What John Piper Says About Spanking

Rachel had an in depth look at what John Piper says about Spanking but she has since closed her blog to the public.  Please check out my John Piper tag.

Also, check out what Barefoot Betsy says here.

I Don’t Spank My Children by Rachel

Discipline and Discipleship

These words (obviously) share a root word. As a Christian parent, I see these words as inseparable. There are, of course, times when I forget that disciplining my children is ultimately an act of disciple-ing them, but overall this is how I view God’s intended role for me as a mother. I believe this is how most Christians see their roles as parents.

Lest we speak past one another, I want to clearly state here at the beginning that when I use the word “discipline” that I do not mean spanking or punishing my children. Many Christian parents use the word “discipline” when they mean spanking, but this is not how I’m using this word.

Every discussion I’ve ever read or participated in that involves Christians and spanking, someone eventually says that spanking is the God-ordained method of disciplining our children. Some people go so far as to say that NOT spanking is sin; others take a milder approach and say that NOT spanking is, at least, unwise.

I have spanked my children (so I’m not coming from a place of unfamiliarity with the practice), but I do not spank them anymore. Why? Because I found spankings to be a stumbling block and a crutch, and the Holy Spirit spoke to me through my experiences. When spanking was an option I allowed myself, I found that I did not parent well. It was too easy to threaten a spanking instead of communicating with my children. It was too easy to spank instead of dealing with their hearts. It was too easy to give into righteous indignation that my children did not fear me so much that they would jump-to the minute I gave an order. It was too easy to become self-centered and expect my children to make my life easier. In short, spanking gave me an out:  I didn’t have to *work* at parenting, I could just spank them.

If you spank, that last paragraph probably resulted in you writing me off. Maybe you feel insulted — “She’s saying I’m lazy because I spank!” Maybe you’ve categorized me as someone who used spanking “incorrectly”; you are thinking “That’s why I never spank in anger and I always pray and hug my child afterward.” Honestly, I’m accusing you of nothing, I’m simply telling you that NOT spanking improved my parenting, strengthens my connection with my children, and allows me to focus on my ultimate parenting goal: Discipleship. Plainly and simply, spanking got in the way.

Parenting without spanking means that I must stop and *think* about all of the issues that are swirling around us when I give my children instructions. (Are the kids tired? Hungry? Are they having a rough day? Am *I* having a rough day?) I must stop and think about whether the instructions are valid. (Am I being unreasonable? Am I parenting strictly for my own convenience?) Stopping and thinking only takes a few seconds, and as I’ve been parenting this way for several years, I’ve found that I’m rarely aware of these as conscious thoughts anymore.

Parenting without spanking means that my children are free to confess to me without fear of spanking. Sometimes there are consequences for what they confess, but their openness allows us to have a conversation about the issue and for now they accept the natural consequences of their actions with a good attitude. Very rarely do my children attempt to hide their deeds from me, and I’ve had the opportunity to coach them about confessing misdeeds to others in their lives.

Parenting without spanking means that I must actively engage my children about their sinful hearts. Spanking isn’t present to cloud the issue, spanking isn’t present to become the focus of their resentment, spanking isn’t seen as a method of atonement for their sins. I want them to understand that Christ atoned for their sins, therefore we forgive others and ask for forgiveness.

So often when I explain to people that I parent without spanking, their response is, “Maybe you have time to talk to your kids every time, but sometimes I need my children to obey me immediately.” This is not a family-specific need. Sometimes I also need my children to obey me without question, and they usually do when we are in such a situation… I can make it clear with my tone that this is not the time for us to have a discussion or to attempt to give their perspective. We’ve arrived at this point because when my children were younger, if they did not obey me, I simply “made it happen.” If I told them to “Come Here,” and they did not, I went to get them. If I told them to “Pick up your shoes,” and they did not, I placed their hands in mine and made them pick them up. They’ve learned that I will “make” them comply with my commands if they are unable or unwilling to comply on their own.

I know that sounds crazy to you. I know this because it sounded crazy to me when I was first introduced to parenting without spanking. The best way I can explain why I no longer think it is crazy can be summed up by two points:

*Children are immature. At first they are able to do nothing for themselves, so we help them with everything. As they gain maturity, they take on more responsibility and we have to do less for them. I no longer tie shoes or dress my girls, though at one time I did both of these things. At one time they were unable to obey me every time without my help, so I helped them with that, too. Now that they are more mature, I have to help them comply less and less.

