Monday, December 15, 2008

Teach the Gospel Through Discipline

I recently read these two entries on the blog of a man I greatly respect and admire, Dr. Russell Moore. In them, he addresses the issue of parental discipline and how it provides an opportunity to teach our children the gospel. They're a good read:

Here are some significant quotes from them that made me think (if you don't have time to read the whole thing):

"A parent disciplining a child, for instance, communicates to the child the discipline and judgment of God in ways deeper and more resonant than any Sunday school lesson (Heb 12:5-11). A parent who will not discipline a child for disobedience, or who is inconsistent in doing so, is teaching that child not to expect consequences for behavior....In short, a parent who will not discipline is denying the doctrine of hell....At the same time, a parent who disciplines in anger or with harshness teaches a judgment of God that is capricious and unjust. An abusive parent, worst of all, ingrains in a child’s mind a picture of God as a ruthless devil who cannot be trusted to judge justly."

"Parental discipleship and discipline ought always to have repentance and restoration in view, picturing a God who is both just and the justifier (Rom 3:26). Discipline should be swift and fair with quick reconciliation between parent and child. Long periods of 'time out' do not communicate the discipline of God; they communicate the isolation and exile of hell."

"If 'time out' in your house is a tool to prompt thinking, while the child waits for swift discipline and restoration, then have at it. If 'time out' is a means of punishing the child by removing him from the fellowship of his family, then you’re removing him from the very means of discipleship he (and we) so desperately need."


These are interesting thoughts--especially the ones about time-outs. I'll admit I haven't really evaluated time-out as a means of discipline in the home, but I think he makes some good points with his argument about not using time-out as a primary and extended means of isolating children in punishment. Anybody disagree? Agree? Let me know your thoughts.

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