15: Can Other Forms of Discipline Be Blessed?

Question: I wasn’t raised being spanked, and I have never really believed in spanking. Can other forms of discipline be blessed?

Response: There are certainly other forms of discipline that can be blessed. Rebuke is a clear biblical example of another form of discipline (Proverbs 9:8; 13:1; 17:10; 19:25). I’m not sure how old your kids are, but is important to note that Scripture seems to imply that rebuke is for those who are older and wiser. Taking away privileges or adding work are forms of discipline that can also be effective and that I think can be backed biblically. For example, God added work to Adam when he sinned in the garden. God also took away a privilege from the Israelites when he prevented them from entering into the Promised Land.

Rather than expand on those thoughts, I’d like to take another angle on this question. Sometimes I may read more into a question than is actually there, so please forgive me if I totally miss where you’re coming from here.

When you ask if other forms can be blessed, it seems to me that you realize that there is a blessing that comes with spanking. In other words, you seem to be saying that you realize that the Bible teaches spanking, and therefore God will bless it. However, for some reason, you are reluctant to use it. Perhaps that is because of your own upbringing, negative accounts you’ve witnessed or read about, or maybe you are afraid that spanking may lead to abuse.

Let me ask you this question. Do you feel that God wants you to spank? This is an important question. Suppose you were a foster parent and were not allowed to spank, and wrote to ask if other forms could be blessed. I would say, “Absolutely!” In other words, if you were in a situation where spanking was prohibited, and you felt it would be honoring to God not to spank, I certainly believe God would bless you as you practiced other forms of biblical discipline. On the other hand, suppose you believe that spanking is biblical, and that God wants you to spank, but you don’t want to. I do not think God will bless in that situation.

For example, I do not believe God wants me to spank our children when they are infants and unable to understand instructions. I believe that spanking is primarily for rebellion, and it is not possible to rebel against a rule without being able to comprehend what the rule is. Therefore I would not spank a 5-month-old, because although infants can certainly be fleshly, I’d say they are technically not rebelling because they can’t comprehend the rules. I believe this is God’s will in this matter, therefore, it would be wrong for me to spank an infant. (Of course, I believe that it would be wrong for anyone else as well in this example.) I do believe God wants me to spank my 3-year-old. I believe this is what God has directed in His Scripture, and I have no reason to believe that my situation is an exception to God’s input in this area. Someone else may be in a different situation and believe God’s will is different. He may have a 3-year-old whose mental progress is impaired. Or it may be a wife who wants to spank, and whose husband doesn’t want her to. In these cases, and in any case, it is important to know and follow God’s will.

Does that make sense? If you are seeking God’s blessing, the way to get it is to follow God’s will. If you know His will, or in other words, if you know what He wants you to do, then do that. I think it is ill-advised to do something other than God’s will, and still hope that God would bless that.

I’d encourage you to start not by finding another way to discipline, but by exploring why you are holding to a position of not believing in spanking when it is clearly taught in the Bible. Don’t use your current thoughts on the matter as a starting point. Start from God’s word, and then follow God’s instruction as He leads you. Do you have questions, concerns, and fears on this topic? Address those. Ask questions, study the scripture, and get godly advice. Pray that God will reveal His will to you in this matter. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom , he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” When God answers your prayer, and you’re confident that He has shown His will to you, then do His will, for in James 1:22 it says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

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