A Biblical Perspective on Spanking, Part 1

Father and son

Especially in light of increasing public pressures not to spank children, parents are legitimately questioning whether or not spanking should be a part of their repertoire. As parents who seek to train up our children as God has prescribed, we must look to His word as our authoritative source for parental training. Thankfully, the Bible has much to say regarding parental discipline. But can it bring clarity to the question of spanking? Does the Bible teach that parents should spank their children?

I believe yes, and yes—but with very specific parameters and limitations. The Bible is quite clear about disciplinary method, purpose, and results. Biblical discipline is always to be conducted in love and for the purpose of the growth and godliness of the one being disciplined. It is never punishment, and never abusive. It is painful, yes, but should never be harmful. Over the course of five articles I will consider in detail five very direct passages pertaining to the physical disciplining of children: Proverbs 13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14, and 29:15, and Hebrews 12:5-13.

As this series begins, I must preface it by noting that many events of the Hebrew Bible take place under the economy of the Mosaic Law, and because that Law governed Israel as a nation and not church-age believers of today, we need to be cautious to properly understand Old Testament context. We certainly don’t want to misapply a principle or a mandate. But the book of Proverbs makes things relatively simple. Proverbs is filled with universal truths not restricted to any particular era or economy, but broadly applicable to God’s people in any age. So, we begin there.

He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently. (NASB, Prov. 13:24)

The Hebrew shebet, references a rod or staff, used typically in the pastoral setting as a physical restrainer and teacher for the governing of a flock. The one who hates his son is withholding (Heb., cho-sek, participle) the rod from, or refraining to use the rod on his son.

Hate (Heb., sane) is a prominently used word indicating a disposition one might have toward an enemy. In a literal grammatical-historical understanding, the meaning of the phrase is crystal clear: withholding the rod of discipline is simply hateful toward a child.

By contrast, the one who is loving (Heb., ahav—here in the participle form) his son disciplines diligently. The Hebrew shahar (is diligent) is a verb in the Piel stem—a stem that is intensive or emphatic. The phrase could be accurately translated as, “The one loving his son is a very, very diligent discipliner.” A discipliner in this phrase is contrasted with the withholder of the rod in the previous one. The simple question implied for parents is this: “Do we or do we not love our children?” We do so (at least in part) by providing them discipline (Heb., noun, musar—reproof, chastening, or correction). In this context there is but one litmus test for parental love.

Some practical implications

While we can’t yet flesh out a functionally comprehensive understanding of the Biblical perspective on spanking until we have examined all the related passages and considered them synthetically, there are some principles immediately evident from this first passage:

(1) Proper discipline is associated with the use of the rod. How much and how forcefully, and when to apply the rod and for what purpose, are issues not addressed in this particular passage. We can’t even assert from this passage that the rod should be the exclusive method of discipline. Such an assertion goes beyond the text itself. Nonetheless, the association of the rod to proper discipline is undeniable.

(2) Proper discipline is associated with love. The reasons are not explained in this verse, but the only passages in Proverbs that mention parental love (3:12 and 13:24) describe the expression of that love in terms of discipline. Whereas punishment may be associated with retribution and wrath, discipline is not related to those ideas.

(3) Proper discipline is not described here in terms of abuse or causing harm, nor is it described as punishment. Likewise, God does not punish His children; instead He disciplines them. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), and punishment is related to condemnation. On the other hand, discipline is for training up in righteousness—and that is an important part of every believer’s walk. Since God exemplifies righteous fatherhood, we should, of course, seek to emulate His approach with His children: discipline is to be conducted as an expression of love for the spiritual well-being of the child, and punishment should have no place in the parental vocabulary of the believer.

We begin, then, to catalog the principles, until we have examined each of the related passages in order to understand how the principles complement one another, and finally to address the questions of how spanking is to be utilized by the believer, if at all.

While I hope to clarify some of these things as the series progresses, I challenge readers not to wait for me—and not to simply rely on my words, but rather to search these things out on their own. If these articles accomplish anything at all, I hope they challenge readers (1) to value the Scriptures as the ultimate guide for parenting (and even life itself) and (2) to be diligent in searching its pages.

[node:bio/christopher-cone body]

13703 reads

There are 60 Comments

Rachel L.'s picture

Thanks for that, Aaron.

This caught my eye (no doubt because of the post right before yours):

Quote:
The primary test of what kind of pain/negative consequence (a.k.a. "rod") a parent uses is effectiveness.

May I conclude then, that you have no problem with my non-spanking discipline methods since I can assure you that they are effective?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Aaron Blumer wrote:

5. I can't find any basis in Scripture or experience for the idea that physical pain is worse than other kinds of pain. (Experience suggest the opposite is true!)

This is obviously only anecdotal, but my experience certainly bears out this observation. When I was very young, I couldn't imagine a worse punishment than a spanking. As I got older, I quickly started to realize that the spanking was the *best* punishment from my point of view. The consequences were much more temporary than even having my mouth washed out with soap (which usually lasted well into the next day), or loss of privileges, which could last weeks or more, and also resulted in shaming in front of anyone who found out, whereas a spanking from my parents could be kept completely private.

By the time I was a teen, spanking was almost completely ineffective, since it was pretty easy to bear (remember, unlike caning, spanking doesn't really have lasting consequences, and doesn't cause permanent injury), and as a result, my parents used it much less frequently. It was much more effective (for me) when I was a small child. I certainly agree that physical pain (not referring to God's variety that will be used in eternal punishment) was NOT the worst type of pain I could experience when I was punished.

Dave Barnhart

Anne Sokol's picture

I actually printed out this list and have been thinking about it. I have some comments and questions.

First I wanted to say that discipline is essentially a positive thing, though it is not at times or even usually pleasant. I mean that discipline, broadly, is the whole scope of what we impart to the disciplined one. Learning to brush your teeth every day is a form of discipline, for example. Learning to obey habitually is a discipline. I, as a mother, am asking God to teach me the discipline of speaking in kind, respectful tones of voice to my children, for example. This is a really hard experience for me, painful in the sense of having to humble my fleshly responses to become submitted to let Christ's thoughts and mindset come through me. I am also being disciplined by the responsibilties of having the care of home and children--the tasks of constantly cooking and cleaning, for example, don't come naturally and require discipline on my part, self-control, giving up what I would much rather be doing and hopefully finding the joy of being with Christ in the denial of self for the sake of serving others.

I mean to say that discipline is a lot more than mainly pain infliction and negativity.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Parental discipline involves, at minimum, the intentional use of negative consequences for wrong behavior.
What makes a consequence "negative" from the child's point of view is the pain of it.
Pain takes many forms from disappointment, to loss, to grief, to sorrow, to temporarily sore backside.
I will leave most of this for now, but I will point out that pain is also just the struggle with the flesh, making myself do what I don't really want to do at the moment in order to gain a greater good goal. To use Paul's analogy, athletes do a lot of painful (in a healthy way) things to their bodies to make them fit for winning. It's discipline, it's most of what discipline is about.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Pain and "harm" (or "injury") are not the same thing and must be distinguished (the way many lump them together is intellectually dishonest).
I can agree with that strictly, but it also should be said that, just as you pointed out that pain can take many forms, inflicting pain in a non-injuring way can be tricky--what if you're not physically causing deformity or breaking bones or causing kidney failure, but causing real harm in a different form that you cannot see?
Aaron Blumer wrote:
I can't find any basis in Scripture or experience for the idea that physical pain is worse than other kinds of pain. (Experience suggest the opposite is true!)
I don't know that Scripture directly addresses this either, but this is what the issue of physical-intentional-pain-infliction-of-small-children came down to for me Scripturally: I did a study of all the times in Scripture that small children are mentioned and how God portrays small children to us, and what His own communicated-to-us thoughts are about small children. . . . That is how I came to my personal conviction of finding non-striking, non-adversarial, non-promoting-my-own-power ways of guiding my children into good disciplines. (I am sadly far from perfect at denying myself those things, but it's how I am trying to have God's heart toward young children.)

