Wisdom and Child-Rearing, Part
From my vast experience I could easily write a book on the subject
of corporal punishment. It would be entitled: Spankings I Remember.
There is one particular incident from my youth that is still fresh
in my mindís eye. My father asked me to walk up to the county road
and get the mail. I responded that I would be delighted to drive
those 200 yards or so. After all, I reminded him, it was my old Ď36
Ford pickup that I would be driving. True enough, my father agreed,
but it was his gas I would be consuming. I walked out the back door
only to see that pickup sitting, unused. What a shame. Convinced
that my dad was unreasonable, and hoping that tired engine would
come to life before my father made it out of the house, I got in and
started grinding away at the starter. The engine came to life about
the same time my dad did. Well, it was too late, I reasoned; what
was done was done. I might as well make a run for it, hoping the
truck was quicker than dad--a futile thought.
Unfortunately for both dad and
myself, I ran over his foot with a half-flat front tire. That
certainly added to his zeal. With amazing agility dad grabbed hold
of the truck; and since the truck had no door on the driverís side,
dad and I were eyeball to eyeball, me in the driverís seat and him
on the running board. Now I know that some Bible teachers make much
of the rod, the instrument, by which discipline is administered, as
well as carefully specifying the place it is to be applied. But
there was a stick lying in the road which my dad was able to reach
down and pick up, and I was still sitting on the spot where it would
best be applied. The long and short of it was that one good blow
brought me to my senses and that old truck to a halt. You may have
guessed that I walked to bring in the mail.
As a commentary on my fatherís
use of the paddle, there is not one time I can recall about which I
am not now able to smile. The only member of our family who had a
continuing difference with my father about the paddle was Prince,
the familyís collie. I believe that dog suffered as much
during our sessions with the rod as we did.
No book of the Bible has as
much to say about "the rod" as the Book of Proverbs. And few books
written in recent years would agree with what Proverbs teaches. An
article in the Journal of Psychology and Theology of several years
ago probably expresses the viewpoint of most Americans. The author
concluded that moderate spanking had minimal value, if any, and more
frequent and severe spanking was definitely viewed as damaging to
the child. Here are several of the reasons the author cited in
support of his position: 1
A childís bottom is in close
proximity to his sexual organs. Thus a spanking may result in
sexual stimulation. (Sigmund Freudís fingerprints are all over
The child may so enjoy the
making up which follows a spanking that he will seek the spanking.
Since it is assumed that
spanking is a form of parental revenge, it is feared that the
child will learn to handle his frustrations like his parents
do--by striking out. In the words of the article, when we spank
our children we give them, "a taste of the jungle." 2
A woman once suffered from an
anal fistula which she associated with spanking and toilet
training. Therefore no one should spank their children for fear
that this might be their experience.
The possibility of getting a
spanking keeps the child from having a relaxed attitude toward
life. He is always fearful of the spanking which might
Some children who are spanked
still misbehave. Therefore, spanking must not work.
I am not shocked to read these
kinds of statements when they are written by non-Christians, by
people who do not view the Bible as authoritative. But this
article was written by a man who received a doctoral degree in
theology from one of the most renowned seminaries in the United
States. Furthermore, he is teaching in a Christian liberal
In attempting to integrate
psychology with theology, the former clearly won out, as we can see
from this statement by Dr. Ruble:
Should children be spanked? Answered from a
biblical viewpoint, there seems to be no clear teaching that they
should. Conversely, there is no explicit prohibition against
spanking. Answered from a psychological perspective, there are
differences of opinion among psychologists. However, the negative
features associated with spanking children seem to suggest that they
should not be spanked severely or frequently, if at all.
