Tag Archives: gentle christian mothers

Bad Theology – Sin

…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

Although the GCM shut down will likely not result in resolving any of the issues I have spoken out about on this website, my hope and prayer is that everyone will take this time to reevaluate GCM.  I pray that moms will be asking themselves if they have spent too much time online instead of with their kids (and husbands too).  I have been praying that since many have left on a bad note, maybe now the head honchos of GCM will waken up to the problems that are on the site.  Although I hope and pray for the best, it might stay the same.  And so I continue on although I wouldn’t mind if they closed their doors completely and put me out of a job!!!  I have been working on several posts about the bad theology running rampant on GCM and what a great time to finally get them finished.   This is the first of many.


Parents are the ones who should be the main teachers of Scripture to their children (morning, noon, and night! see Deut 6:7).  We are to teach them about sin and our sinful nature, repentance, grace, mercy, forgiveness through Christ’s death on the cross, sanctification and bringing glory and honor to our God.  We can not just teach grace because without the others, what does grace mean?  We need to teach the law and the gospel so they will be broken-hearted over their sins and run to the Savior for grace, mercy and forgiveness.

“Psalm 51 is the photograph of a contrite spirit. Oh, let us seek after the like brokenness of heart, for however excellent our words may be, yet if the heart is not conscious of the blackness and hell-deservingness of sin, we cannot expect to find mercy with the Judge of all the earth. If the Lord will break your heart, consent to have it broken; asking that he may sanctify that brokenness of spirit to bring you in earnest to a savior, that you may yet be numbered with the righteous ones.” – C. H. Spurgeon

“We rob the gospel of its power if we leave out its threatenings of punishment.” – C.H. Spurgeon

Many GCMers have a problem with calling anything they do as sin.  They and their children just have, “big feelings”.  That is all.  Just feelings.  Nothing wrong with feelings.  Except the problem when our feelings can lead us to sin when we aren’t going to God’s word for the truth.

James 1:14-15 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Number One “Big Feeling”: Anger

Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry and do not sin.”  Anger in and of itself is NOT sin.  What we do with that anger can be sin.  If our child is acting out in anger by hurting others, he is sinning.  He needs to be taught that it is sin and that God hates sin and God punishes sin, but that there is forgiveness if we humbly confess our sins.  If we aren’t teaching these things to our children, we are teaching them to be indifferent towards sin.  Indifference to sin will lead us further from our wonderful Savior and down that broad and wide path that many find themselves on, the path that leads to destruction.  Let us be realistic and honest, most of our anger does not show forth in righteousness but in sinful ways and those need to be called sin.

To show you why “big feelings” is a bad idea, I will use me as an example.  I am sure GCMers will be able to see my sin!  I have gotten called many horrible names by GCMers who had “big feelings” about my blog.  I have been called sad, pathetic, rude, angry, bitter, blind and so many things.  When I get comments like this, you know what my first reaction is?  “You stupidhead.”  Not exactly, but my first thoughts are usually not good thoughts.  I get angry.  Now in my anger, I could comment back a lot of hatred filled rhetoric too.  I know this would be sin and not bring glory to God.  So, when I get these types of comments, I often have to walk away for a day or two until I can respond in an appropriate manner i.e. defend truth and not attack the person.  GCMers, I know how easily it is for me to sin.  I know I still have my sinful nature, but I also know I am no longer a slave to that sinful nature.  I know I don’t have to sin in my anger.  But according to your theology (actually pop psychology), since I just have “big feelings”, why does it matter if I would write back to you and call you all the names you call me?  We both are just having “big feelings”.  You express yours and I express mine back to you.  But if we take the time to use Biblical language (and use it correctly), we should call our name calling sin.  We should then repent and call others who do the same to repent.  We should stop calling each other names and forgive one another.  If we are quick to say, “I am having big feelings about this.”, which GCMers often write, without acknowledging our temptation to sin, we really aren’t doing ourselves a service.  You are having sinful thoughts and want to respond in a sinful manner.  How much better to acknowledge that fact instead of trying to whitewash it by making it sound better than it actually is.

