Q. Does the New Covenant Church believe in a complete ban on all physical discipline of children?
A. We are opposed to all forms of hitting or violence against children. However, we do not believe that there is one genuinely concerned Christian who loves children and loves the Lord who would say that a smack is a perverse act of hatred or brutality but a way of forcing a disruptive child to get a grip before it is too late.
We believe that it is the right of parents to discipline children with a short, sharp smack when absolutely necessary provided an increase of love is shown afterwards. We do, however, believe that smacking should be the exception rather than the rule in the disciplining of children.
We are opposed to corporal punishment within school such as caning though we believe teachers should have the right to smack if verbal persuasion fails provided the parents have given their consent generally to such discipline.
Just as it is biblical to value the precious gift of a child, so the Bible's wisdom on the care and nurture of children should also be accepted and applied. Children do not need to be taught to be naughty, they are inclined to do wrong from the start. They need to learn obedience and must be corrected in love for their own benefit. "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him" (Prov.13:24). That correction should be applied in the context of encouragement, trust and fairness. Erratic parents leave the children uncertain how to behave and unclear about what behaviour is acceptable and what is not.
The experience of loving parents applying moderate physical discipline is a tried, tested and proved model for effective parenting. This cannot, however, be said for the liberal ideas which have sown the seeds of unruly behaviour in schools, streets, and homes throughout the Western world. For generations parents have used an appropriate smack as one tool amongst many to bring a naughty child into line. Parents today are being told that rearing children is an activity better regulated by the theories of so-called "child experts" rather than relying on their own parental instincts and a suitable blend of love and concern.
In spite of all the "professional" wisdom being pumped out by the media and child-care industry, the vast majority of parents disagree and apply their own understanding to the children's needs in appropriate discipline with the occasional smack.
A controlled smack can be the best response to defiance, deliberate disobedience and other serious misdemeanours, such as lying; it is easily understood by young children before they are capable of being reasoned with.
Unfortunately, the Bible is not a valued resource or authority among many sections of our Western society yet it persistently proves itself to contain a wisdom far beyond the wisdom of men. It is a sad prospect that the most valuable resource our nations have will be spoiled and disrupted before fulfilling its potential and that due to sparing the proper means and methods of guidance and control. "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him" (Prov.22:15).
Already children are, in some places, getting too much to handle in our resource-strapped education and corrective systems. Yet do we ever pause to think of the cost in terms of personal hurt and opportunity loss for these young people, victims of misconceived ideas of discipline and subsequently caught up in anti-social activities and conduct? Any nation which aspires to rear its children by any other method than God's will end up with a generation of child delinquents, all for the want of a smack or two in their formative years. "The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself brings disgrace to his mother" (Prov.29:15).
This page was created on 16 October 1997
Last updated on 26 February 1998
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