Your Child’s Heart: What’s Your Responsibility? (Discipline)

The first two posts in this series talk about what it means to have your child’s heart.  Now, let’s look at what responsibilities we have as parents to accomplish that goal.

I believe that normally the process of gaining or keeping your child’s heart begins at birth and does not finish until our kids leave home (and probably not even then).  It is an ongoing process and while normally parents and children who consistently follow God’s Word, seek His wisdom and conscientiously work on this relationship from the very beginning will be blessed with stronger and easier relationships,  it is also never too late to win your child’s heart and your circumstances are never too difficult.  This is true because we serve a merciful, kind and all powerful God and He can accomplish all He desires.

I want to make this extremely clear.  While we’ll be talking about things parents  should do to gain and keep their child’s heart, we can not, by our actions alone, win our child’s heart.  That ultimately is God’s gift.  However, just like with their physical safety, parents do have  responsibilities.  God promises blessing for faithful obedience and curses for disobedience.  So while keeping our child’s heart is not completely dependent on our actions, it is also not completely separate.

To keep or gain our child’s heart, we must love our children and our love must be defined by God’s Word.

I believe that there are two main ways that we must show our love to our children and both are found in this verse.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4

Discipline and instruction.  If you desire a healthy relationship with your child these two things must be present.  You can not choose one without the other and expect health any more than you can choose to only give your child food OR water and expect health.  Each must be present and balanced.

We must discipline our children.

The fifth commandment is “Honor your father and mother so that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God gives you.”  This is repeated often and in many different ways throughout the Bible.  Yet, if you go to any public place you will see children out of control.  This is common in our society.

I have been having regular chiropractic appointments and since I don’t have a cell phone, I take all of the children with me.  Yesterday we walked into the office and sat down in the waiting room with 3 other ladies.  One looked at me just 2-3 minutes after we walked in and said, “These are the best behaved children I have ever seen.  Thank you.”  The other two looked up and one nodded and the other verbalized another compliment.

This is a horrible indictment on our culture and I relate this because it is one of the most common comments that we get when we are out in public  and it is indicative of a major problem in our society.  It should be the norm in a “Christian” nation like our own, for children to be obedient and to show basic honor to their parents.  After all “this is the first commandment with a promise.”

(Please do not misunderstand my use of this example, Mark and I fail daily to Biblically discipline and disciple our children.   And our children are not perfect.  They regularly disobey and are disrespectful at times.  My point is that Biblical discipline is so uncommon in our culture that strangers are surprised to see children who respond to their parents with basic obedience.)

It is our God-given responsibility to teach our children to honor and obey us and to use Biblical correction to accomplish that goal.  If we fail to do this, our children will not know or understand how to obey and honor their heavenly Father.

Children are much smarter than most adults give them credit for and when you see a child that is out of control (stomping, screaming, hitting, thrashing and yelling because they don’t get their way), you must realize that that child is dramatically unhappy.  Way down within themselves, they know that something is missing.  That child, by those very actions, is stomping, screaming, hitting, yelling and begging for someone to control him, for someone to love him.  He is asking, begging, pleading, storming for an adult to show him Biblical love.

God’s Word clearly teaches.

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them;  Hebrew 12:7-9

He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently. Proverbs 13:24

Our children know that if they are loved they will be disciplined and taught.  If they are not lovingly disciplined they know that they are not being treated as a beloved child.  They are being treated as illegitimate children and are receiving a message of hatred from their parents.  Think about it.

As Christians, our goal should be Biblical discipline that seeks for the good of our children and their right relationship with God.  However, we all fail.  Each and every one of us fail daily in our responsibility of disciplining  our children.  This is where we come back to the beginning of this post.  God is the only one who is able to ensure that we have our children’s hearts.   He is a merciful and loving God who blesses us, His children in spite of our failings.  Just as we love and care for our children, in a much more full and glorious way, God loves and cares for us and gave His only Son for us.

This does not relieve us of our responsibility, but it gives us hope that we are not too late, it gives us encouragement that our efforts our not in vain and it gives us motivation to daily ask for God’s strength and wisdom to fulfill our God-given responsibility to our children.

Do you think Biblical discipline strengthens the relationship between parents and children?  How?

Remember this is just half of the equation.  If you give only discipline to your children you should not expect a healthy relationship.  Next week I hope to post about the second aspect, instruction.

