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.
So many Christians view “strong-willed” children in a very negative light. There’s a book by James Dobson entitled The Strong-Willed Child that I can’t stand. Dobson’s way of punishing these children include multiple spankings/hittings and other harsh punishments in order to break their wills. Equating love with pain has been proven to be damaging to children.
I’m well aware that Dobson claims all research proving spanking is “harmful” to children is somehow “biased.” As someone who has conducted my own scholarly research, I can assure you that strict guidelines are upheld. There are many more studies showing the harmful effects of spanking than the few small studies claiming “loving” spanking isn’t harmful. It makes me feel physically ill that many Christians use this horrible book on their children.
Yet, in the Bible, we see that God uses many strong-willed people to do His Will!
The most strong-willed person in the Bible that God used to do so much good for the kingdom of God, I believe, is the Apostle Paul.
We see in Acts 9:1-2, and even in the previous chapter, that we meet Paul first as Saul, a devout Hellenistic Jew and a Pharisee that enjoyed persecuting Christians. He approved of the stoning of Stephen in Acts 8:1. Needless to say, this Saul guy was one bad dude. And yet, God had a radical plan for Saul. In Acts 9, we see that as Saul was on his way to Damascus to persecute even more Christians, Jesus got Saul’s attention in a big but non-painful way. Saul went blind. Jesus asked Saul why he was persecuting Him in Acts 9:4. Jesus told Saul to meet a man in Damascus who would tell him what to do. Saul, blind, obeyed God and look what happened:
“Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ’Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again'” (Acts 9:17-19, NIV).
From this moment on, Saul, who became Paul, lived his life for God, fearlessly proclaiming the gospel to all surrounding nations despite numerous beatings, imprisonments, and shipwrecks. Through the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote between thirteen and fourteen books of the New Testament—this is over half of the New Testament.
And anyone who is very familiar with the New Testament knows that Paul tells it like it is. He didn’t sugarcoat anything that God inspired him to write. He encouraged his fellow believers, but also rebuked and corrected them in his letters. Through Paul, God gained many believers into His kingdom.
God did not break Paul’s will. God molded Paul’s will into doing good instead of persecuting Christians. Had God broken Paul’s will, do you believe Paul would have clung to God through all the suffering he went through to share salvation through Jesus Christ?
Broken, compliant people are usually not strong people in that they find it very difficult to press against the tide. Strong-willed people have an easier time of questioning authority. They also have an easier time of pressing on when persecution occurs.
“We are struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:8-12, NASB).
What I wish Christians would stop doing is viewing children as “strong-willed” and “manipulative.” And view them as intelligent, high spirited children who need much connection and guidance.
We should involve them in decisions about how the family needs to get things done. We also need to provide them with appropriate alternatives for limits. For example, “You may not go upstairs right now but you can help with making dinner.” Or “Yes, you may go upstairs after I finish vacuuming. I need you to pick up that toy.”
Having high spirited children can be very challenging. But they can be disciplined without punishment. These children need to be heard. They need some control over their environment. They need lots of connection with us. They also need to have a great deal of consistency. By taking the time to truly work with high spirited children, we can channel that strong will into doing good and, ultimately, God’s Will.
Once again I have seen another Christian leader try to claim that physical “discipline” (I hate when people try to call corporal punishment “physical discipline” as hitting a child is NOT “discipline,” it is punishment!) is a part of the “rod” verses of Proverbs. They just do not understand that the Hebrew meaning of the “rod” verses do not include the use of corporal punishment with children.
If they did, God would have provided more instructions on how, when, why, and at what age children should be spanked/hit.
I mean, inflicting pain on a child is serious business. Why would God leave it up to a bunch of sinful adults to figure out how to use corporal punishment? And these sinful adults don’t even agree on what is “abuse.” Here are quotes from the popular “Christian” advocates of spanking:
“The child may be more strong-willed than the parent, and they both know it. If he can outlast a temporary onslaught, he has won a major battle, eliminating punishment in the parent’s repertoire. Even though Mom spanks him, he wins the battle by defying her again. The solution to this situation is obvious: outlast him; win, even if it takes a repeated measure” (Dobson, 1970, p. 45).
“For example, a dime sized bruise on the buttocks of a fair-skinned child may or may not indicate an abusive situation. It all depends. In an otherwise secure and loving home, that bruise may have no greater psychological impact than a skinned knee or a stubbed toe. Again the issue in not the small abrasion; it is the meaning behind it” (Dobson, 1996, p. 25).
