Evangelicals and Discipline

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. (Hebrews 12:11)

When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money. (Exodus 21:20-21)

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24)

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.

(Proverbs 23:13)

Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.

(Proverbs 19:18)

            I will expect the thesis of this blog post should now be readily apparent. Life is often lived on either end of polar extremes. Regarding discipline one can quickly point to abuses that have always been part of the human experience. So, can we quickly eliminate the low hanging fruit and acknowledge all rational people are going to deplore abuse of any kind. However, I do chuckle to myself that some of my parents’ things could easily be considered “abuse” today.

            I remember one time one of my brothers (who shall remain nameless) was repeatedly misbehaving while my mom was on the phone; after repeatedly instructing my brother to cease and desist, my mother, almost without breaking stride, whacked my brother across the forehead. There was blood everywhere, and I do not care what anyone said then or says now, but I remember that memory so fondly. I can easily assert my brother was probably the most ardent and enthusiastic advocate of my mom, then and even to this day. In a word, he was the “Momma-Boy’ of the family both before this incident and long after this event.

                  My brother was “asking” for it, yet none of my brothers or I ever entertained a thought for one moment that my mom was abusive. There was no doubt whatsoever my mother loved us, and we loved her. Yet, it is fair to inquire why I would posit “fond memories” of something this Politically Correct Culture would classify as violent or immoral. I do so because we came from a very loving home, not idyllic or romanticized like the fictional Cosby TV family but a home where high demand for discipline and structure was paramount.

                  All of this, along with the referenced Bible passages that begin this blog post, directly contradict the nefarious influence Dr. Benjamin Spock had on many parents’ child-rearing worldviews. I invite you to peruse the following article for some background information on Dr. Spock: https://www.familyministries.com/dr_spock.htm

                  I submit the following snippet from the full article:

Spock’s child-rearing book “Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care,” first published in 1946, sold 750,000 copies the first year, has since sold over 50 million copies, and is sixth in sales only to the Bible. Life magazine certified the depth of his influence, naming Spock among the 100 most important people of the twentieth century.

America just happened to be ripe for Spock’s ideas. World War II had ended and we were experiencing great prosperity. With prosperity comes indulgence and an appetite for luxury. We began to raise our children with the same indulgent view we were developing. On top of this, as America had elevated psychological and sociological experts we had lost confidence in ourselves as parents. Insecurity caused parents to be open to new ideas from an “expert.”

I have worked since 2014 as a high school JROTC instructor. I find the educational environment in US Public schools extremely problematic. The inmates are clearly running the asylum. There are the all-too-common stories of students exhibiting aberrant behavior, and the only person who is held responsible is the adult teacher. One recent story reveals the madness we currently have in the school system. A student decides to play music in the classroom. After being repeatedly instructed to mute the music, the student refused and then escalated the incident by calling the teacher a racial slur.

            I know many will fixate on the fact the adult teacher placed his hands on the young adult student and actually engaged in the student physically to restrain the student. I know many of these same people will get on their sanctimonious high horse and condemn my mother’s actions (send me your address, and I will quickly be on my way to your home). Many will adopt the philosophy of the local Sheriff when he said:

            As a teacher you have to control your temper even when students test you,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a release. “This is an unfortunate incident involving a teacher and a student. My daughter is a school teacher and I know from her how misbehaved some students can be but as a teacher you must deal with it appropriately. Corporal punishment like the old days is not allowed today.”

            My query is simple. Why? Corporal punishment is grounded in clear, explicit teaching from the Bible. The author (Reb Bradley) of the link I provided in this blog post goes on to write

This modern idea of being guided by feelings stands in contrast to the Bible. Solomon instructed us to “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying “(Prov 19:18). God made clear that our feelings cannot always be trusted, particularly in the area of parenting. He went on to say that the proof of love is the willingness to bring pain through discipline.

            Yet, what do we hear from the father of the young adult student? I remind you again; this young adult had the gumption to come to school, disobey an adult authority figure, use profanity, and spout a racial slur. I can friggin guarantee you that I would not still be a functional member of planet Earth if I had even dared commit the first offense, which was simply to play music while in school. I can hear my mother, the same one that smacked the crap out of my brother and caused blood to flow profusely. Yeah, that mother!