Aaron Blumer wrote:
The primary test of what kind of pain/negative consequence (a.k.a. "rod") a parent uses is effectiveness.
Pragmatically, I agree with this. Theoretically, I am not sure I do, and I'm not sure you do either, if you think about it. If the method seems to work, then it's OK?

For example, I used to say all day long, "S, if you don't do X, then I will spank you." S would immediately comply. This threat worked effectively. But it was a dark, negative time of mothering for me. It worked, but it wasn't good.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Small children readily understand pain as an immediate consequence in situations where other kinds of correction are confusing (because of the level of thinking required to connect act to consequence).
I really disagree with this from my day-to-day experience. For example, our little 3yo nephew lives with us, has lived with us for over a month now. I'm teaching him to obey me. So yesterday, he throws this Christmas tree ornament on the floor, and starts to just crawl away. I say, "K, please pick up the ornament and bring it to me." He refuses. So I scoop him up and set him on the couch and say, "when you are ready to pick up the ornament, then you can get down and go play." He understands perfectly. He sulks a bit and lays there. I can't remember if he cried. Then after a few moments, he gets the ornament, gives it to me, and goes to play.

Now, I didn't cause him any type of physical pain. I'm just trying to gently but firmly teach him that mommy's words need to be obeyed. Also, I have noticed that many times, my children are trying to communicate something else when they refuse to obey. And I can usually tell it now, what's going on. So obedience is still necessary, but I also try to meet the real need that is being communicated by the disobedience.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Kids need to begin developing moral perspective (to think in terms of right vs. wrong) long before they are old enough to understand the gospel (the gospel is predicated on "wrong" and "sin" being terms that carry real meaning).
I'm not sure this is true. By the time a child can grasp the "moral" reason they are obeying or not, they can also grasp the gospel, that Jesus died for the bad things I do.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
The use of real discipline (a.k.a., negative consequences, etc.) is not compatible incompatible with teaching the gospel. There is no disjunction between the two.
Maybe it depends on what one is really emphasizing in the gospel. What is the gospel? That Christ lived a sinless life for my account; He died bearing the punishment for my sinful life; now I follow in His steps by living a servant-life of love to God and others (which includes obedience).

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Finally, even in a soteriologically-driven approach to parenting, it's evident that sinners must learn law before they can learn grace. Good parenting begins with law, and teaches grace in that context.
But really, to me this seems to put one on a hopeles circle. The law shows us that we can never ever measure up. The law is to teach my kids their hopelessness of ever being able to obey it fully. So I would be punishing them for not achieving something they can never achieve . . . . Grace is that Christ obeyed the law on our behalf; that we are free from that heavy burden and free to obey for love of Christ, though the obedience is always imperfect.

Two other issues that should be addressed in this are 1) using fear (of pain/punishment) as a primary discipline tool is problematic, I think, Scripturally. 2) understanding the importance of my completed sanctification (in Christ) and how God accepts me based on that and not on my progressive sanctification is something that has changed me a lot internally, too, and changed how I view parenting. I will have to think about why exactly, and how to express it.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Anne Sokol wrote:
I mean to say that discipline is a lot more than mainly pain infliction and negativity.

Yes, this is why I said "at a minimum." We do use the word "discipline" in more than one sense, though they are related. The positive part is really the outcome. The process is inherently painful, even if the "pain" is that of getting up earlier than you want, practicing longer than you want, etc. So, whether it's self-discipline or parental discipline it involves "enduring hardship" (2Tim.2:3-7 is helpful).

Anne wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Pain and "harm" (or "injury") are not the same thing and must be distinguished (the way many lump them together is intellectually dishonest).
I can agree with that strictly, but it also should be said that, just as you pointed out that pain can take many forms, inflicting pain in a non-injuring way can be tricky--what if you're not physically causing deformity or breaking bones or causing kidney failure, but causing real harm in a different form that you cannot see?

Yes. But this goes back to a point I emphasized in another thread-- there is no substitute for virtuous parents. On this particular point, it isn't even virtue that's required: just a little bit of sense. There is no need to go beyond what is obviously safe (and I don't mean "safe from prosecution;" I mean safe for the child).
If you give yourself a couple whacks on the hand to calibrate, you even know how much pain is involved as well as whether injury is occurring.
It really isn't rocket science.

Where parents get into trouble with this is if they've bought into some notion that a particular response from the child is necessary and they have to keep hitting until they get it. It would be hard to overstate how wrongheaded I believe that is.
But we also get into trouble when we try to develop a parenting strategy/method that we hope will compensate for a bad parent. There is no such method. God's design is for children to be disciplined by good parents, not disciplined with a good method by bad parents, know what I mean?
There is no safe method where foolish moms and dads are involved.

Anne wrote:
I don't know that Scripture directly addresses this either, but this is what the issue of physical-intentional-pain-infliction-of-small-children came down to for me Scripturally: I did a study of all the times in Scripture that small children are mentioned and how God portrays small children to us, and what His own communicated-to-us thoughts are about small children. . . . That is how I came to my personal conviction of finding non-striking, non-adversarial, non-promoting-my-own-power ways of guiding my children into good disciplines.

I'd be interested in what passages led you to this conclusion.
Question: what's wrong with power?

Anne wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
The primary test of what kind of pain/negative consequence (a.k.a. "rod") a parent uses is effectiveness.
Pragmatically, I agree with this. Theoretically, I am not sure I do, and I'm not sure you do either, if you think about it. If the method seems to work, then it's OK?

No, my point is that we already know the method is good, the particular form is chosen based on effectiveness. To use an analogy, we know from Scripture that teaching children is good. What sort of method we use (pictures, songs, stories, tactile practice, etc.) depends largely on what works.

Anne wrote:
For example, I used to say all day long, "S, if you don't do X, then I will spank you." S would immediately comply. This threat worked effectively. But it was a dark, negative time of mothering for me. It worked, but it wasn't good.
There's a difference between "bad idea" and "poor execution of a good idea." This is one of those cases. I always say that the best disciplinary tool is the one you hardly ever use. If you have to use it often, it's not working.
I've found that it's very effective to deliver a very small negative consequence along with some communication that more of that is likely if there isn't a change. This approach gets rid of a whole lot of threatening, which tends to be meaningless until the parent actually does something.
But again, anti-spanking advocates often seem to get the impression that pro-spanking advocates think spanking is something you do early and often. I'm not of that persuasion. My view is simply that pain is pain and there is no reason to take the judicious use of physical pain off the list of available resources.
(One of my kids was never responsive at all to spanking. So the "rod" meant non-physical methods in that case. For the other one, even a token spanking is quite meaningful.... so far. But again, anything you use a lot is no longer working.)

Anne wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Small children readily understand pain as an immediate consequence in situations where other kinds of correction are confusing (because of the level of thinking required to connect act to consequence).
I really disagree with this from my day-to-day experience. For example, our little 3yo nephew lives with us, has lived with us for over a month now. I'm teaching him to obey me. So yesterday, he throws this Christmas tree ornament on the floor, and starts to just crawl away. I say, "K, please pick up the ornament and bring it to me." He refuses. So I scoop him up and set him on the couch and say, "when you are ready to pick up the ornament, then you can get down and go play." He understands perfectly. He sulks a bit and lays there. I can't remember if he cried. Then after a few moments, he gets the ornament, gives it to me, and goes to play.

