Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Spanking and Child Discipline

There is a trend in modern times in many western nations of some parents and activists taking a stand against spanking children. Sometimes parents quietly choose to raise their children without spanking. Sometimes activists campaign against spanking in public forums and even lobby for legislation to outlaw spanking. As I understand it, there are actually laws against corporal punishment of children in some countries. Even in the United States, corporal punishment can be interpreted by some as child abuse and there may even be some risk of being called into court if a parent physically disciplines his or her child. That is not common, but it can happen.

Most people's views about spanking are probably influenced by their experiences, either their experiences with their own parents when they were growing up or their experiences raising their own children. Those who have experienced right spanking know what right spanking is, and they can see the benefits of it, and they are more likely to favor spanking as a form of discipline and teaching for children. Others who have experienced no spanking, wrong spanking, or physical abuse often conclude that all spanking is wrong. They cannot tell the difference between right spanking and wrong spanking because they have never seen right spanking. They don't know how to do it and they don't know what it looks like. They often do not even know it exists.

Right spanking in the family is usually invisible to outsiders for two reasons. One, when a parent uses spanking the right way, he doesn't have to do it very often. The child develops the habit of obedience early and doesn't need to be spanked frequently. Two, in the current environment of some activists trying to label all spanking "child abuse", parents are even more private in the way they spank their children than they were in the past. This makes right spanking even more invisible to those who would most benefit from seeing it - those who have never experienced it or seen an example of it.

Satan is the deceiver of the whole world, and he tries to weaken families (Revelation 12:9). He deceives the world about child rearing just as he deceives the world about religion.

Some who are against spanking are only against corporal punishment but not against other forms of punishment such as time-outs where a child must sit in a corner for a certain number of minutes, or denial of privileges (such as no desert), or whatever. But some are against ALL forms of punishment, and some say that the Bible teaches grace and forgiveness, not punishment, and we should practice that principle in raising our children.

But God gives us instructions in the Bible about child discipline. He not only instructs us to teach our children the right way by correcting them with punishment, but He sets us the example, showing that He punishes His own children, that is, true Christians in His true Church, who are His own sons and daughters.

Does God punish Christians, His own children, to teach them lessons?

Hebrews was written to the Church (Hebrews 3:1). Notice Hebrews 12:5-11: "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: 'My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.' If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:5-11).

Notice that the writer of Hebrews says that if you are without chastening (punishment), you are not a son (or daughter) of God (verses 7-8). In other words, if God doesn't punish you, you are not really a Christian.

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent....He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 3:19-22).

Furthermore, God teaches parents to include punishment as a teaching tool to teach their children the right way to live. "He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly" (Proverbs 13:24).

Thus God teaches us both by instruction (Proverbs) and example (how He deals with us, His children in the Church), that we should include punishment as a tool to teach our children for their good.

God teaches punishment, and He does not exclude corporal punishment, that is, spanking. In fact, in speaking of the "rod" (which I assume is a kind of whip, not a hard rod that can injure) in Proverbs 13:24, God uses a physical form of punishment as an example of punishment.

What are the characteristics of right spanking?

It should not be more harsh than is necessary to produce obedience. You don't have to spank your child till he cries necessarily, for example. The object is learning the lesson, not tears. You know by the results. Suppose your child disobeys, you give him a light spanking, not enough to make him cry, but he learns to obey. Then that is sufficient. But if he still does not obey, then the next spanking should be harder, whether he cries or not. The goal is to teach obedience and right behavior, not humiliation and tears. Usually small children will cry, but if they don't cry, don't try to make them cry.

It should be fair. Spanking should come after the child has clearly heard and understood your instructions and disobeyed. If you are in doubt, do unto your child as you would want God to do to you.

Spanking should never cause injury. It should never be done in anger, but in love, to help the child.

Spanking should be consistent, applied to every incident of disobedience the first time, without delay, without repeating the command, no exceptions, so the child does not imagine he can get away with disobeying. Done this way, the child will learn to obey his mother and father the first time he is told to do something, promptly, automatically, without argument. There will not typically be arguing, fighting, and power struggles, and there will be few tears. The child will be happy and obedient and responsive to right teaching.

