Child discipline is an issue today that is quickly being taken over by worldly psychologists and child-advocates who think that spanking a child or administering any kind of coporal punishment is child abuse. Yet from what we see in Proverbs today, child abuse should be defined a little differently. It should be defined as those who refuse to apply the rod of discipline to their children in a loving way so as to train them to be unselfish.
The rod is mentioned here - and is it mentioned because the parent is supposed to apply the rod to the child's rear-end in a controlled way for the purpose of training that child properly. This is to be done without a fit of anger or rage - for disciplining under that kind of spirit will often lead to over-disciplining a child - or hitting them out of anger - rather than out of a desire to train and teach. The wise man and woman discipline their child - because to refrain from discipline is to hate your child. These are strong words - and need to be examined.
When we refuse to discipline a child - we are leaving them to the dictates of their sinful nature. Contrary to the world-view of modern psychology, the Bible does not teach that man is basically good. The Bible teaches that we are evil because of man's fall into sin. Because of that event - and the effect it had on all mankind - we are basically selfish and self-centered. Left on our own, we will become little monsters who demand our own way. There is also another problem with the sinful nature and the way it works in our hearts. The natural man does not submit himself to rules or authority very well. A child will learn to say, "No" early in life, and needs to be trained to submit to authority and to rules. Our sinfulness has us react to rules by wanting to buck them and do our own thing. This needs to be an area of child training. We need to teach our children to obey - and to submit to the authority that is over them. Without this they will not function well in society. When a child learns to be obedient, learns to be respectful, learns to work hard and be selfless in his attitude and actions it is a blessing to all those around him. Consider what an entire society would look like with this kind of parenting?
The Bible says that we need to discipline our children "diligently." I will be honest with you - that this is difficult to do. At times I would only discipline my children when they annoyed me enough to merit my all-important time and effort. Hope you got the sarcasm in that statement. Disciplining your children diligently requires a full commitment to seeing character and godliness developed in them. You cannot just discipline them when you get mad because they are making your life difficult. Discipline requires a full commitment of your life.
This may seem like a lot, but let me give another testimony about this kind of child-rearing. We have 6 children - 2 guys and 4 girls. We are not model parents by any stretch of the word. God has given us much grace as we stumbled and tried our best in this whole thing called parenting. But one thing we have noticed is that when you give yourself to parenting after this model - you truly enjoy being with your children throughout your life. We love being with our kids - and have the best time when we are. They are a delight to our hearts. I remember sharing with someone in a grocery store that we have 6 children. Her response was whether we were still sane - and how much Prozac we needed to handle that many kids. I smiled when she said this, but quickly stated that our kids were a delight - and that God gave us much grace and that is what helped us rear 6 kids. That is the joy of living this way and rearing your children. It is a blessing not only to your children as they mature - but it is a blessing to you and your wife as well. The truth is that God is maturing not just your kids - He is maturing you as well.
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.