Will the Real Child Abusers Please Stand Up?
Proverbs 13:24, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."
The Key To Raising Children
At the very beginning of this article, I must explain that I am not an expert in child rearing, but I do know that God has given us a perfect instruction manual to follow. Jessie Ruth McWhorter and I were married on March 8, 1964, and God has added four children to our home, two boys and two girls. Raising these four children has forced my wife and I to put into practice those child-raising principles taught in the Bible. So this article is not just theory, it's "applied Bible".
My mother-in-law gave me the key to raising children when my oldest son was very young. The key is this: "A parent must work as hard as they can to help the child understand the right way, all the time depending entirely on God to make the right way effective in the heart and mind of the child. The parent must realize that God gave us our children so we could give them back to Him. As our children grow up and go their own way, parents must let them go the way God is directing them, even if that way is different from the way the parent would go."
Definition of Rod
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines rod as: "from an unused root probably meaning to branch off; a stick (for punishing, writing, fighting, ruling, walking, etc.)
Child abuse is a terrible crime which must be punished by every society. As a matter of fact, the society that condones child abuse is very sick, and will surely undergo the judgment of God. But what is the difference between spanking a child and abusing a child? I realize there is a lot of confusion today between these two points, but there must be a scriptural, middle ground between the modern view of refusing to use the rod and the view that the parent must beat the child half to death.
The "Experts" Opinion
Of Child Discipline
I have read many articles in books and magazines concerning the proper discipline of children. The majority of these widely read articles state that the proper and modern method of discipline uses logic, not a rod, to persuade a child concerning right and wrong. The articles then explain that using a rod (the word "rod" being used to describe spanking) is child abuse. The articles declare that the rod is a tool of anger, which the unlearned parent uses to lash out against a defenseless child. This "training" gives the child a bad outlook on life which they carry over to their children, thus the erroneous practice of spanking is carried on from generation to generation.
I just read an article in a popular monthly magazine which stated that it is never right to use spanking as punishment for a child. The author explained that this kind of punishment caused the child to believe it was all right for a big person to hit a little person if they didn't do what the big person said to do. The author believed it was better to remove privileges or deprive the child of your attention for a given period.
We must answer this argument by stating that the proper use of the rod is not just hitting a child to make them do what they ought to do. A parent is always wrong to spank a child in anger. This leaves a permanent scar on the child which may be carried over to future generations. The parent must administer the rod only as a directive from God, not because it pleases them. When the rod is properly used, the parent, as well as the child, will be crying. The child will be hurting on the outside, but the parent will be hurting on the inside. The old saying, "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you" is absolutely true.
I doubt that any parent can properly discipline their children before they pray. Taking time to pray gives the parent time to bring the matter before God, and nobody can pray when they are angry. Prayer causes the parent to consider what God would have them do. Then the parent goes into the room where the child is waiting. When they confront the child, it is not as an angry parent, but as an ambassador of God. They will then sit down and calmly and deliberately explain to the child that they have broken the laws of God, and God always demands punishment. Proper child discipline always involves an explanation of why the spanking is necessary. God has given parents His authority to guide children in learning right from wrong and directing the child to God's service and an eternity with Him.
Listen to Proverbs 23:13,14, "Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shall beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell." You will not kill your child by spanking him, but you may very well doom him to eternal hell fire by withholding the spanking. It is very difficult to spank children, especially when they look up at you with fear filled eyes, but the wise parent understands that spanking does more than just correct a temporary fault. It teaches the child in a quite literal way that there is eternal punishment for sin. This is the purpose of using the rod. The child learns through the temporary pain of the rod that there is an eternal pain he can avoid by obeying God.
It is unnecessary be over harsh in using the rod. A spanking should very seldom, if ever, be given for a first infraction. The child must know they are disobeying and the parent must know the child knows they are disobeying. Remember, the purpose of using the rod is not to inflict injury on the child, but to teach them that all disobedience eventually brings pain.
Before the parent leaves the room, they should hug the child and tell them they love them and all is forgiven. This is an excellent time for the parent to explain how everybody has broken the laws of God and must be punished, but "...God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The Lock Out
I read another article which said that the mother should lock herself in her bedroom, or lock the child out of the house, if the child doesn't obey her. The "lockout" must continue until the child realizes what they have done, and ask for forgiveness and restoration. I personally believe this is one of the most ridiculous theories I have ever heard. There are some children who would take that opportunity to burn the house down and murder all the neighbors!
