Summary: Raising G-Rated kids requires instruction that shapes the will without breaking the spirit
[Playground study video]
Some of you may be wondering what fences on playgrounds have to do with raising G-Rated Kids in an X-Rated World. But as we’ll see this morning, in spite of the fact that it is counterintuitive to our own natural thinking, establishing fences, or boundaries, in the lives of our children actually gives them the freedom to become the godly men and women that God wants them to become.
But as we saw last week, when we talked about four different parenting styles, we need to establish those appropriate boundaries in a way that does not provoke our children to anger. And that is not always an easy thing to do, is it?
In this morning’s message, we will primarily focus on the fourth of the 5 “D’s” of Raising G-Rated Kids in an X-Rated World:
But before we do that I want to spend a few minutes following up on one aspect of discipline that I didn’t get a chance to address last week. Once again we’re going to begin in Ephesians 6 this morning:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:1-4 ESV)
Hopefully, you’ll remember the overall principle that we drew from this passage last week:
Raising G-Rated kids requires discipline that
shapes the will
without breaking the spirit
We began our discussion last week with the negative command found in the first part of verse 4:
Fathers [and mothers], do not provoke your children to anger…
We discussed four different parenting styles and determined that the authoritative style where parents set clear standards for their children, monitor the limits they set, and let children develop autonomy is the most effective way to make sure we don’t break the spirit of our children.
We then went on to discuss the positive command in the second part of that verse:
…but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
We determined that while the ideas of discipline and instruction were certainly similar they are distinct enough that we are dealing with them separately. Last week we focused on discipline and we saw that the Greek word for discipline that Paul uses is a broad term that describes everything parents do to train, correct, cultivate and educate children in order to help them to develop and mature. And we looked at Hebrews 12, which describes how God disciplines His children do get some further insight into that process. We saw there that in disciplining our children that we need to employ both punitive and non-punitive measures.
One of the punitive measures that we didn’t get a chance to discuss is clearly spelled out for us in numerous Bible passages, primarily in the book of Proverbs. Let’s quickly look at a few of them.
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)
The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
(Proverbs 29:15 ESV)
Now I’ve seen people who oppose the idea of spanking, even some Christians, go through all kinds of Bible gymnastics to try and say that the rod does not mean actually striking the child in any way, that it’s only a metaphor for other non-physical forms of punishment. When they do that I then take them to this passage:
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)
I just don’t see any way that the writer of this Proverbs had in mind striking a child with a metaphor. So the Bible clearly teaches that appropriate physical punishment is to be at least one of the compelling consequences that we are to use in disciplining our children. But it should certainly not be the only one nor should it be used too frequently.
So let me share with you a few guidelines for spanking. Most of these have been developed from both personal experience and from advice from some Christians that I respect. Although they don’t come directly from the Bible, I think they are all consistent with Biblical principles of discipline that we discussed last week.