Now, I didn't cause him any type of physical pain.


I don't disagree with any of that. It sounds pretty effective. My view is that pain is pain and if K is not responsive to the pain of having to sit and do nothing for a while, a parent should not be shy about a slap on the wrist or whack on the behind. Sometimes parents unduly exhaust themselves trying to avoid simpler ways of communicating. But I'm not against a time out if it works.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Anne wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Kids need to begin developing moral perspective (to think in terms of right vs. wrong) long before they are old enough to understand the gospel (the gospel is predicated on "wrong" and "sin" being terms that carry real meaning).
I'm not sure this is true. By the time a child can grasp the "moral" reason they are obeying or not, they can also grasp the gospel, that Jesus died for the bad things I do.

I may not have been clear. I'm not talking about grasping reasons. Kids have to learn the basic concept of right and wrong before they learn why anything is right or wrong. When we're little, we take these things on authority--on our confidence in whoever is telling us. So long before junior can understand "I'm a sinner who deserves the wrath of God" he needs to understand "right and wrong are two different things" and hopefully also "I am not the judge of the difference between them."

Anne wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
The use of real discipline (a.k.a., negative consequences, etc.) is not compatible incompatible with teaching the gospel. There is no disjunction between the two.
Maybe it depends on what one is really emphasizing in the gospel. What is the gospel? That Christ lived a sinless life for my account; He died bearing the punishment for my sinful life; now I follow in His steps by living a servant-life of love to God and others (which includes obedience).
I don't see how that is incompatible with the kind of discipline I've been describing.

Anne wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Finally, even in a soteriologically-driven approach to parenting, it's evident that sinners must learn law before they can learn grace. Good parenting begins with law, and teaches grace in that context.
But really, to me this seems to put one on a hopeles circle. The law shows us that we can never ever measure up. The law is to teach my kids their hopelessness of ever being able to obey it fully. So I would be punishing them for not achieving something they can never achieve . . . . Grace is that Christ obeyed the law on our behalf; that we are free from that heavy burden and free to obey for love of Christ, though the obedience is always imperfect.

Yes. Agree with all of that. But you're making my point, rather than defeating it. A huge part of the dynamic for kids in Christian homes should be exactly the kind of hopelessness you've described. You have to abandon self-hope before you can put your hope exclusively in Christ.

Anne wrote:
Two other issues that should be addressed in this are 1) using fear (of pain/punishment) as a primary discipline tool is problematic, I think, Scripturally. 2) understanding the importance of my completed sanctification (in Christ) and how God accepts me based on that and not on my progressive sanctification is something that has changed me a lot internally, too, and changed how I view parenting. I will have to think about why exactly, and how to express it.

Fear... that's really a whole different topic and not what I've been talking about. It's not really fear when you know exactly what is going to happen. I mean, do I avoid putting my hand on the stove because I'm afraid? I guess in a way, but I'm not conscious of feeling any fear. I just know what will happen if I do that.
But I really don't know why we should see fear as a bad thing. If something is evil and harmful we ought to fear it. If something is awesomely powerful, we ought to fear it. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear is good.
Dread... now that's something else. I'm not talking about raising kids full of dread. They don't experience that if the boundaries are clear and the consequences are predictable.
As for completed sanctification in Christ... (1) I'm not entirely sure what you mean. My sanctification is not complete yet... and I have responsibilities to participate in the process until it is (Phil. 2:12 for example). (2) Either way, our approach to parenting should not be to take Scriptures that are not specifically about parenting, extrapolate a parenting method we think ought to be good in light of those passages, then reinterpret the passages that are actually about parenting to fit our extrapolated method. This is what I think much of the recent thought and writing on this does. God has spoken very plainly about how parenting should work. We should assume He has not given us methods that are inconsistent with the gospel... and as I think I've shown, there is no inconsistency w/the gospel in traditional Christian parenting.

Anne Sokol's picture

I'm not sure how to dialogue understandably and still try to cut down all the long quoting, but here we go:

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Anne Sokol wrote:
I mean to say that discipline is a lot more than mainly pain infliction and negativity.

Yes, this is why I said "at a minimum." We do use the word "discipline" in more than one sense, though they are related. The positive part is really the outcome. The process is inherently painful, even if the "pain" is that of getting up earlier than you want, practicing longer than you want, etc. So, whether it's self-discipline or parental discipline it involves "enduring hardship" (2Tim.2:3-7 is helpful).
I think about use of the concept of discipline, I also need to clarify, that I really don’t see correction of wrong behavior as always requiring punishment/negativity. This is where some of us differ, and this is where the theory or philosophy or theology talk comes into play. My child does something wrong, and I don’t have to have a punishment response. I may use something my child doesn’t enjoy or find happy, or I may use a stop to hold and talk and give some affection, but I don’t feed myself internally with a punishment mindset in my correction and restoration and guidance of my kids when they do wrong.
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Anne wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Pain and "harm" (or "injury") are not the same thing and must be distinguished (the way many lump them together is intellectually dishonest).
I can agree with that strictly, but it also should be said that, just as you pointed out that pain can take many forms, inflicting pain in a non-injuring way can be tricky--what if you're not physically causing deformity or breaking bones or causing kidney failure, but causing real harm in a different form that you cannot see?

Yes. But this goes back to a point I emphasized in another thread-- there is no substitute for virtuous parents. On this particular point, it isn't even virtue that's required: just a little bit of sense. There is no need to go beyond what is obviously safe (and I don't mean "safe from prosecution;" I mean safe for the child).
If you give yourself a couple whacks on the hand to calibrate, you even know how much pain is involved as well as whether injury is occurring.
It really isn't rocket science.
I just mean to say that when parents are not taught, as they mostly are not taught in fundamentalism today, to see parenting through the lens of, say, building strong relationships, when it becomes rather about attaining “first-time obedience” and other spiritually-sounding ideas like that (because, of course, how your child obey his parents is how he will obey God, parents are told), then punishment or use of negativity can have spiritually harmful effects on the child.
Aaron Blumer wrote:
There is no safe method where foolish moms and dads are involved.
That is why most discussions of parenting should not be focused on punishment of wrong behavior.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Anne wrote:
I don't know that Scripture directly addresses this either, but this is what the issue of physical-intentional-pain-infliction-of-small-children came down to for me Scripturally: I did a study of all the times in Scripture that small children are mentioned and how God portrays small children to us, and what His own communicated-to-us thoughts are about small children. . . . That is how I came to my personal conviction of finding non-striking, non-adversarial, non-promoting-my-own-power ways of guiding my children into good disciplines.

I'd be interested in what passages led you to this conclusion.
Question: what's wrong with power?
I will go back and look in my journals for this, some of the passages that I remember are: Ez 16:21, Mtt 21:15-16, and strangely missed in pretty much every parenting book I have ever read, Mtt 18:1-14.

About power, I think it is problematical when people are taught to assert and emphasize power in relationships like in the husband/wife relationship and the parent/child relationship. Maybe parenting books did this as a reaction to the hippie movement/cast-off-all-authority. I think that authority/power is best just assumed as a premise in life, it’s not something that needs to be highlighted, fought for, asserted, etc. I mean that to say, for example, I am my kids’ mom. I have to be comfortable with the authority and power that position gives me. As a Christian, I understand it is the power/position to serve and be the least. But in teaching obedience esp, asserting my personal power over my kids is not what I'm feeding myself with.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
No, my point is that we already know the method is good, the particular form is chosen based on effectiveness. To use an analogy, we know from Scripture that teaching children is good. What sort of method we use (pictures, songs, stories, tactile practice, etc.) depends largely on what works.

