This is a rough week for my husband and I as we commemorate the birthday of our sweet kitty on the 4th of July. He would have been 12. Then the 5th marks the first year since he went Home to Heaven. We love our animals like family, so this is hitting us harder than we expected.
The Bible says to endure hardship as discipline.
“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Norfaint when you are reproved by Him; For thosewhom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:4-11, NASB)
Unfortunately, many Christians take these versesto mean corporal punishment. But if you read the Proverbs section of this blog, it has nothing to do with spanking/hitting children or hitting anyone. It just means that growth and discipline is not always pleasant and easy.
And being a Christ-follower, I take to heart what Jesus said,
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
(John 14:27, NASB).
After much research, and guidance from the Holy Spirit, I truly believe He that one of the many ways He does this is through His gift of cannabis, and the appropriate use of alcohol (see 1 Timothy 5:23, Ecclesiastes 9:7, and Psalm 104:14-15 also references cannabis). Of course, the Bible makes it clear not to get really drunk, but to relax and relieve some medical issues, alcohol use is perfectly fine and encouraged throughout the Bible. In fact, one of Jesus’ first miracles was turning water into wine at a wedding in John 2:1-11. Please see this post for a link to the use of cannabis during Biblical times.
Yes, we go through hardships throughout our lives and these hardships should make us grow—and grow closer to Him. I truly believe we should use discipline to help everyone grow, opposed to using punishment which keeps us stuck in the place we are in, no matter how old we are.
For example, children may appear to be growing despite being punished, but it’s really them learning to hide things from their parents in order to avoid getting punishment. For adults, such a punitive attitude and belief system can trap them in harmful legalism and toxic relationships. They can’t see Who Jesus really is—love.
My husband and I watched the movie Reincarnated about Snoop Dogg changing his life to one of peace and love. He went to Jamaica and he became a Rastafarian. While we don’t agree with some of the Rastafarian doctrine, we love the way they love all and respect all people no matter what they believe.
They use cannabis as both medicine and to grow closer to God. I have absolutely fallen in love with this song:
Yes, heartbreak will hopefully and eventually lead to growth. It is not God punishing us. It’s life. We, as Christ-followers, must learn and understand this. We must teach this to our children so they can truly grow in Christ.
One last thing about cannabis: I have severe cerebral palsy and use it medically for spasms, pain, anxiety, and PTSD. As the result of being blessed by this sacred plant, I truly believe I am growing in Christ. I’ve become more open to more encompassing love and grace. I am still very imperfect and make mistakes, but I am slowly getting better at loving others.
For years, I bought into the doctrine that marijuana is “evil.” It’s anything but. In fact, it allowed me sit here with fireworks going off next door, and I was not jumping as much and not being anxious about the next boom. I am looking forward to going to the fireworks on the 4th. I will be using cannabis, thereby remaining more clearly aware of and the Holy Spirit’s guidance and comfort to continue to deal with my heartbreak. I am hopeful that cannabis will continue to ease my spasms and other ailments. Yay for Cannabis!
As the line in the song says, “so raise a glass to the memories, set em free, and fill up all those ashtrays.”
In memory of Sara (January 27, 2007), Grandpa (May 2, 2016), my father-in-law (June 29, 2007), YP (July 5, 2017), Penelope (July 6, 2012), my mother-in-law (August 8, 2015), Sadie (October 6, 2011), and the rest of my loved ones in Heaven.
Once again I found myself dealing with a Christian pro-spanker that insists that the “rod verses” in the book of Proverbs must be taken literally. Yet, when I asked the following questions, the pro-spanker couldn’t answer:
*If we must spank/hit our children then shouldn’t we also stone people, cut off body parts, pluck eyes out?
*And what about slavery? Shouldn’t we continue to keep slaves?
*Shouldn’t we also sacrifice animals for our sins?
People pick and choose what to take literally. It makes no sense to take a few verses literally to justify spanking/hitting children but not other harsh verses.
