In this chat, I would like to talk about why and how parents should exercise corporal punishment (spanking) with their children. I will also be addressing different ages, sexes, and situations.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6:4)
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Rev 3:19)
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol (Pro 23:13-14)
David did not rebuke Adonijah, who eventually lost his life because his father indulged him (Solomon eventually killed him). Don’t forget Absolom either (1 Kings 1:5) (cf. 2:24, 25).
Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death (Pro 19:18).
The nature of the kids requires Discipline. – Romans 5:12f
Every human being born of woman is sinful from birth. (Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it). Every child of Adam is a sinner. This includes children. The only thing lacking is intelligence and strength. You don’t have to teach kids to be self-centered – To hit one another, to lie, to grab toys, etc. Their nature is to be sinful, to rebel, to object.
Sinners are by nature, objects of wrath – Ephesians 2:3 Every evil adult was once a cute toddler. No one wants to believe that their little Johnny could grow up to be Charlie Manson. People want to say, “He’s so cute, Therefore, he’s also good. Often our Biblical theology goes right out the window when it comes to our children.
Evil comes from the heart – Matthew 12:34 – For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Babies have evil hearts, just like everyone else. Evil folly, sin is resident in the hearts of our children. Just waiting to pop out. We need to take sin seriously, not as the Pelagians. You don’t spend your entire childhood cute and innocent and then at 18 turn into a vicious killer, or wonderful Christian.
Parental discipline restrains sin – Proverbs 22:15 – Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him). Sin doesn’t show up right away, it takes some time to show itself, until you get to know a person, even babies. Where proper parental discipline is lacking, sin flourishes. Some of us think the kid down the street is causing/teaching our children to sin. They may be adding to their techniques of sin, but sin is bound up in your child’s heart. Every child is a cute little bundle of sin.
The eternal direction of our children requires discipline
Pro 23:13-14—Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.
Everyone is going somewhere when they die, either Heaven or Hell. Children are part of everyone. How your children are brought up has eternal consequences. We are being very serious again. We are talking about where your children will spend eternity.
Temporal Direction of your child requires discipline.
1 Kings 1:5 (cf. 2:24, 25) – David did not rebuke Adonijah, who eventually lost his life because his father indulged him (Solomon eventually killed him). Don’t forget Absolom either.
1 Samuel 3:13 – Eli’s house destroyed because he didn’t restrain his adult children.
Many indulgent fathers in heaven, with children in earthly trouble.
The Love we have for our children requires discipline
Pro 19:18—Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.
Cute kids sin in cute ways, big kids sin in big ways. Beginning to discipline kids when they are little is to discipline them while there is still hope of their growing up to learn from the discipline. The younger the child the tighter the controls ought to be on their freedom to make choices. 2 year olds should live in a totalitarian dictatorship. They should have no freedoms at all. Older teenagers should need no restrictions at all.
If you haven’t restrained your children and they go off to college, what happens? They live there without constraint. Most families try to let their cute little kids make their own decisions, but when they grow up and begin to make really unwise decisions, the parents try to impose rules on them then. It’s too late, the kids rebel and chaos ensues. To not chasten is to set your heart on his destruction.
Proverbs 13:24 – He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
When all is calm in your house, ask yourself if you hate your children. Answer Biblically. Discipline means keeping them from doing things they ought not do. Discipline means making them do things they ought to be doing. Not keeping them in line frustrates everyone around, including them. If you are not stopping that, you are hating them.
You need to discipline promptly. Ecclesiastes 8:11 – When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong. You are bigger than them, stop them from doing wrong. Do it promptly. Counting, warning with no result – teaches them to obey the tone of voice, or the number, not the command and not God. If you don’t discipline promptly, you hate your child.
The Command of God requires discipline
Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
The instruction is given to the Fathers. They are the head of the home. They are responsible for the outcome of their homes – children. Many men think that because their kids mind them better, it is a contest between them and their wives. Who can discipline best or most effectively. Children should be obeying mom because they are obeying dad. If they aren’t obeying mom, they aren’t obeying dad. So, if you think it’s a contest, you’re losing.
Children should see Dad looming over the shoulder of mom. Dad should check with mom when he gets home and believe her about the condition of his home. The father gives the mom authority to take care of his home while he is gone. He is still responsible for the home and the children’s discipline. Kids should never be allowed to split the parents.
