Ah, we come to the NOT-Dr. Spock proverb. If you do not know who Dr. Spock is the first thing I should tell you is that he is not the pointy-eared science officer from the Star Trek series. He is a child psychologist from the 1960's who announced to the world through his writings that spanking a child was wrong. Unfortunately an entire generation decided that he was right (after all he is a psychologist!) and that God was wrong. If you are wondering the results of that choice, take a look at our society today.
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. This is a view that is also rejected by the vast majority of psychologists and educators today. We are told that we need to let children "express themselves." When we try to impose our views upon them - we are only warping them in our image. I can only tell you that when we add a biblical worldview to the practice of guiding and disciplining a child - people in the academic world tend to go ballistic. But the biblical fact is, well . . . fact.
The Bible reprents mankind as fallen and ruined due to sin. That includes little ones fresh out of the womb. I know that it is very easy to look at little ones and think, "Oh, they are so cute - they're just little angels." The problem is that they are NOT little angels. The Biblical view is that they are little fools - and will remain that way unless we apply the rod of discipline in their lives. Children will basically be selfish and self-centered. The will have a tendency toward sin - and if left to themselves without discipline will become little tyrants. Some will howl with disapproval for this statement saying that not all children are this way. I've helped rear six children and would be the first to say that different children have different ways that they express their sinful nature - but every one of them needed discipline to keep from being fools. Some of my children were active in their rebellion - others were passive in how they disobeyed - but without a doubt they all disobeyed naturally.
God's Word says that what we are after is their hearts. Note that we read that foolishness is bound up in a child's heart. We are not aiming for their bottoms - although that is where the discipline usually is administered. We are aiming for their hearts. We want them to see that they are fallen and that they need God. We want them to see that they are foolish and need the wisdom of God. We want them to see that they are sinful and need the forgiveness of God. We also want them to see that they are bound in sin and desperately need the deliverance of God. Finally, we need for them to see that they are fatally flawed and need the regeneration of God that comes with salvation. They need their "heart of stone" to be replaced at salvation with the heart of flesh that God promises in the new covenant.
One reason we do this is because they must learn that discipline is the way of life. God will continue to discipline them as Hebrews 12:5-9 says. If we are His children - we WILL be disciplined. Thus we are to be trained by our parents early to learn to receive discipline and to learn from it. The rod of discipline is applied to help remove the foolishness from our hearts. As it does its work, we will grow in wisdom and understanding - and will learn to put away foolish things from our lives.
There are some who will argue that the "rod" mentioned here is just words. But the word itself means a rod or stick - a club or the stick in a spear. I will not argue with those who say that at times God refers to the rod of His mouth. But when it comes to child training there are other passages in Proverbs that make it clear that we are to spank our children in disciplining them. This being said, I will also state clearly that over-spanking a child is abuse - and that God's Word refers to "LOVING" discipline that should be administered. Simply grabbing a child and swatting them is very ineffective. There should be instruction, clear boundaries, discipline, as well as reassuring love that is given after any kind of spanking that is given to a child. Our children need to know that we are not disciplining them because they are annoying us. We are discplining them so that they will become pliable in the hands of God - and so that they will learn not to embrace foolishness when it presents itself in their minds or through their friends and aquaintences. This is the kind of discipline that will train up that child. It is also the kind that will help them love their parents - and later the Lord for what He is doing. They will see that this is a very positive thing done out of love and always done with their ultimate best interests in mind.
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.