All psychologists would tend to emphasize
positive rather than negative contingencies in controlling
childrenís behavior. Spanking is an aversive stimulus and therefore
not as desirable as positive reward in behavioral control. When
aversive dimensions must be applied, non-violent ones are preferable
to violent ones. 4
In a later article, in response
to the criticism of another Christian psychologist, 5 Dr. Ruble writes:
The Bible nowhere teaches that all children
should be spanked if they are to develop properly. Instead, children
need firm and patient guidance. They need happy, well-adjusted,
integrated Christian parents who resist the impulse to strike out
when frustrated by the childís behavior. They need innovative
parents with a vast repertoire of creative responses to the child.
They need above all to realize the powerful impact of example.
This demonstrates to me that
even evangelical, Bible-believing Christians are struggling with the
matter of spanking their children. Not only are some Christians
questioning its validity today, but governmental agencies are quite
clearly moving in the direction of banning its use, not only in
public schools but in the home. While my first intention was simply
to assume that Christians agreed we must spank our children and to
discuss only the "howís" and "whenís," I now find it necessary to
spend this entire lesson exploring the biblical reasons "why"
Christian parents should spank their children.
It is from the Scriptures
that we must derive the principles which should govern the
discipline of our children, and by which we must judge the
contributions of every other field of study. The Bible clearly
claims to be an adequate and authoritative guide for all spiritual
matters, and in particular for the matter of correction and
"All Scripture is given by
inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of
God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
If it is the Scriptures which
adequately equip us for every good work, and for correction in
particular, then let us look to the book which has the most to say
on the subject of spanking, the Book of Proverbs.
What is the Rod?
Before I begin to enumerate the
biblical reasons for using the rod, let me agree with Dr. Ruble in
one particular area, though not to the degree that he carries it. 7 I agree with him that
the expression "the rod" may at times be used more broadly than just
as a reference to corporal punishment. The term "rod" is used, for
example for Godís divine chastisement of men (cf. 2 Sam. 7:14; Isa.
10:5). In these instances we understand the term "rod" to be
used metaphorically or symbolically for divine discipline. This does
not mean (as Dr. Ruble seems to conclude) that the term "rod" in
Proverbs never refers to a spanking. In nearly every instance
in Proverbs the "rod" could just as well be translated "spanking."
I do fear, however, that some parents have concluded that there is
only one means of correction--the rod.
I have a friend who had an
interesting means of differentiating between offenses, while using a
paddle to deal with a variety of types of misconduct. He had a very
long paddle, with reference marks up and down the length of the
handle. For very serious disobedience, he grasped the paddle at the
very end, giving the board a very long and painful swing. For lesser
sins he would "choke up" like a baseball player attempting a short
This is one solution, but I
think we dare not attempt to use the paddle for every offense our
children commit. When Proverbs urges parents not to spare the rod,
it is, in the broadest terms, instructing us of the need to correct,
to discipline, our children. One of the ways of correcting our
children which Proverbs advocates is the rod. Correction--yes. The
paddle--perhaps. Discipline--always. The rod--sometimes.
Why is the Rod Required?
Much of modern-day psychology
seems to look on the rod as a relic of the past. It is a punitive,
even primitive, means of controlling the behavior of children which
is now obsolete by virtue of manís greater knowledge of human
behavior. Simply put, we have evolved beyond such primitive means of
controlling our children. To the modern mind the rod really is a
"taste of the jungle." Why is it then that the Book of Proverbs
speaks so much of the rod, instructing parents to make use of it in
child-rearing? A number of reasons can be found in Proverbs and
elsewhere in the Bible.
1. THE ROD IS REQUIRED IN THE
BIBLE BECAUSE WE ARE NOT INCLINED TO USE IT. Proverbs assumes the
sinfulness of the parent as well as that of the child. Proverbs
commands parents to use the rod for correction simply because we
would not otherwise be inclined to do so [especially if we are
liberals]. There are a number of reasons why this is true.
Some parents fail to use the
rod because of their own upbringing. Some grew up in homes where
they were not spanked. The tendency in most cases is for us to raise
our children the way we were brought up (cf. Prov. 4:3-4). We
must always evaluate our past experience in the light of the
Scriptures. We should, of course, retain that which is godly
and good, but we must also recognize those elements of our childhood
training which were wrong. Unfortunately, there are
people who use the Bible to justify their cruelty to their children.
