"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

Disciplining Children

Disciplining Children

Transcript from The World, the Word & You! Broadcast
Commentary by Pastor Dennis L. Finnan
This article originally posted at http://www.wwy.org/

Parents prepare our future world by the way we discipline our children

Parents prepare our future world by the way we discipline our children in accordance with Biblical instructions and wisdom

Perhaps there is no greater and more important subject to consider than our world’s future. For any such thoughts must of necessity take us to that which will be the future – that is today’s children. Yes, children are my subject today, and how to ensure them and our world a bright and wonderful future.

However, as we look ahead many of us do not see a bright future. Rather, we see tomorrow’s citizens growing up in our midst as a group of very confused, disenchanted, and quite troubled young people. Never before in the history of our nation, have so many young people arisen in a state of confusion and disarray as to who they are, where are they going, and what’s the purpose of their lives. I have spoken to many young people through the years and found that many feel they are just drifting on an aimless sea of life, going nowhere fast. My friend this ought not to be, So today, I want to talk about what has caused this aimlessness and purposelessness, and give you some pointers to help change things for a bright and glorious future. But before I do, let us pause again and listen to this…

One big issue today is the frightening rise of child abuse in our nation. Everywhere you turn we hear growing reports of children being terribly abused. Some are burned, beaten, and even killed by their very own parents. If statistics are correct, “every sixty seconds a child is abused. That’s an average of one victim ever minute or more easily understood – more than one million a year! Yes, thousands of children die each years as a result of some form of abusive treatment. Particularly, more than 700 children are killed by their own parents” [1]. Consequently, child abuse has become the fifth most common cause of child death in the U.S. And, the average age of an abused child is less than three years old. Now, physical violence is not the only form of child abuse. In addition, there are other forms such as emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and most often forgotten, is what I would call, “spiritual” abuse. Now physical abuse, we all understand is the intentional or uncontrollable use of physical force aimed at hurting, injuring or destroying a child. Emotional abuse can be described as, either a neglect or assault on a child’s mind and emotional needs. Withholding emotional contact such as love, attention, and care, or barraging them with verbal insults, harsh abusive words, name calling and yelling. Then there is the hideous physical abuse that sexually violates a child’s personal intimacy. Sex abuse is rising now more than ever. Children are being sodomized, incest is becoming more common, even child prostitution is growing, where a parent sells or rents their own child for filthy sexual exploitation such is not at all unheard of these days. Indeed, we are in a crisis state that needs attention.

Lastly, of the differing types of child abuse, is what I call “spiritual” abuse. This is where a parent or guardian either neglects to train a child in the religious reality of their purposeful existence, or introduces them into dangerous and damning cultic influences, that wreck and ruin their lives now and for eternity. Yes, all these things constitute child abuse, and the actual numbers of children each year that fall prey to this horrible mutilation of the body, soul and spirit may actually be uncountable when considered, worldwide.

However, today I want to zero in on one area that is often an over-reaction to these genuine forms of abuse, and is wrongly labeled child abuse. I want to talk about the physical disciplining a child through parental authority. Now, if today’s secular humanists are right, any form of hitting a child for any reason is wrong and an unlawful form of child abuse. Admittedly, a small portion of what some parents call spanking may actually be physical abuse that needs to be stopped and prevented from being carried out. But today I fear we have over-reacted to this abuse syndrome, and because of a deeper reason, many have rejected the age-old method of training children that has not only worked rightly, but is divinely approved by God Himself.

To begin rightly, we must define words, so we can understand what we are talking about. Here are some definitions that I will be using.

First we have the word, DISCIPLINE – what does it mean? Well discipline means “to teach,” for from the same root is the word “disciple,” meaning “one who follows to learn from another who is wiser.” Therefore discipline is a positive word that means a corrective procedure that is used to build up, to give helpful direction, to correct for good purposes, and/or to train for a future reward or blessing. Genuine discipline flows out of the purity of love and concern for the one disciplined.

Next we have, the word, PUNISHMENT which means, a negative act carried out to pay back, or reward someone for a wrong doing or evil deed done. Its desire is not to train, but rather control and at times to get even. Punishment you see, flows out of raw anger, and built up wrath for the one punished. It’s only purpose is retribution.