I have written about this problem as well as the lack of sin in children (or so they say) before HERE. Since the doctrine of original sin is often attacked, I linked to two articles below on the subject.

Before the Throne of God (sung by Lou Fellingham)

A great High Priest whose name is love, who ever lives and pleads for me

When Satan temps me to despair and tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me

My soul is purchased by His blood

Further Reading:

Original Sin

Is it Possible to Be Angry and Not Sin?

Teaching Children About Sin Versus Protecting Their Self-Esteem

A Short Essay on Original Sin

Cult-like Mentality

God’s word contains many warnings about false prophets and teachers.  They take people captive by philosophy and empty deceit (Col 2:8), they are wolves who don’t spare the flock (Acts 20:29), they will come out of churches (2 Peter 2:1-3), there will be an increase in the last days (Matthew 24:23-26).  While the Bible calls them false prophets or teachers, some today call them cult leaders.  Whatever you choose to call them, it starts with bad theology.  The leadership on GCM is so poor that it allows bad theology to run amok (more on their bad theology in later posts) …And bad theology can lend to the genesis of a cult very easily.

According to the Cult Clinic website, one-on-one cults do exist where there is one leader for just a handful of followers.  It doesn’t have to be many people.  Also, Cultwatch recognizes that some groups may have a “positive influence in general, but there are some rogue leaders, or cult-like practices.”  This is why I think there is a cult within the GCM forums.  So as you are reading, keep in mind, I do not know if all of GCM is a cult or just a portion or if there is just a cult-like mentality.  All I know is there is a problem.

Here is a definition of what a cult is from Cultwatch.  They are a Christian based organization.   (Emphasis added.)

“First, a group that uses manipulative psychological “mind control” techniques to recruit and control their members. These techniques might be “love bombing”, instant friends or emotional blackmail. At extremes it might include keeping people away from their friends and family and isolating them both physically and emotionally.

The second definition we use (when saying a group is a cult) is any group which claims to be a Christian group yet teaches something that is not primarily a Christian belief. For example, a group that teaches that Jesus was an alien from another planet but claims to be Christian.”

The following are cult characteristics from Cult Clinic  that reflect my sister.

“ALIENATION: Separation from family, friends and society; a change in values and substitution of the cult as the new “family;” evidence of subtle or abrupt personality changes.”

YES!  This was the first warning sign our family saw.  One day she just decides to cut us off.  Who is her family now?  Her GCM friends who helped change her into what she is today.  She did subtlety change over a few years but we didn’t realize how much so at the time.  I have written about this before in previous posts.  One big change was her becoming more paranoid about people she has known for long periods of time.  Another significant change was in her theology.  Through the years it is normal to understand the Bible better and make corrections to your theology.  But GCMers have a way of twisting the Bible.  Twisting God’s word does not help you grow in your understanding.  One other change I will comment on here is my sister became more controlling (i.e. boundaries are good but GCMers have a bad habit of turning boundaries into a control tactic).  I had a nagging feeling something wasn’t right, but I didn’t know then what I know now.  I just didn’t know enough.  Signs were there, my family and I just didn’t understand them.

“ISOLATION\SEPARATION creates inability or lack of desire to verify information provided by the group with reality.”

YES!  Everything a GCMer (the ones who are abuse experts) told her was right.  Everything people from her past told her was labeled as abusive or toxic by the GCMers.

“SLEEP DEPRIVATION encouraged under the guise of spiritual exercises, necessary training, or urgent projects.”

YES!  Sleep deprivation happened whether it was encouraged or not I do not know.  The poor GCMer was abused and has to deal with the awful abuse.  They get others so worked up over every behavior of their loved ones being abusive, they can’t sleep.

“BLACKS AND WHITE WORLDVIEW (we\they syndrome):  Everything in the group is good while everything outside the group (including individual goals) is evil, bad, or crazy. While claiming goodness, unethical behaviors are used to promote group goals.”

YES!  All family and most old friends are considered bad, crazy, abusive, and toxic.  My sister’s cult group within GCM are, of course, not this way.  Sin is promoted (possibly as a way to heal).