If father abdicates his responsibilities, his children will have terrible lives and will end up in Hell (apart from the miraculous intervention of God). If a father abdicates his responsibilities and his children are disrespectful, he cannot blame it on his wife. If the wife needs help the husband must give it.
Discipline should be met out with a sense of urgency. This is not a game, not fooling around – eternity is in the balance. On the other hand do not panic and stress out. It should not be done in sin, which includes anxiety. Should be Biblical, focused, and urgent. Women often feel the sense of urgency more than men. Most men ought to feel it much more strongly than they do. In the ordinary providence of God, the thing that separates your children from a wrecked life is your discipline. Ordinary providence means the way life goes all by itself. Often though we have terrible parents, we run into a Christian and by God’s grace we are saved when grown and away from home. You are required to bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. God shouldn’t have to perform a miracle to save your kids. No one saved at an older age is happy that his parents didn’t raise him to be godly from his youth.
The mechanics of Discipline
How you actually apply Discipline? Humanist – Children are basically good and born with blank slates to be raised and created to be good or evil. Christian – Children born in Adam and basically bad. Sin – when they get the strength and smarts. People either go to Heaven or Hell when they die. Sin gets worse and worse if not corrected by discipline.
Discipline is a cleansing instrument. It brings people (family members and God) back together again. If it is working well, the members of the family should have no problem talking about, handling the stick, and laughing about the things that happen in discipline. If the correction is being handed out properly, the relationships will be clean. Forgiveness will abound and everyone will be back in fellowship.
What constitutes effective Discipline? How must Discipline be applied to the child?
Central point: Correction of children must not be withheld, whether through no application or ineffective application.
Six things that make effective discipline
1. Effective discipline is painful.
No discipline seems fun at the time, but rather painful (Heb. 12:11). It produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. If it isn’t painful, it isn’t discipline. Most trade in long term godliness for short term peace. If there is no pain , you have chronic unpleasantness. If done correctly – atmosphere of pleasantness punctuated with pain. If all there is is nagging, unpleasantness.
Many Christian parents do not spank. They merely go through the motions of spanking. Tap, tap, tap. On top of the diapers. Baby learns fast. At first it startles them, but no pain. They learn and then no discipline. If you don’t discipline you will never have a pleasant evening. Mothers resort to nagging, warning, yelling. Father comes home and refuses to administer discipline also.
If you are administering pain effectively, then for most situations 3 to 5 swats is all that is needed. If there has been major disobedience, and you want to make a major impression, then 5 to 10. You are bigger than them, don’t let them get away with sinful things. If you go beyond that, then you need spanking lessons.
Suppose you got a call from a woman who is really spanking a kid and nothing was happening. No pain. Just wind moving in the room. Kids need to remember certain spankings. Pain needs to be acute. No pain = No Discipline. Pain, but no damage = right Pain. Pain with damage = abuse Not Discipline. No pain = No Discipline. Think sting – break wrist – try it on your own leg. 5. Spanking lessons.
2. Effective discipline is consistent.
If you only enforce the standards on Tuesdays and every second Wednesday, then you might as well not discipline at all. When you do discipline, it will only serve to reinforce to your child how fickle you are. I remember when I was spanked for this, but today I got away with it. What are you teaching? Causes Discouragement and anger and bitterness.
Must happen every time. Can’t keep changing standards. No matter how you feel. Be Biblical. Discipline what God requires, not what you think is okay.
3. Effective discipline is proportionate.
If the punishment does not fit the crime, there will be a great likelihood that your child will become discouraged (Col. 3:21). Must be based on the Bible – Not based on your upbringing. Whining. Complaining, grumbling, arguing, lying, etc.
Some things are to he punished more harshly. Defiance and rebellion. Attitudes Bible vs. personal. Frustrated in a task is a bit different than out and out rebellion.
Example: Suppose you tell your child to not play in the street with his new electronic car, and he says, “Yes I will” and off he goes?
You discipline for the attitude. No grumbling, complaining, worrying, back talk, etc.
4. Effective discipline is with understanding.
Note Psalm 103:13-14. Remembers our frame. The godly parent must not discipline for childishness and immaturity. This stuff irks the parent, drives you nuts because the kid is simply young. Not considering the frame if you discipline for what the kid can’t help doing or being. You must discipline for moral offenses (lying, disobedience, rebellion, etc.). Not for clumsiness (spilling the milk at the dinner table, for example). Some things are really immature. Some things are really clever like a fox. Know your children.
