Thinking Cap# 27 - Corporal Punishment

Corporal Punishment
The cartoon in the newspaper has the picture of a young boy over his father's knee. The father is about to administer a good spanking. The boy says, "Boy, this is sure going to look good on the front page of the newspaper!"

Out of fear of reprisals, you will have to look far and wide to find a school that will administer corporal punishment today (although a few have considered capital punishment). A whole generation of children had been raised and have now raised their children under the enlightened philosophy of Dr. Benjamin Spock. As a matter of fact, just three months ago, I had lunch with a family from our church where the father explained with pride how he has never spanked his 4 year old. He shared how his philosophy was to "reason" with her and how much better an approach that was.

So, have we come out of the dark ages of corporal punishment, or are we condemning our children to an irresponsible and self-centered adulthood?

This is just my opinion (and there are nearly six billion of them on the planet), but I feel that we have swallowed the humanist lie of the last thirty years and are now reaping the rewards in a generation of self-centered and undisciplined Generation Xers. But, rather than argue statistics and emotion, let me share four thoughts from the Scripture.

    The Premise

    Phil. 2:5 explains the framework from which we should operate when it says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God..." In this verse "form" is morphe and it is the utterance of the inner life. Jesus Christ was God in His essence in addition to being man in His being and behavior. We are to have His mind and act as he would. Daily, we should understand Him more and become more like Him. Romans 8:29 tells us that we are "to be conformed to the image of his Son..." Here conformed is summorphos which is an anarthrous word. They are most often intended to point out the quality of something. The word literally means "a gradual change from the inside to the outside." What should be our goal in the area of child rearing? That's easy. Find out how God would do it and given the above scenario, we will then understand how we should view child-rearing. The definitive passage on this topic is Hebrews 12:5-11. God deals with His children in the same way he expects us to deal with our children. In love, He chastens us when we do wrong.

    The Principle

    Ecclesiastes gives us a very potent principle. Just in case you are tempted to not look it up, here is the verse in two translations of Eccl 8:11:

    When a person does wrong, and there is no penalty to pay or the penalty is not swift and just, the Bible says that our "hearts" are hardened and tend to do even more evil. That is a powerful commentary on our current criminal justice system, let alone how we ought to deal with children who exhibit bad character traits and behavior. It also explains the outbreak of evil behavior we seem to be observing in young people who wantonly destroy and injure others.

    The Parties

    I think it is important to understand that while both parents are to discipline the child, God holds the father accountable for an orderly system of discipline within the home. Ephesians 5:21 through Ephesians 6:4 gives the order for a Godly home. Notice who God addresses when it comes to family discipline in Eph. 6:4. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost addresses the head of the home, the "father." But, Prov. 29:15 makes it clear that mothers are also held responsible for disciplining a child. This would make sense, as the home (marriage) is a picture of Christ and his bride (the church). In the absence of Christ, the church is to execute discipline (church discipline is another item that appears lacking in our age). Likewise, in the absence of the father, the mother is to execute family discipline. Shame on the mother who says, "You just wait until your father gets home!"

  1. The book of Proverbs shares the promises of proper discipline in a home. I'll not write out each verse, but just reference it for your personal Bible study. Biblically disciplining a child promises:

A final thought, we ought to discipline not so much to punish but to correct future actions.

Pleasant Thinking,

Dr. Kent Haralson - "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean
Berean Baptist / GMAU - not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways
West Palm Beach, FL USA - acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."


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