The Bible was written for us, not to us. As I have said many times, we must seek to understand the historical and cultural context of Scripture. We must also study the original languages of the Bible to truly understand what it’s saying and how to apply it to us.
Not every Scripture is meant to be directly applied to us! We are to learn from all Scripture, but because of what Jesus did on the cross, we do not need to directly apply every single Scripture to our lives. To do so is to downplay what Jesus did for all of humanity on the cross!
“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14, NASB).
After a while, the pro-spanker tried to answer the questions above by saying that we no longer live under the Law, but rather, we live under grace.
Exactly! And this grace applies to children as well. Jesus freed us from the Law.
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18).
When we spank, we are parenting under the Law. We are not accepting the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus. Jesus died for us. He was beaten to a bloody pulp for us. Why do we feel we must beat, spank, and hit our young children who do not understand sin nor physical punishment?
“In regard to evil be infants” (1 Corinthians 14:20b).
If we are to interpret all of the “rod” verses that appear to advocate spanking/hitting children with a large weapon with spikes on it literally, then we must take all of the other harsh verses in the Bible literally. Who are we to apply only a handful of verses to inflict pain on children but not do everything else in the Bible?
After all, the Bible also says:
“Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts” (Proverbs 20:30, NASB).
I truly do not believe that God wanted us to take the entire Bible literally. Rather, we are to see how God redeemed His people. The Bible is meant to be read in a redemption manner.
For more information about how to interpret the “rod verses” in Proverbs, please click here.
Finally, as Christ-followers should easily realize that all the verses telling us to be kind, merciful, graceful, gentle, peaceful, loving, forgiving, and patient with one another apply to children too. Jesus is our example!
In fact, Ephesians 5:1-2 says,
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
So to imitate God is to walk in love, not hurt each other. And the fruit of the Spirit is:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, *gentleness,* self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
I will end with two final verses.
“For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).
God favors mercy over judgement.
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance, not fear and pain. This is what we should take literally!
Happy New Year 2017. As I begin this new year, I find myself relating less and less to the Christian world. I’m a Christ-follower through and through. I strive to be more like Jesus and less judgmental. As I grow in my walk with Christ, the mainstream Christian worldview just feels so harsh and misguided and judgmental. I’m not seeing much Christ in these people. That makes me so sad because I’m seeing just how broken the Church really is.
I know we are all a bunch of broken, sinful people but we should be striving to be more loving, compassionate, merciful, peaceful, gentle, forgiving, and full of grace. In other words, more like Jesus Christ! But all I’m seeing is harshness, judging, accusations, promotion of being harsh to children and anyone who dares to disagree with you and/or dares to take a less literal interpretation of parts of the Bible. To dare live outside of the mainstream Christian culture is to go to “Hell” and to be part of the devil’s schemes.
Anyone who has followed me and/or has read my book, Gentle Firmness, knows that I have been struggling with fitting in with the Christian culture because I can see that God never intended for children to be spanked/hit by their parents. Sadly, the mainstream Christian world disagrees with me and refuses to see the Truth. And now that I have gotten tattoos, I’m really enjoying that culture because it’s so real, loving, and actually Christ-like, yet, even though nobody has said anything to me, I know some of my Christian friends are probably thinking that I am really backsliding now. Not only do I advocate for peaceful parenting but I am tattooed.
This makes me feel so sad because I take my relationship with Christ very seriously. I research the Bible and pray before every huge decision. I’m not perfect and I sin regularly but I also truly want to do as Christ wants me to do.
So imagine my horror and confusion when I saw a meme with a quote from Beth Moore, a Bible teacher, that seems to be saying that to choose love and become more like Jesus is putting the Bible aside. That love and Truth are in tension with each other. You can listen to the quote here as I do not want to put the meme in this post.
I used to really look up to Beth Moore. God has used her books and one of her Bible studies to speak to me. I can’t say anything bad about Beth Moore but her recent teachings have left me very disturbed.
