I tend, I think we all tend, to polarize. We see it one way or the other. But God's ways are not our ways. In His wisdom, sometimes it's not one or the other it's both, sometimes it's neither.
When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joshua before facing Jericho, Joshua took his stand and called this Stranger out, and said, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?" So He (the Angel of the LORD) said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." (see Joshua 5:13b-14a)
When it comes to parenting I've tended to think spanking means harsh punishment and reasoning with a child means being gracious and merciful. But the Commander of the army of the Lord says, "No! Neither. Nada. Nothin' doin' Sheila. That's not right."
"The rod AND rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." -Proverbs 29:15.
God's way of driving foolishness out of the heart of a child and giving them wisdom in exchange involves both spanking and verbal rebuke or admonishing.
"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him."- Proverbs 22:15
Our children's hearts are naturally full of foolishness, I don't think that needs to be expounded on. Just spend a few minutes alone with a toddler. Pointing out the foolishness is not being mean, it's just stating the facts. How to get rid of the foolishness and give the child wisdom is something I think all of us parents attempt to figure out, whether through God's wisdom or our own. Ours is sure to fail. His won't!
Many times the Lord has spoken these verses to my heart in regards to the most effective way to train up my kids.
"A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the fool's back. Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes." (Proverbs 26:5)
Now just bear with me any of you who may be thinking I'm chasin' my kids around with a rod, beating their backs with it- I'M NOT! Here's what the Holy Sweet Gentle Loving Patient Kind Loooooongsuffering Spirit of God speaks to me through this verse:
"Sheila. Every creature is created to respond to pain by steering away from it. A horse responds to a whip and goes the way he's to go. A donkey responds to a bridle. A child, who has foolishness all bound up in his heart, does not respond to answers or reasoning or explanation, if you try that you'll just become in his eyes a big child to argue with. A child only responds when you answer his folly according to his folly and that is with the rod on his tush applied calmly, firmly and WITHOUT anger."
See, I've often thought spanking is a last resort. I've also thought it goes hand in hand with frustration and teeth grinding and therefore would tend to think it's wrong. But God says, "Loose, the anger and keep the rod!"
"He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow, and the rod of his anger will fail." - Proverbs 22:8
God's way of training HIS children is with BOTH the rod and rebuke. But before I can verbally rebuke and admonish my children to give them wisdom I have to deal with the folly that's all bound up in their hearts by driving it out with a loving, calm, yet firm, sting to the bum bum! And then I CAN'T STOP THERE! I can't just drive out the foolishness with spankings. I must also give rebuke. This is the training part of raising my kids that I haven't been doing.
See there's this underlying thought process in me that has viewed spanking not as love but as frustration. And that's what I've been planting in my kids, frustration...the rod of her anger will fail! But what I see the Lord teaching me is that spankings, not used as a last resort but rather as a steady reminder that the boundaries are real and unmoving, actually grows joy in my kids!
He's helping me to NEVER AGAIN use a spanking as a last resort. But to be sure to tell my kids where the boundaries are in any given situation (e.i. "There's to be no playing right now. Just pick up your toys."), be assured that they understand the boundary (I've begun asking them to repeat back to me what I just said), and then when they test the boundaries because of the foolishness that's naturally in them, not to strive and struggle to answer and argue and reason with them why they aren't obeying, or if they remember what mommy said 15 times till I'm blue in the face and grinding my teeth, but to rather let them run into the "wall" of the boundary I set with my words- i.e. "wall" or wooden spoon meets an exposed little tushy!
Since I've begun this my kids are already displaying the peace and security of a child who knows there are boundaries and that they are real and not to be moved. The foolishness is being driven out and I can see it, they are beginning to believe the boundaries are there. They aren't testing them as often. And from that place I can implement rebuke or admonishing or training...I can give them WISDOM! The implementation of spanking not as a last resort out of frustration but as a loving training tool is actually resulting in LESS spankings and much more enjoyable times of being able to talk with them and have them respond with understanding and glad obedience.
It's like if there were a hot stove. If a child touched it once, he would never again let the foolishness of curiosity lead him to go touch the hot stove again. And from there, a parent could train and reason with a child about fire and heat and burns, etc. But if a parent is always standing next to his childishly foolish son, trying to reason with him why he shouldn't touch the stove, or if he heard his mommy say don't touch, that child's just going to answer his mommy back according to his folly...with a tantrum. The mommy's gonna be dog tired cause she's been arguing with a fool (I say that with supreme love!) and as soon as the child is rid of the dripping-faucet-annoying-older-fool who keeps getting in his way (that's been me) he'll let his foolishness draw him back to touching that hot stove .
Now, just in case you're like I have been you might be thinking, "But this is only dealing with outward behavior, not the heart! You're only training your child to obey externally not to really want to obey!" I've thought this a lot too! But once again, the Commander says, "No!" He's teaching me His way and helping me to see He's right!- Go figure, God is RIGHT!
"Blows that hurt cleanse away evil. As do stripes the inner depths of the heart." -Proverbs 20:30
According to God's word a loving, not angry, spanking that hurts (that is one that stings, not one that bruises), though it deals with the behaviour and the external, actually cleanses away evil from the deep parts of a child's heart! Now this is the wisdom of God, I'm just learning to believe Him myself in this area!
It makes me think of Galatians 3:19-29. Paul is talking about the purpose of God's law. He says the purpose of the law was not to save a person, but to cause them to see their need for salvation. He says the law was for dealing with transgression. He says it is a measurement which puts everyone under sin. He says it's a guard to keep a person for faith. He says it's a tutor to bring a person to Christ. It doesn't make our hearts right- it doesn't justify us, but it brings us to the One who does!
A spanking in love drives foolishness from the heart of a child and cleanses away evil just as a tutor and a tool, not to make a child self-righteous, but to cause a child to be guarded till he comes to Christ.
I'm so thankful that the Lord has covered my erring ways with His mercy and grace. I don't fall on how well I've parented, I fall on His mercy! But I don't want to trample under foot the grace that cost Him many painful blows either. When He shows me the right way to go, I can trust He'll also give me the strength to do it. And by His grace I will! I want to delight in my children just as the Father delights in me. He loves me enough to apply pain to the external parts of my life at times and uses it as a divine spanking to train me in the way He wants me to go. Many times He rebukes me and admonishes me in my heart. But until He drives the foolishness out of my thinking in any given area, He lets me feel the sting of His loving rod. Then, though I don't understand, I finally believe that He's right and He begins to give me wisdom!
"Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul." -Proverbs 29:17