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Shall We Spare the Rod?

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”-Proverbs 13:24

Proverbs 13:24 is often sited; either by proponents of spanking or those who say the Bible teaches child abuse. The emphasis however of this proverb is rooted in two central themes. The first is that true parental love is the impetus for discipline. The second is that this discipline, while physical, is the outworking of that love.

Does it sound strange to you that physical punishment of children is the outworking of a loving parent?

The love of a parent is for the welfare of the child. Most parents would agree with this. But left to our own opinions on the manner of how to secure this well-being, we will assuredly side with foolish measures. Shall we spare the rod? No. What children require for their security is discipline. [pullquote]Desiring discipline for a child is analogous to love.[/pullquote] Anti-wisdom says, “Don’t discipline the children and let them have fun.” Selfishness says, “Let me beat you till you stop bothering me.” Both extremes are wrong. The scripture says we are to be, “diligent to discipline.” This reminds me of Deuteronomy 6:7 which states:
“You shall teach them [commandments] 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.”
I heard a quote that said, “discipline takes discipline.” That quote drives to the heart of the proverb. Love takes investment in a child’s life. Spanking or other forms of discipline are programmatic in training up a child, not reactionary to irritation or impatience. This discipline precludes abuse because abuse comes from a selfish heart, not one of love. Abuse also develops from laziness in discipline. Diligence also denotes a long term process that is structured around God. This requires parents to look deeply at their task and responsibility in raising a child in the way he should go (Proverbs 26:3). Application of this principal will instill a lifelong expression of love and lead to Godly discipline and wisdom.