Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Prodigal Son

I am so frustrated! I heard the argument recently from another mom as to why we should spank. It went something like this: "It's not child abuse! You take the child into the room, explain to them their offense, and then spank them."

If I would have been quicker on my feet, I might have asked her the following: "If a man beats/hits his wife, that is abuse, right? (rhetorical answer, yes) If a man brings his wife into the room, explains to her her offense, and then hits her on her bottom until she cries remorsefully, is that abuse? (rhetorical answer, yes) What if the woman isn't submitting to her husband like God tells her to, and that is why he is bringing her into the room? Is it still abuse for him to hit her? I mean, she deserves it, right? (rhetorical answer, yes, it is still abuse)"

How can we call an adult hitting another adult, even if the hitting is not done in anger, even if it is done with an explanation first, abuse, and yet say that when an adult hits a child a CERTAIN WAY, it is not abuse??? Furthermore, I would like to have asked, if spanking is biblical, then you should be following the following Proverb literally: "Beat your child with a rod and he shall not die...". We should have big heavy rods sitting around our house, and we should be beating our children with them. Oh, wait, nope, not our children, actually, our teenagers, because that is what is meant by the word child in this verse (na'ar). Where is the Biblical prescription that says we should take our children into their rooms, explain the offense, and then spank? Where is it??

Certainly, the Proverbs and all of Scripture speaks to parents being authorities in the lives of their children. It speaks to parents being actively involved in training and teaching and correcting (nurturing and admonishing) their children. We see that all hell breaks loose when children are raised with no parental involvement, with no parental intervention when they are doing wrong. As parents, we have a choice as to how we will intervene with our children. Will we intervene with grace, will we correct with gentleness and compassion? Can we teach our children right from wrong without physically or emotionally harming them?

I have been thinking about the story of the prodigal son, for that is a story that describes God as a father. The prodigal's father allowed his son to leave home and to live in sin. He was not permissive, though: he let his son experience the intrinsic consequences in the sin. He did not bail his son out of his problems. But he was always at home, waiting expectantly for his son to return. Was he waiting at home with a rod in hand? No! In fact, the prodigal son, upon his return home, wanted to repay his father for all his offenses. He wanted to work off his debt to his dad. He was willing to be a servant in his daddies house. But his dad welcomed him home: no shaming, no punishing. The son was still a son. The son had experienced the yuckiness of sin, and knew that life with his father was infinitely better.

Now this is a model for us parents! When our children choose to do wrong, we do not always shield them from the consequences for their sin, especially when they are older. For example, if they steal, they will need to return the stolen object, apologize, and perhaps work for/serve the person they stole from. But do they need to somehow "pay" God or us as parents back for their wrong by suffering? No! That is where grace comes in. We are the ones who should always be waiting for our children with open arms, eyes full of love, of grace. Our children should never feel that they will not be accepted by us after they do wrong until they first suffer. Trust me, if we teach them this, they will approach God in this way. They will be afraid of Him after they sin...they will wonder, "How hard of a spanking (we Christians translate this into trials) will I get for this one?" Let's model to our children who God is correctly! Let's look closely at the Bible to see how God really wants us to raise our children. Let's not parent out of fear, feeling that we must control our children, let's parent them with confidence, knowing that we are their authorities, but that does not give us permission to treat them any differently than God would call us to treat a fellow believer.

1 comment:

  1. Amen! SO glad you are not falling for the modern methods of abuse that the church has swallowed, bought into and taught, claiming they hate psychology, yet endorsing a psychologist and psychological and physical methods to coerce a response based upon fear. May the Lord continue to grant you much wisdom and love for your little ones.