The Bible tells us to be more like Jesus (Philippians 2:1-11, John 3:30, Ephesians 5:2). And Christ gave us The Two GREATEST COMMANDMENTS which are:
“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Mark 12:28-34, NASB).
Jesus tells us that love is the most important thing ever! The love of God and love for each other! Also, Jesus says that He is the Truth!
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me'” (John 14:6, NASB).
Then 1 John 4:8 states:
“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NASB).
And finally, Ephesians 5:1-2 states:
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (NASB).
Love and Truth go hand in hand. Jesus also said that the Truth will set us free (John 8:32). So if Jesus is the Truth and is Love according to the Bible, then how is loving people “putting the Bible aside and forsaking the Truth for love a part of ‘the devil’s schemes?'”
Another thing to consider is that the Bible is just one way that God speaks to us. The Bible is a bunch of beautifully God inspired words. It’s just a small piece of information that God wants us to have. However, we must study and look at the original language, historical culture, and the context in which passages were written. The Bible wasn’t written TO us, it was written FOR us! Big difference! Most Christians believe the Bible is written TO us. And the Bible is often referred to as a love letter from God.
Jesus is The Word!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5, NASB).
Jesus also told us that He would give us a Counselor to help guide us after He ascended into Heaven in John 14:16:
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;” (NASB).
This Counselor is the Holy Spirit. He dwells inside us and constantly guides and speaks to us if we will listen to Him. Therefore, even if we don’t read the Bible, God is still able to speak to us. Don’t get me wrong, studying the Bible is very important! But if I were to somehow never be able to read and study the Bible, I have no doubt in my mind that The Word (God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) would continue to teach, guide, correct, love, and speak to me. We just need to be open to Him!
I used to be a judgmental, legalistic Christian who thought it was my job to correct and save people from their sins. I thought obeying the rules were of utmost importance. I told people that they were headed to Hell if they didn’t listen to me and get Jesus.
Guess how many people I helped save by being all about the Truth but not about love?
Zero! That’s right! Nobody wanted anything to do with this Jesus guy and it hurt my relationships.
We stand in the Truth by being more like Jesus. Love is how we reach people. Jesus was the hardest on the Pharisees and the Teachers of Law because they were all about self-righteousness and legalism and not wanting to hang out with the sinners. They even criticized Jesus for hanging out with sinners all the time. Jesus raised the status of all of the oppressed including children, women, people with disabilities, people of different races and ethnicities. He died for everyone! If that’s not love, I don’t know what love is!
I’m sorry but I don’t think that Jesus wants us running around condemning people and shaking our fingers in their faces to stand for Truth!
”Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday” (Isaiah 58:9-10, NASB).
I don’t think He wants us to judge others (Matthew 7:1-6). I don’t think He wants us to spank/hit children. I don’t think He wants us to force people to follow Him out of fear.
Rather, I truly believe that Jesus wants us to love as He loves. Yes, sometimes that means correcting someone gently if they are going down the wrong path, but gently is the key word as otherwise, people just get defensive and dig in their heels.
Therefore, there is no “tension” between love and Truth unless we put it there. Love and Truth go together very easily.
I believe that, sadly, teachers that say that positive Christianity and love are of the devil are the ones who are truly entrapped in satan’s schemes. After all, satan hates love.
The following commercial from Pampers diapers always makes me cry every year at Christmas time.
These precious, innocent babies are the pinnacle of God’s creation and I always wonder how anyone in their right mind could believe that they are “sinful” or “manipulative.”
These babies are beautiful human beings; people think it’s perfectly fine, and even “godly,” to treat them harshly in order to “train” them to be peaceful, godly people. It breaks my heart every time, especially this time of year when we are celebrating God coming down as a baby to save us all! Check out this post about God being a baby.
Jesus lifted children’s status in the world, and called us to be more like them and treat them with respect and kindness. And yet, “Christians” still advocate for letting them cry-it-out, for spanking/hitting them, and for using other harsh punishment on them. But that isn’t how Jesus was when He came to Earth. He brought real peace.
