Just a warning as I begin today's Proverb of the day . . . those who hold that any type of physical punishment on a child is child abuse will be greatly offended at the wisdom God gives us today. With that said - I will go on record as supporting the spanking of a disobedient and rebellious child. We've done it with all six of ours and they seem to have adjusted well - none of them are ax murderers or any other kind of violent offenders.
All this being said - mostly tongue in cheek - there are proverbs about child rearing that I find humorous. This is one of them. This proverb begins by saying that we do not need to hold back discipliine from a child. This is actually one of the most "unloving" things you can do to your child. You are ensuring that the child will be used to getting his or her own way - and that they will indeed be a spoiled brat as they grow older. At the very least, you are making sure they will be selfish - and that the lessons they should have learned early in life will be learned with much harder lessons later in life.
All children are born selfish and self-centered. This is due to the fall of man into sin. I realize that this particular view runs counter to most educational models of this present world. They believe that man is basically good and that if we just get out of man's way with our oppressive rules and regulations - man would find his own way to the next level of evolution. The Bible teaches that man is fallen - and that given his own way that man will ruin himself eventually. We watch this in our world in general from year to year - decade to decade - and millenium to millenium. But we can watch the same thing with a child. Every child needs discipline. Some will seem to more naturally be given to disicpline - while others are terrors from birth. You can be assured of a different ride based on the basic temperment of the child - but all need discipline.
What I find funny about this passage is the next statement. "Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die." Some will try to argue that the rod refers to the mouth or some other ridiculous translation stretch. The rod refers to a stick or switch or some other instrument which you use to strike the child. The word "strike" here is the Hebrew "nakah" and it means to strike or to smite. It speaks of a physical strike. Now the intent here is not to damage the child - but to sting the child with the spanking so as to administer a physical response to disobedience. As the child grows older the striking or smiting should be eventually replaced with reason and understanding. But when they are little the physical pain is to direct them away from the wrong - and eventually into the right as their reasoning skills grow. They learn obedience from what they suffer in this part of being disciplined. What I find funny - is that the Bible tells us that the child won't die when you strike him or her. First, that should tell us that the intent is not to damage the child - but it also reminds me of the way a couple of my kids reacted to being spanked. Some would do all they could to not register any kind of response. Others though could have won an academy award with theirs. You would think they were about to die with the way they carried on about the spanking. We would talk and remind them why they were being disciplined - and afterward would hug them and remind them that we loved them. But during - oh, during the discipliine one would have thought that they were about to die. I think this statement here is for parents - to remind them that some of us do have the more dramatic children who will pitch a fit over their discipline.
The second verse - verse 14 then reminds us of the reason for the discipline in the first place. We will strike our child with the rod - and rescue them from Sheol. Sheol is the place of the dead - it is the place where punishment is given until the final day of judgment. If left to themselves, children will run the way of their sin nature. They will not come to Christ on their own - neither will they often see the value of godly discipline and godly character. Character is not a given in a child (or an adult for that matter). Character is built from times of discipline and molding. Those moments honestly, are usually more painful that many of us would like to admit.
To withhold discipline and spankings from a child is actually a cruel thing to do. Life is eventually going to administer discipline to us. We face it every day. Waking up in time to get to work is discipline. There are days when I do not find it pleasurable - but I discipline myself to do it for the good. Eating properly and exercising for my health can be a discipline that is not enjoyable. I would prefer eating 25 chocolate chip cookies - but discipline myself not to for the good in the end. I learn to exercise because the 30-40 minutes of discipline results in an entire day feeling good and being able to live a longer, healthier life. Rearing a child to think that discipline is not a part of life is cruel. They grow up wrongly thinking that everything is going to be easy and fun. I am not one of those who think we should make all learning fun. To be honest - some learning is just - well learning. It is hard to memorize - but it bears such wonderful fruit. It is hard to discipline myself to read 4 chapters of the Word every day - but it has yielded a strategic grasp of the Bible I could not have gotten any other way. Discipline is part of life. Proverbs itself tells me that reproofs for discipline is the way of life. If we lived in a pefect world where selfishness and self-centeredness were not affecting us - we could live in a world without discipline. But we do not. We live in a world where people are selfish - where we ourselves our selfish. That is why we need discipline. And those who receive it early in life from loving parents are far better off than those who think they are blessing their children by withholding it.
POSTSCRIPT: Recently, individuals have quoted articles from this section and stated that we teach child abuse at Calvary Chapel Jonesboro. To this I feel the need to respond. First, biblically, we are told that if we have a problem with our brother to go to our brother - not the internet - and confront our brother. To date, these individuals have yet to contact me to discuss these things. That should say volumes in itself.
Second, we do not teach child abuse at our fellowship. This blog is an endeavor to teach what is in the Bible for the edification and upbuilding of God's people. Anyone who has been to our fellowship knows that in our classrooms we administer NO physical discipline. We correct with words and with "time outs" and eventually with a report to parents. From our nursery throughout every age group our people are instructed NEVER to administer physical discipline. We believe this right alone belongs to a parent. Even then we teach the following about any application of physical discipline.
Discipline is about the heart of a child. Physical or corporal punishment is ONLY to be administered in a spirit of love for the child. Teaching and loving verbal correction is key - as is prayer for the child's eventual salvation in Jesus Christ. Any physical punishment administered due to anger or rage is out of line and wrong. The parent is to discipline the child with appropriate discipline - not abuse. In the end the child should be taught - and in every circumstance hugged, loved, and prayed with after any physical punishment to assure them of our love. The idea of a "beating" is completely out of step with what the Scriptures are teaching. Instead the idea of loving discipline is intended.