I have seen spanking, the right way, work very well to produce well-behaved, loving, and happy children, and balanced, confident, responsible adults. I have not seen that result without spanking. I don't say it is impossible, just that I haven't seen it myself. Those attempts by parents to raise their children without spanking or with minimum spanking that I have seen have led to bad results.

Laws against spanking are absolutely wrong and oppressive. God has given parents the responsibility to raise and discipline their children.


Claire in Tasmania said...

Here is a picture of a rod: http://everythingisknowable.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/drwaing-line-between-spanking-and-abuse.html (at the bottom of the article - but the rest of the article is very apropos, too)
Do you still think it can't cause damage?

I am a non-punitive parent. I have well-behaved, obedient children. It is possible to teach obedience without hitting the child, or punishing them. That being the case, why would I want to hit them? Also, given that I am fallible human being, how is it that God can't teach us without hurting us? Jesus was the perfect teacher and he never had to hit someone to make his point (no, not even when cleansing the temple. He used his whip to drive out the animals).

What would you suggest for a child who has a strong enough will that they don't cave? According to your instructions here, they will be hit harder and harder and harder... this is what was done to Lydia Schatz, who is now dead as a result. (And they didn't use a 'hard rod' either. They were using a whip-like instrument which caused invisible internal damage without leaving a mark).
If that is not your intention, at what point should a parent stop and what should they do then?
Do you believe this 'right spanking' is perfect for all children? What about, for example, a child adopted out of a highly abusive background who jumps at loud noises and shadows? What about the child of an abused adult who doesn't trust himself to do it 'right'?
For all those poor people who were not spanked and are now healthy functioning adults with great relationships with God and their parents, what do you believe they missed out on?

What if I don't see any Biblical evidence that God expects immediate, automatic obedience? What if I believe he meant it when he told us to count the cost (which takes time)? What if I believe he expects us to use the brain he gave us? What if I read the parable of the 2 sons in Mt 26 where Jesus specifically says that delayed obedience is obedience in his economy?

Throughout Scripture I see God wooing people to obedience, begging them to repent so that they avoid the coming wrath (which is the natural consequence of choosing a way that is not God's way, like being run over is a consequence of stepping in front of a bus) - not punishing them in an arbitrary way every single time they fail to obey.

AFA your 'chasten' quotes, first the Hebrews one: every other translation says 'discipline' (and the word discipline is related to the word disciple and means teach). There's a reason for that - the word in the Greek doesn't mean 'punish'. It is also very clear from the context of the whole chapter (eg v1, v3)and the whole book that he is talking about suffering for *doing right* not punishment for doing wrong.
In Rev, that word is also often translated discipline, but even if it is punishment, the verse itself implies that the punishment can be avoided by repentance ('turn therefore and repent') - so much for being punished at the first sign of disobedience.

Of course, in a small child, there is always room for doubt - just as they can't always do physically on one day what they were able to do the day (or minute!) before, there is no way to be truly sure that a given case of apparent disobedience is not in fact a case of delayed or failed linguistic processing. Therefore, based on your instruction 'if in doubt...' one would never really be justified in spanking a child under the age of 5 or 6. And no one who has disciplined to 5 without hitting their child is likely to think they need to start.

Claire in Tasmania said...

Sorry, it appears I have more to say...
"It is God who works in you both to will and to do according to his good pleasure."
Note what this doesn't say:
It is God who applies external unrelated punishments so consistently that your will is completely subverted to habitual, will-less compliance to his good pleasure." That is the picture you paint of 'right' spanking but it has no basis in the way God deals with us. Instead, you take your experience of spanking children into mindless compliance and read it into passages that are talking about something completely different. (Can you point me to any example in Scripture where you see God doing something analogous to the harder and harder spanking in the face of repeated disobedience you describe in your post? I can't think of one - God's punishments, when they happen, are true last resorts - and very permanent, ie deadly)

Also, I am not programming automatons, I'm raising adults whom I hope will be world-changers. I want my kids to be whistle-blowers (should the opportunity arise). Even though whistle-blowers invariably get hurt. A child who has been trained by punishment to immediate unthinking habitual obedience will grow into an adult in the habit of unthinking obedience for fear of painful consequences.

author@ptgbook.org said...

Thank you, Claire, for your comments. I will reply in a few days.

author@ptgbook.org said...

