Punishment; February 19, 2018

Jeremiah 30:11 “I will discipline you but only with justice;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”

God is too good a father not to punish when it is needed. He doesn’t punish any of us as severely as we deserve, but a lack of punishment leads to exactly the sort of societal breakdown we see today. Failure to punish is a major part of the “father wound” so many people bear today. (Father wound is generally defined as the emotional scars that come from fathers being absent, either physically or emotionally.) A totally indulgent father does not have happy, emotionally balanced children. This is a truth too many parents fail to grasp. They may not have been disciplined in their own childhood, and/or they may have been deceived by pop psychology that claims physical punishment, particularly, “damages” children. Much of that got going with the writing of Dr. Benjamin Spock, now a generation or more ago. Not long before he died Dr. Spock himself retracted much of what he had written, saying that he had done a great disservice to society, but by then it was too late. It is interesting, and often tragic, that a failure to understand appropriate discipline/punishment can lead to abuse of various sorts. Ideally, we need to punish but not in anger, helping people, adults as well as children, recognize the just consequences of their actions.

My parents were no more perfect than I was as a parent, but I don’t think they did too bad a job, with me at any rate. I do remember a few spankings, but perhaps not quite as many as I deserved! I touch on this subject regularly in marriage counseling, because parenting is often a source of friction between couples. I point out that boundaries are essential for our emotional stability, and that a child who fails to be sure of their boundaries is also going to be unsure they are loved. I generally use one of my grandsons as an example, because his mother has used a lot of wisdom in raising him. Children don’t understand logic, but they do understand pain! Certainly not excessive pain, or anything to the point of physical damage, but Proverbs is very true: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24) Physical affection is also called for, but a failure to discipline in childhood bears disastrous consequences later. My heart often aches for families I see struggling with this issue, but all I can do is speak the truth in love as the Lord gives me opportunity.

Father, as I see my physical and spiritual children and grandchildren I am often reminded of Your grace and patience toward me. Thank You for the punishment You have given me, as well as the comfort. Help me not complain at Your discipline, but know that it is an expression of Your love. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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