The following article is designed to be used as a resource in defending your faith on Biblical child training. If the Federal or State agencies take me to court over advocating corporal chastisement, this will be part of my defense.
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (Prov. 13:24).”
This is one of many verses in the Bible that instruct parents to chasten their disobedient children with a rod. Websters Dictionary defines rod as: “a straight slender stick growing on or cut from a tree or bush.”
If you read the many published accounts of studies done on “violence to children,” it is clear that there is a crusade to wipe out Biblical child training. Opponents call it “corporal punishment,” which means punishment to the body. Their first argument against Biblical discipline is to call it punishment. The Bible calls it chastisement with a rod. We call it training. The spankings we give our children do not resemble punishment. We are not angry. We don’t lose control. We are not desirous to make children suffer for their misdeeds. Application of the rod is only a small but essential part of our training technique. You must first understand our position if you would fault us.
The scale of media opinion has tipped, and they now assume that Christians are guilty of some evil in their application of the rod. Propaganda has created the impression that our methods are the last remnants of a medieval practice that is certainly destined to go the way of slavery or restriction of women’s rights. They think it is just a matter of time before enlightenment filters down to put out the remaining shades of darkness. It’s tragic and amusing, but opponents assume they hold the moral high ground.
At the moment, the government usually takes a “don’t tell, we won’t ask” approach. But we read of frequent arrests where parents are jailed and children are removed from their homes for nothing more than parents spanking their children in the traditional Biblical manner. Spanking is still too widely practiced for the police to intrude into homes without cause, seeking out offenders. But those opposed to spanking are fully in the propaganda stage, trying to swing opinion to their side. By publishing stories of parents going to jail, they have driven believers underground. We are compelled to defend traditional Biblical practices.
We are led to believe that they have progressed and now know a better way to raise kids. After all, if children persist in being unruly, the experts will give them the sixties cure—drug them out of their minds. The kids will then make peace and not war. With a better drug, the children might even be prevented from killing each other in grade school.
We don’t “hit” our children
Research supposedly confirms that children who are “beaten” become beaters. They are correct in saying that “hitting” the child may cause him to grow up to use violence as a way of resolving conflicts. Children are very good at passing on what they have experienced at the hands of their parents. From our perspective, the problem is that opponents assume that all spanking is violence— “hitting,” as they call it. We decry the fact that “corporal punishment” is practiced by some people motivated by self-interest, and this is what the spanking abolitionists are seeing.
Our defense of Biblical chastisement should not be construed as a defense of all those who abuse this Christian duty. We believe the rod should not be used as a vent for parents’ anger. There is no place for vindictiveness or aggression in training children. The rod should not be applied at the end of an intolerance curve. Where the supreme motivation is anything other than the child’s good, the rod should not be used.
The people who condemn Biblical chastisement do not believe the Bible. They judge others by their own experience. The only time they have “hit” their children, or been tempted to, was when they were angry. They assume that when we spank it is with the same hostility they have felt. Having never experienced it, they do not understand the meaning of loving discipline applied for the child’s own good. And they cannot fathom the sweet fruit that the properly applied rod produces in the soul of the child.
Misuse of the rod does not invalidate its proper application.
Opponents of the Biblical use of the rod support their position by pointing to its occasional misuse. It is our contention that all authority is misused from time to time, but that misuse does not negate the legitimacy of the office itself, rather of the ones who abuse their sacred authority. When the courts are unjust or dishonest, we do not abolish the office of judge or the administration of law. When a law-enforcement agent is corrupted by money or a desire for power, we do not fire all the policemen. When a president of the United States is hedonistic and sells favors, enriching himself through crooked deals, we do not resort to a dictatorship. When state social workers molest children and abuse them, we do not stop all social work. We seek out the offenders and punish them according to their culpability. Likewise when some parents misuse their sacred trust and hurt their children in the name of spanking them, we do not abdicate our sacred duty to apply the rod as the Word of God has commanded. And if the government should abuse its power by commanding us not to obey God in this regard, we cannot but obey God and suffer the consequences of their abuse of power until justice and common sense once again prevail. Our children are worth it, and it would be the greatest tragedy for them to turn out like the average American child raised under the new, politically correct philosophy.