The following warning signs came from freedomofmind.com:

  • “Change in religious beliefs.”  Replacing sound Biblical doctrine for the ideas of men.  Click on the Psychology category for a few examples.
  • “Use of “buzzwords,” canned speeches, “tape-loops”.”  Conversation stoppers and same thoughts repeated over and over.  “I’m having big feelings about this.”  “Toxic.”  “Abusive.”  “Unsafe.” “Boundaries.”  Making issues over things that shouldn’t divide families (i.e. discipline techniques).
  • “Change in appearance”: clothes, piercings, etc.
  • Defensiveness“- “They just don’t like the fact that I don’t spank.”
  • Judgmental attitude towards family members“-  To paraphrase, “I can do anything, but you can’t.”  “You are being judgmental.”
  • Change in level of honesty.”  Lying is encouraged – after all the people aren’t safe so it is okay.
  • “Lack of interest in former hobbies” – life becomes all about the abuse.
  • “Family and friends preached to as though they need to be saved.”  Family preached to as if Graced Based Parenting is the only way to parent.
  • “Decreased sense of humor.”

And still other concerns:

  • Too much personal information shared online.
  • Too little interaction with people outside of GCM (or cult friends).
  • Have to consult with their “friends/support network” before making decisions.
  • Outsiders are considered unsafe.  They don’t understand.
  • They think they are overcomers of abuse but they maintain a victim mentality.
  • They make the women believe they are so powerless that she has to have absolute control over her husband and relatives.

There is an interesting you tube video, Mind Control Cults, on how to become a cult leader.  While the makers obviously aren’t trying to convince people to become cult leaders, it presents very scary stuff.  Some of the “tips” on how to be a cult leader had me thinking of my sister.

  • Make them have mental breakdowns disguised as spiritual break throughs.
  • Make them paranoid.
  • Encourage separation from family.
  • Encourage dependency and conformity; discourage autonomy and individuality.
  • Demonize their early life and rewrite the past as terrible even if it was great. – YES!  My sister rewrote her past.  She never knew she was abused by her family before meeting her GCM friends.  They enlightened her to her sad, sad state she is currently in.
  • Isolate.  Us vs Them mentality.

Some quotes from the video that also made me think of my sister:

  • “Your family and friends probably won’t understand.”
  • “It doesn’t sound like your family and friends really love you if they can’t support your new decision.”
  • “Maybe you should stay away from them.  It’s unhealthy for you to be around unenlightened people anyway.”
  • “If you can’t recruit your friends, cut off from them.”
  • “Stop wasting time with non believers.”

If you think your loved one is in a cult, please learn all you can about cults.  One thing I have learned through all of this is that you can’t say anything bad about the cult OR its teachings OR its leader(s)/members to your family (friend) or they will just shut you out.  That is a big NO-NO!  Other than that, I am not the one to be asking.  I really don’t know except it takes a lot of patience.  I look back at some of my e-mails to my sister after she wrote us out of her life.  Although they were truthful and blunt (I am a bit too forthright with my family at times.), I can see that in my rashness and haste, my e-mails caused my sister to withdraw further from us.  I am the type of person that tells it like it is.  Unfortunately, someone in a cult can’t handle that.  So watch what you say and be patient (see 1 Peter 3:15 on giving answers with respect and gentleness).

What should you do if you think you are in a cult?  The first and most important thing to do is dig into God’s word.  There you will find absolute truth (John 17:17).  You will find a loving God who forgives sinners through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.  Jesus rose from the dead defeating sin, death and the devil.  He is victorious!  To quote Jesus in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Jesus also said in verse 39, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  You can be free from the cult and its lies.  You can be free from your sin through Christ Jesus our Lord!

Three other articles for your perusal:
Character of the Cults: A Christian Perspective by Patrick Zukeran
How Cults Work
The Cult Within by Me

Shepherding a Child’s Heart

"Shepherding a Child's Heart"My sister would tell me how bad the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart is because the author, Tedd Tripp, says you MUST spank.  Does Tripp really emphasize obedience over God’s compassion and mercy?  I had recently  heard a snippet of his talk on parenting on Wretched Radio.  I was impressed with what I heard; he was very gospel focused, but spanking was not mentioned.  So I finally decided to read the book and see what all the fuss was.