He treated everyone with love and discipled them. He corrected people through His Words, not through violence. Then when it was time, He died a violent death for all of us!
Even with satan, He used His Word to stop him. In the Temple when He got angry at the people taking advantage of the poor in His Father’s House, He did not hit anyone with the whip. He simply wanted them out immediately.
We want peace on Earth but we are not willing to follow after Jesus’s example. Jesus would never leave a baby to cry-it-out, spank/hit a child, or send a child away to “think” about what he/she has done.
No, Jesus would comfort, disciple, love, guide, protect, teach, correct, forgive, and offer mercy and grace to the little ones. After all, the Kingdom of God belongs to the little ones.
“But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16, NASB).
And here is what the prophet Isaiah called Jesus:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, KJV).
If we truly want peace on Earth this Christmas, may we strive to parent our beautiful children the way the Prince of Peace, Our AWESOME Lord and Savior would parent them.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:8-14, KJV).
A week ago I got another tattoo for my mother-in-law. Again, due to how I have been treated throughout my life because people always underestimate me and have even put me down, I felt the need to prove that I could handle a much more detailed tattoo. See here to read about my first tattoo.
Thankfully, some of my family, including my mom and my husband, have always been supportive of me. My mom wanted to be here to help with my second tattoo, but she lives in Kansas. I missed having her there as she is a tattoo person too.
I am beyond happy! I did even better than last time. My tattoo artist began easy by retouching my Mickey. Then she gave me 3 fonts to choose from for the “big hug” that I added to my grandpa tattoo, and I immediately picked the middle font. We decided to put it at the top of the grandpa tattoo! That went so well! We were a bit worried about doing font with me due to my startle reflex that I have no control over. The significance of adding “big hug” is that from the time of AOL instant messenger, my grandpa and I chatted every week if at all possible since it’s very hard to understand me over the phone as my speech is very slurred because of my severe cerebral palsy. So at the end of EVERY chat, we’d say, “Big hug! I got mine! Here’s one back.” It satisfied us until we got to see each other again and get the real hug! Oh my, I’m crying again. Now “big hug” is forever on me and I will NEVER forget that very special thing between us until I see him again and finally get many big hugs for eternity! I love you, Grandpa! So now my grandpa tattoo is complete!
Then it was onto my tattoo for my beloved mother-in-law. The cardinal is my sign from her in Heaven. She was like my second mom and accepted me into her family! We were very, very close. Her birthday is on Halloween so my husband came up with the jack-o-lantern idea. Then my artist added the harvest moon and hazy clouds. I was nervous about the details, but it went better than I could have ever imagined!!
Eventually my startle reflex quit. I took the same medications as last time to slow down my spasms. My husband strapped me all up in my wheelchair, including my arms since we didn’t have my mom there to help as we did last time. My husband sat on the floor and held my leg. I can’t believe how well it all went.
To me, the shading hurts less than the outline. And my artist and my husband talked the whole time and I talked some, but I didn’t want to move too much. She said that I really did a great job! I only took one break to get a drink of orange juice. Everyone loved it at the shop! I am so proud of myself for doing so well with the pain, but I ended up getting used to it. And the conversation was so cool and interesting that it kept me distracted.
I’m always second guessing myself in everything that I do. The voices that told me throughout my life that I would never amount to much are always somewhere in my head despite my, thankfully, strong will. This is why I hate that many Christians believe that they must break their children’s wills. They are really doing a great deal of harm to their children because it often takes a strong will to do what is right in God’s eyes and not what others think is “good.”
I again hugged me tattoo artist afterwards! My tattoos are the most beautiful things ever! It was sore like a sunburn but it was worth everything! It all took 2 hours! I was tired but so excited! Another huge accomplishment for me! Thank You, Jesus! It felt so good walking out into the cool air when we left the tattoo shop because I was hot from all that!
I sat here at home for a while with my sweatpants down and just looked at it!! I cried! There is so much symbolism behind these tattoos. Symbols of love and acceptance by family members. Symbols of remembrance and the hope of being reunited with them some day thanks to Jesus’s amazing gift of grace and forgiveness! Symbols of being able to overcome, with God’s help, the negative messages that were put into my head from the time that I was a small child.