So you’re saying, we already know the method of spanking is good b/c look that it worked for me, and for several others? It’s “traditional”?

Aaron Blumer wrote:
But again, anti-spanking advocates often seem to get the impression that pro-spanking advocates think spanking is something you do early and often. I'm not of that persuasion. My view is simply that pain is pain and there is no reason to take the judicious use of physical pain off the list of available resources.
You really need to read/be aware of Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart, probably the most popular parenting book in fundamental circles today. It’s spank early, spank often, spank only (and talk).

Aaron Blumer wrote:
My view is that pain is pain and if K is not responsive to the pain of having to sit and do nothing for a while, a parent should not be shy about a slap on the wrist or whack on the behind. Sometimes parents unduly exhaust themselves trying to avoid simpler ways of communicating. But I'm not against a time out if it works.
First, I don't like "time outs." Particularly as punishment. Like, you need to be isolated and feel bad for X amount of time. What I did in that case with K, I look at it just more as a hemming in, gently limiting his choices until he's ready to make the right one Wink About time outs, I think they are more useful in the positive sense of a child who's in a bad mood going away and doing something restorative so he doesn't plague the rest of the family with his moodiness--How I love doing this myself Biggrin

If this didn’t work with K, and I have other kids it might not work for, I would probably choose a method that involved more of my actual presence, holding or something, rather than hitting. With K’s background of coming from an extremely abusive home, I probably would never consider physical striking with him. Or with my other kids—then they want to spank each other, their dolls, etc.

Anne Sokol's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I may not have been clear. I'm not talking about grasping reasons. Kids have to learn the basic concept of right and wrong before they learn why anything is right or wrong. When we're little, we take these things on authority--on our confidence in whoever is telling us. So long before junior can understand "I'm a sinner who deserves the wrath of God" he needs to understand "right and wrong are two different things" and hopefully also "I am not the judge of the difference between them."
I don’t know if it’s this complicated. I think I am probably the main shape-r of my kids’ consciences, if that’s what you mean.

I was thinking of this very thing yesterday as I am re-reading E. Prentiss’s Stepping Heavenward. This is one of the best books about how God disciplines us. I may take the time to quote some passages from it later. But she’s having a talk with her FIL (who has a depressing view of God as the terrifying judge) about her little son, and FIL says, “I hope, my daughter, that you are faithful to your son. …I hope you teach him that he is a sinner and that he is in a state of condemnation.”
She replies, “No, Father, I don’t. … My poor child will learn that he is a sinner only too soon; and before that dreadful day arrives, I want to fortify his soul with the only antidote against the misery that knowledge will give him. I want him to see his Redeemer in all His love and beauty and to love Him with all his heart and soul and mind and strength. Dear Father, pray for him, and pray for me, too.”

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Anne wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
The use of real discipline (a.k.a., negative consequences, etc.) is not compatible incompatible with teaching the gospel. There is no disjunction between the two.
Maybe it depends on what one is really emphasizing in the gospel. What is the gospel? That Christ lived a sinless life for my account; He died bearing the punishment for my sinful life; now I follow in His steps by living a servant-life of love to God and others (which includes obedience).
I don't see how that is incompatible with the kind of discipline I've been describing.
This is how I see it: What is our response to disobedience/wrong behavior? In our human logic, it must be something negative and bad and painful. …

So stop for a minute and consider why, as a parent, I must inflict punishment/pain on my children when they do wrong? Do I think: They have sinned, broken God’s law, and they must be punished for it. Like God punishes me when I sin. They need to understand God will punish their sins. . .

If this is my train of thought, or something similar, then I am always under God’s black cloud of punishment as much as I can perceive my own sins. I mean, we all know we’re not talking about hell-punishment as Christians, but do we still see God as punishing us daily for our sins in this life? And is that a true perception of how God deals with us? (this gets into the sanctification part)

OK, what if ask a different question when my child sins/does wrong: For example, I could think: my child is struggling with their sin; how can I come along side and help him/her?

The actions these two parents take may even be similar, but the reasoning behind them and what is ultimately communicated is much different.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Anne wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Finally, even in a soteriologically-driven approach to parenting, it's evident that sinners must learn law before they can learn grace. Good parenting begins with law, and teaches grace in that context.
But really, to me this seems to put one on a hopeles circle. The law shows us that we can never ever measure up. The law is to teach my kids their hopelessness of ever being able to obey it fully. So I would be punishing them for not achieving something they can never achieve . . . . Grace is that Christ obeyed the law on our behalf; that we are free from that heavy burden and free to obey for love of Christ, though the obedience is always imperfect.

Yes. Agree with all of that. But you're making my point, rather than defeating it. A huge part of the dynamic for kids in Christian homes should be exactly the kind of hopelessness you've described. You have to abandon self-hope before you can put your hope exclusively in Christ.
But I think the opposite happens.

In one way, we set up somewhat keepable standards that a child can escape punishment from or bear the punishment of, for example, or standard of goodness that a child can somewhat keep. So even when we do punish, it’s not really for all a child’s sins or even most of them. So a lot of Christian kids don’t see themselves as really bad, like those really bad kids who smoke or something. They don’t see their own coveting or impatience, for example, because we don’t have a rule/consequence for that.

Or we communicate half the gospel, that Christ died for your sins, now you accept Him as saving you from hell, but now you need to work on yourself, and grace becomes defined more as you being given the power to obey rather than what it really is, that One obeyed on your behalf.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Fear... that's really a whole different topic and not what I've been talking about. It's not really fear when you know exactly what is going to happen. I mean, do I avoid putting my hand on the stove because I'm afraid? I guess in a way, but I'm not conscious of feeling any fear. I just know what will happen if I do that.
But I really don't know why we should see fear as a bad thing. If something is evil and harmful we ought to fear it. If something is awesomely powerful, we ought to fear it. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear is good.
Dread... now that's something else. I'm not talking about raising kids full of dread. They don't experience that if the boundaries are clear and the consequences are predictable.
It’s First John I had in mind. I wish this were also a part of common Christian parenting discussions. If we are drawing kids to the love of God, trying to teach them to act in love, as is the first two main commandments, use of punishing and fear, and they do fear it of course, is probably not the best way to go theologically. I think it’s not really in our human nature to understand or accept God’s unconditional love or forgiveness or trusting Him, for example. How many “accept Christ” after hearing evangelists preaching about hell in detail? Having a sensible fear of consequences is common sensical.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
As for completed sanctification in Christ... (1) I'm not entirely sure what you mean. My sanctification is not complete yet... and I have responsibilities to participate in the process until it is (Phil. 2:12 for example).
I will deal with this separately. I need time I don’t have at this moment. It’s Martin Luther, for one thing. And what Elyse F talks about in her interview.

JNoël's picture

I don't think it is a good idea to explain to a 2 year old that they were spanked because they sinned by [disobeying, arguing, not esteeming others better than themselves, purposeful destruction of another's property, whining, etc... ]. I think it does set the wrong tone for their lives. God doesn't inflict immediate, physical pain to Christians when we disobey him.

I look at spanking as a mere tool to, well, drive foolishness from them. They won't always get spanked for disobeying/disrespecting authority, but at a young age, it is the most effective way to teach them the foolishness of doing so. As they get older, they'll experience more complex results of that disobedience/disrespect, just as adult Christians experience the sin-results and God's chastisement for perpetrating the same.