Tedd Tripp’s overview of parenting: “It involves being authorities who are kind, shepherding your children to understand themselves in God’s world, and keeping the gospel in clear view so your children can internalize the good news and someday live in mutuality with you as people under God.” – [page xvii]  I would say this sentence clearly states what his emphasis is throughout the entire book.   Tedd Tripp does an excellent job of emphasizing the relationship needed between parent and child as well as the gospel being the foundation of parenting/discipline.

Do I agree with everything Mr. Tripp wrote?  No, and most of what I don’t agree with comes from the part of the book on spanking.  I agree with spanking as a way to discipline (teach).  I agree that we need to take God’s Word seriously.  “If you fail to spank, you fail to take God’s Word seriously.  You are saying you do not believe what the Bible teaches about the import of these issues.  If your child has not obeyed, he needs to be spanked.” – [page 149]  I do not agree though that every time your child disobeys he needs to be spanked.  We know from the New Testament that discipline will be painful at the time, not that it has to be physically painful though.  I do believe Tripp has the proper interpretation of Proverbs 22:15 as the rod being something used to “spank”.  But since it is Proverbs, I do believe the point is not the method, but the severity of sin in a child.

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
(Proverbs 22:15 ESV)

Proverbs is considered the Book of Wisdom (compared to Leviticus which is the book of the law).  Our hearts are wicked and we definitely need discipline, but does this verse say we have to spank or we are not obeying God?  I just don’t see it as a command to spank, but wise instructions for a parents’ need to discipline their children.  Mr. Tripp didn’t necessarily say it was a command though (although I have seen GCMers put those words into his mouth).  And when you take the comment in light of everything else he wrote, I would think he would agree: if there is a problem where you can’t spank because of anger or some like reason, don’t spank!  He does not neglect compassion and mercy like some GCMers will try to convince you of.  GCMers really blow that one comment out of proportion because they are anti-spanking.  They blow it so far out of proportion that they have to go on a mission to tell people the book is so bad it shouldn’t even be read, so bad it should be thrown away and so bad they have to hide it in libraries and book stores.  Really, it is overkill.  They really focus on that one comment way too much.

Mr. Tripp is definitely emphasizing the need for discipline and consistency, which I whole heartedly agree with.  While I agree with his how’s of spanking in regard to any form of discipline from parents: done away from people, tell them what they have done or failed to do, remind them that discipline is not being done because you are angry but to bring about restoration, communicating with the child about exactness of what is to come, hugs and talking about why it is important to be restored, praying with reminders that in Christ there is forgiveness of sins and Jesus can help the child to obey.  What I don’t agree with is pulling down the pants.  I found that the best word to describe it for me was, “icky” – that sounds like a word GCMers would use.  If I spanked I would not do that part (I know parents who do this but I don’t think worse of them for it).  I also wouldn’t tell my child he wasn’t “sweet” enough after a spanking if he was angry.  Hebrews 12:11 says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (ESV).  Mr. Tripp thinks as soon as the spanking is over that it is later already.  I don’t agree.  I can understand his need for starting fresh and moving on, but that can’t be done if the other one is not ready yet.  “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  (Ephesians 6:4 ESV)  Maybe that would be a good time for instruction or some time alone so you don’t provoke your child to more anger?

I must note here that Mr. Tripp does say that spanking is for the times when the child is disobeying the parent.  He does not state that it needs to be done for every sin a child commits (which I think is how the GCMer may interpret him). Therefore, I am not offended by these chapters like GCMers would be because I know when used rightly (and Mr. Tripp does use spanking as a form of teaching/discipline correctly -i.e. not in anger, to teach the child, etc.) spanking can be an effective way of discipline.  Disagreeing with a few sentences does not weigh as heavily as a book fraught with errors on every page.  There is also a big difference between an author who does not understand the gospel and one who does!