Child abuse is never sanctioned in Proverbs.
The difference between the Book
of Proverbs and psychologists like Dr. Ruble is that Proverbs
assumes that most parents are inclined not to discipline at all. In
that case the parent must be encouraged to use the rod. Some
psychologists, on the other hand, assume that those who use the
"rod" are "striking out" against their children. Spanking is viewed
as a form of parental aggression, a resorting to primitive
tendencies. Therefore, psychology tends to prohibit spanking,
assuming that those who use the rod do so in a wrong way or for
wrong reasons. That is over generalization. Just because some
parents abuse their children with a rod does not mean that the rod
is categorically bad. While sinfulness can incline some parents to
abuse their children by beating them, Proverbs assumes that
sinfulness most often takes the form of avoiding the correction and
discipline of our children.
Most of our reasons for
resisting the rod do not go back to our parents. I believe one
of the principle reasons why we fail to discipline our children is
because we are sluggards. Letís face it, children never
disobey us when it is convenient to discipline them.
Sometimes it is in the middle of a Dallas Cowboyís football game.
Who wants to get up and spank a child when it is third down with one
yard to go on the opponentís two yard line? Then again,
who is anxious to spank their child in the aisle of a supermarket,
when it seems that every eye is on us? If I were to be
totally honest I would have to admit that the major reason why I
donít spank as much as I should is because I am too lazy to put
forth the effort to do something I donít really enjoy.
Another reason many parents do
not spank their children is due to misdirected sympathy. There
is nothing more heart-rending than the wailing of a child during a
spanking. In fact the wailing often starts before the paddling
begins. The child is desperately attempting to soften or shorten the
blows by his pathetic sobs and tears. In order to give the
parent courage and diligence at such times Proverbs tells us:
Withold not correction from the child:
for it thou beatest him with a rod, he shall not die (23:13).
Taken in its usual sense this
proverb assures faint-hearted parents that their child is not really
ready for the intensive care unit at the hospital--it only sounds
that way. In spite of such appearances, we are counseled, keep it
Yet another reason for parental
avoidance of the rod is due to various misconceptions of love,
forgiveness, and forbearance. In our culture it is considered
inconceivable that love can be expressed by the rod. Love is viewed
as never punishing, never bringing pain, only dealing with the child
in very positive ways. Proverbs has a very different view of love:
He that spareth his rod hateth his son:
but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes [diligently] (13:24).
Do we love our children?
Then we will be diligent to chasten them when required. Do we
hate our children? Then we will avoid using the rod.
Love seeks the best interest of the child, which is sometimes served
by inflicting pain by means of the rod.
We may try to sanctify
permissive parenting by using this kind of Scripture:
The discretion of a man
deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a
In this text and others, such
as our Lordís instruction to "turn the other cheek" (Matt. 5:39), we
are taught not to retaliate against those who offend us.
Say not thou, "I will recompense evil"; but
wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee(20:22).
But while we ought not seek
revenge, neither do we dare overlook sin in the lives of our
children, or in the lives of other saints (cf. Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor.
5:1-8; Gal. 6:1).
Finally, I believe that some
parents refrain from using the rod because they have been taught
never to discipline in anger. While anger should never control our
discipline, it may be a means of motivating it. I am personally
convinced that being angry should not keep a parent from doing his
duty with regard to the rod. Since this is an important issue I will
spend a considerable amount of time on it in the next lesson.
Suffice it for now to say that being angry should not keep us from
disciplining our children.
2. THE ROD IS REQUIRED TO
RESTRAIN THE SIN OF THE CHILD. I must confess at the outset
that while I believe this principle is assumed by the Book of
Proverbs, I am not certain it is clearly taught here. In
Genesis 9, God ordained government and the use of capital
punishment. He did this in order to restrain sinful men. The
"sword" which government bears (Rom. 13:4) is that of capital
punishment. It is given this authority, we are taught, to
restrain evil and to reward righteousness (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet.
