Something just happened this week that has still got me reeling. I’ve been telling and re-telling the story because it is just that good. But it doesn’t start off all that great. As a matter of fact it starts off with my six year old Jeremy getting in trouble.
He lost three things last week. He lost his lunch box at school and he lost his jacket and sunscreen at the zoo while on a field trip.
My little boy is, for the most part, a well behaved kid. But he seemed rather cavalier about the whole losing thing and so it was time to remind him of why not losing things was important. I told him he was going to get one spanking for every item that he lost that week. I explained to him that these spankings were going to help him remember that not losing things was important. The spankings were, not so much for him losing the items, but for his non chalant attitude about losing them. It was time for an “attitude adjustment.”
When he pushed back about the spankings the count went to four. On our way home Jeremy fell silent (a rarity) as he knew what was coming.
Now there are a variety of feelings out there about spanking. But, to be honest, I don’t care about how some child-rearing expert feels about the “dangers of spanking” on the psychological or physical health of a child. God’s Word makes it clear that spanking is not just an option, but the best one, for disciplining your children when they are disobedient. Check these verses out:
Prov 13:24: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (diligently).”
Prov 19:18: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”
Prov 22:15: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
Prov 23:13: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.“
Prov 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.“
Hebrews 12:6 reminds us that this God’s discipline toward us is kind of a divine spanking that God does out of love for our benefit. If you haven’t guessed it I’m pro-spanking. To me it is a sacred moment between a mom or a dad and her or his children. It is a time where we teach, where we pray, where we cry and where we repent. You may be a “time out” kind of parent or you may believe in positive re-inforcement. But if you are a believer in Jesus you have to wrestle through the very clear passages of Scripture that deal with spanking your children.
Obviously there are those who abuse their children and hide under the banner of spanking. But these two actions (spanking verses abuse) are totally different and have two vastly different outcomes. One is designed to be done out of love, appropriately (AKA “hard enough to hurt but not hard enough to do damage to the body”) and with the child’s best interest in mind. The other is an act of violence unleashed from a heart of anger that does damage to the body and to the soul.
Okay, enough with the qualifications. On with the story:
Jeremy knows he’s going to get four hard swats when we get home. So when we pull into the garage I tell him to go into the bathroom and wait for me there while I went and got our plastic, rubber and flexible spatula.
He does but without complaint or trying to talk me out of it (strange occurence #1)
When I came into the bathroom he looked like an angel (strange occurence #2). Seriously, he was beaming. It reminded me of Acts 7 where Stephen was about to get stoned to death by an angry mob and he had the countenance of an angel. Jeremy looked strange, almost glowing.
What he said next threw me off. He told me with the calmest voice imaginable, “Daddy, before you spank me I want you to know something.”
“What’s that Jeremy?”
“I deserve these spankings.”
It stunned me so I asked again, “What?”
“Daddy, I know that I did wrong and I deserve these four spankings and I’m ready for you to give them to me.”
Now I was ready for a lot of things. I was ready for the usual pleadings for mercy, promises that he’ll never do it again, asking me through the tears to let him off the hook and the like. But I wasn’t ready for this.
After the shock wore off I began to realize that this was the teaching moment of a lifetime. With the spatula in hand the conversation took a different turn.
“Jeremy you deserve these four spankings don’t you?”
“Yes daddy. I deserve them.”
“Does daddy deserve any spankings?”
“Then, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to take your four spankings for you.” (strange occurence #3)
Now Jeremy looked stunned. I gave him the spatula and told him to spank me hard four times. He did! (By the way, four swats on your bare bottom HURTS!)
I then explained the gospel to my son once again. But this time I used the spankings I took for his disobedience as the example of the punishment Christ received for our sins. It was a special and powerful moment. We prayed together and hugged each other.
Later that night I was tucking Jeremy into bed and Debbie came home from work. She had to work late that night. She’s a teacher and was doing conferences into the evening.
As we both stood there I told Jeremy, all tucked under the covers, to tell mommy what happened. I’ll never forget his words. He said,
“Mommy, I got in trouble for losing things so daddy was going to give me four spankings. I told him that I deserved the spankings and he took the spankings instead! He told me about Jesus and stuff. And mommy (here comes strange occurence #4) I THOUGHT THAT TELLING DADDY THAT I DESERVED THE SPANKINGS WOULD GET ME OUT OF THE SPANKINGS…AND IT DID!!!” He then laughed like a crazy man. And so did my wife.
Not only did I get dooped by my six year old, not only did he get out of the spankings that he so richly deserved, but he got to beat my rear four times hard with a spatula (Did I mention that it hurt?)
Pray for me. I’m in for a long haul with this spastic, too-smart-for-his-own-good kid.
As I was tucking him in and rebuking him about what happened he told me, “Don’t worry Daddy. I still know that I did deserve those spankings and I know that Jesus died for all my sins. I just didn’t want to get a spanking. Next time I tell you that ‘I deserve it’ you’ll believe me, right daddy?”
“Sure, I’ll believe you son and then I’ll give you those spankings that you deserve.”
“I guess I’ll have to think of something new daddy.”
“I guess you will Jeremy.”
I love being a daddy, even though sometimes it hurts…literally.