Mr. Tripp’s chapters on communication are excellent.   He also notes the difference between a punitive approach and the Biblical approach.  GCMers would believe that all spanking is punitive.  But when teaching is part of spanking it is not punitive.  The punitive approach is a way to control behavior but it doesn’t address sin, repentance and forgiveness.

I seem to recall another  trouble my sister had with this book (maybe I have remembered this incorrectly) was that parents are taught to be the Holy Spirit in the lives of their children and they always know what is in their children’s hearts.  This is not how Tedd Tripp presents it at all.  He knows that our behavior will be from what is in our hearts (see Luke 6:45), therefore we have to teach our children about sin, forgiveness through Christ, and knowing and glorifying God.   The only thing that might come close to this is on page 86.  The mother “sensed” the daughter was not really having the heart to go with her nods of agreement.  He states the mother  “administered correction” and the girl’s “resistance quickly melted behind a torrent of tears.”   If she did receive a spanking I can see why my sister would think that Tripp knows what is in his child’s hearts all the time after only “sensing” something wrong.  I don’t believe Mr. Tripp meant the girl received a spanking here because it is in the chapter on communication and he mentions Proverbs 9 which has to do with the way a mocker handles correction, rebuke and instructions.   It sounds like the mother used God’s words which the Holy Spirit used to convict the girl of her mocking and scoffing ways.

Would I recommend this book to others?  Yes, and maybe with the few minor caveats mentioned above – I don’t think there is any book out there I don’t recommend with cautions…except the Bible.  I have no problems recommending this book because Mr. Tripp definitely has a focus on the gospel at all times: forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus!  I think the reason GCMers hate this book so much is because they believe all spanking is punitive and abusive.  This is not a book about abuse!  Far from it!  It is not a book that people need to be warned not to read.  His theology is sound even though I disagree with a few minute points of application he made.

To Spank or Not To Spank – part 3

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.

1) Pride
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?

2)  Judgment
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!

3) Division
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!

To Spank or Not To Spank? part 2

continued from Part 1

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
for the LORD reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
(Proverbs 3:11-12 ESV)

Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
(Proverbs 13:24 ESV)

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
(Proverbs 22:15 ESV)

Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
If you strike him with the rod,
you will save his soul from Sheol.
(Proverbs 23:13-14 ESV)

The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
(Proverbs 29:15 ESV)

Rod-Strong’s Concordance #7626 from an unused root probably meaning to branch off; a scion, i.e. (lit.) a stick (for punishing, writing, fighting, ruling, walking, etc.) or (fig.) a clan.

Dicipline-Strong’s Concordance #4148 chastisement, reproof, warning or instruction; also restraint.  Used in Prov 3:11, 13:24, 22:15, 23:13.

Reproof-Strong’s Concordance #8433 chastisement; fig. (by words) correction, refutation, proof (even in defense).  Used in Prov 3:11, 29:15

Son- Strong’s Concordance #1121 a son (as a builder of the family name). Used in Prov 3:11-12, 13:24

Child-Strong’s Concordance #5288 Na’ar a boy (as act.), from the age of infancy to adolescence; by impl. a servant; also (by interch. of sex), a girl (of similar latitude in age). Used in Prov 22:15, 23:13, 29:15.  I highlighted the age because many anti-spankers use the word incorrectly to say that all the above verses are referring to an older child.  Exodus 2:6 is referring to the baby Moses in the basket.  Isaiah 7:16 is referring to a child before he shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good.  Genesis 21:20 refers to Ishmael shortly after he was weaned.  2 Samuel 18:5 refers to Absalom being a child during his uprising against his father.  These are just a few of the examples that show this word covers a vast age range.

What does discipline in the book of Proverbs give: it brings honor (Proverbs 1:8-9), life (Proverbs 4:13) and wisdom (Proverbs 8:33).  Ignoring instruction results in death (Proverbs 5:23), poverty and disgrace (Proverbs 13:18), hating one’s self (Proverbs 15:32).