2:14). I believe that parents have this same obligation with
regard to their children. While we cannot change their hearts, we
can, to some degree, control their behavior, and for this we are
held accountable (cf. 1 Sam. 3:13; 1 Tim. 3:4). Just as government
bears the sword to restrain sin, the parent holds the rod.
3. THE ROD IS REQUIRED BECAUSE
IT DEMONSTRATES THE CHARACTER OF THE CHILD. I have a friend who has
helped me appreciate the fact that a personís character is often
demonstrated by his response to correction. Proverbs teaches
this truth, and it certainly applies to the childís response to the
Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge:
but he that hateth reproof is brutish (12:1).
A wise son heareth his father's instruction:
but a scorner heareth not rebuke (13:1).
A fool despiseth his father's instruction:
but he that regardeth reproof is prudent (15:5).
A child who accepts discipline
and responds to it by repentance and right conduct is on the path of
the wise. A child who is embittered by correction (even though
rightly carried out by the parents) has rejected the way of the
In the light of the rod as a
test of a childís character, let us be careful about using some
"positive" means of training our children. Secular psychology tends
to avoid nearly every negative form of discipline in favor of those
which are considered more positive. Positive reinforcement is
important, but not when it excludes necessary negative correction.
If I am in the grocery store and I tell my child to put down the box
of cereal and he responds, "No!" I have several choices. If I say to
the child, "If you put down the cereal, Iíll buy you a candy bar,"
that is bribery, not discipline. The obedience of our children is
best tested when we instruct them to do something that is
undesirable or unpleasant to them, like bending over to get a shot
at the doctorís office. To give a child a dollar and tell him to buy
candy is no test of obedience. Let us beware of "positive"
discipline which is only bribery by another name. Let us use it only
when it is godly and right.
4. THE ROD IS REQUIRED BECAUSE
IT IS A TEACHING TOOL. A spanking is not only a test of the
childís character but a tool to teach the child as well.
All the commandments which I command thee this
day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go
in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers.
And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee
these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove
thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep
his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered
thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not,
neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man
doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out
of the mouth of the Lord doth man live (Deut. 8:1-3).
In this passage Moses taught
the Israelites a very important principle. Not only were the
difficulties along the way a discipline (v. 5) intended to test the
character of the people of God (v. 2), they were a lesson intended
to teach Godís people that manís life consists of more than eating
bread, that men must also learn to live in complete dependence on
Godís word (v. 3). While Jobís trials were a proof of his character
(Job 1:8), they were also a lesson in Jobís life to teach him
greater dependence on God, especially in times of trouble (Job
38).The Book of Hebrews teaches New Testament Christians the very
same lesson (cf. especially chap. 12). The Book of Proverbs agrees
with this teaching, for it informs us that parental discipline is
divinely appointed for the development of a childís character.
My son, despise not the chastening of the
Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord
loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth
For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is
light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life (6:23).
The ear that heareth the reproof of life
abideth among the wise. He that refuseth instruction despiseth
his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a
child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame (29:15).
It is very important that we
distinguish between punishment and correction. Punishment is the
process of giving the evil-doer what he deserves. Correction
is intended to instruct a man so that he will mature and be more
godly. From a divine perspective punishment is for
non-believers while chastening is for Godís children. The
correction of our children should be modeled after the correction of
Godís children (cf. 3:11-12). The correction of our children with
the rod, then, is to be instructive, not merely punitive (though
this may be true as well).
So far as instruction is
concerned the rod is not required to teach the wise, because they
will listen to counsel and learn from it.
Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee:
rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to
a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he
will increase in learning. (9:8-9).