Perhaps we can convince Doctor Cone to do a series on God's chastisement.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It might be helpful to point out here that [S ]sometimes[/S ] often God does indeed inflict immediate painful consequences when people sin. We just finished reading Exodus 32 & 33 in our Men's Bible Study (Golden Calf thing... see Exod. 32:35)
Remember Ananias and Sapphira? Uzzah? Nadab and Abihu? Saul? David (Ok, not quite immediate, but severe and unmistakably linked to his offense). Manasseh (2 Chron 33:10–13). Jonah. Miriam (Num. 12:10). The list goes on and on.

Graciously and mercifully, He does not always deal with us that way. He models both grace and wisdom in choosing when to deal decisively with our wrongdoing and when to, as we say, cut us some slack. (Exod. 33:19)

We can reasonably surmise that our parenting should resemble God's "parenting" of us, but the Scriptures don't say "parents, handle your kids like God handles you." That's significant. What the Scriptures do provide is direct instruction on what parents need to do for kids.

Anne wrote:
OK, what if ask a different question when my child sins/does wrong: For example, I could think: my child is struggling with their sin; how can I come along side and help him/her?

This, and ideas about teaching kids love, etc. are really another topic. Nobody is arguing that we should spank instead of teaching kids love or--if a kid is actually trying to do right, find ways to encourage him/her. (Actually trying/"struggling with" is quite often not at all what's going on... but either way, I would ask, why wouldn't discipline help them be successful? The argument in Hebrews is that God chastens those He loves--the implication is that this helps us. That has certainly been my experience. Why else would He do it? The sin has already been paid for. So the discipline is a way to help us change--not punitive.)

There is no disjunction between these practices and the wise use of real (pain-involved) discipline in training children.

Anne Sokol's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
... but either way, I would ask, why wouldn't discipline help them be successful? The argument in Hebrews is that God chastens those He loves--the implication is that this helps us. That has certainly been my experience. Why else would He do it? The sin has already been paid for. So the discipline is a way to help us change--not punitive.)

There is no disjunction between these practices and the wise use of real (pain-involved) discipline in training children.

I'm still working on my sanctification things, but quick answer to this.

"Why wouldn't discipline help them be successful?" It would. Just your and my definitions/applications/mindset-of-applying of that word discipine are probably somewhat different.

Actually, now that I'm typing, this all has a lot to do with how we understand sanctification and discipline. I need to just stick on that. Still need to sit and type it out.

I will say, adults can experience very heavy consequences for their sinful actions. God can allow them to sin to that extent. Sadly, it's probably a lot of the result of not understanding our freedom (from works) in Christ and how we now live in love to all others (the place of works).

I also see that God can just use "pressing" circumstances to mature us, discipline us. Like giving us children, or causing us to live with someone it's difficult to live with, for example. These things often provoke us to sin often and draw out our sinfulness to humble us, and show us how hopeless we are to sanctify ourselves and begin to look to Him for His own sufficient righteousness, which is not able to come from us at all. It is ours only by faith.

Anway . . .

JNoël's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
It might be helpful to point out here that [S ]sometimes[/S ] often God does indeed inflict immediate painful consequences when people sin. We just finished reading Exodus 32 & 33 in our Men's Bible Study (Golden Calf thing... see Exod. 32:35)
Remember Ananias and Sapphira? Uzzah? Nadab and Abihu? Saul? David (Ok, not quite immediate, but severe and unmistakably linked to his offense). Manasseh (2 Chron 33:10–13). Jonah. Miriam (Num. 12:10). The list goes on and on.

This is a reason why I'd like to hear a study on Divine Chastisement. All of the Bible examples of chastisement are outside of our dispensation. For example - when's the last time we saw a person fall over dead because he participated in communion unworthily? The passage that deals with that concept was during the transitional period between OT law and our current, church age of grace. How many people have we seen "faithfully" come to church almost every Sunday morning, but never come to any other service and never serve in any ministry - and lead healthy, happy lives (which, of course, brings up another question of whether or not they are even saved, but we'll assume they are)? I know I'm just tossing things out there that can be shot to death because of all of the holes in them, but I'm just trying to pose the question of the differences in 21st century Divine chastisement vs. Old Testament through Transitional. I believe the answer to that question may help shed light on our view of physical pain parenting.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Interesting question.. and yes, it could be quite a study on its own. I'm sure someone has already done it a few times by now, but I'm not aware of a title to reference.

As for dispensations, some random thoughts...
There is a lot of grace in the age of law. Witness the fact that instant death due to disobedience is rare enough to stand out. What about all the people who were not struck dead for breaking laws? Grace.

There is a lot of law in grace. God's standard of righteousness remains and we are indeed held to it. The big difference is that the indwelling Spirit changes us so that we conform to the law, rather than our trying to accomplish this in our "flesh." This is the argument of Romans 7-8.

The point of the chastisement section of Hebrews 12 is that God does still inflict suffering in response to sin. In may be more in response to sinful condition in general (which seems to be the case in Heb.12) rather than a particular sin. But you have intentional use of painful experiences to reshape and "train" (the word appears at the end of that section) us.

Ananias and Sapphira are a NT example of severe discipline in response to specific sin. (Another would be the reference in 1 Corinthians to many sick and dead due to their abuse of the Lord's Table.)

It's true that there is less of this in the NT era because of the different nature of the New Covenant. Specifically, the NC has an emphasis on newness of heart (Ezek.36.26 and context; Jer. 31.33 ff) where the Old focused more on conditions for blessing and cursing (see the last several chapters of Deut.).

But what sort of implications do these have for parenting? Clearly, the implications are not obvious. You can argue seven different ways from these very high-level changes in God's relationship to His peoples. The fact is, the passages that reveal these realities to us are not about parenting, and we have many passages that are. We should let the latter say what they say rather than going to them with our prejudgments about what the higher level ideas require them to say... especially when the law, grace, sanctification and salvation ideas we're talking about have such unclear implications for parenting technique.

...and we are talking about technique. There is really no substantial disagreement about the goal of Christian parenting. We want to see young adults who are disciples of Jesus Christ, who love Him and are committed to living obedient lives.
We should let the technique passages tell us what our technique ought to be rather than extrapolating (or just imagining) technique from matters that aren't inherently related.

JNoël's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
the passages that reveal these realities to us are not about parenting, and we have many passages that are....
We should let the technique passages tell us what our technique ought to be rather than extrapolating (or just imagining) technique from matters that aren't inherently related.

I couldn't agree more. Then I guess it is difficult to draw conclusions regarding our parenting technique by comparing how God "parents" his children, right?

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

JNoël's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Ananias and Sapphira are a NT example of severe discipline in response to specific sin. (Another would be the reference in 1 Corinthians to many sick and dead due to their abuse of the Lord's Table.)

My issue with drawing any conclusion from these examples is that there are many things in the NT that no longer happen - I'm thinking specifically of sign gifts, of course. Lots of miraculous healings from the Apostles, tongues, etc. All of the "sign" type things were transitional for the purpose of validating the church (right?). So I see Ananias and Sapphira and the Communion commentary to simply be part of that transitioning into the fully fledged Church Age.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
There is a lot of grace in the age of law. Witness the fact that instant death due to disobedience is rare enough to stand out. What about all the people who were not struck dead for breaking laws? Grace.