Please understand us.
We would like to vindicate ourselves and our practices, to win the world over to our views, to convince the courts and society to return to something that actually works, but we know that ultimately we will never convince those who hold an entirely different world-view. It is not just a difference of opinion about what technique is best in rearing children. It is a matter of basic presuppositions. To give up the use of the rod is to give up our views of human nature, God, eternity, judgment, etc. Most of all, to give up the use of the rod is to abandon our children to a fate that is more cruel than jail—a life of self-will and unruliness.
For those who are trying to understanding us, we will explain the foundational thinking behind our practices. You will see that we are not disagreeing over a technique that is replaceable. This issue goes to the very core of our beliefs.
We hold beliefs that ultimately dictate the application of the rod in child training.
Christians view this temporal world as the smallest part of eternity. This life is just preparation for the next. We say this not to diminish our responsibility or ambition in the here-and-now, but to point out how and why our child-training methods differ from those who do not believe as we do. This life is best lived when it is lived as the first moments of eternity. The main goal of a Christian is to lay up treasure in heaven, not on earth. So in raising our children, our first concern is their spiritual welfare. We must impart to them the faith of our fathers.
We will show how the rod is essential to communicating the Biblical world-view. A child that is raised without proper application of the rod is deprived of a valuable visual aid, essential to interpreting reality in this life as well as in the next.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, as well as Biblical:
We believe the human soul is the creation of God.
Every individual maintains a latent consciousness of God’s jurisdiction over his soul. There is a universal predisposition to make oneself accountable to the highest moral standards imaginable, to walk the elevated path of benevolence and justice; not to do so brings guilt. All people possess an intuitive awareness that God is watching, observing, and taking note of every thought and act.
This innate sense of obligation is found in the literature, religion, laws, and customs of every culture, language, nation, and tribe on the face of the earth. Only through careful and prolonged practice of philosophy can one make a convincing show of purging himself of this fundamental presupposition.
We believe in the realities of good and evil.
We believe that some acts, mental states, and motives are good and some are evil. We are not alone in this, for it is broadly assumed that human society abides in voluntary selfishness and deceit. Most social and business interchanges are conducted with a suspicion that the other party may possess evil intent. The will to defraud is presumed in all our laws and contracts. All novels, plays, songs, and political speeches contain some element that supposes the existence of moral evil. Personal guilt is proof of one’s belief in evil. War, prisons, and capital punishment are the ultimate statements as to society’s belief in good and evil.
Our belief in a sovereign God prompts belief in standards of behavior that are not relative, but are absolutes. Absolutes are absolutely critical, not to be taken lightly. Thus the believer’s child training methods will express the conviction that children must be directed to walk the path of truth and holiness. Those who believe otherwise will be lax and indifferent, not appreciating our serious commitment to obedience. Belief in ultimate accountability dictates practicing short-range accountability, which is part of what the rod is about.
We believe in responsibility.
We believe that every human soul that is not impaired maintains the capacity for self-direction and can choose between good and evil. All are conscious of their responsibility to do what they ought. Since the soul is the creation of God, and there are acts and motives that are either good or evil, it follows that every soul is responsible to do good and reject evil, regardless of the personal cost.
When a person chooses or, in constraining circumstances, permits himself to do what he knows he ought not, he is worthy of blame as seen by the universal tendency to inflict oneself with guilt and self-loathing. Self-blame is the companion of failed responsibility.
We do not treat habits of choice as if they were diseases impairing the child’s ability to do what he ought. We do not label behavior with terms like “disorder” that validate inability. We train every child to be a winner and to overcome all obstacles, without and within.
We believe in the eternity of the soul.
We believe that the soul will never cease to exist. Each individual will continue forever in the state he attained in this life. Temporal life is just the proving ground for eternity. This view of eternity has more to do with one’s present practices than any other factor. It heavily influences our child training methods.
We believe there is a coming judgment.