*Children sometimes refuse to obey. When this happens, I “make” them obey and the task is done. They are learning that resistance is futile; Mom *will* make me comply. If I were spanking I would have to spank the child for disobedience and then *still* have to make them obey in the end. (And sometimes this is a loop of give instruction, spank for disobedience, continued refusal, spank harder for disobedience, continued refusal, spank even harder for disobedience, continued refusal… and the parent is left with the choice of spanking so hard that it is physically damaging OR deciding it isn’t worth the battle OR doing what I did in the first step and “make” it happen.)

As I mentioned before, many Christians consider NOT spanking to be sinful; others just label it as “unwise” for not heeding “clear instruction” from the Bible. If NOT spanking works well for me, would these Christians have me spank anyway as some sort of insurance plan just in case my exegesis is incorrect? That makes no sense to me, and my God doesn’t want insurance-plan “obedience.”

My discipline goal is discipleship. I found that spanking distracted me from this goal, and the Holy Spirit convicted me to parent gently. So, I don’t spank my children.


Is Spanking Biblical? Part 3: Spanking Relieves Guilt?

Carissa continues her series with Is Spanking Biblical? Part 3: Spanking Relieves Guilt? Here is a quote:

Now, doesn’t it seem pretty hypocritical of Christian parents to spank their children for their children’s sins, but then themselves be able to turn to a perfect Lamb when they sin? Why can’t we point our children to Christ when they sin?? They need to learn that Jesus took care of all their guilt and shame, and before God they are forgiven.


Zooey’s Arguments

It began with a feeling of uneasiness…..

I started to read what had been described to me as a “Christian book for women”. That seemed OK. I mean, I am a Christian woman. But I rapidly became more & more uncomfortable with what I was reading. There was a coarseness about it that jarred with my understanding of Christianity.
By the time I was only partway through, I was partly nauseous, & partly appalled that this little missive was being passed around in Christian circles. The name of the book was Created To Be His Helpmeet, by Debi Pearl….and not just the book, but Mrs Pearl was appalling me. Her husband’s contributions were even worse.

I was raised in a “ Holiness “ church. I had met all kinds of people with all kinds of convictions, many of which I found odd, but it never crossed my mind that these folks were anything other than genuine Christian people……and now I had my first encounter with the Family Pearl, and I devoutly wished I had never heard of them. Frankly, they scared me to death. And that was before I heard anything about their “child rearing” techniques. I had only one thing to go by: CTBHH. It was enough to send me back into my Bible, trying to find out in what manner these people could possibly have interpreted Scripture, in order to draw such bizarre conclusions from it.

I had been raised to be discerning, especially in the matter of Biblical interpretation. It didn’t take me long to realize that here was a strange  breed: These people were a “Bible-based cult”. I had never heard of such a thing; I had believed that cults were odd sects which clearly departed from the words of my Bible. Now, I was facing a cult that claimed to be rooted in Scripture. How could this be???
I should have remembered World History class. The fact that history was (& is) awash with the names of groups who also claimed to be “true Christians” whilst promoting another gospel—that should have been my tip-off.
It wasn’t. My tip-off was that queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I wish it had been enough. Enough to enlighten me as to how insidious the Pearls & their skewed theology could be. It would take years, & an exposure to more of their poison, before I broke free of my “different people interpret Scripture differently” mentality, long enough to smell the whiff of sulfur that signaled that the Pearls were being inspired, all right; the problem was to awaken to who & what was their inspiration.
But, one thing was clear very early on: This was not the truth. This was not of God. And this was most definitely NOT Christian teaching. This is what the pastors of my childhood would have called “carnality”.

Thus it begins.

What I want to talk about is another book by Mr & Mrs Pearl: “To Train Up A Child”– hereafter, TTUAC.
The Pearls’ teaching flows from their theology. Their theology, that is, determines how they behave. Michael Pearl states that he has been “ teaching and living” a life free of sin.
He claims, that is, to be what my elders in the faith called “sanctified wholly [holy]”. (He spends a lot of time denying this, but it is in print on his own site. He says his position is that of Baptists; I have yet to meet a Baptist who believes this. Not even my grandfather, the Baptist minister’s son, & the Free Methodist local preacher, who surely knew what each believed!!).

Let me begin with what I was afraid might take the most time to find, & turned out to be as easy as calling up my own church’s website, & doing a little minor checking of links:

I am copying & pasting here, from :

Of Sanctification
Sanctification is that renewal of our fallen nature by the Holy Ghost, received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood of atonement cleanseth from all sin; whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but are washed from its pollution, saved from its power, and are enabled, through grace, to love God with all our hearts and to walk in his holy commandments blameless.
[The following provision was adopted by the Uniting Conference (1939). This statement seeks to interpret to our churches in foreign lands Article XXIII of the Articles of Religion. It is a legislative enactment but is not a part of the Constitution. (See Judicial Council Decisions 41, 176, and Decision 6, Interim Judicial Council.)]