These articles are like all the rest of Satan's lies; they contain just enough truth to make them seem right. The articles correctly state that parents ought to use logic to cause the child to understand right from wrong. But the part about spanking being child abuse is entirely incorrect. To say that using a rod for discipline is wrong is the same thing as saying God is wrong, for He said the rod ought to be used. Of course, the rod is unnecessary if the child will listen and obey the parents. But if the child will not listen, the parents have the authority and responsibility from God to cause the child to want to listen.
of Child Discipline
Please read again what our text says, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." Sometimes people say they love their children or grandchildren too much to spank them, but this is not what God says. God declares that the proper application of the rod declares love! Heb. 12:6-8, "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." God chastens His children because He loves them. He doesn't want them involved in sin, just like the Godly parent doesn't want their children involved in sin. The word "betimes" means at dawn, or early at any task. Therefore a child should be spanked very soon after the wrongful act, so he will associate the wrongful act with the punishment.
Prov. 19:18, "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying." This verse is divided into two parts.
(1) "Chasten thy son while there is hope." It is good and right to begin disciplining the child when he is still very young. There is a time for spanking, but this time soon passes as the child grows into adolescence and adulthood. The parent who begins using the rod when the child is 15 years old has, in all probability, waited too long. Sometimes parents do not discipline toddlers, or young children, because they seem to be so tender and full of innocence. But the Bible says the infant comes from the womb speaking lies. The toddler soon realizes how much he can get away with and will always go the limit. Sometimes, parents think the mean things an infant does are cute and they laugh at his little fits. But the infant doesn't remain an infant. He soon grows into a toddler, then into a young child, then into a teenager, and finally into adulthood. Those "little fits" have also grown, even though the parents didn't intend for that to happen. When an adult throws a fit or temper tantrum, it is because they have gotten away with it all their lives, and expect to continue getting away with it.
Proverbs 29:17, "Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul." If we want our children to give us delight and not misery, we must follow God's directions for child rearing. Those parents whose children are a source of constant pain and anguish have not obeyed the Lord in raising their children. The Bible states in Proverbs 31:28 that children properly raised and cared for will rise up and call the virtuous wife and mother, "blessed".
(2) "let not thy soul spare for his crying." When a child knows they will be spanked, they will naturally be afraid and tears will probably come. But the Bible says for parents not to spare the child because of his crying. Why? The purpose of discipline is to teach the child that wrongdoing will eventually bring pain. Think of the following things for just a minute. If the child is not punished for the "little things", they will begin to think they ought to get away with bigger things. Therefore, they will begin to get into more and more trouble, not expecting to pay for their wrongdoing. If it goes so far that the child grows into adolescence without proper discipline, it is likely he will begin to steal some small items, which will soon grow into larger items. Some people then go on to the more serious crimes of rape, murder, selling drugs, etc. The problem started because he wasn't punished for the "little things". Some people will disagree with this progression of events, saying it won't happen to their child, surely something will happen along the way to stop the downward progression into sin. But isn't that what the parents of all criminals think? Haven't you seen them on television news proclaiming that their son or daughter is a good person, and they just can't understand why they are in trouble?
The Result of Not Spanking:
Everybody loses when
God's Word is discarded.
The mother loses. Prov. 29:15, "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame." Worldly wisdom declares that a child will naturally understand right from wrong, but the Bible says that without parental supervision and correction, mothers will be ashamed of her own children! I wonder if that's why so many mothers feel "unfulfilled" if they don't work outside the home?
The father loses. Eph. 4:4, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord". This wrath is not the wrath of the child, or the wrath of the dad; it is the wrath of God. Dad, as well as the other family members, lose the joy of living in a Christian home because he fails to teach his children that they are ultimately responsible to God.
The child loses. Prov. 22:15, "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." The Bible is correct. Children are foolish, but the rod of correction (not the rod of abuse) will cause the child to understand that there is a penalty to be paid for the foolishness of forgetting the judgments of those in authority. The undisciplined child will never know the love of a parent who set limits while pointing them to the love of God. They will spend their lives searching for those things their parents should have taught them. They will probably spend their eternity in hell because they never really believed there was punishment for sin.