“After you have spanked, take the child up on your lap and hug him, telling him how much you love him, how much it grieves you to spank him, and how you hope that it will not be necessary again. Then if he is still not restored, you are to check your own spirit to see if you have handled him roughly… [or] brought unholy anger on this holy mission, and if you have, seek forgiveness from God. If your child is still angry, it’s time for another round, ‘Daddy has spanked you, but you are not sweet enough yet. We are going to have to go back upstairs for another spanking'” (Tripp, 1995, p. 149).
“On the bare legs or bottom, switch him eight or ten licks; then, while waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If the crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If the crying is still defiant, protesting and other than a response to pain, spank him again” (Pearl, 1994, p. 80).
It is very scary to me that they say different things, but yet, advocate harsh, “loving” spankings. Also, dark skinned children must suffer much more pain than a lighter skinned child as bruises don’t show up as quickly on dark skin.
But since there is yet another “Christian” leader teaching parents to spank/hit their children in order to “Bibically discipline” them, I will explore the topic once again. I cover all of this in my book, Gentle Firmness.
This time we’ll focus on Proverbs 22:15 (NASB) which states:
“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”
We know that the Hebrew meaning for “rod” is Shebet and that the rod was a large stick with spikes on the end of it. The shepherds never used it to hit the sheep. Shebet is also used in the Bible as a symbol of authority.
The problem most Christians have with this verse as well as the other “rod” verses that seem to advocate using corporal punishment with children is that the Hebrew word for “discipline” which is Muwcar includes “chastisement” in the definition.
What confuses most pro-spanking Christians is that the English definition for chastisement includes physical punishment. However, it means verbal correction as well.
When looking at the dictionary, there are many synonyms for chastise.
Let’s look at some of them: “Rebuke, Lecture, Scold, Reprimand, Bawl Out, Dress Down, and Lecture.” Yes, it can mean physical punishment, but it also means many other things!
Given the Biblical context in which chastise is being used here in Proverbs, we are walking on very shaky ground if we choose to interpret it as a command to spank our children. God rebukes us all the time. No, it’s not pleasant, but it’s not in a harsh tone and He immediately forgives us when we repent. And yes, if we choose to do our own thing against His will, He will allow, not inflict, pain into our lives. It’s called natural consequences.
Another issue with insisting on punishing and spanking/hitting our children and using the Bible to justify it is that Jesus suffered and died for ALL of our sins! How come adults can just pray for forgiveness and they are forgiven? But our children who are just learning don’t get grace and forgiveness until they “pay” for their “sins.” How is this Biblical or Christ-like?
Finally, sadly, some Christians do follow this verse to a “t” and spank their children for being children. Yet, when we really study this and other verses that seem to advocate corporal punishment with children, we see that there is no reference to spanking/hitting children. It is also important to understand child development as God created children to think and behave the way that they do. To constantly hit them for being “unwise” by adult standards is neither Biblical nor fair. And you can’t beat foolishness out of children any more than you can beat the devil out of them.
Jesus has raised children’s status and has called us to be like little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, Jesus had plenty of time to teach about children and NEVER said anything about spanking/hitting them!
We are to drive out folly by teaching, guiding, protecting, and comforting our children. To do anything other than that, especially to take the above verse literally, would be to teach children that no matter what they do, they will never be able to measure up. Does this sound like the way to raise children up in the Lord?
References (I don’t recommend any of these):
Dobson, J. (1970). Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Dobson, J. (1996). The New Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Pearl, M. (1994). To Train Up A Child. Pleasantville, TN: No Greater Joy Ministries.
Tripp, T. (1995). Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press.
But do Christians show agape love to others, especially their children? In my experience, they often do not. They insist on condemning others and punishing their children.
Don’t get me wrong, I am far from perfect. I struggle at times to love people how God wants me to do so. I get hurt, offended, and judgemental. Thankfully, God lovingly corrects me when I mess up. He loves me with agape love.
Sadly, most devotionals for children teach that they must be punished for their sins. So do the child-rearing books by popular “Christian child-rearing experts” such as James Dobson, Michael Pearl, Ted Tripp, and Roy Lessin.How is this teaching children about agape love that God has for them? Jesus took the punishment for all of our sins, including children!
Obviously, these Christian advocates of spanking do not understand God’s unconditional love for us. Due to adults’ sinful nature, we struggle with practicing agape love. Sometimes it is easier to condemn, spank/hit, yell, or ignore our children. But the Bible says:
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1, NASB).