My next tattoo is January 27th to get my first kitty, Sara. I’m doing it on the 10 year anniversary of her going Home! I’ve wanted tattoos for so long and never thought it would work with me but I proved that wrong!! I feel like I can now get through this horrible grief because I got through the tattoos with flying colors!! Thank You, Jesus!
Children need to be taught how to believe in themselves and to trust God. Only through gentle discipline is achieved. I will probably always struggle with believing in myself and totally trusting God no matter how much I continue to overcome. I wish all children could have what I didn’t growing up.
Note: This was originally written on November 22, 2016. I always have my husband edit my posts.
God is good! So many Christians believe that He punishes us when we sin. He definitely corrects us which isn’t pleasant, but He doesn’t spank, hurt, or smite us down or I really shouldn’t be here as I have been really sinning in my anger lately. Today is an example of God’s love.
We went grocery shopping today and got stuff for Thanksgiving. With everything we’ve been going through with grief, our cat being in the beginning stages of kidney disease, and other stresses, my husband asked me this morning if he could just make turkey and his mom’s amazing oyster dressing, and mashed potatoes because he just wasn’t into making the whole feast with sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. Of course, I said that was fine because we’re both at our limits. Maybe Christmas we’ll have the whole feast. We’ll see.
So we get everything at the store and come to the van. My husband puts me in the van and I started freaking out. I cussed. My Sara ring, the ring he bought me on the first birthday without my beloved first kitty Sara, was GONE! I didn’t feel or hear it fall off. I was so upset and sick to my stomach. My husband looked ALL over. It was nowhere to be found.
On the way home, I had a meltdown. I yelled at God. I said some very hateful things, and called Him names I’m ashamed of. My angry outburst was not as intense as the other night when I said some even more horrible things to God due to fear and anger about the possibility of losing our cat after having lost my mother-in-law and my grandpa all in the same year, but still, it was very nasty and I felt Him being sad. But I was so angry that I didn’t care at the moment. I got defiant and said that I would just go buy a new ring. I just really let Him have it.
When we got home, my husband looked again for the ring. Gone. I felt sick. I couldn’t cry. I just felt sick. He called the store to let them know that I had lost my ring. But I had no hope. It’s gone.
After putting stuff away, he takes me to the bathroom. As he was getting me up, I saw the ring in my underwear. I couldn’t verbally get it out that my ring was in my underwear due to having to focus on standing and holding on to my husband. It fell out and I said, “my ring, my ring!” He thought I was talking about another ring.
So he gets me back in my wheelchair where he can understand me easier and I told him that it was my Sara ring. It was in my underwear and fell by my “potty chair.” He went in the bathroom, and sure enough, there was my Sara ring! We both thanked Jesus!
Then I got on my iPad and checked my messages and my tattoo artist asked if I wanted to get tattooed next week. She broke her ankle right before my appointment in October to get my memorial tattoo for my mother-in-law and couldn’t do it, so I have been waiting and praying for her. I was concerned that she might not be up to it until after Christmas. I had gotten my first tattoo in honor of my grandpa the day after my birthday, and I wanted both tattoos before the holidays to keep my grandpa and mother-in-law close to me as the holidays will be tough again this year. See here to read all about my first tattoo. I was going to ask next week to see what she thought, but I will be getting tattooed on Tuesday!! Yay! Thank You, Jesus.
Finally, I received a message from Safe Families, a local Christian organization that helps children and their families during crisis situations, and they said that want to see if they can figure out how to partner with me for parent coaching. Thank You, Jesus!
After being so awful to Him again, He blesses me and let’s us know that He is here! He forgives. And maybe He disciplines us in a manner that truly humbles us through blessing because I didn’t deserve any blessings at all!
And perhaps, we should be mindful of the way He disciplines and forgives us as we discipline our children. He definitely loves us no matter what and fathers us gently!