The rod in your picture looks like a weapon of war. You make a false implication when you imply that I endorse using something like that. Spanking young children should be be with the hand, not an object that can cause injury. I made it plain in my post that spanking should not cause injury.

You ask, what if you do not see evidence that God requires immediate, automatic obedience. Apparently you do not require immediate obedience in your children. That plus your careless ways with your words in implying I endorse using objects to strike children that can cause injury makes me doubt your statement that you have obedient, well-behaved children. I have no idea what your standard of what "obedient" and "well-behaved" means.

God teaches us to train our sons by punishment, as the Bible makes clear if you are willing to believe God. You may think you know a better way, but I think God knows best.

Jesus did not go around striking people. He did not come to rule but to teach those that the Father called and drew to Christ. He had no government authority to punish transgressors of the law. That was not His purpose in His first coming, but when He comes again to rule the earth, He will punish to teach lessons. In fact, as God of the Old Testament, Christ certainly did punish to teach lessons, and He will do so again when He returns. He also punishes God's children in the Church to teach them lessons, because He is the head of the Church.

A strong willed child should not be beaten so as to cause serious physical injury. But a child raised with right spanking will not likely be strong willed in disobedience to his parents.

What I describe as right spanking is for the normal case where parents raise the child from birth, not adopting a child who has been abused. With the kind of abused child you describe, spanking should probably not be used for a while until the child understands that his parents are not going to abuse him. The method must be adapted to the needs of the child, and wisdom and love are needed. The best thing for a parent in such a situation is to get good advice from wise parents who themselves have experience raising children from abusive backgrounds.

If a parent has been abused and does not trust himself to spank rightly, it may be better for that parent not to spank until he learns, perhaps from other parents who know, how to spank properly. But you are being one-sided in this. You ask about a parent who doesn't trust himself to spank because he doesn't know the right way to do it. But you do not ask about a parent who does not trust himself to teach proper behavior without spanking because he doesn't know how to do it.

author@ptgbook.org said...

Does God expect immediate, automatic obedience from us? That is God's goal. He wants to build in us the character that will obey Him automatically and immediately, and there is evidence in the Bible for this, though you don't see it. But God also knows that, like children from abusive backgrounds, the whole human race has been abused and deceived by Satan and Satan's evil influence, so He can be patient and give us time to learn our lessons.

But God certainly uses physical punishment to train His children, that is, Christians, and the whole human race. As an example, God is about to punish the United States and Britain with a very severe punishment that will be physical.

God wants to build in each of us the character of obedience that Jesus Christ had. Was Jesus instantly, immediately, "automatically" obedient to His Father in heaven? Yes, every time. Did Jesus use the brain that God gave Him? Yes. Yet you imply there is a conflict between immediate, automatic obedience and using our brains. There is no conflict.

You want an example in scripture of God using harder and harder punishment to teach obedience. I'll give you two, and you can look them up. See Leviticus 26:14-45. See also Revelation 9:13-21 and Revelation 16:8-12. Also read the book of Jonah for an example of how God punished Jonah until he was willing to obey.

Anonymous said...

If the Bible teaches first time obedience, then how do you explain Matthew 21:28-32. Also, none of your biblical interpretations on this topic are accurate. The biblical rod is what is pictured in the above comment. It was also a walking stick. If we are to interpret the Rod verses literally, then God says to beat the child with the rod. And where in the Bible does it say to spank "in love and without anger?" Finally, how does spanking line up with Galatians 5:22-6:2? You're right, satan is the great deceiver! It's sad how he has convinced soooo many Christians that Jesus' suffering on the cross was not enough to pay for our sins. That the youngest must suffer before they even purposely sin. Check out Matthew 18:1-15. Also, please don't insult parents who successfully bring up their children in The Lord without inflicting pain. They ARE well-behaved, godly children.

SusanJ said...

Hitting a child, or anyone, for any reason is wrong. Period. [Except as self defence, or defence of another]

Fathers/parents are warned not to exasperate/anger their children. If you cannot be polite, gentle, kind, helpful and gracefilled you most certainly WILL exasperate and anger them.

We are warned that whatever we do to a child, we do Christ/God. I am very sure He is not very pleased with being hurt this way.