One of MP’s defenses, you see, is that what he believes is standard doctrine in a Christian church. He uses language which might easily lead readers to think that he is teaching the  standard Wesleyan sanctification.
Let’s examine that for a bit:

(A) “that renewal of our fallen nature by the Holy Ghost”.
What does that mean? Well, first, let’s say what it does NOT mean: It does not mean that when, upon salvation through faith, by the grace of God, we become regenerate [are saved; enter into a state of grace; accept Christ as Saviour; etc]. It does NOT mean that we never sin again. It does not mean that we can never sin again. Because look at what it says: “renewal of our fallen nature”.
Now a renewal means that something is made new again; not that it has just become new, but that something occurs after that initial ‘becoming’. My grandfather—would that he were here to explain it; he would surely do better than I!– He called this ‘entire sanctification’, and he knew that it meant something apart from salvation.
I know this for a very good and sufficient reason: He talked about it, studied it, read Wesley, and then…..He decided that as a born-again Christian, he could not claim something that he did not believe.
Which was when, before a gathering of Free Methodists over an area of several states, when he was asked (as every FM pastoral candidate—like UMC candidates—is asked), “Are you expecting to be sanctified wholly in this lifetime?” as part of his proposed ordination as a deacon, he said, after a long pause: “Well, truthfully, NO “ .

It was clearly not his salvation that was in question. Without that, he would have never been a candidate. No, it was something subsequent to salvation: entire sanctification in this lifetime.

(B) “ received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood of atonement cleanseth from all sin”
John Wesley did not preach  what has been called “cheap grace”. No, he preached that it is the duty of every Christian to grow, to increase in faith, and to live more and more closely to Jesus Christ so that we may be presented before Him on “That Day”, not with our sins merely “covered over”, but with them washed away, gone, that we may be as holy as we can be, that “we may not be ashamed”.
He & his younger brother Charles and their friends at university were called “The Holy Club” because of their constant striving to be as pleasing to God as was possible in this world. It was a taunt, but they accepted it, & gladly. It was, after all, what they sought to attain.
In time, they would be convinced that they were never to achieve it, and then, one night in Aldersgate Street, John Wesley wrote, “My heart was strangely warmed”, and he realized that as we are saved by the blood of Christ, so are we also:

(C)”whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but are washed from its pollution, saved from its power”. We are not able to make ourselves holy any more than we are able to make ourselves regenerate. It is Christ, & Christ alone Who can make us live holy lives. It is to God alone that the glory for sanctification is due. And then we :
(D) “and are enabled, through grace, to love God with all our hearts and to walk in his holy commandments blameless”.
And it is here is where the Pearls go terribly, terribly wrong. Here is where they lose all touch with  sound Christian doctrine. Because they teach that the “rod” which they call for using on children can cleanse from guilt. Only the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary can do that. Anyone who says otherwise is teaching another ‘gospel’, as the Apostle Paul warned us, and said of such a teacher, “ If we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, if anyone preaches another gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed”. (Galations 1: 8-9).
I am not a theologian. I have never pretended to be.
But when my Bible says, twice in as many verses, that anyone who preaches anything other than “Jesus Christ and him crucified”, that that teacher is a false teacher; and that such a teacher is to be accursed–
When that happens, I say, I am fearful. And I put down that book, TTUAC, and I put down Mrs Pearl, & I put down NGJ Ministries, and I stand well back from it, and from every word that comes out of the Pearls’ mouths and pens.
Because I remember also what Paul said, of himself, that he prayed “lest [he] should be a castaway”. Michael Pearl, & NGJ has claimed for a piece of wood (or perhaps even more bizarrely, for a piece of rubber hose) what the Bible claims only, ONLY for Christ Himself, & Him crucified.
This is serious business, folks. This is not a small matter. He who is not with the crucified Christ is not with us; is not of us. And there are only two positions where we can stand:
We can stand with Jesus Christ. Or we can fight against him.
When it comes to a choice between Michael  & Debi Pearl’s TTUAC (& the rest of their writings), and the One With the Nail-Scarred Hands….For me there is no choice. I will stick with the Christ who suffered & died for me.
Whose side are you on??

– Zooey

Link to Two of A Kind…

Now Through a Glass Darkly compares and contrasts The Passion of The Cross with The Rod in Two of A Kind: The Christ of the “Passion”, and the Parent of the Pearls