I quote Matthew Henry below for two reasons.  One is I have seen an anti-spanker quote at length from Mr. Henry so I am assuming anti-spankers have respect for the man.  The other reason is to explain many of the verses above because I have seen terrible explanations of them from GCMers/anti-spankers.  To which I must say what R.C. Sproul says:

“Although tradition does not rule our interpretation, it does guide it. If upon reading a particular passage you have come up with an interpretation that has escaped the notice of every other Christian for two-thousand years, or has been championed by universally recognized heretics, chances are pretty good that you had better abandon your interpretation.” – R. C. Sproul (emphasis added)

Matthew Henry Commentary on Proverbs 22:15:
“We have here two very sad considerations:—1. That corruption is woven into our nature. Sin is foolishness; it is contrary both to our right reason and to our true interest. It is in the heart; there is an inward inclination to sin, to speak and act foolishly. It is in the heart of children; they bring it into the world with them; it is what they were shapen and conceived in. It is not only found there, but it is bound there; it is annexed to the heart (so some); vicious dispositions cleave closely to the soul, are bound to it as the cion to the stock into which it is grafted, which quite alters the property. There is a knot tied between the soul and sin, a true lover’s knot; they two became one flesh. It is true of ourselves, it is true of our children, whom we have begotten in our own likeness. O God! thou knowest this foolishness. 2. That correction is necessary to the cure of it. It will not be got out by fair means and gentle methods; there must be strictness and severity, and that which will cause grief. Children need to be corrected, and kept under discipline, by their parents; and we all need to be corrected by our heavenly Father (Heb. 12:6, 7), and under the correction we must stroke down folly and kiss the rod.”

Here are other commentaries on Proverbs 22:15

Geneva Study Bible: Foolishness [is] bound l in the heart of a child; [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (l) He is naturally given to it.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible: Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a child. That is, sin, the greatest of all folly; this is naturally in the heart of man; it is in the heart of a child, it is in him from his infancy; it is bound in his heart, it is rooted and riveted in him, being conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity; it is what cleaves close to him, and he has a strong affection for and desire after: the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, ( Genesis 8:21 ) ; so that he is not easily brought off of sin, or becomes wise; [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him; the rod used by parents, for the correction of sin and folly, is a means of making children wise, and of restraining the folly that is bound up in them; and of reclaiming them from those sinful ways, which the folly of their hearts leads them to, and so in some measure of driving it far from them.

Wesley’s Explanatory Notes: Bound – Is fixed and settled there, as being born with him, and rooted in his very nature.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible: 15. is bound–or firmly fixed. Chastisement deters from crime and so leads to reformation of principle.

The following quotes are all from Matthew Henry.  They are lengthy so to sum up: A parent is to instruct his children in the Scriptures.  Foolishness is in the heart of children.  Although it is not pleasant but grievous at the time, it is for the child’s good when a loving parent rebukes and reproves and uses the rod of correction to show them the seriousness of sin and hell.

Proverbs 13:24
1. To the education of children in that which is good there is necessary a due correction of them for what is amiss; every child of ours is a child of Adam, and therefore has that foolishness bound up in its heart which calls for rebuke, more or less, the rod and reproof which give wisdom. Observe, It is his rod that must be used, the rod of a parent, directed by wisdom and love, and designed for good, not the rod of a servant. 2. It is good to begin betimes with the necessary restraints of children from that which is evil, before vicious habits are confirmed. The branch is easily bent when it is tender. 3. Those really hate their children, though they pretend to be fond of them, that do not keep them under a strict discipline, and by all proper methods, severe ones when gentle ones will not serve, make them sensible of their faults and afraid of offending. They abandon them to their worst enemy, to the most dangerous disease, and therefore hate them. Let this reconcile children to the correction their good parents give them; it is from love, and for their good, Heb. 12:7 – 9.