There is a day of reckoning—a day when each person will stand to be judged for every idle word and deed. All cultures hold some belief in a day of judgment. It is a basic presupposition of literature, religion, law, and society. Just as the burglar is always conscious that his judgment could come at any moment, so the soul of man unavoidably knows that he is appointed to a day of imminent judgment—a judgment with eternal consequences. When one must prepare himself to pass a test that affects his career, he sacrifices everything to get ready. Parents have the responsibility to prepare their children to pass the test that determines their admission into eternity.
We believe in repentance.
We believe that any person of any age is capable of completely reversing his actions. We do not believe that a person is the victim of some force outside of his immediate choice. We do not believe in any form of fatalism or determinism. All who should be good can be good. And even those most captive in evil can repent and turn their hearts toward righteousness. If this were not so, training children would be an act of futility, as would all discussion designed to persuade. The child is capable of sudden, voluntary reversal of his attitude and ways. It is the parents’ responsibility to bring their children to repentance and turn them to righteousness.
We believe in redemption.
The redemption of which we speak is not the classical redemption expressed in literature, where the individual performs some sacrificial act of service or penitence by which he atones for his past sins through his present good deeds. Biblical redemption is not the doing of the individual. It is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on behalf of the sinner. In other words, it is the vicarious death of Jesus Christ. Biblical redemption is more than a doctrine, it is practical in the effect it has on the one who receives it.
We do not believe that redemption occurs through sacraments or through affiliation with the church. It is personal and must occur in the soul of each individual through his voluntary participation. Christian parents prepare their younger children, and seek to lead their older children, to understand and receive the redemption of Jesus Christ.
We believe in conversion.
We do not believe that infants can be converted through baptism or through any other means. Only upon maturity can one make the personal decision to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Biblical redemption does more than declare the sinner to be forgiven; it actually converts the soul, cleansing the conscience of guilt and empowering the will to obey. The natural state of self-will and rebellion is abolished by the voluntary surrender of the soul to God. The convert has a new frame of reference. He has a new window through which he views himself, others, God, and the rule of law. Conversion to God brings about the rule of God in the soul. As Bible-believing parents, we seek to prepare the hearts of our children to receive the redemption of Jesus Christ and be converted.
Children begin life with incomplete faculties.
Children come into this world with all the force of passion, but with no capacity to exercise self-restraint. Until they are three or four years old they do not even begin to have any sense of the need to control their impulses. They have no capacity to value anything other than pleasure. They are carried from one moment to the next by their drives to seek gratification and entertainment. They can thrill at indulgence, but they cannot understand the concept of temperance. They have no social consciousness or sense of responsibility. They cannot live by principle. During these early years, when children are ignorant of their duties, they are nonetheless perfecting the art of self-gratification, and parents sometimes assist them by catering to their every whim and by excusing immature behavior.
Children start life with no knowledge of the rules by which they must eventually live. In those early years they are developing the rules that will govern them when they get a little older—social rules, economic, health, ethical, spiritual, to name a few. During this time of discovery, they are developing habits and forming convictions about how well they will conform to the rules. “Will I be honest, or will I just maintain an appearance of honesty while squeezing everyone for as much as I can get? Will I respect my body, or abuse it? Will I respect others, or use them for my own ends? Will I prepare myself to stand before my Creator and be judged, or will I live as if death were the end of my existence?”
So here is the dilemma parents face: by the time children are old enough to begin to understand that some things are good and some are bad, they will already have made far-reaching commitments to self-gratification as an end. As children grow older and perceive their moral duties, they often find their duties in conflict with their self-centeredness. When conflicts between conscience and indulgences arise, children see no need to pay the price of self-denial that conformity to their belief systems would require. Thus, in these formative years, children are inclined to rationalize their consciences and develop habits of living below their convictions. They accept the idea that it is OK to do your own thing, to be free of the rule of law, to follow your own desires. They hold values but they don’t value them enough to pay the price of conformity.
The necessity of adverse consequences.
Because forbidden actions do not immediately meet with adverse consequences, children are induced to develop the belief that it is not a bad thing to violate the rules. When the only negative results are nagging and threatening, they learn to endure the conflict and develop an adversarial relationship with authority. Children do not know that they live under the government of a holy God who keeps account of every deed done in the body. Nor do they know that they will stand in judgment to answer for every deed and thought.
