Thursday, November 6, 2008

Diligent to Discipline

"Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him." -Prov. 13:24

Discipline is not too popular in our culture any longer. Parents are more and more tempted to think that the way to raise a child is through "love" and "freedom." They want them to learn their own lessons--to experiment and fail. If they are just given enough freedom and support, they will ultimately choose what is best and "turn out alright." They think that doing things like spanking them is barbaric, violent, old-fashioned, and ineffective. But our standard for parenting is not society's opinions, it is God's. And in this Proverb, He makes it clear that physical punishment has a place--even that it is a MUST for those who claim to love their child. He says that a failure to discipline does not show a greater level of love; it shows a "hate" for one's children.

How can this be? What we have to remember is that children are not born good or even neutral. They aren't just on the fence, so to speak, as kids and in need of someone to just steer them toward better choices. Children are born sinners; we all are. Our hearts wander. We reject the God who created us. We are self-worshipers. This plays out even at a very young age. And it is one of the primary responsibility of parents to help their child realize their sinfulness and the punishment that they deserve from God because of it. It is only when they understand that they are sinners deserving of His wrath that we can then point them to the Savior who took that wrath for them on the cross. It's only then that God can truly change them for the better--leading them to genuinely repent of their sin and trust Christ.

The "rod," or physical discipline, is one way that God has called parents to impress upon their children the seriousness of their offenses. Spanking is not to be done by parents out of anger for how their child has wronged them. Rather, it is to be done by parents out of a desire to help their children see God's disappointment and anger at their sin. Sure, sometimes parents cross the line and turn spanking into something ugly and violent. But its misuse by some does not mean it must be abandoned.

There's much more that could be said about HOW to spank (having conversation to follow it, maintaining self-control, etc.). But for now, just let it suffice to know that God approves of spanking--as a means to teach kids the gospel.

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