This means getting up at 2am to care for the baby instead of letting him/her cry-it-out.
This means redirecting our toddlers for the 20th time away from something we don’t want them to play with and telling them what they can do rather than yelling at them and/or smacking their hand because they won’t listen and we’re sick of redirecting them.
This means sitting on the floor while our young children have a meltdown over a limit we’ve set and validating their feelings over the limit that they don’t like.
Finally, parenting with agape love means taking the time to truly listen to our children so that they will want to come to us when they are in trouble.
Yes, we will make mistakes, but when we do, agape love allows us to be humble and apologize to our children.
I am well aware that some Christians will read this and say, “Spanking is a part of what the Bible says about loving our children.” If this is you, please read these posts. And check out this book by theologian Samuel Martin. It’s free!
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes exactly what agape love is.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (ESV).
There is nothing in the above verse that say spanking/hitting, using cry-it-out, or using other harsh punishment is a part of agape love. If anything, it points to gentle firmness as agape love.
It may not always be easy but by parenting with agape love, we can show children God’s true character and teach them how to love others unconditionally.
For the majority of Christian families there is a real emphasis on making children obey their parents. Everything seems to center on obedience. When children don’t obey, parents feel they must punish the children through spanking/hitting or other types of harsh punishment. These well-meaning Christian parents believe that if they don’t teach their children to obey authority, then they won’t obey God.
Yes, the Bible tells children to obey their parent in Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20. However, this is directed at children, not parents. Parents seem to ignore Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21, which states, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” “Fathers” can also be translated into “Parents.”
And if you read the whole passage in Ephesians, it emphasizes more mutual submission within the family where everyone has a role to play instead of a hierarchy where certain members are dominant over each other. Sadly, many Christian families are trapped in hierarchy where the focus is on control.
This is not what God had in mind. Yes, the husband is the head of the household, and yet the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. Meaning to sacrifice for her which makes her want to submit to him by listening to him and giving him respectful consideration.
This is cooperation and teamwork!
The same applies to children. When parents give children respectful care and consideration, children are more likely to cooperate with their parents. They learn to trust their parents. They also learn that they are an important part of a team.
Teamwork and cooperation are key in the world! Everywhere, when people work together, things actually get done.
I’ll be honest. I have a real distaste for the word, “obey,” within the parent-child relationship as I saw first hand how it destroys connection instead of fostering it as cooperation does.
For example, the parent tells the child to get ready to go. The child is trying to finish something and dawdles and/or complains. The parent, if they don’t do first-time obedience, (which is even worse) tells the child again to get ready to leave. If the child continues to dawdle and/or complain, the parent will say, “Obey me or I will have to spank you!”
The parent focused on cooperation will give the child multiple heads-ups that it will be time to go soon. If needed, they will validate the child’s not wanting to go and will later ask the child how to better help him/her get ready to go if the child had a hard time making the transition.
No, cooperation does NOT mean parents let children rule the roost. Cooperation simply connects the parent and child, thus, allowing the parent to work *with* the child! True discipleship happens in families that focus on cooperation rather than obedience.
Cooperation also removes the need for punishment. Obedience tends to foster an attitude of “Obey me or else.” On the other hand, cooperation allows natural consequences to happen. It teaches. It disciples. It even allows respectful back talk.
True obedience to God comes out of cooperation!Real obedience cannot be taught as it is a heart issue. I obey God because I love and trust Him. Forced obedience to parents is fear based, and therefore, fake. Yes, fake! Obeying only out of fear in order to avoid being punished isn’t true obedience.
It’s very sad that some parents don’t care why their children obey as long as they obey.
Another reason why I really dislike using obedience within the parent-child relationship is we’re not God and are mere sinners. Only God is worth obeying. He will never lead us down the wrong paths. Humans will.
Finally, I can hear pro-spankers asking, “What about the police? The police won’t negotiate with us.” Yes, sometimes immediate cooperation with authority figures is a must. Children raised with respect usually have no problem respecting other authority figures. And we should teach children that police are there to help us, so we must always cooperate with them. In fact, research shows that people that grew up in homes with harsh corporal punishment are at a higher risk of being criminals.
Cooperation should be our aim within the parent-child relationship. May we foster true obedience to God by making cooperation our aim within the family.