Most parents make a direct contribution to their child’s rebellion by unknowingly conditioning him to ignore commands and do as he pleases. When parents are finally forced to the conclusion that their child is old enough to be trained, they begin the futility of commanding, “No! Don’t do that. Did you hear what I said? Now stop it!” The child doesn’t stop and the parents allow him to continue until frustration and anger drive them to jerk the child away. The child takes offense at being bullied and resents someone interfering with his right to do as he pleases. The bottom line here is that through one experience after the other the child learns that he can defy the rules and still get what he wants. It is not necessary for him to win every contest to become an independent rebel. Just an occasional victory is enough for the child to develop a will to dominate. Again, it is the absence of consistent and sure negative consequences that allow him to grow into the conviction that there is no accountability other than to oneself.
Our prisons are full of people who thought they could get away with it. The response of adults to the child’s offenses is what communicated this false idea. The way the school system responds to their disobedience, the way the courts handle their first “petty” offenses, the way counselors address the child’s “problem,” and the way the media publishes the views of the professionals who blame everybody but the child, all contribute to the child’s disregard for authority. It is the lack of sure and swift consequences that foster indifference to the rule of law.
For authority to be respected it must have the power to impose consequences without limitation. Where the authority can be pushed to a point of helplessness, the lawbreaker will not fear and will set himself to do as he pleases. The Bible describes it this way: “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil (Ecclesiastes 8:11).” The authorities of our country are respected according to the degree they have the power and the will to investigate and apply force to the lawbreakers.
When our children are old enough to have developed sufficient independence, they will join society, playing the game of life by the rules they learned when they were young and vulnerable. Christians seek to train their children to choose the good of others and the glory of God above their own pleasure. Such dedication and commitment is rare outside the community of Bible believers. Just as God gave the state the power and the duty to wield the sword, he gave parents the authority to apply the rod. To the young child, it is ultimate power. It is the child’s assurance that he can never win against authority.
Proper application of the rod is essential to communicating the Christian world-view.
During the developing years, from birth through six or seven, the rod is an indispensable aid in providing the child with a controlled learning experience that will prepare him to make proper decisions when he is older.
The rod mirrors the laws of nature.
Nature is controlled by fixed laws. If a child violates them he may break bones, get burned, drown, poison his body, or suffer harm in a thousand ways. The laws of nature must be discovered and respected. In the natural world all actions have consequences. Nature never forgives. If parents allow a child to break the laws of nature, but somehow protect him from suffering any consequences, they would be communicating a false sense of reality.
You can tell a child not to touch medicines and poisons, not to play with fire or gasoline, not to get in the road, not to play under parked automobiles, not to climb the stairs, the ladder, or the 100-foot electrical tower. Then when he disobeys and doesn’t immediately suffer ill effects, he stops trusting your word. When he eventually meets with disaster, you can then stand and cry and tell the authorities how he was strong-willed and would not obey you. You can stand over his broken body and wish you had watched him more closely. Or, before tragedy falls on the unknowing child, you can enforce your words with painful consequences that mirror the real world. Your consequences can be immediate and consistent, thus conditioning him to respect commands. You can teach the two-year-old that “no” means no, and it means no every time. You can guarantee that the child learns about cause and effect, about the certain danger of doing your own thing without regard to the consequences.
The real world is a place of potential pain. The stakes are too high to allow a child to hopefully stumble upon reality before suffering serious damage. How old will he have to be, or how much will he have to suffer before he learns? Or will he ever learn? Will he grow up with a love of defying the odds and throwing it all to the wind? Will tragedy fall later in life because his parents caused him to believe that he could get away with anything? When a child is not old enough to understand the danger of playing in the street, he is able to understand that leaving the yard today will cause him to meet with the same painful switching he received yesterday when he crawled out of the yard. The rod is a little pain of inoculation against a more painful and deadly disease of getting hit by a car. The properly applied rod will teach your child to safely navigate through the dangers of his environment.
The rod mimics human government.
