Ch. 11 – Embracing Biblical Methods: The Rod – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsis)

Wayne —  May 14, 2009 — 9 Comments

Shepherding A Child's HeartIn this installment of our synopsis of Tedd Tripp’s book “Shepherding A Child’s Heart,” we will look at Chapter 11 – “Embracing Biblical Methods: The Rod.”

Before Tripp ever gets into the meat of this chapter, he shares an observation that I found very profound, “All earthly punishment presupposes the great day when destinies are eternally fixed.”  I had never really thought about parenting in that light before.

Tripp begins the discussion of “The Rod” with a look at the current societal view of it.  Of course, he touches on the fact that the rod, as discipline, is no longer a fashionable idea, and many people in today’s society view this biblical form of punishment as child abuse.  Tripp observes, “I fear the majority reaction against spanking is a matter of fashion or style.  The world of ideas is continually in flux.  Ideas have their periods of popularity and unpopularity.”

Tripp looks first at the “Rationale Behind the Rod.”  As he explains, if children were born morally neutral, there would be no need for the rod.  They would not need correction, only direction.  They would need instruction rather than discipline.  The fact of the matter though is that kids are not born morally neutral.  In Tripp’s words, “The child’s problem is not an information deficit.  His problem in that he is a sinner.”

Proverbs 22:15 says:

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

However, Tripp is quick to remind parents that folly is not childishness.  The rod is not meant for childish behavior.  The spanking process is meant to drive folly from the hearts of our children.  Tripp reminds us that the Bible is clear about what is at stake in Proverbs 23:14:

If you strike him with the rod,
you will save his soul from Sheol.

Biblical use of the rod as discipline rescues our kids from death.   As parents, we use the rod out of love to rescue our kids from the dangerous state of living outside the will of God.  To do this, we use the remedy prescribed by our holy and loving God.

The rod is used to help the child to fear God and acquire wisdom.  The rod provide a concrete example to the child of the foolishness of rebellion.  As Tripp explains, “Properly administered discipline humbles the heart of the child, making him subject to parental instruction.”  The rod helps the child to learn to submit to authority.  As parents, God does not leave us a choice.  There are other options for discipline in addition to the rod, but God mandates the use of the rod in his word.

Next Tripp defines what the rod is:

  1. It is a parental exercise (to be administered only by a parent).
  2. It is an act of faith.  As parents, it shows our confidence in God’s word.
  3. It is an act of faithfulness showing love and commitment to the child.
  4. It is a responsibility.  Tripp puts it in a new light –  “It is not the parent determining to punish.  It is the parent determining to obey.”
  5. It is a physical punishment.

Tripp also addresses a number of what he calls “Distortions of the Rod.”  These are concepts of spanking which have, in part, led to the societal distaste for the punishment:

  1. The Rod is not the right to unbridled temper.
  2. It is not the right to hit our kids whenever we want.
  3. It is not for the venting of frustration.
  4. It is not retributive.
  5. It should not be associated with vindictive anger.

Now that he has looked at what the rod is, and what it is not, Tripp addresses some of the common objections he gets when he presents this material to parents.  Let’s have a quick look at each objection and Tripp’s response:

I love my children too much to spank them

This is a selfish motivation.  Tripp explains that the one who benefits from using this excuse is the parent who avoids the discomfort of spanking. The most loving thing to do is spank our kids when it is called for.  Consider the truth of Proverbs 13:24:

Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

I’m afraid I will hurt my child

Tripp reminds the reader that what we are talking about biblically based discipline.  By definition, it will never physically harm the child.

I’m afraid it will make him rebellious and angry

Tripp falls back on Proverbs 29:17:

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;
he will give delight to your heart.

The Bible tells us that, far from rebellion and anger, the rod will lead to peace and delight.

I’m afraid of teaching them to hit

Tripp clarifies this issue by pointing out that hitting in response to frustration is only taught when the parent spanks out of anger.