We were warned that it would be better we have millstones tied around our necks and thrown into the ocean than to hurt a child. I believe that a LOT of millstones are going to be in use .....

Children, like the rest of us, do not need and should not be hit to show us how to grow up correctly.

I follow Christ's rules - to love God with all my heart, and to treat one another as I would like to be treated. God IS love. Hitting is never 'loving'. There is NO way to 'hit with love' it's an oxymoron. There is NO way to hit a child 'correctly' just as there is not way for me to hit you to teach you a lesson.

Would you hit me simply because I don't understand the locals here sometimes, as my grasp of Portuguese is not great yet ? No... so why hit a child who cannot possibly understand. If you can speak and explain - you can discipline, which means to teach NOT to hit - and help that child to grow up into good adults.

I am 58, my children were never hit and they are now great, kind, gentle adults and my grandchildren who also are not hit are gentle and loving and know that hitting ANY living being is wrong - especially a child or someoen smaller than them.

satan is exceptionally clever - and is laughing his socks off every time a parent hurts their child because they believe falsely that the Bible tells them to hit their children !!!

author@ptgbook.org said...

In Matthew 21:28-32, the first son refused, then repented. The second son never did obey, though He said he would. The lesson is, one who repents and turns from his sins is better than one who claims not to sin but does and never repents. This is not an example to teach us that we, like the first son, should refuse to obey, and then obey later. If you think that is the lesson, you do not understand the parable.

There is no conflict between spanking in love and Galatians 5:22-6:2. Right spanking is an act of love, which Galatians 5:22 teaches is a fruit of the Spirit of God.

The purpose of the death of Christ is to pay the penalty for our sins so we can be forgiven and not suffer the death penalty of our sins in the lake of fire. For that purpose, it is sufficient. But there is nothing in the Bible that indicates that the suffering and death Christ endured is a substitute for God's discipline in teaching mankind and the Church and helping to bring us to repentance when we do wrong, for our good.

Why should I take your word for it that children who are raised without the discipline of punishment to teach them right from wrong are "well-behaved" and "godly", especially since you seem to indicate in your comment that you think the first son's refusal to obey in Matthew 21:28-32, until he later repented, is a good example of obedience? How many times do you have to tell your children to obey before they obey? That is not godly, well-behaved, and obedient.

If God does not teach with punishment, how do you explain prophecies that show that God is about to punish the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand with a punishment so severe that about 90% will die in famine, disease, war and slavery, and the rest will be put to slave labor? This disaster will not just come upon those who are atheists or materialists, but upon 99% of religious people also, people who think they are Christians but are following their traditions and their opinions rather than the Bible. They read their opinions into the Bible, picking and choosing the scriptures to follow, and twisting those they do not want to follow, but they won't believe God.

author@ptgbook.org said...

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent" (Revelation 3:19).

"My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:5-11). Notice, the word "painful". The chastening God gives to those He loves is PAINful, yet you say it is wrong to cause a child to feel pain. Also, notice the word "scourge". He SCOURGES every son whom He receives. This is not talking about gentle words only, but strong punishment.

There is no conflict between these verses and the truth that Christ paid the penalty for our sins. The penalty Christ paid was so we would not go into the lake of fire. It does not mean that God no longer teaches us with punishment for our good.

"He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly" (Proverbs 13:24).

"Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell" (Proverbs 23:13).

Now, you can find a multitude of ways to twist these scriptures out of their intended meaning if you want to claim that God does not punish those He loves and that He does not teach us to punish our children to teach them right from wrong. But you are kidding yourselves, and you are believing your own opinions or traditions more than what God plainly says.

You are fulfilling Proverbs 14:12: "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." I don't doubt that you believe what you say. You passionately believe in your position, but you are wrong.

author@ptgbook.org said...

Here is a prophecy about the future for the United States and the English-speaking nations, something that will happen probably in the lifetimes of most people alive today, perhaps within ten to fifteen years, as punishment for our national and individual sins, such as abortion, Sabbath-breaking, and following pagan customs like Christmas and Easter rather than following the Bible:

"But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you. And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit. Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins. I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number; And your highways shall be desolate. And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins. And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant; then you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you; And you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied. And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you. I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas. I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste" (Leviticus 26:14-33).