There is a lot of law in grace. God's standard of righteousness remains and we are indeed held to it. The big difference is that the indwelling Spirit changes us so that we conform to the law, rather than our trying to accomplish this in our "flesh." This is the argument of Romans 7-8.

Point well taken regarding the overflowing of Grace in the OT/Law. It is indeed far easier to see the mass/supernatural judgments of death, plague, snake bites, etc., and ignore how much grace God has always shown humanity.

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg (1720-1768)

Anne Sokol's picture

This is an attempt to express what I’ve gleaned for my own life and for my parenting from Martin Luther’s tract “Concerning Christian Liberty.”

As this is a forum thread and not a dissertation, I will try to make this brief. In doing so, it will cut out a lot of the depth and thence the understanding, but so be it.

When we look at the whole of discipline in life (mine, my kids, etc.), our discipline (I don’t mean punishment for wrong, but habitual ordering of life) should mainly serve to express our love—our love to God and to others.

Luther goes to great lengths to prove how only faith and the word of God (the gospel of Christ), and not good works, can touch/save the soul.

The commands given in Scripture show us what is good, but give us no power to do them.

The promises of God now enter—we fulfill all the commands only by faith in Christ, as He fulfilled them and only He can fulfill them. [Skip Luther's long section on the 3 virtues of faith. ]

In conclusion, faith alone fulfills the law for us (b/c only Christ fulfills it). And a person must have fulfilled the commandments (by faith) prior to being able to do any good works. (Good works without this is just idolatry.)

So what’s the point of doing good works? (WHY AM I TEACHING MY KIDS TO OBEY ME, LOVE OTHERS, LIVE TOGETHER IN HARMONY, ETC.)

1. We must live in this body. 2. We must have relationships with people.

1. Being so filled with love for God and all He’s done for us, we now want our bodies to be subdued so they can express the love that fills our soul. We want our flesh to conform to our souls, which are rejoicing in God and desirous to serve Him for nothing other than freely-given love for what He's done for us. No fear, no slavery . . . . just love.

2. Just as Christ became a man and laid aside His freedom (as sinless God) to serve us (by obeying the law for us, dying, etc), so we are to lay aside our freedom from needing to do good works (for salvation), and we become Christs to each other, serving one another in love.

Quote:
Here is the truly Christian life, here is faith really working by love, when a man applies himself with joy and love to the works of that freest servitude in which he serves others voluntarily and for nought, himself abundantly satisfied in the fulness and riches of his own faith.

End Martin Luther synthesis/My conclusions: It’s probably human nature to grow up thinking that our works are what God focuses on and what pleases Him. Really, He is only truly pleased with Christ’s work, which is applied to me by faith. My works will never, ever meet God’s standards. I am free of that obligation. I am accepted and always an object of God’s goodwill because I am in His Son.

The motives for my works now are very important. Important that I feed the love and faith in my heart (and love and faith are only fed by love and faith—not by deeds). And deeds come as an expression of that love and faith—deeds to subdue my body, deeds to love others as Christ loved me. In this way, deeds are very, very important.

So, this is why I, personally, try to steer away from punitive teaching measures—toward any believer, not just my kids. I don’t want to habitually motivate through fear, pain, shame, punishment, doubting of acceptance/standing, etc. I want to be very careful about the messages I send about what really pleases God. (Yes, my works can please Him, but only in the way that they are done in right faith.) And the more I learn to gaze on the righteousness, goodness, perfection of Christ, the more I stop measuring myself by my own or other human standards and can ask how Christ wants to be shown in a given situation.

Do my kids experience pain? Sure they do. So do I. Pain is very shaping and helpful. I have learned to kiss and hug the painful situations that God has put in my life because they are the shapers/discipliners that enable me to more and more express the love and faith that is growing in my soul towards Him. That's how I really want pain to help and shape my kids--to help/enable them express their love.

Sort of an abrupt end, but that's what I can express at this point.

Here are some excellent quotes from "Concerning Christian Liberty:"

Quote:
In this we see clearly that the Apostle lays down this rule for a Christian life: that all our works should be directed to the advantage of others, since every Christian has such abundance through his faith that all his other works and his whole life remain over and above wherewith to serve and benefit his neighbour of spontaneous goodwill.

Quote:
Lo! my God, without merit on my part, of His pure and free mercy, has given to me, an unworthy, condemned, and contemptible creature all the riches of justification and salvation in Christ, so that I no longer am in want of anything, except of faith to believe that this is so. For such a Father, then, who has overwhelmed me with these inestimable riches of His, why should I not freely, cheerfully, and with my whole heart, and from voluntary zeal, do all that I know will be pleasing to Him and acceptable in His sight? I will therefore give myself as a sort of Christ, to my neighbour, as Christ has given Himself to me; and will do nothing in this life except what I see will be needful, advantageous, and wholesome for my neighbour, since by faith I abound in all good things in Christ.
Quote:
Thus from faith flow forth love and joy in the Lord, and from love a cheerful, willing, free spirit, disposed to serve our neighbour voluntarily, without taking any account of gratitude or ingratitude, praise or blame, gain or loss. Its object is not to lay men under obligations, nor does it distinguish between friends and enemies, or look to gratitude or ingratitude, but most freely and willingly spends itself and its goods, whether it loses them through ingratitude, or gains goodwill. For thus did its Father, distributing all things to all men abundantly and freely, making His sun to rise upon the just and the unjust. Thus, too, the child does and endures nothing except from the free joy with which it delights through Christ in God, the Giver of such great gifts.

Quote:
You see, then, that, if we recognize those great and precious gifts, as Peter says, which have been given to us, love is quickly diffused in our hearts through the Spirit, and by love we are made free, joyful, all-powerful, active workers, victors over all our tribulations, servants to our neighbour, and nevertheless lords of all things. But, for those who do not recognise the good things given to them through Christ, Christ has been born in vain; such persons walk by works, and will never attain the taste and feeling of these great things. Therefore just as our neighbour is in want, and has need of our abundance, so we too in the sight of God were in want, and had need of His mercy. And as our heavenly Father has freely helped us in Christ, so ought we freely to help our neighbour by our body and works, and each should become to other a sort of Christ, so that we may be mutually Christs, and that the same Christ may be in all of us; that is, that we may be truly Christians.

James K's picture

That is very nice Anne, but God Himself tells us how He disciplines. I would say His understanding of the gospel is perfect and knows exactly what we need. He chooses to discipline using the same word that referred to Christ's sufferings (mastigoo).

Sadly, a good article by Chris Cone went ignored in favor of more culture opinion by the usual suspects.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

James, let's focus on the ideas, eh? Good post until that last sentence.

Anne, I appreciate your desire to put parenting in the context of your overall understanding of sanctification. Right now it would probably be a lengthy digression to try to hash out the whole doctrine of sanctification. And I still wrestle with understanding some parts of it, myself.
But it's really not as relevant as it might seem.
Let me suggest a couple of reasons why:

(1) The Bible doesn't encourage us to develop parenting technique by reasoning it from the doctrine of sanctification. (That doesn't prove it's a bad idea, but it's significant in light of point 2 and others below...)
(2) The Bible does speak very directly about parenting technique. These should be taken as the primary sources of instruction on the subject.
(3) While our understanding of sanctification, law, grace, etc. have a huge impact on how we see the goal of parenting, the relationship between that goal and the nuts and bolts of raising kids is complex and can be argued multiple ways. It's just not a good foundation for a methodology.

Just thought of one more:
(4) Applying sanctification principles to parenting technique gets much messier when we take into account the fact that we are often not dealing with regenerate kids or don't have confidence that they are in the faith. We can't assume a sanctification process is even underway in a kid's life (we also can't assume it is not, so the techniques have to be amenable to both scenarios).