Now both of these words in a proper and Biblical context, can be a good thing. Yet, I must confess we as sinful human beings often do not understand these meanings, and have wrongly and abusively carried them out, in ways and actions that are condemned by God and the caring world of humanity. Because of our failure to understand their proper role and purpose, we have taught these days, and even passed laws to stop all forms of parental authority and child discipline. Today the secular humanist who denies God and His Word as valid for life and living, rejects the Bible’s teaching on the corporal discipline of a child. Seeing the abuse going on, our society and its worldly thinkers have determined that NO DISCIPLINE nor PUNISHMENT is to ever be meted out to a child, and to withhold all such actions is a proof of love. But my friend, this is not only wrong but has serious consequences which we are reaping these days in our nation and the world.

Witness today, the almost limitless number of young adults who have grown up under the teachings of Dr. Benjamin Spock, who for a generation past taught parents that a child must never be physically disciplined for any reason. Yes, a whole generation has since arisen by these anti-Christian humanistic teachings, to the detriment of society. Amazingly, Dr. Spock has since retracted his own approval of what he wrote, but in spite of this, his books still sell with great popularity.

But what do statistics show us? Today with the abandonment of discipline encouraged by the elite secular thinkers, the rise in juvenile delinquency has exploded. The American Bar Association reports that juvenile crime involving criminal violence and death by guns and drugs, has all but clogged the nation’s courts with children involved, as young as twelve years of age.

What has caused this massive rebellion to authority, and out of control rage of children? The answer is, THE ABSENCE OF LOVING CORPORAL DISCIPLINE BY THEIR PARENTS DURING THE FORMATIVE YEARS. Many a life of sin and shame is simply the outgrowth of a life without any discipline, without any rebuke and without reproof. Now I realize, that there are many voices out there with all kinds of advice. But let me take you to the place of tried wisdom and knowledge, where you won’t go wrong if you follow its advice. That place of authority and wisdom is the Bible my friend, for God’s Word has never proven itself wrong, and has always blessed those who followed its teaching regarding rearing children.

Throughout the Bible we find that the Word of God says that parenting is a special blessing God bestows on the majority of people who enter the realm of matrimony. We read in,

Genesis 1:28 (NLT) “God blessed them [Adam & Eve] and told them, “Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…””

Psalms 127:3-5 (NLT) “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from Him. 4 Children born to a young man are like sharp arrows in a warrior’s hands. 5 How happy is the man whose quiver is full of them! …”

Throughout the Bible, God says having children is a most enjoyable and rewarding experience. However statistics today seem to say differently. We find homes rather than being a slice of heaven are battered and broken homes, with latchkey children coming home to empty nests. Such homes include parents who either neglect or even abuse their children, and leave them to themselves to consequently grow up with serious anti-social attitudes which turn to angry, and hateful attacks upon others.

But the problem lies not in God’s teachings, but man’s rebellion to them. Today we have a generation of humanity that rejects God and His word as the basis of life, and has established its own wisdom in place of it. Secular humanism, now the official philosophy and religion of our schools, media and courts today has had a generation to raise children and its results are disastrous. Yet, God’s Word still stands as the tried and true way to rear children. This of course includes the mandatory use of parental discipline that includes spanking a child. Listen to this collage of good advice on child rearing in the Bible. We read in,

  • Proverbs 22:6 (NLT) “Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.”
  • Colossians 3:20 (NLT) “You children must always obey your parents, for this is what pleases the Lord.”
  • Ephesians 6:2-3 (NLT) “”Honor your father and mother.” This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. 3 And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, “you will live a long life, full of blessing.””
  • Proverbs 29:15 (NLT) “To discipline and reprimand a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.”
  • Proverbs 23:13-14 (NLT) “Don’t fail to correct your children. They won’t die if you spank them. 14 Physical discipline may well save them from death.”
  • Proverbs 22:15 (NLT) “A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but discipline will drive it away.”
  • Proverbs 29:17 (NLT) “Discipline your children, and they will give you happiness and peace of mind.”
  • Proverbs 13:18 (NIV) “He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.”
  • Proverbs 19:18 (NLT) “Discipline your children while there is hope. If you don’t, you will ruin their lives.”