Some, however, are not
teachable with mere words. A child, for example, may not be able to
grasp the danger of playing in the street. The rod reinforces the
word "no" by teaching a young child that when he plays in the street
there are painful consequences. It amazes me that some psychologists
talk about the cruelty of spanking a child in this light. Is it more
cruel to spank a child so he can learn of the danger in this way or
to let him suffer the natural consequences of foolishness and
perhaps die? You cannot reason with a child at this age. Children
are unable to grasp abstractions (like the danger of Mack trucks in
the street), but they do understand pain. The rod is an instructive
tool for those who cannot yet reason.
The rod is also an instructive
tool for those who are old enough to reason, but wonít. For
those who will not listen to reason the rod is an alternative
teaching tool. Stubborn willfulness is something for which the rod
is the remedy. It is intended to change arrogance and pride into
humility, and disobedience to obedience.
By using the rod the parent
seeks to point out sin in the childís life and to show him that sin
always has a high price. In so doing the child is encouraged to see
the dangers of sin and to turn from waywardness to the way of
wisdom, beginning with the fear of the Lord.
I have not thought this passage
through carefully, but it seems that the role of the rod in bringing
stubborn sons to a point of being willing to listen to reason is
taught in the Book of Isaiah. In the first chapter we read:
"Come now, and let us reason
together," saith the Lord: "though your sins be as scarlet, they
shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they
shall be as wool" (Isa. 1:18).
Here is a word of warning and
exhortation. Israelís problem is her waywardness. God offers
forgiveness, if Israel will only repent. If they heed Godís warning,
they will find forgiveness and blessing, but if they do not . . .
"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat
the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be
devoured with the sword:" for the mouth of the Lord hath
spoken it (Isa.
God seeks to reason with men
and to turn them from their sin. If they respond and repent, He will
forgive them. If they do not, God will use "the rod" to break their
willful spirit and bring them to repentance. The rod is for those
who refuse to learn the easy way.
The rod, then, is like a red
warning light on the dash of an automobile--it is a signal that
something is wrong which needs to be corrected. The light does not
itself solve the problem, but it at least makes the
individual aware of it. It is in this sense, I believe, that we are to understand
The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil:
so do stripes the inward parts of the belly (20:30).
The rod is employed in order to
reach the heart of the child and to turn it from evil.
By using the rod the parent seeks to teach the child the
consequences of sin and the need for accepting Godís solution for
Incidentally, I should point
out that even when the rod fails to instruct the one who is
chastened, it may still provide instruction for others.
Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware:
and reprove one that hath understanding and he will understand
5. THE ROD IS REQUIRED BECAUSE
OF THE DEVASTATING RESULTS OF REFRAINING FROM ITS USE. There are
some proverbs which seem to promise more than we can hope for:
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
A casual look at these
Scriptures may incline us to think that the paddle is more effective
than the "Four Spiritual Laws." Such a misconception is due to our
failure to understand the terms "soul" and "death" in the sense that
the Israelite of ancient times did. The term "soul" was equivalent
to our word "life." Saving a "soul" in those days was saving a life.
"Death," too, had a very specific meaning-one that we are not
inclined to consider, but which ha! tremendous impact on the Old
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son,
which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his
mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken
unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on
him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the
gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city,
"This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our
voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard." And all the men of
his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt
thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and
If the "rod" was given to
restrain sin, the "rock" was given to remove it. Parents in ancient
times who believed in the authority of Godís word knew all too well
that if the rod was not effective, the only recourse was the
rock--stoning. There was a tremendous motivation, then, for these
parents to be diligent with the rod. While it may have been painful
to both parent and child, it was far better than the
alternative--stoning a stubborn and rebellious son.
One problem with parents today
is that we have lost sight of the devastating consequences of sin
which is not dealt with in the life of the child. Let us remember
that when Paul wrote, "the wages of sin is death," he was speaking
primarily of spiritual death, not just physical death. While the
parents of an undisciplined child suffer the earthly consequences of
shame and regret (e.g. 29:15), the eternal consequences of sin are
far worse. If the rod impresses a child with his sinfulness and need
of salvation, that is a lesson worth the price of pain, and it may
prevent a much greater agony, the suffering of eternal damnation.