Just re-reading this brings me to tears. I don’t deserve His love.
I continue to ask this question every time I see a “Christian” claim that children must be spanked/hit in order to receive forgiveness and understand God’s mercy someday.
But God doesn’t do this to us. All we, adults, have to do to be forgiven by God is ask God to forgive us. God never punishes us before forgiving us and extending His amazing grace and love to us. So why is it supposedly different for children?
Guess what! It isn’t! Nowhere in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, does it say that children must pay a price for forgiveness. In fact, this is what the Bible says about mercy, and it applies to children too:
Titus 3:3-7, NASB:
“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
So, yes, God’s mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love is for children too!
It turns out that I am in awesome company when it comes to being accused of being from satan when it comes to teaching and promoting peace, love, mercy, forgiveness, and healing. Jesus Himself was accused of being from satan after healing a blind and mute man in Matthew 12:22-37.
Let’s look at that passage:
“Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”
And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.
If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.
You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:22-37, NASB).
Here Jesus did something awesome by healing a man and what did the people around Him do? They questioned who in the world He was. Then the Pharisees concluded that Jesus must be “satan.”
I love how Jesus answered them by pointing out:
“And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.’” (Matthew 12:25-28, NASB).
What Jesus was saying was that satan cannot and would not drive out his own demon. Also, it is interesting that throughout this chapter whenever Jesus did something good and right but contradictory to the Law, the Pharisees and other teachers of the Law of Moses got angry and accused Jesus of doing the devil’s work. I find this interesting because there is no good in satan.
Yes, satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) because, after all, he was once an angel full of God’s light before he got proud and fell, but there is no good or light in satan. Satan comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Jesus, on the other hand, comes to give life abundantly (John 10:10).
So, why would supposedly “God-loving Christians” accuse other Christians who are trying to teach Truth and peace regarding how God wants us to treat our children of doing satan’s work and/or of being heretical? And why do they actually boast and laugh about hurting their children in Jesus’s name?
I believe the passage above has our answer. Let’s look at the end of that passage.
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:33-37, NASB).
As I discuss in great detail in my book, most Christian pro-spankers were “lovingly” spanked/hit by their parents, and thus, have the message literally ingrained in their brains that having been spanked/hit in Jesus’s Name was good and right. They have denied and repressed the physical and emotional pain of being hurt by their parents.
Therefore, as this passage points out, a good tree will bear good fruit and a bad tree will bear bad fruit. We can force our children to behave exactly how we want them to behave, but this does not guarantee that they’ll have pure hearts and will bear good fruit. In fact, spanking/hitting children tends to make them angry and resentful. As Greven (1992) states:
“Anger is a child’s best (and often only) defense, for it arises out of a powerful sense of self, a self being violated and abused by painful blows and hurtful words. The child has been hurt on purpose (bolding for emphasis by author) by an adult in order to teach a lesson in discipline, but the child experiences this pain and reproach as an assault upon the self as well as upon the body. Often the result is not only anger but also hatred and a powerful desire for revenge, which often takes the form of imagined mutilation or murder of the person who inflicted the pain. These powerful emotions are permanently stored in unconscious memories, but sometimes people also remember them quite consciously, years after the events that provoked the feelings” (p. 124).
The devil is our accuser. He is the one who puts us down and tries to get God to be mad at us.
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down’” (Revelation 12:10, NASB).
So when angry “Christian” pro-spankers hurl accusations at those who are trying to help them see and understand God’s amazing love for all of us, especially children, God’s love does not shine through them. Only anger and hate comes through. The Bible makes it very clear that we are to love and bless each other and leave revenge up to God.
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21, NASB).
Yes, we are to gently correct each other of sin according to Galatians 6:1-2, but the key word is gently, because accusing people and inflicting pain on them only causes fear and defensiveness. Jesus told it like it was with the Teachers of the Law, but He was always gentle. And no, He did not hit anyone with the whip He made to drive everyone out of the Temple. He loved people.