Example: If a child trips and breaks your Mother-in-law’s vase, then you do not discipline beyond a gentle admonishment to take care. If your child was throwing a ball in the living room, and you had told him not to, and the vase is broken, then you discipline. But the discipline is for the disobedience, not the broken vase. Must punish for disobedience not the vase. Should be punished even if the vase doesn’t break.
Suppose you tell them to do something à they go off to do it and forget. Forgetting becomes an excuse for disobedience. At that point forgetting is an offense and should be spanked.
Suppose they forget to mow the lawn after you’ve told them. They get distracted… I forgot becomes an excuse to be disobedient. You don’t spank them for not doing the thing, you spank them because they forgot and are helping them to remember.
5. Effective discipline is administered quickly. Eccles 8:11
The younger the child, the greater the need that the discipline be swift. They have a hard time remembering what they did. Electric outlets in the mouth must be punished now. Can’t wait until Dad gets home. Don’t say “I say.” Say “God says.”
Should make up little proverbs for the children. “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” “Reinterpreted obedience is disobedience.” Child will remember these forever and will pass them on to their children. Must drive them home: Repeat Repeat Repeat Repeat. Enforce what you said, do it strictly, do it quickly.
6. Effective discipline is not prolonged.
Context in the home should be pleasantness. An absence of discipline will produce a home that is unpleasant. Discipline will produce a home that is fun to visit.
A spanking is over and done, and fellowship is restored. Discipline causes short term acute unpleasantness. If the punishment lasts a long time so does the unpleasantness. Sending to room causes long term unpleasantness.
What if the child doesn’t take the discipline very well (angry, bad attitude). Discipline for lack of receiving Discipline. If they throw a fit, argue about the justice of it all, put hands back to save buns. If your child will not let her mother spank her the father needs to Discipline for that lack of respect.
Example: Even step parents can bring Biblical godly discipline and it will have the same effects.
If the child is too old to spank, the alternative should not be grounding, where fellowship is disrupted for a week or two. Older children sometimes get too old for spanks, abuses dignity. Grounding causes 2 Weeks of unpleasantness — moping.
Point of Discipline is to restore pleasantness
A biblical way to discipline older children would be through requiring restitution. Restitution +20%. Whom did they offend? Need to set up a system so that the sinner pays back the sinnee. The restitution may be as mild as writing a letter of apology. Particularly tough on boys because they are so proud. Not “Sorry.” Must include admission of guilt. Ask for forgiveness. Make restitution. Or as strong as making them work for the person (chores around the house.
If you do all this when young you won’t need to do it as often later. When the discipline is over, it is over. Never bring the subject up again. Ultimately we are teaching our children about God. Either well or poorly, but teaching non-the-less.
God is in the business of forgiving. If we don’t really forgive our children. What will they think of God? God doesn’t really forgive sin. Isaiah is wrong about God cleansing. No way to get clean.
Example: Suppose you kid is walking the line between obedience and disobedience. Not really being disobedient, but not with us spiritually. Gun for the child, in order to restore fellowship.
I guarantee your child will be much better after the cleansing than she was before and even maybe than he has ever been.
The purpose of Discipline is cleansing. Heb. 12:1 get rid of the entanglement of sin. Weight of sin crushes our children down just like it does us. Discipline restores the joy of the relationship. Loved and prayed with will be like a new Christian. Cleansing causes forgetting.
Rachel got spanked, but can’t remember why. Bitterness and resentment remembers.
Command – Disobedience – Offense – Defense (thin) – Spank – Confession – Hug – Prayer – Accepted – Forgiveness
Effective discipline is painful. Effective discipline is consistent (being a parent is tough). Effective discipline is proportionate. Effective discipline is with understanding. Effective discipline is administered quickly. Effective discipline is not prolonged.
There are no biblical promises to nominal disciplinarians. If you go through the motions, and then look for godly offspring, you will probably be disappointed. Biblical discipline is painful, consistent, proportionate, considerate, swift, and not prolonged. If discipline is administered in this way, keeping in mind the foundation we laid in the first three weeks, you may look forward to grown children who rise up and call you blessed. God’s goal (Malachi) is to produce godly children.
Remember, even in this, your children are being trained. There are consequences for everything. Also remember, if you sin, God forgives. But don’t let laziness or rebellion, or a too soft heart keep your child out of Heaven or away from fellowship with God in Christ.