It doesn’t work

Rather than spanking itself not working, Tripp points to four circumstances he has observed that lead to spanking being ineffective:

  1. When it is done in anger
  2. When it is inconsistent
  3. When there is failure to persist on the part of the parents
  4. When there is failure to make certain that the spanking has been effective

I’m afraid of being arrested for child abuse

The first thing Tripp points out is that spanking kids is not illegal.  However, in a society which doesn’t understand the Bible and equates spanking with child abuse, the best course of action is to administer this punishment in the privacy of your own home.

In the next section of this chapter, Tripp looks at the “fruit of the rod.”  These include:

  • Teaching kids outcomes to behavior.
  • Consistent use helps kids to develop a harvest mentality (you reap what you sow).
  • It shows God’s authority over the parents as an example of submission to authority.
  • It demonstrates parental love and commitment to the child.
  • It results in peace and righteousness.
  • It gives children the security of discipline.
  • It return the child to the place of blessing.
  • It promotes openness and closeness between children and parents.

Finally, Tripp cautions against focusing too much on either the rod or communication to the exclusion of the other.  He says, “If you focus exclusively on either the rod or communication, you will be like a ship with all the cargo loaded on one side.”  Communication and the rod are designed to work together.  While the rod maintains biblically based parental authority, communication prohibits “cold, tyrannical discipline.”  Tripp concludes, “Authoritarian parents tend to lack kindness.  Permissive parents tend to lack firmness.  Asses which distortion of biblical training you would tend toward.  Strive for greater balance.”

Personal Observation

Two things strike me about this chapter:

  1. Disciplining our kids is not choosing to punish as a parent, it is choosing to obey.  It is choosing to obey the God who saves us.  Thinking of parenting, and discipline in that perspective put it in a whole new light.
  2. The second thing that struck me were Tripp’s comments on assessing whether you tend more towards the rod or communication in dealing with our kids.  in my marriage, my wife and I are on opposite ends of this spectrum.  Left to itself, this could cause all kids of problems both in parenting and in our marriage.  However, when we admit our weakness, we can counter-balance one another and work together in raising our kids as we work to find balance in individual approach.

<<LAST TIME: Chapter 10 – Embracing Biblical Methods: A Life of Communication

Chapter 12 – Embracing Biblical Methods: Appeal to Conscience: NEXT TIME>>

Return to Index

m4s0n501

9 responses to Ch. 11 – Embracing Biblical Methods: The Rod – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsis)

  1. I really enjoyed this…My son’s father was beaten and humiliated as a child with physical punishment and therefore would not allow spanking…I on the other hand grew up in a Christian household and when I did something wrong I was spanked. I never once thought of it as abuse or felt abused…because it was done the right way! My son’s father is no longer in the house and our son who is now 9 almost 10 is out of control most of the time because the rod was spared. This is a big frustration for me…now that it’s just me and him…I have 2 questions…my son’s father is volatile and is always seeking ways to prove me the bad parent…how do I gain control over my son’s behavior without his father charging me with child abuse and two, is it to late to stop sparing the rod. I would love input on this…Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. “Tripp begins the discussion of “The Rod” with a look at the current societal view of it. Of course, he touches on the fact that the rod, as discipline, is no longer a fashionable idea…”

    It’s not a fashionable idea because the Internet has exposed the vast and varied number of people with spanking fetishes.

    These people have in common that the fetish was unbidden and started exceptionally early. By and large, they explain that they did not understand the sexual element until adolescence or later.

    Christians keep promoting spanking, in spite of the evidence that it creates fetishes in some people and that those people will have permanently altered sexual interests which will affect the rest of their lives.

    I don’t think that we will ever be able to reason with committed spankers like Tripp and his followers, and the only real solution is to make spanking illegal.

    Maybe then the sexual DAMAGE produced by spanking will be alleviated and more children will have a chance to live normal lives outside of the bondage of an abnormal sexual interest that most of them would NEVER have chosen to have.

  3. For this blog, I moderate all comments to make sure nothing gets through that I feel is inappropriate for this blog. That said, I read the previous comment numerous times before approving it for this blog. That said, in the interest of full discussion, I thought it was appropriate to include dissenting opinions. I also appreciate that the commentor refrained from poor and explicit language.

