle which is too difficult to control, not as inflexible as a piece of timber, not as lumpy as timber with corners or a tree branch with buds and knots. We give one spank across the buttocks per offense. It stings plenty, but only for a few seconds , and does no damage. We are careful not to spank the legs or back, and of course never aim to smack head or little hands whose bones and joints are too easy to damage. If the child is in nappies, the nappies get removed before the spank. Once the child is out of nappies, we smack through trousers or skirt: they do not need the humiliation of removing their clothes.
There is much more to be said about the proper use of the rod of correction which will be covered in future issues of Keystone. Key points are: Spank with a rod, not with words, consistently, for disobedience, until it hurts, in private, without anger, instantly, with love, for the child’s best good. May God give us the courage and wisdom required to discharge our duty as parents toward our children.
From Keystone Magazine
November 1995 , Vol. 1 No. 5
P O Box 9064
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389