The Merits Of Punishment

Thursday, September 15, 2011
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Proverbs 20:30 – Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart. (NLT)

Have you met parents who don't believe in corporal punishment? I wasn't fortunate enough to be born to parents with that philosophy of child rearing. I still remember the framed set of rules hanging in my room as a nine-year-old child, detailing the consequences of certain actions. Being a normal youngster, I tested the waters and discovered that my parents were serious about my disobedience and their right to punish me.

The lucky kids get to do whatever they want — within reason. Their moms and dads just fuss and tell them to quit whatever they are doing, but that's the extent of it. The children are so accustomed to the fussing without consequence that it makes no difference at all in their behaviour. All the while, others who are in close proximity are saying, "If those were my kids, I would give them a whipping."

It appears that there is a conflict between biblical instruction and the Spock philosophy. Benjamin Spock challenged the conventional wisdom, which had focused on building discipline into childrearing. He advised parents to be flexible and affectionate with their children. This often included letting them express themselves without consequence.

But perhaps the apparent conflict is not real at all. Instead of either/or, why can't it be both/and? Recognizing our children's unique personalities and listening to them is important. Teaching them how to make right choices through discipline is also essential. But corporal punishment for those times of obstinate and purposeful rebellion against the rules is necessary as well. As Solomon says, "It purifies the heart."

Prayer: Father, as parents, give us daily wisdom in rearing our children. Amen.

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Martin Wiles <>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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