Anne Sokol's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
(1) The Bible doesn't encourage us to develop parenting technique by reasoning it from the doctrine of sanctification. (That doesn't prove it's a bad idea, but it's significant in light of point 2 and others below...)
(2) The Bible does speak very directly about parenting technique. These should be taken as the primary sources of instruction on the subject.
Where does the Bible speak very directly about parenting technique? If you are referring mainly to the rod proverbs, you can see that this "direct" speaking is . . . maybe not as direct as we would like to think. There are principles in proverbs, as is it wisdom literature. It is very important to discipline my children. But limiting their meanings or making them mean primarily pain-infliction-in-response-to-wrong-behavior doesn't seem to be the wisest way to apply them. Why don't you look at Matt. 18 and 19 for parenting instruction? Matt 18 is probably the most comprehensive, direct statements by Christ Himself about children and adult relationships to them.

I certainly want all of Scripture to influence all that I am doing in my parenting.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
(3) While our understanding of sanctification, law, grace, etc. have a huge impact on how we see the goal of parenting, the relationship between that goal and the nuts and bolts of raising kids is complex and can be argued multiple ways. It's just not a good foundation for a methodology.
I think it is absolutely essential for framing methodology and my motives for why I do what I do.
Aaron Blumer wrote:
Just thought of one more:
(4) Applying sanctification principles to parenting technique gets much messier when we take into account the fact that we are often not dealing with regenerate kids or don't have confidence that they are in the faith. We can't assume a sanctification process is even underway in a kid's life (we also can't assume it is not, so the techniques have to be amenable to both scenarios).
At this age, even at 4 and 6!, my children are very responsive to the gospel. I, of course, do not know the way God will lead them, but I don't need to speak to them or deal with them as if they were rebellious (or otherwise) heathen. ... I think this openness is very common with most children, which is why Christ gave such sharp instructions about them in Mtt 18.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

You misread my point, I think.
I'll summarize it again, but first, what I'm not saying:
- I'm not saying there is a disjunction between parenting that is consistent w/biblical sanctification doctrine and parenting according to Proverbs, etc. There isn't. But if we develop our parenting methodology using a faulty process, we'll end up with a view that is not in harmony with Scripture as a whole.

So... we do not have to choose between parenting that fits biblical sanctification and parenting that fits Proverbs.

- Secondly, I'm not saying that there is any area of life that our view of sanctification has no relevance for.
In fact, I'm pretty sure I said that our view of sanctification does bear on our parenting goals. It just doesn't relate clearly to methods.

The question is, how do we go about developing our views on parenting technique or any other topic the Bible speaks clearly and specifically about? We use passages that are about the topic primarily. I explained this in some detail--with respect to parenting--in http://sharperiron.org/article/simplicity-of-biblical-parenting ]The Simplicity of Biblical Parenting . I was thinking about calling that piece "How to Develop a Theology of Parenting" but thought that sounded a bit too dry. But that's what it's about.

That summary:
- In developing a biblical view of anything, passages that speak about that "anything" must have priority over those that are indirect or about other things entirely

  1. - The Bible speaks directly about parenting (not just in Proverbs... Eph.6, Genesis, Deuteronomny 6, several other places. I think Heb.12 counts)
  2. - Passages about the doctrine of sanctification are not directly about parenting
  3. - Deriving the goals of parenting from sanctification passages is appropriate (when your kids are regenerate)
  4. - People with identical views of sanctification have widely varying views about parenting technique
  5. - Deriving parenting technique from soteriology/sanctification is difficult, unclear and unecessary
  6. - Using sanctification/soteriology-derived ideas about technique to explain away clear passages about technique is wrong

    So I believe biblical soteriology/sancification doctrine is entirely consistent with what Proverbs and other passages teach us about parenting. But we need to use the right process to learn how they are consistent... or simply believe what's revealed and take God's word for it that they are consistent.

    As for the fact that Proverbs speaks clearly and directly about parenting, I think it's only possible to question that when we don't have the verses in front of us. The wisdom literature genre does not make the proverbs less clear or less applicable. It makes them more clear and more applicable to the kinds of questions at issue here.

    Pr 22:15 ESV 15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
    Pr 13:24 ESV 24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
    Pr 23:13–14 ESV 13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. 14 If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.
    Pr 29:15 ESV 15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

    As for children being heathen and rebellious... I don't understand why anyone would question that. They are human beings, ergo heathen and rebellious.
    Human beings are sinners by nature and rebellious.
    Kids are human beings.
    Therefore, kids are sinners by nature and rebellious.

    This is anthropology and hamartiology 101.

    Yes, kids can be saints, but they are not saints until they are saints. We cannot handle unbelievers as though they were Christians. There is no Holy Spirit indwelling them, they are hostile toward God, etc.
    And even saints are not devoid of sin and rebellion.

    It grieves me to think that Christian parents are trying to raise kids as though they were spiritually mature already. I hope I'm just misunderstanding on these points.

Anne Sokol's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Pr 22:15 ESV 15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
Pr 13:24 ESV 24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Pr 23:13–14 ESV 13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. 14 If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.
Pr 29:15 ESV 15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

No one is saying these verses don't apply to parenting. However, saying categorically that these verses mean that parents are required (and yes, that is what you and others [like Cone and Tedd Trip ] are saying) to spank small children based on these passages, is simply unfounded, and it is not backed up by the rest of Scripture's presentation of small children. These Proverbs are not commands. They are not addressing primarily (or even at all) the striking of small children. To assert that 1) spanking 2) small children is a Biblical command and God-ordained is simply wrong. Spanking is, in the end, a matter of conscience; that is all. And that is what it needs to be presented as; not as a God-commanded parenting method.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
As for children being heathen and rebellious... I don't understand why anyone would question that. They are human beings, ergo heathen and rebellious.
Human beings are sinners by nature and rebellious.
Kids are human beings.
Therefore, kids are sinners by nature and rebellious. ... Yes, kids can be saints, but they are not saints until they are saints. We cannot handle unbelievers as though they were Christians. There is no Holy Spirit indwelling them, they are hostile toward God, etc.
And even saints are not devoid of sin and rebellion.
Yes, and we must beat that rebellious nature out of them, is the "traditional" fundamental answer.

I really disagree with that presentation of children. They certainly are sinners. But they are more open and trusting and swayable regarding spiritual truths than teens or adults are. God made them with a special openness to their parents, and that is a trust and openness that God designed.

I don't want to raise kids who think that God is pleased or displeased with them based on their actions, to think that God is waiting to punish their sins or mistakes. My heart's desire is to have kids who understand that Christ did everything for them, everything, every required obedience. And that they be filled with love and gratefulness because of that. And now they are free to serve others as Christ served them; that they have the rudimentary tools of inner discipline so that their heart's love and faith can be expressed through their lives. That they trust God's love and character so that they can accept disciplining trials from His hand with gratefulness and not doubt of their standing before Him.

Anne Sokol's picture

Matthew 18:1-14

Quote:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;

Quote:
6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 "Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! 8 "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. 9 "If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. 10 "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.

Quote:
11 "For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. 12 "What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? 13 "If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14 "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.

Quote:
Matthew 19:13-14 Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Psalm 103:13-14 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. 14 For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.

Greg Long's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:
You really need to read/be aware of Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart, probably the most popular parenting book in fundamental circles today. It’s spank early, spank often, spank only (and talk).

Could you please provide a citation for this, Anne?

