Pope Francis recently endorsed the spanking of children in the home. The first and loudest howl of dissent came from the United Nations who I thought at first must have been spanked themselves. The UN believes Pope Francis’ proclamation conflicts with its Children’s Bill of Rights, specifically right number 15, protection from maltreatment.
Founded initially as the League of Nations, January 10, 1920, the United Nations’ primary goal is to achieve world peace, something they have failed at miserably since their inception. Of the 25 enumerated rights of Children, the one most conspicuous by its absence is the right to be born. Probably because this would rob some supposed doctors of a significant source of income, and worse, abortion activists their peace of mind.
Some may think there are more important issues to write about than the practice of discipline in the home, but the home is the most basic unit of any culture or society. Long before the institutions of education, industry and government were ever conceived, God instituted marriage and the home, Genesis 2:18-25. Show me a society where the home is threatened, and I will show you a society on the brink of collapse.
Despite the United Nation’s denouncement, Pope Francis is on solid scriptural ground. Solomon wrote, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently,” Proverbs 13:24. Corporeal punishment is a means of instilling in a child respect for his parents instructions that are meant for the child’s wellbeing. I do not believe spanking is the sole means of disciplining a child, nor, depending on the circumstances the most preferable, but there are times when it is indispensable.
Anyone who has witnessed a parent trying to negotiate terms of obedience with a three-year-old tyrant throwing a temper tantrum knows what I mean. The Vatican clarified its position by saying, parents “should be able to rectify their child’s inappropriate action by imposing certain reasonable consequences for such behavior, taking into consideration the child’s ability to understand the same as corrective.” I am a fair wordsmith, but I could not have said it better myself.
Beyond the need to maintain order in the home, there is a vital spiritual principle here. The child who never learns to respect and obey the parent he can see, will doubtless never learn to respect and obey the Parent he cannot see.
Parents are saddled with dual yet conflicting responsibilities; they are to defend their children when they are right, and they are to discipline them when they are wrong. This requires honesty, discernment and diligence on the part of the parent. These responsibilities are achievable when guided by the Scriptures and with the help of our Father. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother,” Proverbs 29:15.
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