Proverbs 23:12-14
Here is, 1. A parent instructing his child. He is here brought in persuading him to give his mind to his book, and especially to the scriptures and his catechism, to attend to the words of knowledge, by which he might come to know his duty, and danger, and interest, and not to think it enough to give them the hearing, but to apply his heart to them, to delight in them, and bow his will to the authority of them. The heart is then applied to the instruction when the instruction is applied to the heart. 2. A parent correcting his child. A tender parent can scarcely find in his heart to do this; it goes much against the grain. But he finds it is necessary; it is his duty, and therefore he dares not withhold correction when there is occasion for it (spare the rod and spoil the child); he beats him with the rod, gives him a gentle correction, the stripes of the sons of men, not such as we give to beasts. Beat him with the rod and he shall not die. The rod will not kill him; nay, it will prevent his killing himself by those vicious courses which the rod will be necessary to restrain him from. For the present it is not joyous, but grievous, both to the parent and to the child; but when it is given with wisdom, designed for good, accompanied with prayer, and blessed of God, it may prove a happy means of preventing his utter destruction and delivering his soul from hell. Our great care must be about our children’s souls; we must not see them in danger of hell without using all possible means, with the utmost care and concern, to snatch them as brands out of everlasting burnings. Let the body smart, so that the spirit be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 3. A parent encouraging his child, telling him, (1.) What was all he expected, nothing but what would be for his own good, that his heart be wise and that his lips speak right things, that he be under the government of good principles, and that by those principles he particularly maintain a good environment of his tongue. It is to be hoped that those will do right things when they grow up who learn to speak right things when they are young, and dare not speak any bad words. (2.) What a comfort it would be to him if herein he answered his expectation: “If thy heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, shall rejoice in thee, even mine, who have taken so much care and pains about thee, my heart, that has many a time ached for thee, for which thou shouldst study thus to make a grateful requital.’’ Note, The wisdom of children will be the joy of their parents and teachers, who have no greater joy than to see them walk in the truth, 3 Jn. 4, . “Children, if you be wise and good, devout and conscientious, God will be pleased with you, and that will be our joy: we shall think our labour in instructing you well bestowed; it will be a comfortable answer for the many prayers we have put up for you; we shall be eased of a great deal of care, shall not need to be so strict and severe in watching over you, and shall consequently be the easier both to you and to ourselves. We shall rejoice in hope that you will be a credit and comfort to us, if we should live to be old, that you will bear up the name of Christ in your generation, that you will live comfortably in this world and happily in another.’’

Proverbs 29:15
Verse 15 Parents, in educating their children, must consider, 1. The benefit of due correction. They must not only tell their children what is good and evil, but they must chide them, and correct them too, if need be, when they either neglect that which is good or do that which is evil. If a reproof will serve without the rod, it is well, but the rod must never be used without a rational and grave reproof; and then, though it may be a present uneasiness both to the father and to the child, yet it will give wisdom. Vexatio dat intellectum—Vexation sharpens the intellect. The child will take warning, and so will get wisdom. 2. The mischief of undue indulgence: A child that is not restrained or reproved, but is left to himself, as Adonijah was, to follow his own inclinations, may do well if he will, but, if he take to ill courses, nobody will hinder him; it is a thousand to one but he proves a disgrace to his family, and brings his mother, who fondled him and humoured him in his licentiousness, to shame, to poverty, to reproach, and perhaps will himself be abusive to her and give her ill language.

…to be continued.

To Spank or Not to Spank? part 1

I have been reading many parenting sites since starting this website.  I never had any intention of writing about spanking even though that is a big topic with GCMers.  It is time though to start connecting all the dots because it leads into a much bigger problem at the GCM forum than is spanking right or wrong.  But before I get there (in a post to eventually follow at some point in time) we have to look at what the Bible says about discipline/punishment/spanking/judgment/condemnation. 

It is always good to be challenged in your thinking if it takes you to the word of God.  One thing that an AP parent (one who practices attachment parenting) said (and I don’t remember if this was on the GCM site or some other AP site) was it was bad to punish your child.  I never really thought of it like the poster was stating.  So into the Bible I went to find out what it said about punishment.  I learned a great deal – God’s word is tremendous!