    I also feel like the comment deserves a response. I was struck by the claims made in the comment, so I did a little bit of research to be in a better position to respond. It turns out that all the studies I could find which reflect the results discussed by the commenter to spanking are suspect at best. It is impossible to isolate spanking as the cause of any deviant behavior and the studies ignored other influences which could equally, or perhaps more plausibly, lead to the deviant sexual behavior that was the subject of the study.

    It also strikes me, though I did not read the studies themselves, that it would be impossible to distinguish between those children who received spanking from loving parents who administered the spankings as a means of discipline and those parents who spanked out anger. Any punishment dished out selfishly by the parents without regards to the well being of their kids will have negative impacts. That includes spanking and other type of punishment. When spanking is done in a loving manner as a means of correction, there is no evidence that it has a negative impact.

    Finally, as the means of correction prescribed by God, it is clear that spanking administered in a biblical manner cannot have a negative impact on children. God would not prescribe a method of discipline that would have a lasting negative impact on kids. To the extent such a negative impact does exist it is not because God prescribed the punishment but because fallen human beings have warped and misused God’s prescribed method.

    I do take issue with the accusations that “I don’t think that we will ever be able to reason with committed spankers like Tripp and his followers.” To me this reads “I am right, and anyone who disagrees with me and is not willing to accept that is deluded.” Despite the numerous assertions in the comment, the commenter does not point to a single strand of evidence to support their claim. I also think it is a bit of a fallacy to refer to Tripp’s “followers.” As much as I enjoyed Tripp’s book and have enjoyed blogging about it and incorporating parts of it into my parents, I am a follower of Jesus Christ, not Tedd Tripp. I think that is true of most Christians.

    Finally, I believe the idea of criminalizing spanking is a scary prospect whether you agree with the practice or not. Let me explain. When we allow government to dictate to parents how to raise their kids, we will have given up a fundamental freedom, and their is no turning back from that. This country was built on the family structure and has survived on the foundation of family for hundreds of years. We have already poked holes in that infrastructure. Placing government in the position of raising the future generation instead of parents threatens the very core freedoms that we enjoy.

    I welcome further discussion of this issue from people who are in a better position to postulate on these things than me.

  4. Hi Wayne,

    I will make another comment.

    You are correct that there have been few studies that directly show or “prove” that spanking causes spanking fetishes. There are even limited resources to read what it is like to live with this sort of psychosexual abnormality.

    And why is that?

    The main reason is that many people with spanking fetishes live lives of shame, frustration and isolation. Few people are eager to “out” themselves in order to educate the general population about a fetish they did not want in the first place, and which could mark them as freaks in their families and communities.

    But, in fact, the sexual consequences of spanking, and similar corporal punishments, have been discussed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

    Rousseau wrote in the 1700s about the origins of his spanking fetish:
    “Who would believe this childish discipline, received at eight
    years old, from the hand of a woman of thirty, should influence my
    propensities, my desires, my passions, for the rest of my life, and
    that in quite a contrary sense from what might naturally have been
    expected? The very incident that inflamed my senses, gave my desires
    such an extraordinary turn, that, confined to what I had already
    experienced, I sought no further, and, with blood boiling with
    sensuality almost from my birth, preserved my purity beyond the age
    when the coldest constitutions lose their sensibility; long tormented,
    without knowing by what, I gazed on every handsome woman with delight;
    imagination incessantly brought their charms to my remembrance, only
    to transform them into so many Miss Lamberciers. Even after having
    attained the marriageable age this odd taste still continued and drove
    me nearly to depravity and madness.”

    As for the “people in a better postiion to postulate on these things than” you?

    If we have to postulate, should we be spanking children? If there is ANY RISK WHATSOEVER of harming a child’s sexual development. in a way they will live with for life, I beg parents to take the road of caution.

