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Parental Correction of Children

Sometimes there are questions raised as to how a parent should correct his/her children. Is there any kind of biblical approach or principles to keep in mind in the process? Raising children is a daunting task, one that no Christian parent should enter into lightly.

Children are a great blessing from God (Psalm 127:3). If you do not think that your children are gifts of God to you, then you have some serious soul-searching to do, confession of sin to make, and you need to humbly seek for God's grace to change your thoughts and, most likely, your behavior towards your children.

Parental correction of children, particularly physically, is sometimes thought of as being unbiblical and cruel. However, this needs to be assessed from a biblical perspective.

For instance, when God our heavenly Father corrects us his children, how does he do so?

There are examples when sinning against God leads to God's correction/discipline having physical consequences. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they received the physical consequence physical death (Genesis 3). Though they did not physically die immediately that day, the process of physical death began, just as God said it would.

Or when Samson sinned in pursuing foreign women, and told Delilah the secret of his strength, he received the physical correction from God in being captured, and having his eyes plucked out by the Philistines (Judges 16). Those eyes had lusted after women who were off limits for Samson, and now those lusting eyes were removed. Undoubtedly, this was a painful consequence, one that Samson did not forget.

Or there were many times when the Israelites disobeyed God in the Wilderness and suffered physical consequences at the hand of God, including physical death.

Or Achan who took the forbidden stuff from Jericho and he and his family died as a consequence (Joshua 7).

The point is that sometimes God's consequences are physically painful, not out of meanness, but out of love.

Sometimes God's consequences are a loss of privilege, such as when King Saul failed to completely obey God's command to utterly wipe out the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15). Because of his sin, God removed the privilege of Saul's line continuing on the throne. This was also the case when Jeroboam failed to obey God's commands (1 Kings 11 & 14).

There are different consequences for our sin as God deems fit for the occasion. To say, though, that there is no biblical precedent for physical, "corporeal" discipline, is not biblically accurate.

God gives principles for parents regarding their children in this regard as well.

Proverbs 13:24, "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly."

Proverbs 22:15, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him."

Proverbs 29:15, "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother."

Hebrews 12, quoting from Proverbs 3:11-12 give us the theological principle supporting all of this, "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest his correction; for whom the Lord loves he corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights."

Now, whenever God corrects us as his children, it is always done in righteousness, purity, love, and holiness. That is not always the case with human parents. We all struggle with sinful flesh and selfish hearts. So whenever we chasten our children, it must be done under the control of the Holy Spirit in us, and without sinful anger in our hearts.

If we struggle with sinful anger towards our children, then we must repent and seek God's grace to change. Parents are under the microscope in the correction of their children just as much as the children are in being corrected.

Christian parent, all of this should drive us to our knees in prayer, seeking God's help to biblically, spiritually, and appropriately discipline our children, for their spiritual well-being, for the sake of the home, and for the glory of God.

Don't shirk your responsibility to discipline your children, but don't use your authority as a weapon and abuse your responsibility either.

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