In this light the rod looks
entirely different than some would see it. To say that the rod is
cruel and primitive is to fail to see the alternative clearly. Is it
cruel to grab a child by the hair? Certainly it is painful. But
suppose your child was falling from a high building to certain
death. Would you be willing to grab that child by the hair if it
were the means of saving his life? Of course you would. So too the
rod may appear cruel until the alternatives are considered.
6. THE ROD Is REQUIRED BECAUSE
IT IS RIGHTEOUS AND BECAUSE GOD USES THE ROD ON HIS CHILDREN. To be
godly is to be God-like. Early in the Book of Proverbs we are taught
that human discipline and divine discipline are similar, if not
My son, despise not the chastening of the
Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord
loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth (3:11-12).
These verses are quite
evidently based upon the Old Testament law of God:
Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that,
as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee
If it is the responsibility of
earthly fathers to model the role of God as the Father of true
believers (a concept we will deal with in the next lesson), then the
discipline of the father must be like that of God Himself.
Here is the rub with those who
are unbelievers or unbiblical in their thinking. They cannot
conceive of spanking as godly because they cannot conceive of God as
judging men and condemning them to an eternal hell. If God is only a
God of love (as some wish to think), then He would not and could not
send any to hell, nor would He inflict pain on men at any time. If
parents are to be godly (God-like), then they cannot inflict pain on
their children. The primary issue is this: What is God like? Does He
inflict pain on men for sin? If He does, then we are only consistent
with His character and actions when we inflict pain on our children
for their sinful acts.
A careful look at a few
biblical passages leaves no doubt about the discipline of God:
"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.
"If his [i.e., Davidís] 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. My covenant will I not break, nor alter
the thing that is gone out of my lips" (Ps. 89:30-34).
"O Assyrian, the rod of mine
anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation" (Isa. 10:5).
In each of these passages, God
speaks of using the "rod" of correction on His people. Davidís sons,
the kings of Judah, would be disciplined by God for their
disobedience; yet God said He would remain faithful to His promise
to establish for David an everlasting throne (2 Sam. 7:12-13).
Disobedient Israel would be chastened by Godís "rod" of correction,
Assyria (cf. Deut. 28:15-68, esp. v. 64; Isa. 7:17-19; 8:5-8).
In every instance of Godís
disciplining of His people, God is seen to be righteous for judging
sinners. His discipline is never seen as a flaw in His holy
character, but as a manifestation of His holiness.
Now therefore, our God, the
great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and
mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath
come upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and
on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since
the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day. Howbeit thou
art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right,
but we have done wickedly (Neh. 9:32-33; cf. Ps. 78; Dan. 9).
Ananias and his wife Sapphira
were struck dead for their deception (Acts 5:1-11). God is not
merely a disciplinarian in the Old Testament, but also in the New.
In Matthew 18:15-20 our Lord laid down a means of imposing
discipline on a disobedient believer, and in 1 Corinthians 5:2-5
Paul urged the Corinthian saints to apply this instruction. Later on
in 1 Corinthians, Paul explained that some of the saints had become
sick and others had died due to their failure to rightly discern the
Lordís body in the commemoration of the Lordís Supper (11:29-30).
Paul personally practiced this kind of discipline (1 Tim. 1:18-20).
If disobedient children of God
are disciplined severely in both testaments, we should certainly
expect an even worse fate for those who have rejected the salvation
God has provided for men in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand
before God; and the books were opened: and another book was
opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged
out of those things which were written in the books, according to
their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it;
and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them:
and they were judged every man according to their works. And
death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the
second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book
of life was cast into the lake of fire
Especially deserving of
damnation are those who have actively afflicted the saints. Note
that in the passage cited below God is seen to be righteous in His
act of judging sinners.
And the third angel poured out his vial upon
the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And
I heard the angel of the waters say, "Thou art righteous, O Lord,
which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast
given them blood to drink; for they are worthy." And I heard
another out of the altar say, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and
righteous are thy judgments" (Rev. 16:4-7).