Not only is this a prophecy for what God will do, but this is from Jesus Christ, because Christ was the God of the Old Testament. It was Christ who gave these words to Moses to write down, as a prophecy for what Christ will do in the future. It is Christ who will punish our nations with such a severe punishment. "For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Again, I ask, if God doesn't punish, why will He punish the English-speaking nations so severely in the near future?

Anonymous said...

Were you spanked? Because your insults are indicative of it. And you say that Jesus obeyed immediately. Then why did He cry out 3 times asking the Father to take the cup away from Him?? Yes, He said "Not My Will, but Thy Will be done." Well-behaved children do the right thing because it's right, not out of fear! Also, Jesus made it clear that the son who obeyed later was the obedient one. There are many who obey, but for the wrong reasons. In fact 1 John 4:16-18 says, " God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." So God doesn't want us to do things out of fear!

Also, 1 John 4:1-2 tells us to test the spirits. That means we must make sure it is from God. Sometimes satan tricks us.

You say that inflicting pain on a child is a fruit of the Spirit??? Spanking is not gentle, peaceful, kind, or joyful. And you do not answer about where your "rules" for "right spanking" come from.

As far as Revelation, that is for the wicked! Yes, God allows consequences in believer's lives as we reap what we sow (Galatians 6-9), but our God does not sit up there thinking up punishment. I have been a Christian since 1996 and I have never been punished. Convicted? Yes! Consequences? Yes! Physically hurt by God? NO!!! That's His amazing grace!!

Yes, I believe the US is reaping what it sowed. But God is not punishing the US.

You seem not open to gentle correction, so I won't be back to keep arguing with you. But God does not delight in evil, our pain, or our suffering (Ezekiel 18:23, 33:11; Psalm 5:4).

I leave you with Jesus' Words. By the way, Jesus IS God! Hence, He chose to come as a BABY, then to suffer and die!! The Godhead is 3 in One!

" 13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. [14] [b]

15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are." Matthew 23:13-14. God hates legalism and violence.

May you open your heart to the Holy Spirit and see that we have a loving, merciful God.

author@ptgbook.org said...

I have not insulted you, but I have told you the truth.

Any objective reader of this blog can see that you are proving my point about those who pick and choose the scriptures they want to follow and twist scriptures out of context to support their position. You have ignored the plain scriptures I quoted to you because you do not agree with them.

Claire in Tasmania said...

So firstly, I didn't mean to 'imply that I endorse using something like that'. In your article you said "I assume the rod is a flexible whip that cannot cause damage..." (approximately - the way Blogger is set up I can't c/p a direct quote). I was correcting your inaccurate assumption and pointing out its inaccurate conclusion. Likewise, I realise you don't endorse or intend this sort of harm, I wasn't suggesting you do. I was pointing out that it happens, whether you (and other spanking advocates) intend it or not.

AFA the scriptures you mention, once again we come to an impasse because I really don't read them as you do. However, for you to say that we non-spankers are therefore picking and choosing, while you use the plain meaning is the pot calling the kettle black. Here's an example: Several times it has been pointed out to you that a) the context of Heb 12:5 is the passage immediately prior, including verse 1 and 3 as well as the Hall of Faith in Heb 11 - ie suffering persecution. You, however, consistently start any quote at v5 because that fits better with your interpretation. You also consistently interpret with a punitive hermeneutic - that is, you expect God to punish, so when you see something painful, or when you see fathers 'disciplining (or chastening)' their children, you see it as punishment and then use that as evidence to support your punitive hypothesis (circular reasoning).

Claire in Tasmania said...