Governments are established to protect the good and punish the evil. They do so with a great deal of consistency. If you speed, you will eventually get caught and pay a fine. If you steal, they have the power to put you in jail. If you murder, the government has the power to take your life. If government did not have the power to inflict painful consequences on its subjects, it would no longer be government; it would be a hollow nuisance. When it spoke, it would fill the air with meaningless words. Before a child is old enough to be subject to government, he is nonetheless in need of governing. Parents must have the rod available as a last resort if they are to reflect human government and command respect. It is not good for the child to be allowed several years in which to live and act without fear of ultimate consequences. It is the just and timely application of the rod that prepares children to obey the laws of the land. Where the rod is either abused or not used, there is a great deal of juvenile delinquency and crime.
Our present laws make exceptions for children. Parents excuse the behavior of their children, and children learn to live outside the law. When they finally get old enough for the courts to impute blame to them, they are already conditioned to be irresponsible. Children raised under this kind of unruliness, find it hard to fear any law, especially the law of an unseen God, whose threats are equally unseen. In their formative years, proper application of the rod will condition children to believe there is a day of certain reckoning, in this life and in the next. The rod makes better citizens.
The rod teaches the concept of law in general.
Society is built on compliance to law. Lawlessness is anti-social—seen as evil in every culture. Every mature soul has a consciousness of his obligation to obey common law. But the child knows no such obligation. The undeveloped conscience of the child permits him to be entirely selfish and unruly with no guide beyond his own lust. He is committed to securing as much pleasure as possible, without regard to the needs or rights of others.
Children must be taught to live as part of the group, relinquishing a wider circle of freedom to gain the smaller circle that each member of the group shares in cooperation with others. The child must be taught to submit himself to the rules that govern society. The Bible calls this “loving your neighbor as yourself.”
Many children grow up with the impression that there are no absolutes, believing that “Thou shalt not” does not really mean you can’t. It doesn’t even mean you shouldn’t. It just means that someone who is not having any fun is daring you to break out and enjoy yourself. Children and adults who grow up without submission think that rules are made to be broken.
Law without consequences ceases to be law. Or if the consequences are administered erratically or unjustly, the law loses credibility. Law must have a guardian, an enforcer, or it is no law at all. And the enforcer must have the power to administer consequences, or he is nothing more than a puppet.
The Bible says of human government, “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil (Romans 13:4).”
If parents make laws for their children but do not enforce them, their children will develop a belief that laws are meant to be broken, and that authority is meant to be ignored. The state has the power to take possession of a lawbreaker’s body and fine him, incarcerate him, or execute him. That is what makes the state something more than a hollow statement. Parents without ultimate power over their children are no longer authority figures. They are nags and gripes, nuisances to be dismissed as the children see fit. When a parent has the power of the rod, he has the last word, and words are then laws, and the children learn that laws must be obeyed. Children raised in homes run by the rule of law, enforced with the rod, understand the concept of law and accept their duty to submit to it. To appreciate the laws of God and his jurisdiction, a child must first respect the lesser laws that govern his daily life.
The rod communicates the principles of divine government.
Without the rod you are giving the child a false concept of the nature of God. God does hate sin, and he is to be feared. The Bible says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).” And again, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).” “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether (Psalm 19:9).” Many people, especially religious people, take offense to the Biblical teaching that God is to be feared. Yet we all fear government, the state trooper, the IRS, and any temporal institution that has the power to punish offenders. We are to fear God as a man in the military fears his commanding officers. Without such fear there would be no discipline, and the armed forces would be rendered ineffective. A man in the army may both fear his sergeant and love him at the same time. The fear comes from the power he wields. The love comes from the deep respect the soldier has for the man that gives him self-respect by forcing him to excel.
As governor of the universe, God has revealed his platform, his constitution, and his agenda. He is narrow minded and decisive. He is not subject to change or negotiation. His laws are unalterable, and the consequences for breaking them are certain and final. He is not an activist judge who reinterprets his laws to fit the changing majority opinions. He is “the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8).” “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).”
The rod mirrors judgment to come.
Bible believers know that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27),” and that “every one of us shall give account of himself to God (Romans 14:12).” For “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).” We take the warning seriously, “Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him (Luke 12:5).” For the judge of the universe will come in “flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thes. 1:8).”
