Drinking Deeply

Monday, August 15, 2005 at 2:04 PM

Vision Summer School Thoughts (1)

All the posts in this series are done. Read them here


OH boo. Firefox died on me as I was doing my final spell check for my post on disciplining children.


Well to reiterate: Being in Alaska and being surrounded by tiny terrors (preschool/kindergarten) has really challenged me to think about how I would go about raising kids. I'm not saying that I'm ready (not by a long shot!), or that I want to (seeing as I'm part of the Bachelors till Rapture club, which is doubly hard because I don't really believe in rapture), but just it's something I figure I'd think about (and is a little bit of a lighter topic from the summer school). Hey, who knows, maybe someday I'll be raising a kid and I'll look back on this and be like "wow, praise be to God you were completely wrong!" or maybe even "hey, cool. Go God and giving me insight at such a young age. Its surprising that anything useful came out of that period 10 years ago."

Basically I would like to respond to one specific view that I see being espoused. I am not going to say that my personal views are better and should be followed completely (seeing as I am just as knowledgeable as the 20 year old next door who's closest interaction to kids has been chasing them out of his driveway while he shoots hoops), but it is currently what I've been convinced of and I'd like to share it.

The view I'm responding to is that of with regarding to child discipline, some believe that kids are still too young and it isn't worth the effort to try to talk to them, they won't get anything out of it. Plus it is easier for them to learn from the world on their own. Thus child discipline should start later at the age of ____. This last line is rarely included but it is the likely conclusion of the statements.

Personally I'm convinced that this isn't entirely correct. While it may be true that children at a very young age have extremely short attention spans, I don't believe that they retain absolutely nothing. Just last week I taught a 3 year-old how to wipe his rear after going number 2. Yesterday he was screaming for his mom from the bathroom and when I checked on him he asked if I could wipe his butt for him. I told him that I taught him already, did he want me to help him and he was like "oh, ok, I can do it."

Thus since I am unconvinced by the Bible that children have an "age of accountability" (only necessary reason) I believe that cross-centered discipline cannot start too early. As soon as they start sinning and are capable of understanding what someone says, they need to learn the Gospel, for without it they will surely perish. I believe that while it may take many, many repetitions before they understand, it is necessary to explain to them each and every time they harm someone, they destroy something, they disobey, that they are sinners just like everyone else, and God hates sin and will punish it with death. But God, in His great love, sent His Son in our stead so that we now can live in His grace. Yes, some of the words are difficult, but with a great deal of patience (a lot more than I have), it is possible to explain it so that they have understanding (and it is up to God to place that understanding in their heart so that it's convicting).

Finally, with regards to a belief that a child can learn from the world on it's own, I ask when the world was ever suitable to teach someone anything. Stove = hot = pain yes, but without the explanation that it is God's temple we are harming when we burn ourselves (and not just ourselves) does it become good or bad. I am of the firm belief that we need to preach to everyone. That means expounding upon the Word of God and sharing God's mind with those around us.

Proverbs 22:6
6Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Deut. 6:4-25
4"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[a] 5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

10"And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you--with great and good cities that you did not build, 11and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant--and when you eat and are full, 12then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you, 15for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God, lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.

16"You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. 17You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. 18And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers 19by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has promised.

20"When your son asks you in time to come, 'What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?' 21then you shall say to your son, 'We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. 25And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.'

Now, what to do about disobedient children? I personally cannot get away from the strength of the passages in Proverbs.
Proverbs 13:24
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Proverbs 22:15

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13-14

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.

Proverbs 29:15

The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.

I cannot get away from the fact that these verses seem to teach that parents should corporally discipline their children, and there does not seem to be a situation where grace is extended in this area, in fact it seems that grace is specifically not extended in this area so that grace might be extended in eternity (Prov. 23:13-14). These passages all seem to point to the fact that corporal punishment should be part of a Cross-centered family. Now, how does corporal punishment point to the cross? My best guess is that it is part of the life giving rebuke/training that we must all receive as children of God.

To sum it all up: I believe that discipline should start soon, and start early. Not only discipline, but Gospel preaching (which is the most important). If a child does come before the Lord with respect, we can't just yell at him or her and tell them to stand up straight and do this and do that, to clasp their hands and close their eyes, but it is necessary to explain why, to explain that we are coming into the presence of God and He commands worship and demands respect. We can illustrate from Scripture how other's have responded to God's presence (Isaiah and Peter come to mind) and use that as a model for us, all the while saying that it's sinful to not give God the worship He deserves (and also extending the hand of grace).

On a side note, I believe this shouldn't be restricted to an individual message all the time, but rather is something that all should hear, even the person worshipping boldly in the front row. Yes, we're all sick and in need of a savior.

This discipline should be enforced with a rod anytime the child refuses to obey. Disobedience to parents was punishable by death in the OT and is deserving of death in God's eyes (with few obvious exceptions).

Just my current opinions. I'm sure they'll change a great deal, (and I'd like to hear other people's comments). Some articles that have helped me shape these opinions:

Vincent Cheung quotes a book about Immediate Obedience

John Piper and his collection of sermons on the Christian family. This one in particular spoke to me.

Some godly women talk about raising God-fearing children. (I would hope my wife would be like this one day!)

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Blogger Frank Martens said...

Growing up with 8 brothers and sisters has really helped in shaping my thinking behind this as well.

It's an interesting post, and I whole heartedly agree with you.

There is one point that I feel I can't draw a conclusion to, and that is the age of accountability. While the Bible doesn't specifically say when that is, it is interesting to note that the Bible points out what happened to Christ at the age of 12. I myself will not draw a conclusion otherwise on either side, except to teach my kids the way they should go from day one.



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