Friends, it’s time to return to the faithful exercise of loving, corrective parental discipline. By the way, new research challenges the spanking critics who have denied God’s Word on the matter. Yes, even Americans as a whole, are coming to see that a return to parental authority and discipline is the right thing to do. In spite of the shrill cry of child abuse, spanking a child is no such thing as some foolish “experts” have tried to tell us. Yes, child abuse is wrong, but spanking is not one of them. A recent poll of more than 1000 Americans surveyed showed that 76% of them said that spanking was an effective form of discipline in their home when they were children [2]. In addition, Americans perceive lack of discipline to be the biggest problem in public education today according to a Gallup poll [3]. Yet critics for two decades have claimed that spanking is abusive and contributes to adult dysfunction. These allegations are now proving to be false and dangerously destructive to a child’s growing season of life. Most of the so-called psychological studies proving parental discipline as harmful, now are showing up to be nothing more than “opinion-driven editorials, reviews and commentaries devoid of empirical findings” [4]. Amazingly, God’s Word again is vindicated by time and experience. But now, is parental discipline just spanking a child? The answer is no. The Bible defines how and why. For instance, let me give you some pointers on how to discipline your children in the home to ensure their growing up to be responsible, law abiding, loving and caring adults. Here is a list of Biblical principles in the art of parental discipline.


1. REALIZE THAT GOD GIVES PARENTS THE AUTHORITY TO DISCIPLINE THEIR CHILDREN. Yes, the family is the only institution that God gives such authority. No state, no school, no church has this right to usurp this authority except and unless the children are in some physical or extremely emotional danger of abuse (Col 3:30; Matt. 15:4; Exo. 21:15,17; Prov 30:17).

2. PARENTS ARE TO USE CORPORAL DISCIPLINE ON UNRULY, REBELLIOUS CHILDREN. The Bible’s call and commands are evident as I read before. However, this is always to be the last measure, not the first. Learn to vary the forms of discipline. Use things such as “time out,” loss of privileges, extra chores, monetary fines, etc., for these are valid means of disciplines that can be effective training procedures too (Prov 13:24; 19:18;23:13-14; 29:15,17).

3. WHEN USING CORPORAL DISCIPLINE, IT MUST NEVER BE DONE EXCEPT IN LOVE. We must remember the definition of discipline. It is loving correction and training for the good of the child. We must never discipline in anger, or when we have lost our temper and control. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:5-6 (NLT) “… “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you. 6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children.”” Thus, a lack of Biblical discipline is really evidence of a lack of true care and love.

4. BEFORE USING CORPORAL DISCIPLINE BE SURE THE CHILD KNOWS THE RULES! Often a child disobeys simply because he or she does not clearly know the rules. Many homes have none established. Sit down with your children and pre-establish a set of infractions and disciplines for them. Let the child know before hand, what they will get if they disobey. Consistency of discipline is vital for a child to learn thereby (Prov 13:24).

5. PARENTS ARE TO EQUALLY SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DISCIPLINING A CHILD. It is not always mom’s job or dad’s either. Never say, “wait till your father gets home.” The most effective disciplines are carried out swiftly upon discovery of the infraction. However, when Dad is home God appoints him the deputy of the home and it is his responsibility to carry out loving discipline ( Joshua 24:15; 1 Tim 3:4-5).

6. VARY DISCIPLINE ACCORDING TO THE AGE OF YOUR CHILDREN. Now its not to early to swat a child’s behind even in the first few months of life. A gentle but firm swat when a child display a temper tantrum sets the beginning understanding of training and limits of personal freedom. However, corporal discipline I believe is ineffective an inappropriate for a child who reaches the teen years. By then it is too late. The child stage of life that is from birth to the preteen years is when most behavioral patterns are established for life. These are the years parents maintain external controls until internal controls are established. Corrective and other disciplines establish them. By the teen years a child should have learned respect for authority, the rights of others, honesty, harmony, patience, self-control, the value of study and work, concern for others, personal contentment and the need to surrender to God’s will for the ultimate happiness of life.

7. WHEN DISCIPLINING A CHILD, NEVER USE YOUR HAND. God gave us our hands to do good and bring joy into others lives. All physical discipline should be an external object such as a flat rounded edged paddle or a fine switch from a tree. Also, all physical discipline should always be on the “derrière,” and no where else! Slapping a face, hitting above the belt, or on the legs are inappropriate and can cause deep and intense humiliation and even injury. We must never injure a child by discipline, never!! However the Bible does say, Proverbs 23:13-14 (NLT) “Don’t fail to correct your children. They won’t die if you spank them. 14 Physical discipline may well save them from death.” Proverbs 20:30 (NLT) “Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart.”

8. ALWAYS WHEN DISCIPLINING, BE SURE TO PHYSICALLY SHOW YOUR LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE FOR YOUR CHILD. After a discipline session is over, be sure to hug your child, pray with them and together, ask God to bless your relationship. A child needs to know that you loved him or her, before you disciplined them, and you disciplined them because you loved them, and now that it is over, you will love them always and forever. This is the message of the Bible to all fallen sinners. God never stops loving us ( Heb.12:5-6).

Yes friends, if you follow these simple but Biblical principles in rearing your children, they will grow up to be happy responsible children and, a great blessing to you and society. But, if you neglect to carry them out and instead follow the foolish and mindless wisdom of the secular humanists today who call for the elimination of all parental authority and disciplines – you will produce the rotten fruit of rebellious humanity. “Dare to discipline” your children and experience God’s blessing as they grow up.

My wife and I have had the joy of rearing five children. We are now enjoying grandparenthood and the respect of our adult children. During their growing years, they never became overly rebellious in the home, nor sought to destroy their minds with rock music, they never experimented with nor desired to try drugs, and they never got into trouble in their growing teen years. This year some are beginning college, others finishing college, and some are married with children and, all of them are productive citizens of our nation and more importantly, genuine citizens of heaven itself through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Am I bragging? Hardly! I’m a sinner saved by the grace of God, who simply saw God’s teaching on child rearing and dared to discipline them during their growing years. As a result my wife and I simply received the fruit of reward, which methods I share with you today. Friend, do you know Jesus Christ? Have you accepted Him into your heart and life, believed His Word for life? If not, a whole new and exciting world awaits you if you will but come to Christ, confessing your sins of doing things your own way and neglecting or rebelling against His Word and will, revealed in the Bible. I tell you unless our nation turns back to the Bible, and to the God of Creation, we are going to face an unprecedented onslaught of crime, rebellion, and physical destruction by a generation that will grow up to be nothing more than savage beasts seeking whom they may devour for their pleasure and carnal desire. God help us to do it God’s way, and enter His sanctuary of blessing and grace.

There are so many lessons to learn from God’s Word and to pass on to our children. But the most important of all, is to teach them early in life, that they are sinners in desperate need of a new heart and power in life to live in obedience to God’s laws and truth. That power comes only when all of us as rebels lay down the gauntlet of challenge to God’s right to rule or lives and accept His ways as right for us. This begins with taking Jesus Christ into the heart, mind and life as LORD and receiving Him as the SAVIOR of our soul. Have you done that? I trust you have and if not that you do that right now by calling on Jesus Christ through prayer, to save you. He will do just that for all who repentantly ask, and also He will bless every life that lives by His Word and wisdom for one’s life and family. May God so grant this to each listening to day. Amen.



[1] “A HANDBOOK TO BIBLICAL SOLUTIONS ..” by Rus Walton, copyright 1988, Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., Brentwood, TN.

[2] “VOTER/ CONSUMER RESEARCH POLL, NATIONAL VALUES,” Commissioned by the Family Research Council, 1994.

[3] “SCHOOL POLL” The Washington Times August 28, 1995, p A-2

[4] “THE USE AND EFFECTS OF PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT IN THE HOME: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW,” Dr. John S. Anderson, and Dr. David B. and Rachel L. Larson, Nov. 2, 1993.

•”WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT CHILD TRAINING,” By J. Richard Fugate, Copyright 1980., Aletheia Publishers, Inc. Tempe. AZ. •”PROVERBS, GOD’S GUIDE FOR LIFE’S CHOICES,” by Dr. Woodrow Kroll, Copyright 1996, Back to the Bible Publishers, Lincoln, NE. •”THE HOME,” by Dr. John R. Rice, Copyright 1946, Sword of the Lord Publishers, Murfreesboro, TN. •”SPARE THE ROD?,” 1996 -Family Policy Paper by the Family Research Council, Washington D.C. ————————————————————————

•Radio talk #1297 •Broadcast date: March 23, 1997 •Speaker: Dennis L. Finnan, Commentator •Program: The World, the Word & You! Radio Broadcast •Address: P.O. Box 575 St. Charles, MN 55972-0575


The World, the Word & You! Broadcast is a non-denominational ministry based on the historic fundamental evangelical interpretation of the Scriptures. A copy of our doctrinal statement is available upon request. These weekly radio commentaries can be heard in selected areas around the nation. Dennis Finnan has been the speaker for 16 years, and serves as General Director. These transcripts are available free of charge to all who desire them. Also available are radio cassette tapes and printed booklets of each message. A free listing of all messages is available upon request also.


For further information, reprints, or a listing of all topics, please write to our speaker, Dennis L. Finnan dennis@wwy.org or visit our webpage at http://www.wwy.org/

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