We do not believe that when small children die they are in jeopardy of hell. We believe there is a special dispensation for those who have not matured into a consciousness of accountability. Yet all adults learned the rules of society and God when they were very young, before they reached a condition of accountability. If parents allow their children to be unruly, never forcing them to obey, to conform to the rule of law, by the time the child is old enough to understand his accountability, he will already have developed a world-view that assumes there is no day of reckoning, no punishment for doing evil, only more threatening words. People have an overwhelming tendency to live by the principles they learned before the age of six.
Though children cannot understand coming judgment, they must be trained to make decisions with consequences in mind. If you allow the child several years of living without consequences, it is difficult for him to ever accept the truths of coming judgment, the character of God, and the nature of sin. The swift and just application of the rod causes the child to believe that all evil is punished and that one cannot get away with sin. Whatever you sow you will reap.
The rod jars the child out of his foolishness and lust.
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him (Proverbs 22:15).” Words are often lost in the frenzy of foolishness and lust. The child is swept up in the excitement of a carnival existence. When children ignore their parents, most parents get frustrated and angry. They repeat their command several times, getting louder and more threatening each time. As tension and antagonism build, parents hope the child will be shocked and intimidated into calming down and listening. They hope to raise the anxiety level of the child to the point where it is more pleasant to obey than to continue with the confrontation. This is emotionally sick—pathetic. If it is child training, it is the child training his parents. When a parent is prepared and willing to use the rod to enforce his word, there is never an occasion when tensions build and tempers flare. The child knows that the parent is going to speak once, and if there is not immediate obedience, the rod will fall. The sure application of the rod will sober a child and cause him to give very serious thought to his conduct and attitude.
The rod purges the soul of guilt.
When a child knows right from wrong, yet does wrong, he blames himself. This is called guilt. All guilt is self-accusation. It is supported by the condemnation of others, especially parents, and by a conviction that one has disobeyed God.
However, guilt is not the culprit. Guilt is good, an unavoidable act of the mind discriminating between good and evil and weighing one’s self by one’s own standards. Guilt is to the soul what pain is to the body—a warning that you are hurting yourself. It means you are to refrain from the present activity lest you suffer even greater hurt. The guilty child feels a diminishing sense of worth, along with a fear of impending condemnation and judgment. His soul feels that justice would be served if he were to suffer for his sins.
The immature mind of a child will not consciously reflect upon these things, but, just like an adult, the guilty child has a compelling need to confess his deeds and forsake them. With their inability to understand subjective concepts, children often get caught in a tangled web of self-blame that robs them of the moral energy necessary to put their wrongs behind them and move forward. Unresolved guilt can become debilitating, sapping the soul of energy and inspiration, drowning one in sorrow, shame, and fear.
There are those who suggest that parents should not hold the child to standards that will produce guilt, but permissiveness will not alleviate guilt, for the soul of every child unavoidably knows right from wrong. If nothing else, children will adopt their own standards and feel guilty when they fall short. Children will blame themselves when no one else does. And when no one blames them, they lose connection with the only authority that can forgive and restore. A child cannot subjectively forgive himself; he needs forgiveness from an objective authority that holds the same standards, sees the gravity of his offense just as he does, and yet can forgive.
When a child is bound in self-blame and low self-esteem, parents are not helpless. God has given them the gift of the rod. The rod can bring repentance, but it goes much deeper than that. The rod in the hands of a righteous authority will supply the child’s soul with that moment of judgment that he feels he so deserves. Properly applied, with instruction, it will absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid. The rod meets a psychological need in the child’s soul. “The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly (Prov. 20:30).” \“Inward parts of the belly” is a description of the physical sensations associated with guilt. Stripes on the back are said to be to the soul what the healing blood flow is to a wound.
To the child, a righteous parent is a surrogate god, representing the rule of law and the bar of justice. When the child is yet too young to fathom God, he is nonetheless able to relate to his parents in the same manner that he will later relate to God. The properly administered rod is restorative as nothing else can be. It is indispensable to the removal of guilt in your child. His very conscience (nature) demands punishment, and the rod supplies the needs of his soul, releasing him from his guilt and self-condemnation. It is the ultimate enforcer, preserving the child in authority and discipline until he is old enough to submit himself to The Eternal God.
