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TO SPANK OR NOT TO SPANK
What The Word Of God Has To Say About Disciplining Children
The state of
My reaction to this news is, “Praise the Lord!” for those citizens who have enough common sense to hold firm on the issue. Children are wonderful gifts from God, but 100% of them are born with a stubborn determination to have their own way. They are totally self-centered because of the sinful nature they inherited from Adam, therefore they do not learn how to sin—it just comes naturally! And if you doubt that assertion, just ask yourself why all normal newborns will at times “lie like a dog barking up an empty tree” by howling as if something dreadful was wrong, only to hush when mom or dad picks them up? They know instinctively that such behavior will get the desired result! That is why I have often said (only partly in jest) that kids come into the world with a degree in psychology.
So even though the relative amount of willfulness/stubbornness varies with the individual child, all must be subjected to loving discipline if they are to become responsible, law-abiding adults. Some will respond positively to a minimum of correction, but the overwhelming majority will have to be forced into complying with the norms of a civilized society because disciplined behavior is contrary to their very nature.
“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left undisciplined brings his mother to shame” Proverbs 29:15 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
The Bible contains the distilled wisdom of the ages and quotes like as the one above abound within it. And since the writers of Scripture were inspired by God, all such principles and precepts came directly from Him:
“Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action)” 2 Timothy 3:16 (Amplified Bible).
So with this being the case, we ought to heed the following exhortations to use corporeal punishment in a loving and prudent manner. They were given by Solomon who, with the sole exception of Jesus Christ, was the wisest man who ever lived. And they are very explicit as to how one should correct a disobedient child:
“He who spares his rod [of discipline] hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines diligently and punishes him early” Proverbs 13:24 (Amplified Bible).
“Discipline your son while there is hope, but do not [indulge your angry resentments by undue chastisements and] set yourself to his ruin” Proverbs 19:18 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” Proverbs 22:15 (Amplified Bible).
“Withhold not discipline from the child; for if you strike and punish him with the [reedlike] rod, he will not die” Proverbs 23:13 (Amplified Bible).
“You shall whip him with the rod and deliver his life from Sheol (Hades, the place of the dead)” Proverbs 23:14 (Amplified Bible).
“Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your heart” Proverbs 29:17 (Amplified Bible).
Once a child is old enough to understand the meaning of the word “No!” they are old enough to have the backs of their hands spanked (and later on their buttocks, the large gluteus maximus muscles). Thousands of years of cumulative experience stand behind the principle that the application of superficial pain quickly produces positive results that will not be soon forgotten, while attempts at reasoning with them invariably have to be repeated many times—a process that is minimally successful at best. But why do you suppose that is the case? Are they incapable of understanding parental demands? No! The simple answer is that even the best and brightest among them are unreasonable! They are born with a selfish determination to have their own way in everything and the concept of unacceptable behavior must be forced upon them if they are to obey.
The process of teaching a child proper discipline is very similar to breaking a horse. While a few “horse whisperers” have demonstrated the ability to gentle wild horses and ride them, the overwhelming majority can only be ridden after they have been forced into submission. When the saddle is put on their backs, they will pitch a fit by bucking and trying their best to throw off the rider. Then when it finally becomes obvious to the horse that further attempts are useless, it will stop the undesirable behavior and submit. Thus the intent of the infliction of minimal pain and discomfort is to break the will of the horse without breaking its spirit. And while some will continue to test the resolve of their riders by bucking unexpectedly, in most cases it only takes one application of discipline per horse to make them useful and dependable animals.
Similarly, conquering the stubborn will of a child should be accomplished to the point where even the threat of a spanking will cause compliance. As is the case with horses, discipline enforced properly rarely has to be done often.
No loving parent enjoys inflicting pain upon their child. But which makes more sense—a few spankings (relatively speaking) that result in an obedient and respectful son/daughter, or several years of “I love my child too much to spank” confrontations in which the emphasis is upon negotiation and not parental authority? May God have mercy on us because the latter has prevailed for the past 50 years and the concept of family is in tatters.
Opponents of spanking nearly always bring up the term “beating” when arguing their case because they would have us believe the two terms are synonymous. So to be fair and balanced where this subject is concerned, it should be noted that news reports continue to cite numerous instances today where children are being beaten and abused. But in such cases the instructions of Proverbs 19:18 (cited earlier) are not followed and very often this leads to hatred of the parent(s) and criminal behavior later in life.
What is the essential difference between spanking a child and beating them? Fundamentally it boils down to a matter of degree and location of the application. Obviously a parent spanking the back of a toddler’s hand/fingers with their open hand/fingers is vastly different from hitting them in the face with a clenched fist. Swatting them on the buttocks with a hand or paddle is not at all to be compared with breaking their arms or legs. And striping the buttocks and legs of an older child with a switch is not the same as hitting them across the back or head with a baseball bat. The former methods only inflict superficial and momentary pain; whereas the latter are truly beatings and can result in serious injury or even death. The object and limit of spanking is to cause a very unpleasant stinging sensation—to the degree that the child will not want to experience it again!
Very few have ever been harmed physically by a proper spanking and multiplied millions have been greatly helped. I know that to be true, because I am one of them. A healthy fear of and respect for parental authority was instilled within me at an early age. And I treasure the memories of a Mother and Dad who loved their only child enough to make him obey.
The following examples of what God has to say about willfully disobedient children may be surprising to some:
“Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death” Exodus 21:15 (Amplified Bible).
“Whoever curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death” Exodus 21:17 (Amplified Bible).
“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or his mother and though they chasten him will not listen to them, 19 Then his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 And they shall say to the elders of his city, This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey our voice. He is a glutton and a drunkard. 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall cleanse out the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear and [reverently] fear” Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (Amplified Bible).
“Cursed is he who dishonors his father or his mother. All the people shall say, Amen” Deuteronomy 27:16 (Amplified Bible).
“For God commanded, Honor your father and your mother, and, He who curses or reviles or speaks evil of or abuses or treats improperly his father or mother, let him surely come to his end by death” Matthew 15:4 (Amplified Bible).
It is tragic, but we as a nation have listened to the advice of “experts” rather than the Word of God where child-rearing is concerned and our overflowing prisons are a testimony to that fact. So if you truly want your son/daughter to turn out well, it is imperative that they learn at an early age to obey promptly and without exhibiting a rebellious attitude.
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
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