            I can still hear her after all these many years saying, “I didn’t send y’all to school to play no music. Y’all dun lost y’all minds.” It would make no difference if only one of us were guilty of the offense at the moment. All my brothers and I were going to be lumped together as it would only be a matter of time before the rest of us did something similarly stupid.

            Granted, we were normal children; we misbehaved just like all children do, but there is misbehaving, and there is what this young adult student did. I cannot imagine the alternate universe I that could ever contemplate cursing at my teacher. I find it wholly unfathomable I would ever dare to embrace the concept of naively believing I could represent my family name by hurling a racial slur at another human being, let alone an adult of any station in life, and think life would ever be the same for me if life would indeed remain a viable option for me. My parents would not have stood for that, and there is no doubt my parents loved my three brothers and me.

            I refuse to embrace the narrative of the Sheriff I quote earlier. What is now morally correct has always been what is morally right, and what has always been morally wrong is still always morally wrong. Almighty God has not modified His moral demands one iota. I don’t give a flying crap what Dr. Spock or Dr. Freud or Dr. Phil or Dr. Whomever popularizes in the culture. I will turn to and only have my conscience held captive by the Word of God, period, full-stop, end of discussion!

            I will concede it is problematic to place a student in a chokehold, but I am not ready to say that as an absolute truth. It should never be an absolute truth, but sadly it is. One Brother in Christ informed me his wife was terminated from her Public-school job as a teacher for simply securing a student by the arm and escorting him to the Principal’s Office. This is the sound of the pendulum swinging too far in the wrong direction.

            When we allowed the cultural elites to convince us it was beneficial to take Corporal Punishment out of the classroom, not only did we throw out the baby with the bathwater, we, in essence, also told God to beat it and go pound sand. We have arrogantly said we trust Benjamin Spock’s wisdom over and against the wisdom of the very Creator of creation. Sadly, we include many, many who would claim fidelity to Orthodox Christianity. I will have much more to say in the coming days, but I am living the nightmare as I write.

            It is a friggin nightmare because parents are the main culprits. Kids will generally rise to the level of parental oversight. There is no absolute promise if parents do all the right things (and we grant upfront no parent does all the right things), their children will enter adulthood as one would hope. I will submit the data is too convincing; there are a direct correlation and causation behind the negative pathology we see today. When parents do not parent according to Biblical principles, we will continue to experience student conduct’s negative trajectory. Look at the tepid response of the young adult student offender

            I was infuriated. As a parent when you send your kid to school, you expect for them to get an education at a safe, sound environment and then I saw the video and that really   took me over the edge,” Woodside said. Woodside said his son should not have behaved disobediently, but he’s also concerned his child could have seriously been hurt.

I do not believe a word of this father. He is pathetic, and he is the very reason we are in the social quad mirage we find ourselves. You talk about “burying the lead.” If there was ever an example, we have the quintessential case right before our very eyes. He is infuriated, not at his son for the deplorable manner in which he has cast aspersion on his family’s name. The father directs his primary focus of rage at the teacher.

            I am ready to debate anyone about the teacher’s actions, but I ain’t hearing it regarding the deplorable and reprehensible conduct of the student in question. Absent any behavioral condition beyond his control, I ain’t having it. If he was a special education student, you best believe the article would have made mention of that pertinent fact.

            Y’all can keep listening to the child-rearing experts if y’all want, but when Mr. Malachi comes to 5614 for a visit I long so much to enjoy, he will not be pampered with a Benjamin Spock ideological approach. If his mother and father imbibe in that God-hating doctrine, then it will just be as well as they do not come for that visit as I am old-school. I believe the only child-rearing expert worth a darn is the very Creator of creation. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you already know the correct answer to all theological examination questions is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

            As always, let me know what you think. Until then, keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.

Editor’s note: My upcoming book Weighed and Wanting has finally reached the final stages of production. I am excited to see what God has in store for my first book. I humbly yet boldly ask that you consider purchasing a copy. I readily concede many African Americans will disagree, but all I ask is for a fair hearing as I enter my thoughts into the marketplace of ideas.

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