Other posts in “Your Child’s Heart” series:

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39 Responses to Your Child’s Heart: What’s Your Responsibility? (Discipline)
  1. Nic
    January 21, 2010 | 11:02 am

    What wonderful post!!


  2. Jennifer
    January 21, 2010 | 11:24 am

    Hi! I’m new to your blog, now following thanks to BlogFrog. Excellent post, can’t wait to go back and read the others. God bless!



  3. Jenny
    January 21, 2010 | 11:31 am

    Fabulous- we are really dealing this very issue right now! Thanks!


  4. Tristan from the Crew
    January 21, 2010 | 11:32 am

    I’ve been following along with this series and wanted to say thank you Kimberly. I really appreciate reading your thoughts.



  5. celee
    January 21, 2010 | 12:56 pm

    I agree. My kids know this, too. We’ll be at the grocery store or somewhere and see kids misbehaving and later in the car my kids will be like, “What’s wrong with their parents?”

    I feel like we fail terribly at times, but on the whole I am so happy with where my children are. It’s their heart, like you said, that I want to have. I would a thousand times rather have my child’s heart than “good” behavior. I know the behavior will follow the heart. But it is possible to force the behavior without having the heart and this can lead to rebellion later.

    I can honestly say I never rebelled against my parents. I never wanted to. I preferred staying home and hanging out with my folks to running around. And when I did go out I would never have done anything that would have shamed my parents. I want this same respect and honor from my kids and I know it’s born of love.

    Thank you for your committment to help other mothers win their children’s hearts! You are appreciated!



  6. Heather
    January 21, 2010 | 1:59 pm

    Great reminder that it is God’s gift to have children who love him and us by obeying us!


  7. Dawn
    January 21, 2010 | 3:17 pm

    Biblical discipline absolutely strengthens the parent-child relationship. I can relate to your example. When I get that compliment, I always think “if you only really knew my children and me… we’re such sinful people… if you had only seen us yesterday (or a few minutes ago or whenever we failed)” and I am reminded that their obedience (and mine) is the work of His grace.


  8. kimberlyb
    January 21, 2010 | 3:17 pm

    I feel my girls are good most of the time though they do pout when they don’t get thier way, but afterward most of the time they appoligise for acting that way. I think I have tier heart most of the way? Is that possible?


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I think that this is absolutely possible. Having your child’s heart is really about relationship and there are all different levels and depths in our relationships.

    Remember the ultimate goal in building this relationship is that it is a picture of our relationship with Christ. We are sinners so it’s an imperfect picture, but a picture none the less. How our children love and submit to us is a picture, an indication of how they will submit to God their Heavenly Father.


  9. Fruitful Harvest
    January 21, 2010 | 4:25 pm

    I have a question. You may answer me privately if you wish as I’m not looking for a debate.
    This question stems from what happened at our MOPS=(Mothers of Preschoolers)meeting last Tuesday that disturbed me greatly.
    To set the stage….
    There was a panel of peachers wifes/Mom’s (this is not a church I attend on Sundays) that were to answer questions to our group about parenting and handling preschool issues. One mom/preachers wife on the panel has a 3yr old and a 18 mo old. She and all the other peachers wife avoccated spanking children!!!! Saying the bible says its OK to show their chilren physical discipline such as a spank! Time after time question after question presented to them seemed to be answered the same….to spank them….starting at the age of 2yr old.
    I was and am appauled at the panels words to our large group of young mothers, not all christian,looking to “seasoned mothers” for guideince. They had a stack of books from christian authors pointing to where the Bible says to Spank!

    We do not spank our children but do give them physical disciline in the way of extra chores etc. for misbehavior. We do daily devotions (most days). We also talk to our children sharing God’s word and listen to them to find out where their heart is. Much more effective than spanking.

    What do you think on the matter?

    You can answer me by email if you wish



    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Geargiann, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m happy to have this discussion as this is how we all grow and learn from each other. I encourage you to read my post Disagreeing with Love.

    One of the salient points that I make in that post is that our family’s standard of behavior, beliefs and actions is God’s Word, both the Old and New Testaments. Any arguments made on this blog should be based on God’s Word, human logic or reason never trump God’s commands. We humans do not get to pick which parts or aspects of God’s Word we will obey. “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof and for training in righteousness.”

    That said, our family strives to discipline our children in accordance with God’s commands. Here are a few of the clear passages that address your specific question.

