More thoughts on parental discipline

If you didn’t get them, here are the parenting books I recommended during yesterday’s sermon on the Grace of a Parent’s Authority:
  • Everyday Talk, by John Younts
  • Instructing a Child’s Heart, by Tedd & Margy Tripp
  • Kid’s Need… Lot’s of Love and a Spanking, by Jamie Pritchett
  • Humility, by C. J. Mahaney 
The last one is not a parenting book per se but there are some great gospel parenting tips in it. 

Some of you loved the sermon and some of you didn’t.  I know not even all believers are fans of parents using physical discipline, but I don’t think there’s a way to get around that it’s biblical.  Or that it has massive spiritual significance.  At the cross, the Father applied all the punishment for my sins and yours to the body of Jesus Christ.  Not only made Him bear that physical punishment, but in the most gruesome way ever devised by which to kill someone.  The Father planned it and saw that it happened (Acts 3:18).  If in Christ He suddenly grew adverse to physical punishment, why not find another way, a less gory way to atone for our sins?  

Because Jesus atoned for the sins of others, we call His work the “substitutionary atonement” (1 John 4:10).  Because God punished someone innocent–and perhaps because He did it physically, even some in the “Christian” world ridicule the substitutionary atonement as “cosmic child abuse” by the Father.  I find this awful/awesome work stupifying, precious and worthy of worship.  

Most of the “expert” voices opposing physical discipline look to the social sciences as authoritative, not the Bible.  (As one opponent complained, “The Bible frequently condones practices that are outrageous to modern sensibilities.”)  Physical discipline is blamed for everything from lowering a child’s IQ to leading to violent behavior later in life.  But the #1 charge is that the spanking parent will eventually abuse.  It’s almost inevitable, some say.  If you discipline with a paddle (what the Bible calls a “rod” in Proverbs 13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15), you will sometimes abuse your child.  Or make it more likely that your child will abuse his child one day.
This argument is based on a logical fallacy that anything that can be distorted or perverted must be wrong in its original form.  Critics who object to the idea that God established husbands as leaders in their marriages use the same argument.  16 years ago someone gave me a book that basically said that just believing this is God’s will turns men into abusive tyrants.  I will be the first to admit that there are professing Christian men whose “leading” consists of little more than terrorizing their wives.  But that’s not Bible.  It’s an aberration of what God says.  In the same way, there are parents beating their children with fist or paddle who never ever arrived in the vicinity of discipline; it’s all abuse. 
The irate mother who slaps her son in the face in the jeans aisle at Wal-Mart isn’t disciplining him.  Nor is the father who refuses to paddle his daughter but often yells at her.  The child whose mother says, “one…., two…, two and a half…” is not being disciplined.  Nor is the child who is being told, “You make me sick!”  Discipline’s objective for the believing parent is to cooperate with God to make a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Therefore it is done as an act of worship, done with great love for child and God, and done diligently.  And no, not harshly.  

In an anti-authority age, I suspect we need more authority in our homes, but not more authoritarians.  More moms and dads with the spiritual spine to lovingly establish expectations and enforce them.  And be able to say to their children, “I’m sorry sweetheart, what I said to you was wrong.  Will you forgive me?”  Both will help the gospel make more sense to our children. 

Author: Keith Rohrer

Husband, Dad, Grandpa, Gospel-lover, churchplanter, pastor, woodworker, biker.

2 thoughts on “More thoughts on parental discipline”

  1. One thing I appreciate about you {yes there is more than one} is your faithfulness to preach the truth. Some of these things are hard to hear,and I know some churches will not touch certain subjects. We must hear the truth. Thanks you for not being afraid to tell the truth. We love and respect you.


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