He still loves us and uses His gentle love to bring us to Him so that we may be saved.
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4, NASB).
Christ does not hurt, accuse, insult, or punish us to make us come to Him. He offers love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness to us. He is the Prince of Peace.
However, satan hurts, accuses, insults, steals, kills, and destroys. Do you really think satan wants us to discipline (teach and guide) our children in a graceful manner without inflicting pain? Jesus created children. He knows how vulnerable the young brain is and how harmful spanking/hitting is to that young, vulnerable brain. Why would the Prince of Peace who, despite being absolutely sinless, suffered and died for all of humanity’s sins call us to physically punish our children for their mistakes?
Out of our mouths come the things that are in our hearts.
I leave us with a beautiful passage that describes exactly who Jesus is.
“Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes” (Isaiah 40:11, NASB).
Greven, P. (1992). Spare the child. New York, NY: Vintage Books.
Philippians 1:27-29 (NASB):
“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, …”
This was today’s devotional on Biblica.com. It really encouraged my husband and me as we’ve been dealing with some difficult people lately.
Anyone practicing and advocating gentle parenting usually end up running into those who just don’t understand why we are so passionate about treating children with respect. We tend to get put down and berated for not spanking/hitting or otherwise punishing our children.
It can get quite discouraging. And lately, especially on Facebook, there seems to be more arguing and dissention over everything! Standing for Biblical Truths seems to be highly frowned upon nowadays.
Thankfully, we can take courage in the above Scripture. We don’t have to be alarmed by our opponents (easier said than done. Trust me, I know!). Jesus has been right where we are. He had to even walk away and shake the dust off His feet when people would ignore and insult Him. Then on the Cross He put up with horrific treatment.
I often mess up when dealing with difficult people. It’s hard to be insulted and put down for teaching gentleness and love for children. But Jesus gives me grace when I fail. He’ll do the same for you.
And when we show kindness to difficult people, we show them the Gospel. And we teach our children how to be kind to everyone while exercising boundaries when needed. Since this is the Christmas season, may we share uplifting things with each other in order to stop some of the hate and dissention in the world.
“For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.
For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.”
I often see Scripture applying to the parent-child relationship where most would not.
For example, this Scripture clearly states that living by grace and faith is what we ought to do as Christians because merely living by the Law brings wrath and voids faith. We all know that the reason Jesus came to die on the cross was to allow us to have an easier way to access God. People cannot successfully keep the Law of Moses. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, we now have grace and can live by faith in Jesus.
So, how come so many Christian parents tend to make their children live by the Law which brings about wrath?
Parenting by the Law means that parents set up rules by which their children cannot abide such as expecting a toddler or preschooler to sit quietly through an hour long church service. This is completely developmentally inappropriate for young children. Then when the child inevitably breaks this arbitrary rule, the child gets spanked/hit or otherwise punished by the parent. The Law brought wrath upon the child. The parent’s and child’s faith are void because neither is trusting God in that moment even if the parents think they are doing as God commands by punishing the child.
Therefore, when a parent spanks/hits a child, he/she is parenting under the Law and acts as a judge. The child commits an offense, the parent tries the child and decides a spanking is necessary, the parent doles out the punishment, then the child is free to go on since he/she paid the price.
Only, as Christians, the Law is no longer binding. If we want children to learn the grace, peace, love, and mercy of the Law of Christ, why do we parent under the Law of Moses?
We are supposed to be living by grace and faith. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Living and parenting by faith means we get to know Jesus and follow His example in our parenting. He set realistic limits for His disciples and gently corrected them.
We also need to understand child development in order to set realistic limits for our children. For example, instead of expecting toddlers or preschoolers to sit quietly through a church service, we either worship at home with them, bring crayons and let them color as we sit in the back of the sanctuary in case they need to leave, or allow them to go to children’s church.
Grace doesn’t punish. It doesn’t nullify faith. Grace sets appropriate limits and allows natural consequences when appropriate.
Let us parent our children through faith and grace.