    He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently. Proverbs 13:24

    Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; But the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Proverbs 22:15

    Withhold not correction from the child; For if thou beat him with the rod, he will not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, And shalt deliver his soul from Sheol. Proverbs 23:13-14

    His commands are clear. I suggest that you study God’s Word for yourself, pray that God will give you wisdom and guidance and be willing to follow what God says not what your own understanding tells you.

    We also welcome a Biblical argument for your position. If our family is wrong then we want to bring our thoughts and actions into conformity with God’s Word. In so much as we are being faithful to God and His Word, we are right and God promises blessing. In so much as we are disobeying God and His Word we are wrong and God will punish. So we are always open to a better, more faithful understanding of God and His Word.


    Heidi C. Reply:

    I love how you respond so clearly to people – always going back to the word of God. Thank you for your example.


  10. Michelle
    January 21, 2010 | 4:28 pm

    As I have said before, I love this series of posts.

    Biblical discipline is so important to the relationship between child and parent. Biblical discipline is about instructing our children with love on God’s path.

    Coming from a non-Christian environment growing up and being raised in the “self-promoting” culture, I find it so hard to grasp onto God’s way of training our children. I am so afraid of failure and going the wrong way because there are so few examples of godly ran families in our culture. I did a 3 part parenting post a few months ago along the same lines.

    I am so thankful to follow blogs such as yours to remind me I am not alone in this battle.


  11. Alice
    January 21, 2010 | 4:28 pm

    I’m thirsty for posts like this one, but I do just want to heave a big old shaky sigh as I finish reading it. I am really confused about this issue (REALLY confused!) and obviously it’s not that confusing because we (my husband and I) must be doing something wrong, but it seems like I have prayed almost daily for many months, maybe over a year, for widsom and strength in parenting our boys and disciplining them effectively and teaching them well. I clearly fail at the task a LOT, but I do seem to spend so much of each day disciplining children that we barely have time for school (actually we haven’t at ALL since mid-December) and the home is in a terrible state around me, and yet the fruit is still just as bad.

    I know without a doubt that I do not have the heart of any of my children, and that makes me feel sad. They are only 5, 3, 2 and 6 months, but I don’t have the eldest two children’s hearts at all. They test me continually all day long, talk back rudely, run away from me, trash the living room or stairs when I am upstairs putting the baby down for a nap. My 5-year-old screams and shouts at me and calls me names, and even tries to headbutt me as I attempt to discipline him, so angry that I would even do such a thing to him! For a long time I have been spending a long time talking with him when he is disciplined, about our memory verse (Eph. 6:1-3) and why he must learn to obey and honour me, and that I must obey God to discipline him when he disobeys me. I can’t think how long I have been doing this, but so far there is really no change.

    My husband and me regularly talk about “what to do about it”, and I especially feel panicked about the fact that we’re imprisoned in our house to some degree. I am afraid to take all four little ones out by myself because my 3-year-old runs away laughing just to defy me, at the drop of a hat in a busy street or car park, and I can’t chase him down. I’m afraid to leave the two littlest in the tandem pushchair next to the car or on the pavement to run after him, and I’m afraid that he’ll come to harm. Last time I had to take them out for a hospital appt a couple of weeks ago, I put the littlest two in the pushchair, tethered the 3-year-old with some kiddie reins and off we went. I was nervous! And the little three were fine, but unexpectedly my 5-year-old ran off through the busy hospital grounds and would not come when called. I was showing a lady to the hospital entrance as we went along, and he seemed to really enjoy my embarrassment. He then disobeyed and disrespected me in front of the doctor later on and ran away inside the hospital. He doesn’t usually, so I know he just did it because he could see that I had my hands completely full with the other three, and had asked him to be well-behaved. They are the same way with my husband and he is as frustrated and confused as I am.

    I am so deflated! I have the same goals that you describe, for my children. I know exactly where I want to get to, and I see exactly what the problems are now. The problem is that I have no idea, none whatsoever, how to GET to where I want to be with the boys. I do what I think is the right thing, having sought advice at blogs and forums similar to yours, but see no fruit, and I am completely confused about it! Most people in real life tell me to put the boys in public school, or at the very least to stop having kids!! That all these siblings close together make them deprived of enough attention, or needing to escape the family home for a while each day. Which makes me sad to hear, because it’s not supportive of my deep-rooted (and I believe, God-given) convictions about raising them. We allow God to control our family size, but I AM lately afraid that we will be a poor witness for God with regards to our children, and a poor representatives of large families in general. I feel that we are being poor stewards of God’s blessings, and I want SO much to right that, but I don’t know what steps to take, other than what we are already doing.

