continued from part 1 and 2
“It is not the will of God that parents, in the exercise of kindness, shall spare and corrupt their children. Let their conduct towards their children be at once mild and considerate, so as to guide them in the fear of the Lord, and correct them also when they go astray.” John Calvin
In Part 1 I said that there was a bigger problem at GCM than is spanking right or wrong. In this conclusion I will address those concerns not to argue, but to compassionately rebuke any who may be in error. It is not done in a hurried fashion, but after much introspection on my own sins as a parent first. It is not to say all anti-spankers do all the below. I am writing this to point out what I have seen in some so that there can be repentance and restoration. To quote yet again from 1 John 1:9, but this time also verse 8:
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (ESV)
For this rest of this post I need to define my terms so there is no confusion. I am going to separate out three groups of parenting. This is not the end all be all in definitions.
Spankers: GCMers would classify all spankers as abusers it seems. I will not do such a thing. I do believe there is a category under spankers for abusers (as well as under each category presented below). Those who use spanking because they are angry individuals, who cause lasting physical injury and bruises. They don’t want to teach their children, they just want the behavior to stop. They beat their children black and blue and may even kill them.
Then there are the spankers that see the dangers of sin and will spank according to what they believe the Bible says.
There is even a third category under spankers. Those who will spank to teach their children not to do bad, but are not Christians. They do not abuse their children and truly want what is best for them.
Non-spankers: For the purposes of this blog post, I am going to call people who don’t spank but are neither for or against others doing so as non-spankers.
Anti-spankers: These are the people who group all spankers into the first category above as abuser. They can see no good from spanking and are very outspoken against all spanking.
Then there are AP (Attachment Parents) that do spank. It is very rare. I did find one that sounded very reasonable. Her post on the subject can be found here.
For all categories of parents above the following Scripture applies.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 ESV)
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21 ESV)
Even “gentle” parents may not always be doing what is best for their children. It is very easy for parents to get angry and frustrated. All parents, anti-spankers included, can be verbally mean to their child. I would not call them abusers. For I know the sinfulness of man. It is good to have God’s word which reminds us that God forgives our sins through Jesus Christ. Even the times we are not the best of parents! It is good to always remember the purpose of discipline (as mentioned in Part 1 and 2). There are obviously cautions for every type of parent I mentioned above. We should all be careful not to discipline in our anger, but discipline for the good of our child. The non and anti-spankers would need to make sure they aren’t being permissive. But there are some extra cautions I want to warn anti-spankers about.
Beware of pride in you. Do you think you are better than someone else because you do not spank or don’t believe in spanking?
Have you spanked your child in anger before but you feel you are forgiven because you don’t believe it is right all the while not forgiving other parents who have spanked in anger because they don’t believe spanking to correct is wrong?
Be careful not to judge your brothers and sisters in Christ who spank by calling them abusers, which can lead to all sorts of harm. A misconception that many anti-spankers have is that all spanking is an act of hate. The parent who is lovingly correcting their child so they will see the dangers of sin do not spank with hate in their heart for their child who they are trying to raise in the instruction of the Lord!
Should parenting techniques be a cause of division among Christians? I don’t know of any verses that say come out from amongst the spankers. I do know 2 Corinthians 6:14- 17 says to come out from the unbelievers (which GCMers do not do. I do believe they let anybody on their site – except for spankers. They say that the unbeliever can’t write anything that goes against their statement of belief, but I have not seen that enforced!!! See Number 4 for one example.)
4) Lack of concern for sin
The GCM Statement of Belief #4 says that, “We are sinners and could never be “good enough” to make it to heaven or to please God in any way, and, without Christ, we are enemies of God and destined for eternal punishment and separation from God. Romans 3:10, 11, 12; Romans 3:21-24; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6; Romans 6:23a.”
This must not apply to children. Some GCMers do not think children sin. In this one example of a GCM forum , by page four children don’t have a sinful nature. It easier to call it “big emotions” instead of sin. Here are some of the excuses I have seen on anti-spanking sites.
Excuse 1: It is just big emotions.
Excuse 2: They are just going through a stage.
Excuse 3: Children are just being children.
We are to teach God’s law to our children. (See also Deut 4:9-10, Deut 11: 18-20, Psalm 78:1-8 for more on teaching our children.) We can not use the excuse of, “I sin so I can’t remove the speck in my child’s eye.” We are to daily be repenting of our own sin!
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, ESV)
How do we know we are sinners? The law (Romans 3:20). If we are sinners we need a Savior. We can be teaching our children God’s commands and by doing so teaching them they need Christ! And as parents Deuteronomy says to do this all the time. If we are constantly making excuses for the sins of our children, they will not know they are sinners. If they don’t know they are sinners, they will not know they need the wonderful sacrifice of Christ for forgiveness nor will they understand what grace is and why they need it.
In conclusion, discipline is not retribution but restorative. You can spank in retribution but you can also spank to restore. So called “gentle” methods can be done in anger or in love (retribution or restoration). It boils down to what is the desire of the parent: revenge or to see their child loving the Lord. Let us remember the wisdom from Proverbs and Hebrews 12, sin in a child is a dangerous thing. Parents must not gloss over sin but make sure we are teaching our children the dangers of it (whether through spanking or some other painful discipline) as well as the forgiveness that comes only through Christ’s death on the cross. We must teach our children that sin leads to death but faith in Christ leads to life!