A child can be turned back from the road to hell through proper chastisement. “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Prov. 23:13,14).”
The rod assures the child of his parent’s love.
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (Prov. 13:24).”
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons (Heb. 12:6-8).”
God chastens all his children. “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous… (Heb. 12:11).” Our “fathers of the flesh…chastened us after their own pleasure… (Heb. 12:9- 10).” The Scripture not only condones physical chastisement but also promotes it as a means to holiness—when administered for the son’s “profit.”
If God’s love is expressed by the “scourging” He gives, then can we not love our children enough to chasten them unto holiness? I heard one rebellious teenager longingly say, “If they only loved me enough to whip me.”
Recently, a mother told us that after cracking down on her children with consistent use of the rod, one child thanked God for making his mama sweeter. The increased spankings had reduced disobedience, causing the child to be more in harmony with his mother. He interpreted this to be a sweeter mother, for three spankings a day are much less stressful than fifty scowls of disapproval. So we see that it is God’s love for us that motivates his acts of chastisement.
The rod allows the child to start over. It brings closure to the conflict and tension.
“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (Heb. 12:11).”
A child that has been timely and properly chastened for his offense will be purged of his guilt and will feel that he has paid his due and that the court is satisfied. He will stop running, knowing that he is no longer a lawbreaker in jeopardy of the parental court or the court of public opinion. He will feel secure, knowing that his little universe is well managed, being run by the just rule of law. With all indebtedness paid and all guilt addressed, the child can start over, knowing that he is in favor with the authorities. “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul (Prov. 29:17).” The proper application of the rod will bring peace and righteousness to a child. David said of God’s chastisement, “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).”
God commands parents to use the rod in training their children.
“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying (Prov. 19:18).”
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (Prov. 13:24).”
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him (Prov. 22:15).”
“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die, Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Prov. 23:13-14).”
“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (Prov. 29:15).”
“In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding (Prov. 10:13).”
We do not believe God would command us to do something that is wrong. He has commanded us to chasten our children with a rod. When it comes to a choice of obeying God or the misinformed authorities, we must say with the apostle, “We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).”
God represents himself as using the rod on his children.
“Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee (Deut. 8:5).”
“If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. (Psalm 89:30-33).”
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent (Rev. 3:19).”
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth (Heb. 12:6).”
“I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men (2 Sam. 7:14).”
And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more (Luke 12:47-48).”
Since God chastens his children and commands parents to do the same, to stand against it is to stand against God. Those who are philosophically opposed to the use of the rod are opposing God.
The Bible speaks of the positive virtues produced by use of the rod.
“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul (Prov. 29: 17).”
“The rod and reproof give wisdom (Prov. 29:15).”
“…for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).”
“For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (Heb. 12:10-11).”
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes (Psalm 119:71).”
It worked in time past.
Fifty years ago, when the rod was standard procedure at school as well as at home, there were no school shootings, suicides, or disruptive classrooms. I went through 17 years of schooling in the nineteen-fifties and sixties and never saw one example of teacher disrespect. When a teacher said, “Be quiet,” everyone got quiet. Back then the board of education didn’t complain about too little money to control the students; the shop teacher made the boards and the teachers applied them to our backsides. We all knew that the words of the teachers were very serious indeed. They spoke with power, and it evoked fear in the reckless and self-willed. Under that discipline, children were happier and more secure.
Today’s politically correct approach to child training has now been tried long enough for us to know that it absolutely does not work. The proper application of the rod has worked for the nation of Israel and for Christians for the past 2,000 years. From strictly an empirical standpoint, application of the rod makes sense.
If a study of various children could be honestly conducted by objective observers, we have the utmost confidence that those who believe as we do and practice the Biblical application of the rod would by far have the best behaved, most emotionally stable, bright, and creative kids of any group on the face of the earth. As Jesus said, “wisdom is justified of all her children (Luke 7:35).”
If you knew us, if you spent time in our homes, if you spoke with our children and went with them into public places, you could not help but admit that our children are outstanding in every way. We are the best examples of parenting. If you remove our children from our homes, you should be aware of Jesus’ words, “It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones (Luke 17:1-2).”