Exercise Punishment For The Child
By bro Lee Tian Seng
In raising up children, God has instructed parents to teach and discipline them. In support of these teaching and disciplinary tasks, parents need to set rules for their children and expect them to obey them.
Proverbs 1:8 - My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.
Proverbs 6:20 - My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother.
Some of these rules are set to keep the child safe and to guide them to live wisely. Parents should not set rules to show others that they have authority over their children or for any selfish reasons. The rules should also not cause harm to their children or provoke them to anger. Parents should set rules that support the teaching of God’s Word (for example, to pray before eating a meal) and the development of good behaviour (for example, not to speak rudely). An example of such a rule is that children must greet those who are elderly. This is to inculcate the value of respect towards the elderly. Another example is that children must make their bed after they wake up in the morning. This helps in developing good habits in children and teaches them to be responsible for their own things.
Each family will have their own set of rules, and parents should explain to their children the reasons for these rules and enforce them. Thus, parents can punish their children if they fail to keep the rules.
Some people object to the use of physical punishment because they say that it will harm the child physically and psychologically. Of course, it would be wrong for parents to abuse their authority and injure their children when punishing them. However, the Bible teaches that punishment carried out for the children’s good and out of love for them is right and necessary.
Proverbs 13:24 - He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
Proverbs 29:15 - The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
The Bible also teaches us that God Himself chastises those whom He loves, and this illustrates and supports the use of punishment in raising up a child.
Hebrews 12:5-7 - And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?
How should punishment be carried out? We can take some pointers from how God disciplines his children, the Israelites in the Old Testament and the Christians in the New Testament.
1. Parents must teach and be fair.
Parents need to teach their children before exercising physical punishment. They cannot punish their children when they did not break any rules or do not understand the rules. Parents must clearly explain the reasons for the punishment to the children, and the punishment must be justly meted out. Only then, children will learn a lesson from the process.
God only punish those who have transgressed against His law. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were cursed and chased out of the Garden of Eden. Did they know what was right? Did they know that they had done wrong? The answer to both questions is “yes” (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:11-12). So, when God punished them, it was fair and a lesson for them. When Ananias and his wife Sapphira lied to the Apostles and to the Holy Spirit, they were struck dead. Did they know what was right? Did they know that they had done wrong? The answer to both questions is “yes” (Acts 5:3, 9). Thus, God was just to punish them and all who were present learned a valuable lesson.
2. Parents must exercise self-control and mercy.
Parents must not use excessive force in carrying out physical punishment. It is wise not to cane a child in the heat of anger. Other forms of punishment can be used. For example, to have them clean the house or not allowing them to watch TV. When children have received their deserved punishment, parents must be ready to forgive and accept them.
God punished the children of Israel who were stubborn and rebellious towards Him by having them wander for 40 years in the wilderness, and did not allow them to enter the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:34-36). God was merciful in that He did not kill them. When Saul persecuted the Christians, we would have thought that he deserved death. God, who is gracious, appeared to him on his way of Damascus and struck him blind, but He did not kill him. When Saul repented, God forgave him and appointed him an Apostle to the Gentiles (1 Timothy 1:12-13).
3. Parents must love their children.
Parents must exercise punishment because they love their children. No good and loving parent will abuse their children. Parents often find themselves shedding tears as they cane their children. It is “tough love,” it is “for their own good.”
God shows His love when He punished His people. King David committed adultery and murder, and God sent the prophet Nathan to show him his sins. When he repented, God forgave him, but God still punish him for his sins (2 Samuel 12:10 -14). When Peter denied Christ three times, he was not given up by God. Jesus appeared to him after His resurrection to restore him (John 21:15-17).
If we make rules and punish our children the way God wants us to, we will have children properly taught and guided for His glory.