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Anne Sokol wrote:
I really disagree with that presentation of children. They certainly are sinners. But they are more open and trusting and swayable regarding spiritual truths than teens or adults are. God made them with a special openness to their parents, and that is a trust and openness that God designed.

I don't want to raise kids who think that God is pleased or displeased with them based on their actions, to think that God is waiting to punish their sins or mistakes. My heart's desire is to have kids who understand that Christ did everything for them, everything, every required obedience. And that they be filled with love and gratefulness because of that. And now they are free to serve others as Christ served them; that they have the rudimentary tools of inner discipline so that their heart's love and faith can be expressed through their lives. That they trust God's love and character so that they can accept disciplining trials from His hand with gratefulness and not doubt of their standing before Him.


What is a child's eternal destiny if they understand the Gospel but have not yet accepted Christ as their Savior?

Anne Sokol's picture

Greg Long wrote:
Anne Sokol wrote:
You really need to read/be aware of Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart, probably the most popular parenting book in fundamental circles today. It’s spank early, spank often, spank only (and talk).

Could you please provide a citation for this, Anne?

Shepherding a Child's Heart, Chapter 15, Infancy to Childhood: Training Procedures [birth to age 4 or 5 ]:

Quote:
When does a child need a spanking? When you have given a directive that he has heard and is within his capacity to understand and he has not obeyed without challenge, without excuse or without delay, he needs a spanking. If you fail to spank, you fail to take God's Word seriously. You are saying you do not believe what the Bible teaches about the import of these issues. (p. 149)

Quote:
Rebellion can be something as simple as an infant struggling against a diaper change or stiffening out his body when you want him to sit on your lap. The discipline procedure is the same as laid out above. You have no way of knowing how much a child a year old or less can undedrstand of waht you say, but we do know that understanding of what you say, but we do know that understanding comes long before the ability to articulate does. (p. 154)

Susan, i really couldn't give you a definitive answer. I like how John MacArthur explains infant death/destiny, but I don't know what he says about older children, and I don't know that I subscribe to the age of accountability idea. I know that whatever God does is just and good.

But that's not really the point of my comment. I am saying that God has created the parent-child relationship very specially, that children are very open to hearing/believing in God. Christ said several times that the kingdom of heaven is made of such as these, that we have to become like children. So I am not saying they're all automatically saved, but there is a definite openness.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I was just curious, because some folks do believe that children are innocent, in the sense that they cannot commit sin until they are old enough to understand sin.... even so far as young children don't need to wear clothes, etc...

I agree that children have a sense of faith that adults have pretty much had educated out of them. What I don't believe is that I shouldn't ever use spanking because a child is 'open-minded'. Sometimes they are so open-minded that their brains fall out. Children might not understand all the implications of their behavior, but I do not subscribe to the romanticized notion of the 'pure and innocent' child- they are capable of wickedness, and it is our responsibility to guide, teach, and train with all Biblical means necessary.

Greg Long's picture

Anne Sokol ][quote=Greg Long wrote:
Anne Sokol wrote:
You really need to read/be aware of Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart, probably the most popular parenting book in fundamental circles today. It’s spank early, spank often, spank only (and talk).

Could you please provide a citation for this, Anne?

Shepherding a Child's Heart, Chapter 15, Infancy to Childhood: Training Procedures [birth to age 4 or 5 ]:

Quote:
When does a child need a spanking? When you have given a directive that he has heard and is within his capacity to understand and he has not obeyed without challenge, without excuse or without delay, he needs a spanking. If you fail to spank, you fail to take God's Word seriously. You are saying you do not believe what the Bible teaches about the import of these issues. (p. 149)

Quote:
Rebellion can be something as simple as an infant struggling against a diaper change or stiffening out his body when you want him to sit on your lap. The discipline procedure is the same as laid out above. You have no way of knowing how much a child a year old or less can undedrstand of waht you say, but we do know that understanding of what you say, but we do know that understanding comes long before the ability to articulate does. (p. 154)

So he doesn't really say "spank early, spank often, spank only", does he?

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Anne Sokol's picture

i definitely think that children are guilty of sin and they are fairly capbable of understanding right and wrong. And they have a sin nature. So that's not factoring into my thinking here. (I think adults probably have a more sophisticated and practiced sin nature than kids, ironically, as much as we hammer on the kids are born rebellious thing.)

using the phrase "all biblical means necessary" is kind of vague. I don't think the Bible gives a lot of "tools" like using distraction, sticker charts, consequences, whatnot, kwim?

about Tripp, no it's not a quote. it's a summary, I confess Wink Rebellion expressed through squirming in a diaper change? And his definition of obedience is weird, too.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

We make decisions every day based on Biblical principles and examples, especially when we don't have Scriptures that deal with air conditioning, oil changes, and coupon clipping. The Bible includes the rod as a means of teaching and training children with no theological hoop jumping. Ipso pipso.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I've got to leave this topic for a while. Will be back, though maybe not in this thread.
What I've got to say is getting very repetitive.

As for Ted Tripp... Tripp's view is his own. My view is mine. One of the causes of confusion on this topic is lumping everyone together.

Do I believe the Proverbs "require spanking of small children"?
That's really not quite an accurate summary of my view.
A better summary would be this:
I believe the Proverbs require the intentional use of pain, encourage parents to be unafraid of the physical kind of pain, do not limit use of physical pain to any particular age.
The application of this means spanking needs to occur in the life of just about every child. How often and how young is going to vary a great deal in families where wise parents are following Proverbs (and the rest of the Scripture, which is not in any way at odds w/the teaching of Proverbs).
Wisdom and gentleness (a fruit of the Spirit and also the spirit of Eph.6.4) means you don't, as a parent, use more pain that is needful to accomplish the task.

I've gone beyond summary now, but these are all assertions I've already made but that seem to not sink in... One more: anything particular means of disciplinary pain you use all the time (whether time out, losing an item, losing a privilege, getting a swat, or whatever) is not working. I do not believe in frequent spanking because, well, it's folly to keep doing exactly the same thing and think you're going to get a different result.

Anne Sokol's picture

just wanted to say, i'm really happy we're having this conversation in general. So much out there about spanking and spiritual parenting that is bizzare. I am really surprised that Tripp's book is so popular, for example. It has so many strange errors in it, but it all sounds so good, it's hard to pinpoint his mistakes. but it's been so almost-universally accepted in Christian circles.

I wish we would research the topic of "adversarial" parenting, too. Anyway, I like threads like this. I think it helps people comb out what are universal things and what is not.

About Mike Durning's concerns about totally not spanking (i think in the other thread?), I think Clay Clarkson addresses all of those in his book, Heartfelt Discipline. I htink it's coming out in a new edition or is out already. He addresses the "ben" use in that proverb briefly, and the Heb 12 passage in a long end note. The book is worth looking into because he fits together a lot of pieces of the Bible.

About Aaron Blumer pointing out that tactics with children have been much harsher in the past, I think that is very true. maybe not everywhere, but very much. I was thinking about what what in vogue before spanking--from the movies I've watched--Anne of Avonlea, Little Women, Jane Eyre--it used to be that they struck the palm of the hand with a strap or stick. Not sure when it became spanking. It would be interesting to read parenting advice from the 1800s. I was thinking about boxing ears, twisting ears, dunce caps, copying sentences. . . .

anyway, i was thinking how cool it would be, if the forums open to others to comment, Clay Clarkson could comment in these threads. He would probably have a wealth of information, and they seem to be very gracious. I've talked to his wife about having their book translated into Russian.

anyway, yak, yak, yak, gotta go Smile

Pages

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.