A phrase I often says is, “I’m glad my momma whipped me long enough for Jesus to save me.” I needed discipline as a child. My parent’s discipline (not just spankings) helped guide and shape my character. Pastor, you believe in spanking? Well, not when I was getting them – who does then? But Scripture tells us, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24). The Bible also says, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother”(Proverbs 29:15). This one is probably the most powerful one, “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 Hell” (Proverbs 23:13-14).
Now, don’t misunderstand me, spanking isn’t the only form of discipline. It can be done wrong – in anger, as just punishment, even abusive. There is a huge difference between discipline and punishment. The root word of discipline is disciple. Making disciples sometimes means correction but other times means encouragement – it always includes instruction. My wife and I have spanked our children but only for certain things. After most spankings I’ve held my children in my lap and even read scripture to instruct where they went wrong. A good guideline we’ve used for spanking is Proverbs 6:16-19, “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” Notice two of these concerning lies. I always got spankings for lying. Why? My dad told me one time, “Son, Satan is the father of lies and liars (John 8:44). Do you want to be a son of Satan or a son of Jesus?” He didn’t want me to grow up to be a liar.
As I already stated, spanking is only one form of discipline. The point is correcting wrong behavior and shaping them into the young men and women you want them to become. Proverbs 29:17 says, “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul.” Our kids need to know what their boundaries are and the consequences for crossing them. They need hugs and kisses but correction is also an act of love. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way they should go and when they are older they won’t depart from it.” We must train them when they are young, not just correct them when they are old. Be proactive, not just reactive. The cure for wrong behavior isn’t the electric chair, it’s the high chair.
Disciplining and training our children isn’t optional. We are commanded to train our children in the admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Do you want your child to be foolish? Then discipline. “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15). Do you want to save your kids from the consequences of wrong doing? Then discipline. “Don’t fail to discipline your children. The rod of punishment won’t kill them. Physical discipline may well save them from death” (Proverbs 23:13-14). Do you want your children to be wise? Then discipline. “To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child” (Proverbs 29:15). Do you want to be at peace about your child’s behavior when they aren’t with you? Then discipline. “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Proverbs 29:17). Do you want your children to have the character of Jesus? Then discipline. “For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 12:10-11).