November 26, 2021

The Corporal Correction of Children – Part 2

The Corporal Correction of Children – Part 2

Posted in In line with Scripture

“A servant will not be corrected by mere words; for though he understands, he will not respond.”

Proverbs 29:19

Spank Not with Words

Do we really need to spank at all? What’s wrong with a good tongue lashing? Surely we can appeal to the child’s sense of duty, reason, sense of fair play?

Well, no, we cannot. We are talking about children here, little ones up to around 8 or 10. (If spanking is done consistently to drive out the foolishness as explained in Proverbs 22:15, and done along with the training and teaching and example of parents, there should be little if any need to spank beyond this age.) Little ones of this age, and honestly even into teenage years, do not think straight. They simply haven’t got the experience of years to have a sufficiently developed sense of reason and fair play and duty. Besides, we are talking about a child who has just committed some breach of rules, exhibiting a life currently directed by foolishness, not reason. Mere words, you see, do not dislodge the foolishness and sin from the heart, whereas a spanking will (see Proverbs 22:15 & 20:30). While they are in the grip of this outburst of foolishness, they are unable to grasp your words of wisdom anyway. So don’t waste the wise words or your breath at this point. (They will be readily received immediately after the spanking.)

In addition, tongue lashings tend to be character assassinations, going deep, doing much damage. “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18 RSV). And because tongue lashings do no obvious damage, we can more easily give full vent to our (sinful) anger, ranting and raving, getting it off our chests, giving them a piece of our minds. This is a bad example, on top of the damage angry words are doing to the child’s spirit and emotions. The Scriptures are clear: “The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20).

Some parents tend to do nothing. Eli the priest failed to restrain his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. They were a disgrace to all Israel, and all Israel knew what swine they were, so much so that it is actually commented on in Scripture that “they would not listen to the voice of their father” (I Samuel 2:25) and that Eli “did not restrain them” (I Samuel 3:13). They were so bad that God determined to wipe them (and their father Eli) off the face of the earth. Their unrestrained lives proved the veracity of Proverbs 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (and his father, too, as well as the whole family and possibly further afield as did these sons of Eli!) Maybe Eli was a non-violent type, and like his sons, had little regard for the Lord’s ways of doing things, preferring his own. Well, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 16:25) This is what it means to live by faith: to order our lives according to God’s word, even though we can’t understand it, don’t like it, and hope our friends don’t read certain passages until after they get saved.

Grounding, giving them “time-out”, making them stand in the corner, forfeiting pocket money, etc. do not deal with the problem of sin in the heart. This sin, this foolishness which just manifested itself in the unacceptable behaviour of the child, must be driven out, separated from the child. Restrictions such as grounding, etc., are hard to police, cause the offence to be remembered for far too long, and can cause resentment to build up alongside of the original foolishness which was not driven out by the rod (spanking) in the first place.

We fostered an 8-year-old boy for a year. Foster parents are not allowed to administer Biblical correction (spankings). The boy’s psychologist suggested we give him a lollie at the end of each day he stayed within the rules. This did not work. If he blew it early in the day, he would be as disobedient and abusive as he liked thereafter, knowing the worst that could happen would be the withholding of a lollie. His lawyer suggested we write down infractions in a wee notebook, like the soccer referees do. This had no effect whatsoever.

Then one day we were assigned guardianship over the lad. I told him that he would now be subject to the same rules as our own children: one spank with the rod across the backside when it was established that he had violated one of the family’s rules. Soon afterwards both he and our youngest son transgressed together at the same time. After questioning, establishing the facts, and explaining the rules again, our son took his spank. The foster boy was next, and like our own, he cried before and after the spank….and was very receptive to further instruction and reassuring cuddles afterwards. His first words to me after the spank and again first thing the next morning were: “Dad, you’re the best!” He also wrote a card of thanks for the spank and put it on my plate at breakfast. He was a totally different boy from that point onwards.

Our words need to follow the same pattern as God’s words: we should use them to teach, reprove, correct, train in righteousness, edify and impart grace (II Timothy. 3:16, Ephesians. 4:29), but not to whip children either as punishment or to enforce obedience.

From Keystone Magazine
July 2000 , Vol. VI No. 4
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig
@hef.org.nz

The Biblical Answer to the Foolishness in Every Child’s Heart

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
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig
@hef.org.nz

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