    Also, I do so want to have their hearts! I want things to go well with them, and for our family to be pleasing to God and point others His way too!

    I’m sorry to leave such a very long-winded comment here, but this has been keeping me up at night praying lately, and is my current Big Issue, so I guess I have a lot to spill on the subject! I will continue to pray about it, and I would so appreciate your prayers! I’m looking forward to more posts on the subject!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Alice our family is praying for yours.

    Keep praying, keep asking, keep searching. “If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God who gives to all men generously without reproaching and He it will be given to him.” James 1:5

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. This is why I write.


  12. Fruitful Harvest
    January 21, 2010 | 4:39 pm

    I forgot to share that we did spank our first son for a few years when he was younger. He is now 15 and I don’t know if I have his heart! We provoked him to anger by spanking him. WE WERE WRONG TO SPANK! Spanking is NOT a part of our Christian,Bible reading,Jesus loving home!
    It pains me to have heard the ladies on the panel say spanking is what GOD wants and what a “good loving” parents should do! Oh but they said you are to pray before and after you “HIT” your child! I don’t know if you can here the sarcasim in my voice?

    God gave use our blessings to love and show them God’s word by example. Not to break their little spirits!


    Missy Reply:

    I think you should watch “The Joy of training,” by Michael Pearl found at


    Brittany Reply:

    I would just encourage you to realize that not all “spanking” is the same. It is a BIG mistake to simply hit and expect them to “learn the lesson”. We don’t leave the bathroom (this is all done in private) without being reconciled to each other, and God. The situation is resolved, all done, no hard feelings. No prolonged embarrassment or “time out” to fester in our wounds. Please just consider that spanking can be done in a loving Godly way. And like everything else, it can be corrupted.
    (Ephesians 6:4 suggests that NOT raising your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord is what provokes them to anger.)


  13. Jenny
    January 21, 2010 | 8:17 pm

    Thank you! I need it badly and I need more! I need a lot of encouragement and how-to’s!

    Alice, you have wrote about me! We are so much alike. I feel so lost on what to do but do have the desire to have their hearts. I just don’t know how! We have 3 kids, 4, 2 and 8 months.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I’m hoping to get to some how-tos after I deal with the second part of this “instruction”.

    If you have specific questions, feel free to ask and I’ll try to get to them.


  14. Tina
    January 21, 2010 | 10:41 pm

    Great post. You are so on the right path. I agree that it is more important than people realize to have our children’s hearts. I have done a lot of reading on the subject because I know that I fail everyday, but God’s grace also teaches me every day. I also agree that discipline is a major part of having our children’s hearts. Children want and need boundaries. It gives them security and stability to have these boundaries set, even when they act like they don’t want them. And it’s not always easy to stick to the boundaries we set, but I realize how important it is. Just today I was out grocery shopping with all seven or my children and received a compliment on how well behaved my children were and how patient and wonderfully brave a mother I was to bring them all out shopping. Wow, what could I say. It is only by the grace of God that I can do what I do and if only she realized how many times a day I apologize to my children for not always having the meek and quiet spirit I long for. I am thankful for my children. I truly am blessed.

    I look forward to reading your future post.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Being honest and confessing our sin to our children is VITAL if we hope to keep their hearts. Good point.


