Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Britain May Make Spanking Illegal

Article on Spanking in Britain

Britain is considering outlawing spanking. Many other nations already have outlawed it, and I believe the U.S. is headed in the same direction.

The Bible is incredibly clear on this point, but it's not as simple as "spanking is good," and I think that's where many people run into trouble when thinking about spanking.

First, Christian parenting should reflect the character of God and be obedient to His commands. What is God's character? He is defined as love:

1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

This begs the question, though--what is love? Love is a fundamentally misunderstood concept, though perhaps nothing else has been the subject of more writing and rumination. According to the Bible, love is not a warm feeling; it's not getting whatever you want, or giving someone whatever they want; it's not physical affection. God repeatedly defines love for us in the Bible, and what's especially important is to know how to love HIM. How do we love God?

1 John 5:2-3
This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.

So love, in a very basic and rudimentary way, has to do with obedience. If we don't obey God, we don't really love Him and can never be in relationship with Him. He enables us to obey by cleansing us and giving us everything we need for life and godliness, but we must choose to obey Him in order to say we love Him.

What does that say about parenting?

Look at the facts: we are all sinners; we have all fallen short of the glory of God and are doomed to Hell because of our own rebellion against a loving Maker. What has God done? He sent Jesus to die for us, so we could be redeemed from a deserved death and begin life as children of God.

1 John 4:9-10
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1. God made a way for us to be able to obey Him. He did this out of His love and tenderness toward us--He desires NO ONE to perish. He loves the world, even though His wrath abides on those who rebel against Him. That's why He sent His Son.
2. Once we are in Christ, God expects obedience--He has enabled us to obey Him and desires us to walk in loving closeness with Him.
3. There is chastisement for every child of God.

Hebrews 12:5-7
And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

Christians should parent as God does: lovingly, tenderly, firmly--always guiding the child toward godliness. Sometimes this is done with words; sometimes with the "rod," which is not condoned but commanded by Scripture. If you do not spank, you hate your child. That's not me talking, but the Word of God.

Proverbs 13:24
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Proverbs 22:15
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

There are many scriptures on the rod, and I won't list them all. Suffice it to say that a Biblical understanding of discipline will include the use--the loving and careful use--of the rod. Spanking should never be done in anger or in retaliation. It is a tool of discipline, with the design of breaking a child's rebellion to help him, later, not seek to rebel against God. To help him understand that sin always has consequences, and those consequences are invariably painful. The ultimate consequence for sin is Hell. A permissive parent allows his child to believe that his sin has no repercussions.

Don't ever forget that children desperately need and desire boundaries. That's why the shepherd's staff is a comfort--it's not a torture device.

Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

I praise God for His lovingkindness and for His discipline. I pray the U.S. does not quickly follow the steps of other nations in this matter.

Other resources:
No Greater Joy
Shepherding a Child's Heart


TulipGirl said...

Actually, I think you are putting on your 20th Century Generic North American Protestant glasses when you say that the Bible mandates spanking.

You see "rod" and "chastise" and think "spank."

If you want to read the Proverbs literally, you'll be using a heavy, thick, shepherd's-type staff on the back of your child. And wait--looking at it literally, is it something commanded to hit your young child with it? Or is it only for "fools" and teens?

I'm just trying to illustrate that what you are reading as "clear" in the Bible is you reading those verses figuratively, not literally.

And if you are interpreting them as figurative, then I ask you to extend grace to your Brothers and Sisters who also read them figuratively to signify God's command to parents to discipline faithfully their children--but not spank.

Also, I'm curious, do you believe the Bible commands us to punish our children for their sins?

Anyway, I've written this very straightfowardly, but I'm in no way condemning you. *grin* I'm sure you dearly love your children and are raising them to the glory of God.

You might be interested in reading more here:

Kristen said...

Thanks for your comments, TulipGirl.

I see where you're coming from but don't agree with your interpretation of 'rod.' First, though, I do want to clarify something: no, spanking does not 'atone' for the sin of a child. It is a method of discipline that, lovingly implemented, will help them understand right from wrong, and that sin has consequences.

In the Bible, the word 'rod' is clearly used to mean something used to strike in discipline.

Let's look at a couple of passages:

Prov 10:13
Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment.

Prov 13:24
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Here is the CLEAREST scripture to help us understand 'rod.' The context is disciplining a child:

Prov 23:13
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.

It's talking about spanking. I choose not to argue with the Word of God--His ways are higher than ours, and He has understanding we don't. He is the manufacturer, so I'm going to live by His handbook.

Thanks again for posting. :)