Shepherding a Child’s Heart #9

     The physical discipline part of Biblical parenting is the source of much controversy in the current cultural climate.  Criticism from outside the body of Christ as well as from inside has made many parents confused, unsure, or fully against the use of physical discipline.  However the Bible is exceptionally clear on this issue and attempts to spiritualize or get around the pertinent Scriptures involves either misreading the text and misunderstanding the ancient context in which they were written, or both.  The Biblical basis for physical discipline is clearly revealed in proverbs verses 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13-14, and 29:15-17.  Even in the New Testament the author of Hebrews in chapter 12:5-11 uses the physical discipline of our earthly fathers as an example to encourage us that just as our fathers disciplined us for our benefit so too does our Heavenly Father.  The example makes no sense if our earthly father’s simply gave us “time outs.”  That physical discipline is an important part of Biblical parenting is clear but what is less clear is the practical how to actually go about it.

    First, physical discipline should only be for open defiance of your parental authority or for grievous sins.  Different parents will come to different conclusions as what constitutes both and there is no end to the types of situations that parents encounter.  Parents must humbly seek the Lord in prayer for wisdom to discern what types of behavior require physical discipline.  Second, the Scripture does indicate that physical discipline means the use of the “rod.” The rod should be something that stings but not bruises which means using your hand is not recommended.  Third, physical discipline should be private, never in public or in front of friends or family.  Fourth, you should calmly explain to your child what is going to happen (how many swats) and why, so they understand the process.  Here your child should understand how they sinned and that they have sinned against God not just a particular individual.  Fifth, after the spanking, restoration is essential and involves prayer, forgiveness, love and acceptance.  The key is to make sure you are not just going through the motions but that your child truly understands all five steps.

    This, of course, hardly covers all the details but is a brief practical outline of the general process.  Parents need to work together to implement Biblical discipline in their families, seek wisdom, direction from God, and humbly trust and rely on Him through prayer and obedience to His Word.   Parents should pray that the words of Proverbs 29:15, 17 would be true of their children, “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Correct your son and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul."