The Fine Art of Discipline

spanking-norman-rockwellWe live in a day and time when disciplining children is so controversial. There are experts that will tell you their way works better, there are experts that will tell you that the other guy’s way has long-term damage potential, there are experts that will tell you that this book will solve all of your problems — if you look around the sheer amount of information available to you can certainly overwhelm.

Whenever there is societal butting of heads over anything to do with what is the best decision to make, I always turn to the best source for any answer: God’s Word. The Bible is full of passages for parents concerning parenting and discipling children.

Driving through Chicago yesterday afternoon, I was listening to Moody radio and caught about 40 minutes of the show Family Life Today. I’ve linked their website. It’s hard not to have heard of Dennis and Barbara Rainey if you do any kind of reading about Christian families, but I’ve never listened to their radio program. The portion I heard was the first in a series of five broadcasts titled “The Fine Art of Discipline.”

I loved this radio show. I would like to summarize it for you, but the concept was delivered so succinctly, and the transcript is available on their website, so I’m just going to copy and paste. This is Barbara Rainey speaking:

…in Genesis 1, God created order. He established systems. He created light and dark, day and night, and seasons and all of those things that are ordered and structured.

In Genesis 2 God created a moral which is right and wrong for Adam and Eve as well. Then the interesting part for me practically as a parent was what God did in response to Adam and Eve’s sin. As I read through that, I realized that God did something very specific for Adam and Eve as a consequence when they sinned. And that was two things; one, He gave them physical pain which we all know that God pronounced the curse where He gave the woman pain in child bearing, and He gave the man pain in toiling the ground. So He gave them each a kind of physical pain as a consequence for their disobedience to Him. But, then He gave them a second kind of pain which was another basis I depended on for disciplining my kids; and that was He gave them an emotional pain. He separated Adam and Eve from Him. He sent them out of the garden, and told them they couldn’t come back in.

So, I use that model in my thinking a lot as we made decisions on how to raise our kids. We knew they needed structure, because God created structure and order for us as His children. We knew they needed systems, because God gave us systems to function within. And we knew when they disobeyed, that our children needed both a physical pain and/or an emotional pain.

Sometimes both in order to get the lesson that we needed to teach them just as God did that with us as His children.

So, that was one of the verses that isn’t typically thought of as a discipline or a child training verse, but I realized that God, as my Father, is my model. He is the One that we as parents need to look to for how to parent our children, because He is our Father and He is continually parenting us as we grow up throughout our lives. That was a verse that gave me a lot of courage and direction in knowing how to discipline and train my children.

Dennis Rainey followed it up with this, and it is definitely something that we will start to incorporate into punishing our children:

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us (Speaking of our earthly fathers) for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He (God) disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

And then this was always kind of the ‘kicker’ at the end of reading this to our kids, because they would be crying or whimpering from the spanking, we’d say…For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

I will never forget, one of our daughters, Rebecca; I don’t know how old she was, she may have been under five years of age or so, maybe a little older; but, she had done something wrong, clearly needed a spanking. I spanked her and then I read this to her. I can remember it was so pitiful, hearing her cry; she was just s-s-sobbing as she listened to the verse. And at the end she goes, “I sure wish there was some way to get the ‘peaceful fruit’ without this.”

The entire series can be found on their website:


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