There is a mom today reading this and needing to know: You don’t have to hit your child to make them obey and listen to you. In your heart you *****know***** it’s not right…your instinct is telling you it’s not right, but the teachings your church or your family or whomever is pushing you to act on tells you to cause your child pain so that they will know that God loves them or so that through hitting your child, your child will obey you and God. I could go on and on all the reasons because in my past, I was that mom.
I was that mom who began as an attachment parent (though in the mid 90’s I had no clue that’s what it was called). I just knew I didn’t want to spank my kids like I was spanked and hurt. I didn’t want that for them. However, I had no clue what to do otherwise and there was no internet, there was no support. Spanking in the south is the thing to do. You are a bad parent in the south if you don’t spank. So, I succumbed to hitting my child and calling it “discipline.” But it did not work.
My child still had unwanted behavior. The book, To Train Up A Child, was suggested to me and I tried the things in there…breaking the will. All I remember about the day I tried to do that was:
1) I didn’t want to spank my child so much and so hard that it would hurt him and leave bruises.
2) How can parents actually spank their child so hard and so long that causes their will to break?
3) My child was still looking at me with confusion and hurt on his face. And this momma could not take it any longer.
I could not do what the book, To Train Up A Child, told me to do. I could not hurt my child like that. My heart was telling me it was wrong. I had all the doorpost charts and books…but it was the same thing. None of it worked.
I would have been spanking my kids 20 times a day according to their advice. Their teachings, and many like them that are touted as “Biblical and Christian,” and they required escalation of hitting and punishment.
I have found a better, loving, gentle, respectful, and truly Biblical way. My 4-year-old is not spanked and we have not spanked. Sure he’s a normal 4-year-old with lack of impulse control and all that, but overall, I have none of the behaviors with him that I had with my oldest.
When I began to view his unwanted behavior as a need not being met, and it was up to me to meet the need, it changed my view of him completely.
I am so thankful for all this awesome information and so grateful for how it has changed me and the tone in the home. It’s funny because I used to be that mom who mocked peaceful parenting and touted all the arguments that pro-spanking parents use. I quoted all those Bible verses in support of spanking kids. There is not one single Bible verse or one single argument a punitive Christian parent can tell me that I have not believed and used in the past.
And I’m going to tell you this: You have been lied to. We have been lied to. We have been misled. It’s wrong. Those beliefs are wrong and I’m putting my foot down and calling them out because I have seen too much damage in families by these so called Christian teachings.
Beating your child and leaving bruises and welts is NOT God’s love. Hitting your child and calling it discipline is NOT God’s love. Demanding instant obedience from your child is NOT God’s love. Demanding that your child speak only when spoken to is NOT God’s love. Telling your child they have an attitude when they are trying to be heard is NOT God’s love. Controlling your child is NOT God’s love.
What is God’s love? It’s supposed to be I Corinthians 13, but I see so few Christian parents actually practicing it towards their child. We all have choice. I’ve been on both sides and for real…Peaceful parenting wins hands down!!!!!!!!!!!!! It produces the Fruit of the Spirit without hitting, without anger, without frustration!
As Christmas draws near, I always enjoy thinking about how God chose to come to Earth as Baby Jesus.
God coming down as a BABY and doing what all human babies do really says a lot about how He truly feels about children. He could’ve come as a man, but He chose to be a BABY.
Our Almighty God was born the same way as all babies are, and nursed from His mother’s breasts! He was like all children. I believe Jesus cried as a baby and screamed as a toddler because these are developmental behaviors. Acting one’s age is not sinful when one is a young child. Jesus was 100% human as well as 100% God. He had to communicate His needs the same way all babies and children must.
Of course, Jesus was sinless, so when He became an adolescent Who could act maliciously, He didn’t. Yet, God, the Father, didn’t send Jesus out to the desert to be tempted by satan until He was an adult.
Whatever you believe about the “sinful nature” of children, this tells me that God, the Father, knew that Jesus’s brain needed to mature in growth and The Word before He could withstand the evil one.
Much of what most Christians deem “sinful” in children is simply immature brains that cannot control impulses. It is not sin until the child truly grasps sin. How dare we call children “sinful” when God, the Father, waited for His Son to fully mature before sending Him into the desert.
I find this all truly amazing! I think we, as Christians/Christ-followers, really need to reflect more on things such as this as it gives us greater insight into the true character of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It would make no sense if He really wanted us to leave infants to cry-it-out and/or to spank/hit our children! After all, He was a Child!
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.