  5. Dear Cola,

    Thank you for your comment. Your heart for children is evident in your post, and I commend you for that. I also thank you for the tone of your comments given the sensitive nature of the issue we are discussing. I did want to take just a minute to respond to a couple of the points you made. I hope I can do it as graciously as you.

    First, with regards to the study, I understand why people would not want to “out” themselves given the sense of shame, isolation and frustration they feel. I pray that people in that situation would find the love of Jesus Christ who can take all of those things away. My only point in raising the issue of the studies is that I believe many conclusions are jumped to when it comes to spanking based on limited data and isolated examples. Rousseau would be a prime example. He traced his fetish, rightly or wrongly, to spankings received as a child. But, there is nothing to indicate that his experience is the norm, and no additional information regarding how the spankings were administered is available which might help to explain his issues. By way of analogy, it would be a fallacy to conclude that I died from eating simply because I choked on a ham bone. My point is this – there are way to many factors involved to isolate spanking as the cause for any sexual abnormalities, and I can find no studies that make such a link.

    Ultimately, I believe there will never be such a study because I do not believe God would prescribe something as a means of discipline for children that would cause them lasting harm. That said, we live in a fallen world full of fallen people, including parents and caregivers, who could very well abuse spanking as a form of discipline and harm children in unforeseen ways. That is why it is important for parents to consult the whole counsel of God found in his Bible when it comes to raising kids. However, continuing my prior analogy, just because some people may not eat there ham cautiously and will choke on the ham bone, that is no reason to throw the ham out altogether. Instead, our efforts should be focused towards educating parents when it comes to raising children biblically and especially when it comes to spanking.

    I would encourage you to read Mr. Tripp’s book, even if you disagree with spanking, because it addresses the issue of how the Bible directs parents to raise there kids in a godly manner. Spanking is not the end-all and be-all. It is simply part of the process of parenting.

    With regards to your final comment on postulating, my comment was intended to mean people in a better position to interpret the studies. As I said earlier, properly administered, I do not believe there is any risk to spanking kids, and in some instances, I believe there is a risk to NOT spanking them. Our Heavenly Father who loves us with a love beyond comprehension, clearly allows for spanking children, and calls parents to a high standard in raising their children. That God, who loves us with an eternal love, orchestrates nothing in our lives that is not ultimately in our best interest. Even when we can’t see it, God has our best interest in heart. Even in a spanking.

    I hope this helps to clarify where I stand on this issue. In short, it is my goal stand upon the Word of God alone.

    May God bless you,

    Wayne

  6. Daniel Johnson July 5, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    Is the age of “child” addressed in Tripp’s chapter? If we define a child as being one that has not yet reached the age of reasoning, and reasoning is a physiological change in the way the brain works, then may it also be that the ability for the brain to link spanking with fetishes does not occur until those changes take place? If Rousseau (and others that may have had their sexual identity some how effected by spanking) had grown up beyond the years that God had intended spanking to be beneficial, then could it still hold that spanking is safe for children, but not for those outside of the developmental stages between understanding and reasoning?
    Before a child can understand what he did wrong, then he cannot choose to be defiant, and also cannot benefit from the spanking for any other reason. And after a child is of the age of reasoning, then there are more constructive ways of helping your children become the people that you want them to be since they can reason with non physical consequences to their actions.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Ch. 10 – Embracing Biblical Methods: A Life of Communication – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsis) « Wayne’s Random Thoughts - May 24, 2009

    [...] Chapter 11 – Embracing Biblical Methods: The Rod: NEXT TIME>> [...]

  2. Ch. 12 – Embracing Biblical Methods: Appeal to Conscience – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsis) « Wayne’s Random Thoughts - May 24, 2009

    [...] <<LAST TIME: Chapter 11 – Embracing Biblical Methods: The Rod [...]

  3. Wayne’s Random Thoughts…Monthly Round Up (May 2009) « Wayne’s Random Thoughts - June 5, 2009

    [...] Ch. 11 – Embracing Biblical Methods: The Rod – Shepherding A Child’s Heart (A Synopsi… [05/14/2009] [...]

Leave a Reply