We can now understand why
Proverbs views the rod as righteous and judgment as just. In
Proverbs 1 wisdom is completely righteous in seeing justice served
by the sinners reaping not only what they wanted, but also what they
so richly deserved.
"Then shall they call upon me, but I will not
answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the
Lord: They would none of my counsel: they despised all
my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own
way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning
away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools
shall destroy them" (1:28-32).
We can draw no other conclusion
from the Scriptures than this: Righteousness demands the rod. Godís
righteousness necessitates that He judge unbelievers and discipline
His own people. God has established kings and earthly authorities to
promote righteousness and to punish evildoers (Prov. 20:8; 24:25;
25:5; Rom. 13:1-5). So too parents must reward righteousness in
their children and punish them for their evil deeds. If there is one
thing that is certain in eternity, and which should be seen in life,
it is that sinners will be punished.
Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not
be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be
Society is wrong, my
friend--dead wrong! It is not a sin to spank a child. If parents are
to be godly they must deal with evil as God does. Just as God has
always made provision for the sinner, the parent must teach the
child about the way to life. Just as God has disciplined His
disobedient children, so must we, for their good and our own. The
rod is righteous. Discipline is divine. Spanking can be an act of
spirituality. It is not always so, but that is a matter which we
will deal with in our next lesson.
My friend, is it possible that
you have been slack in using the rod because you do not want to
conceive of God as a disciplinarian? Do you wish that God were
patronizing rather than punishing sin? Many of us have failed in our
child-raising simply because we do not like the model--God. Like it
or not, the God of the Bible--Old Testament and New--is a God who
deals with sin, whether in the life of a believer or an unbeliever.
You and I have a choice. We may
either recognize our sin and accept the forgiveness which God has
provided in the person of His Son, or we may suffer the consequences
of our sins--eternally. If we choose His salvation, He will continue
to chasten us for sin, but only so that we may grow and mature to be
more like Him. How would you choose to face God, as a son or as a
sinner who has rejected His Son? That is your choice, my friend. I
pray that you will choose the way of wisdom, the way of life through
the Lord Jesus Christ. He died on the cross of Calvary for your
sins. He offers salvation to all who will trust in His work on
Calvary. Trust Him today.
1 Richard Ruble, "Should Children
Be Spanked?" Journal of Psychology and Theology , July, 1973, pp.
2 Here, Ruble quotes Ginnot, p.
181, cited in above article, p. 64.
3 In this article Richard Ruble
was said to have received his Masterís degree from Faith Seminary,
the Doctor of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, and
was then serving as a professor of Bible and Psychology and Chairman
of the Division of Biblical Studies at John Brown University.
4 "Should Children Be Spanked?,"
5 In a published response to Dr.
Rubleís article, Alan R. McThomas pointed out many flaws in Rubleís
thinking. Mr. McThomas, then in doctoral studies at Rosemead
Graduate School of Psychology, offers hope that not all who seek to
integrate theology and psychology come out with the wrong
conclusions. Cf. Alan R. McThomas, "Reaction," Journal of Psychology
and Theology , July, 1973, pp. 67-69.
6 Richard Ruble, "Should Children
Be Spanked? A Reply To McThomas," Journal of Psychology and Theology
, October, 1973, P. 79.
7 Dr. Ruble writes, ." . . the
references to striking a child might be considered merely a figure
of speech for the idea that children need discipline of which
spanking was a prominent example." ("Should Children Be Spanked?"
July, 1973, p. 65.) I have little problem with the statement itself,
but in application Dr. Ruble virtually disregards the clear
instruction of Proverbs to use the rod. For him, it would seem,
classifying the "rod" as a figure of speech opens the door to a
world of abuses. The "rod," even if a figure of speech, symbolizes
the kind of discipline Proverbs is speaking about, but it is this
kind of discipline which Ruble refuses to consider relevant for