Rob and I are anti-spanking.
It’s taken us almost 2 years to find this position, but we are here to stay. It just feels so right. There’s some serious truth here. Parents would be wise to consider this. Wow. Totally rocking my world.
I am still organizing my thoughts one this topic since there are so many aspects of it so, bear with me!
I want to examine the following statements with you over the next few blog posts. These are crucial to our ability to parent a child as God intended!!
~ Spanking children is not Biblical. (Contrary to popular belief.)
~ Spanking has physiological/psychological consequences.
~ Hitting children does not teach them the fruit of the Spirit, as would be our goal as a Christian parent.
~ Spanking is not mentioned at all in the New Testament, which is our guide for Christian conduct.
~ Punitive punishment (spanking, time-outs, etc) does not teach children how to act or how to deal with emotions.
I’m sure I will add to that list at some point but, I’m still just getting started.
Think about it. Why do we think that we have the right to treat children, the precious ones that the Lord loves, worse and with less respect, mercy and grace than adults? It’s absurd! “Children can’t understand mercy and grace so therefore they need ‘law’ to teach them/correct them/etc.” It is true that children need lots of help understanding the world around them, their own bodies, relationship and emotions. However, when this idea is used to justify punishment, we have a serious problem. This is a common idea among some Christian leaders and parents and it is flawed in many ways. I get angry at the prevalence of this lie. We are taught that we must be harsher/more strict with children at a young age so that they will learn to obey the boundaries, not misbehave, “respect” their authorities. Sounds about right, yes? Well, it’s not.I’m not talking about permissive parenting here, because that isn’t right either. I’m talking about how to parent a child’s heart so that the child learns the message of love and forgiveness that God offers to us, not one of fear.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment,
and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” -1 John 4:18
Let’s think about the children here for a second. Who and what are children? They are simple. They are not mature. They are not mentally developed enough before at least the age of 12 to even comprehend what “punishment” is supposed to accomplish in them. They are learning about everything every minute. They are learning about family and relationships. They are exploring the world with very simple constructs. So, what about any of that tells you that children should be scolded and punished when they do something wrong? (Or worse, punished when a parent “perceives” a wrong attitude?!) Nothing. Doing that to a child goes against everything that I believe God is. God doesn’t see me crying (for any reason, right or wrong) and in turn “give me something to cry about”. He pulls me in. Comforts me. Gently corrects any behavior and shows me a better way. Why on earth should I do any less than that for my own child?
Consider the parable of the debtors. (NASB)
21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
I believe that parents can learn a lot from this passage. The Lord deals kindly with the servant (parent) and forgives the whole debt. >poof!< Debt gone. That same servant turns around and exacts judgment on his servant (a child, for our purposes) instead of showing forgiveness to him. That original servant was not exactly rewarded for that behavior. Do we want to stand before them Lord someday (or now) and have to explain why we couldn’t put aside our pride, inconveniences and laziness and teach our children with love, grace and patience? “Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Prov. 22:6). We’ve all heard that verse, but have we really heard it? “…[I]n the way he SHOULD go…”. Hmm… not the way he shouldn’t go? The way he should go? That sounds like proactive teaching to me! I think many get hung-up on the “Train up” part and miss the what of that verse. What are we training? We are given the responsibility of guiding a child in the hows of life way more often than the whats or the how-nots.
And what about the fact, and I mean FACT, that someone who loves you should never be allowed to hit/hurt you. What are we teaching children when we say “I’m only doing this because I love you.” right before hitting them? Saying that only attempts to ease the parent’s own conscience. Do we really want to teach our children that it’s ok for someone to hurt you as long as they “love you”? Not a chance. Try telling that to a woman whose husband hits her when she does something “wrong”. That’s illegal! Why isn’t that illegal to do to children, the ones who can’t protect themselves? Parental rights to hit children are ridiculous and hypocritical. It is illegal for adults to hit each other but, don’t worry, you can still hit your child.
I invite you to examine your hearts before the Lord and ask Him to teach you about how much He loves children and how He requires us to treat them. We will look at more scriptural references next time and look also at what the Jews believe about discipline, since the verses quoted most often in support of spanking are in Hebrew and are a part of the Old Testament.
Keep in mind, I’m not out to tell-off parents in this post who don’t agree with me. I’m just telling you what I’m figuring out and I challenge you to give it some thought. If we can’t be taught new things we are not very moldable clay in the hand of the Potter.