Now, I do the same thing - I read with a grace-based hermeneutic - but I admit that, while you think what you read is what 'God plainly says' and anyone who disagrees with you must be deliberately twisting Scripture to suit themselves. Of course, I believe my grace-based hermeneutic is more right - as in closer to God's character - but I'm not actually accusing you of deliberately twisting Scripture. I'm sad for you that you see God that way.
Yes, Gods wrath is being poured out on the ungodly. His children, though, he disciplines in love. Did Jonah go to Nineveh because he feared the consequences if he didn't, or because he realised he had done wrong and repented? God gave him a time-in (and incidentally used the opportunity to save a shipload of Pagans <3) and waited until Jonah was willing to do right.
What I mean when I say my children are obedient is this: When my son rode his bike off the footpath into the car park, having looked both ways and decided it was safe (and he was right) I did not feel comfortable with that. I said, "LB, come here." and even though he disagreed with me, and we both knew he really was safe - he came, without delay, because I am his mother. (This is one recent example that I was really impressed with, that doesn't mean it is a solitary example - he obeys me almost all the time). However, I do not call initial resistance disobedience. Delayed obedience is still obedience.
Your description of training a child is to get them to reach a place of unthinking habit. I would call that a habit of compliance. I believe real obedience comes from a decision of the will. There is no honour for a parent in a child who complies from habit or fear. You can only honour your parents by obeying them with a choice from your heart. I do use a certain amount of habit-training with my kids (but you don't need to use punishment in the training of children any more than you need to use it to train dogs) but that is to teach them that my words have meaning. The consequence if they are unable to obey in a given instance is that I will give them age-appropriate help (remember when Jesus called the Holy Spirit 'another helper'? <3). This teaches them that what Mummy says, happens. There are lots of ways to do this without inflicting pain - it can even be fun :) But the purpose is not to *teach obedience* but, more than anything, to teach language and skills which lead to obedience. (btw, wrt someone who doesn't feel confident to teach without punishment, I was that person - so I got support and information from wise gentle Christian mothers who had been there. But here's the thing, *every* parent, spanker or not, needs to do that - otherwise we have the saying 'if all you have is a hammer...')
afa good behaviour, that is an entirely subjective/cultural thing, and you and I are from different cultures, so I won't try to tell you what I personally mean by it, I'll simply say that my children fit my definition. I will also point out that good behaviour cannot be taught by being hit. It can only be taught by modelling and scripting. If you hit someone for failing to behave the appropriate way for their context, they still need to be told what to do right next time - once again, spanking is at best a distraction.
God has always kept a remnant of righteous through episodes of wrath. That doesn't mean he was punishing his children, it means he was keeping them. The NT consistently encourages us to view suffering as God's refining, not is punishment (do a word search of 'suffering' and you'll see what I mean). Therefore, the presence of Christians in any given tribulation does not mean that the Christians are being punished.

Like anonymous above, I will not be back. I've said everything I have to say. I hope God reveals himself to us both more and more.

author@ptgbook.org said...

Claire, you didn't say if you would not be back to read or just not back to reply, because you said you have said all you have to say. Is that the only reason you participated in this discussion, to have your say, to voice your opinion, but not learn anything? And now that you have said everything on your mind, you don't want to read anymore? If so, you won't be reading this, but I will reply just in case you do, and for others who may read this.

Part of the problem with this discussion and others like it is that in any one comment or reply many individual points and issues are thrown up. Then the next person replying may answer some of them, but not all of them. Important issues can get lost in a forest of issues as commenters jump from one thing to another. So for anyone who wants to continue this discussion, I will focus on one point first. We can talk about other things later, but for now, let's focus on one thing and not get sidetracked.

Some have said that God does not punish those He loves to teach lessons, that God never causes pain. If that is the case, how can you explain this scripture? I have already quoted it before, but I will quote it again for emphasis, to focus on this one issue, and for the moment set aside the other things and focus on this one thing. Then I will answer the question Claire raised about the context as shown in Hebrews 12:1-3 and chapter 11 which precedes it.

"My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:5-11). Notice, the word "painful". The chastening God gives to those He loves is PAINful, yet you say it is wrong to cause a child to feel pain. Also, notice the word "scourge". He SCOURGES every son whom He receives. This is not talking about gentle words only, but strong punishment.

author@ptgbook.org said...

What kind of "chastening" is God talking about? Is it just experiencing the trials and suffering that naturally or automatically come as a consequence of our sins or the sins of others, or is it God's deliberate, purposeful act to bring suffering on us to teach us a lesson? Notice these characteristics:

1. It comes directly from God, not the natural consequences that come automatically. "For whom the Lord loves He chastens." The statement, "And scourges every son whom He receives", also pictures God's chastening as a direct act, not a natural consequence of events. Also, it is compared with the chastening sons receive from their human fathers, and again this is a direct act by fathers towards their children, not just a natural consequence of events.