The verse that stood out in my mind was Hebrews 12.   
“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
(Hebrews 12:6 ESV)
I use the ESV online, but I usually have an NIV when reading offline.  It says punishes instead of chastises.  So at this point in time, I did not understand why the person would say we should not “punish” our kids.  I spoke briefly with my pastor and he too did not believe in punishing his children.  I was missing something so to Strong’s Concordance I went. 

Strong’s Concordance describes the Greek and Hebrew words used in the Bible.  The word punishment is Strong’s number 3811. 
The definition: to train up a child, i.e. educate, or (by impl.) discipline (by punishment). 
This differs from judgment or condemnation; they are different words in the Greek, but they sound like synonyms.  
They mean: process of investigation, condemnation, verdict, to judge against-i.e. sentence, condemn, damn. 
The difference between discipline/chastisement/punishment and judgment/condemnation/punishment is the first is used to teach and the second is used as a final punishment (usually indicating death) with no teaching involved. 

Contrast Hebrews 12:6 (punishment #3811) with 1 John 4:18 (punishment #2851).  
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
(1 John 4:18 ESV) 
This is the type of punishment that is connected to judgment/condemnation.  Strong’s definition is: penal infliction; stresses the punishment aspect of judgment.

Some people, like me, use punishment in regards to discipline which is why I was confused for a while.  I would use that word because of the NIV.  Since talking to my pastor further, I realize he too thought the same way I did about discipline.  We were just calling it different things.  Since there is confusion out there about this and I don’t want to confuse people by thinking that I advocate punishing in the judgment/condemnation way, I have started to explain it further or not use the word at all.

Hebrews 12 goes on to say that no discipline (Strong’s #3809: tutorage, i.e. education or training; by impl. disciplinary correction) seems pleasant at the time but painful (or grievous).  Hebrews states that God considers us sons and so disciplines us.  Discipline is a good thing!  It doesn’t feel like it at the time, but it will yield the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” to those who have been trained by it!!  This is the purpose of discipline laid out in Scripture.

Now comes the difficult part.  Does this mean spanking?  Maybe, maybe not.  What we do know from this verse is that discipline is not pleasant, it causes pain for a period of time, it is a good thing and for our own good, and it is to produce righteousness and holiness in us.  Spanking will cause pain for a brief period of time and definitely is not pleasant!  If used correctly (i.e. to teach and not to condemn), it can be a good thing which will produce in us righteousness.  It does not appear from Scripture it has to be spanking and yet it does not appear it can’t be. 

If spanking is done out of anger with the parent wanting revenge on their child, this is not Biblical discipline.  This would be the other kind of punishment involving judgment and condemnation (this would be Strong’s #2581 and not #3811).  Biblical discipline is to be for our good in the end.  Unfortunately, many GCMers see all spanking as revenge.  They tend to allude to someone who is NOT anti-spanking as abusers.  They can not see past this to see that some parents do use spanking in a Biblical way.  They would probably argue this point by saying that it isn’t a Biblical way.  So let us look at other verses.

…to be continued.


“Man’s mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain.” -John Calvin

“Grace will save a man, but it will not save a man and his idol.” -A.W. Tozer

As Christians we need to always be examining ourselves. We do not want sin to take hold of our lives because we want to be slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18) not to sin.  Yes, Christians can and do sin, but we know that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

GCMers, let us look at the sin called idolatry. If anything is as important as God (or more so), then it has become an idol. Please take time to examine your heart in this matter. You might not like what you find and it might not be pleasant, but God’s Word says, “put to death therefore what is earthly in you…” (Colossians 3:5).

Has graced based discipline (GBD) and gentlechristianmothers.com (GCM) displaced God in your life?

Is it of greater value to you than God Himself?

Has GBD become your gospel?

Has it interfered with your relationships, causing division where there should be none?

Does it lead to arguments between you and your husband?

Is everyone who does not practice GBD evil (or really bad) in your eyes?

Do you only want to interact with people on the site and not with others (including your church) who may have a different view than yours?

Has it become everything to you?

Scripture to meditate on:

“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3 ESV

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:14 ESV

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:20-21 ESV

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3 ESV