2. It is an act of love when God chastens us and it is particularly directed towards those God loves, not everyone. "For whom the Lord loves He chastens." This is also made clear by the statement, "But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons."

3. This act, directly from God, causes pain, either mental or physical, because it is symbolized by "scourging". People have no problem understanding what "scourging" means when it is used in reference to the beating Christ endured. A scourge is a kind of whip with hard or sharp objects embedded in it like pieces of metal, and it is designed to rip the flesh. It is an instrument of punishment, designed for the sole purpose of inflicting pain. Moreover, the passage above confirms that this chastening from God causes pain, for it says, "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful".

4. The purpose of the chastening, or punishment, is for training in righteousness. "It yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

So this passage teaches that God deliberately and purposefully inflicts suffering, not just the suffering that comes as an automatic result of events. He does this from a motive of love, to train His own children in righteousness.

author@ptgbook.org said...

Does the context of Hebrews 11 and Hebrews 12:1-3 change this? No. The overall context is willingness to endure suffering. Hebrews chapter 11 and Hebrews chapter 12:1-3 deals with the suffering that comes as a natural result of the sins or others or our own sins, but not necessarily directly caused by God. But starting in Hebrews 12:5, the author of Hebrews addresses suffering caused directly by God as a punishment to teach lessons. Notice the word "and" in the sentence that starts this passage: "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons". That word "and" indicates something new, something IN ADDITION to the kind of suffering described in Hebrews 11 and Hebrews 12:1-3, follows, something different, otherwise it would not say, "and". It is not exactly the same thing. Hebrews is talking about enduring suffering in this passage and the chapter before, but there are two kinds. Chapter 11 and chapter 12 verses 1 through 3 deal with one kind of suffering, the suffering that is the natural result of trials of this life and the persecution from others. Hebrews 12:5-11 deals with a different category of suffering, the kind inflicted directly God to punish us to teach us lessons for our good. The word "and" at the beginning of verse 5 marks the transition.

But it is not as if the lessons of faith in chapter 11 do not apply to Hebrews 12:5-11. It takes faith to accept the punishment God inflicts on us, because it takes faith to trust God that He is punishing us for our good, from a motive of love.

I am trying to focus on this one issue, does God punish those He loves. And I am focusing first on this passage so we do not jump all over the place in this discussion. After talking about Hebrews 12:5-11, if other scriptures are needed to discuss the question, does God punish those He loves to train them, then we can bring other scriptures into the discussion of this question. And after we have discussed the question of God punishing those He loves and resolved that, if we can, then we can go to other topics such as child training, etc.

Claire, if you read this I hope you will reply. We don't have to end the discussion this quick. I have an open mind, but I have to go by the scriptures. If you think I am wrong, the only way to convince me is by the Bible. I am not twisting things. You say you hope God will reveal Himself to us more, but He reveals Himself through the Bible, and we both have to look to the Bible for answers and be willing to be corrected by it.

Anonymous said...

author, from what I understand; there is a segment of parents that know well enough to stay away from both extremes. That spanking is the be all and end all of childrearing compared to spanking is wrong and abusive which will scare a child for life.

My general opinion is that your view is much closer to the middle narrow road than those claiming spanking is utterly wrong.


author@ptgbook.org said...

You are absolutely right that there needs to be a right balance. And spanking isn't everything. There needs to be conversation and the teaching that comes from talking and listening and sharing thoughts about everything. There needs to be praise and rewards for good behavior. Parents need to set the right example and let their children see that example.

Spanking should be a part of that mix. But I have found that if it is consistant and fair, the child learns obedience so well that he or she rarely needs to be spanked. And there are other forms of discipline too, such as time-outs, suspension of priviledges, etc., and these can sometimes be effective, depending on the child.

But I am noticing that some opponents of spanking are not just against corporal punishment but against all punishments. Their reasoning is theological, that because Christ paid for our sins, we are under grace and God never punishes us so we should not punish our children. But that is wrong, according to the Bible.

author@ptgbook.org said...

Some, who have no respect for the word of God, say the Bible can be used to justify anything, even that which is evil. That is only true if you use the Bible dishonestly. Anything can be misused. If you use the Bible honestly letting the Bible interpret itself, the Bible never justifies what is evil.