  15. Carole Lynne
    January 21, 2010 | 11:53 pm

    I have some opinions on this and I hope my comments aren’t too long. It is clear that you and your husband are both firm and kind and consistent in your approach. I think that consistency may be one of the most important things about successfully disciplining your children and I think both parents need to share the same vision and application of it to have it work.You do that very successfully in your family and it is obvious the children respond with respect and know what is expected of them even at an early age.My husband and I have not always shared the same goals and ideas about how or when to discipline our children and that in itself has created a lot of strife and rebellion that at times is apparent even now in our teenagers (even though most people in public give us similar positive comments like the ones you receive). I think it is a tell tale sign to me that their hearts are still not won over but I tend to think of it as a work in progress. As much as I would like to be my children’s best friends and really understand their hearts ,in fact, in the end the real goal is to have them give their hearts to God. The free will offering of one’s own willful self is really the only true gift we have to offer to God and the sooner they can grasp the concept and freely embrace it the better off they’ll be. Then God can actually begin to work His mighty change of heart in them and they can be those witnesses for him that we all desire our families and our lives to be.I often find myself having to step back and see if my own heart is “won” over to God like it needs to be. That being said there is also the issue of each child being different and although principles remain the same sometimes the application of those principles is different based on each child’s personality and even the specific inspiration you get when praying specifically about each child.Only God knows what it will take to really “win” the child’s heart and what really stands in the way of their compliance with his will.You described how to do this so well when you talked about praying for and with each child about their daily behavior. On the surface it can appear to be so many different things and since he “looketh on the heart” we can ask Him for a peek into the minds and souls of our children but sometimes we have to prepare ourselves before we enter that sacred ground of knowledge about another person’s soul and their relationship with God. We may have to prepare to act on some surprising information we recieve in the best interests of the child and not our own prideful self serving interest or we may find that we will need to ask the child’s forgiveness because we have misjudged them (not an easy thing to do) or any number of changes may be necessary we may also come away reassured that we must pursue our present course with steadiness and patience because it is right. It is however, very essential that the children learn as early as is possible that there are consequences to their actions and when it is not possible to allow the natural consequences to take place sometimes more immediate ones need to be imposed.Example: A child can not just run out into the street when ever they please and if we wait until the natural consequences occur he will die from that learning experience. With some children saying ‘no” is enough with others you must physically restrain or make them uncomfortable to some degree to impress upon them the seriousness of the consequences of that particular transgression.With still others you must not just temporarily but repeatedly and perhaps constantly restrain them to get the message across. At the point that they can no longer even chose whether to go into the street at all you have completely removed their free agency and they are not “learning a new correct behavior” they are just being prevented from exercising their free will. It will crop up later again as soon as the restraints are removed.So a suitable amount of free agency should be granted when the children have proven they can be trusted to choose wisely with their new freedom. After all we don’t hand sharp knives to infants but at some point they will begin to use a table knife and we decide by close observance of their actions when we can introduce such new freedoms to them and when we need to take a step back and let them know they can no longer be trusted with that responsibility until we again decide to allow them to try again.What each parent chooses to do to take away the free agency temporarily is up to them and hopefully it is a prayerful decision. It may be spanking or some time out it may be emotional shunning it depends on the answer to their prayers and somewhat on how they themselves were raised or on the opinions they get from others around them their support system ect..We have personally tried almost all of those approaches and with varying success with various children but the thing which has worked best is praying and being consistent and starting as young as possible to teach correct principles and then give them as much freedom as they can possibly be expected to handle as soon as we can possibly allow them to have it and applying consequences immediately when they prove they can’t be trusted with that much freedom of choice.It can be such an overwhelming thing to realize that to our children we represent the authority of God and the balance of law and justice and mercy in the universe. But since it is such an overwhelming and important responsibility especially to be the father and head of the home it is no surprise that when we pray for guidance we often receive it and often some great examples are placed in our path as well. It does take some discernment to choose which voices we will listen to and it is sad so many do not respect the laws or the Lawgiver in the way they are raising their children. Kimberly is someone who has consistently demonstrated her ability to both apply the laws and the consequences but still read the heart of her children and nurture with mercy when needed.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you for your kind words.

    Shepherding a Child’s Heart really helped Mark and I understand how we should discipline our children by reaching their hearts. You’re more than welcome to borrow our copy if you’d like to read it.


  16. Fruitful Harvest
    January 22, 2010 | 11:20 am

    Missys link to Greater Joy Ministries and to the book/audio of:

    The Joy of training by Micheal Pearl

    was very helpful in clairifying the issue of spanking.

    He does not avocate “spanking” but gentle taps to “train” our children.
    He says, parents are to have “training sessions” much like one would have with a dog. Training them to respond to a calm gentle voice….this starts at a very early age about 1 or so.
    Training is not to happen in the heat of a misdeed with yelling and spank. But a gentle voice and a light tap.

    I do agree with Micheal Pearls biblical training methods.
    We pray with our children and talk with them. We have rules and our children obey most of the time.

    Many people spank out of frusteration. They are not consitant with what they what from their children and then say the bible says I can rightfully spank or strike at my child.
    These folks are not having training sessions with their children.

    Part of why I wrote in on this is because I don’t think people should pick and choose from the bible either!
    But it does seem confuseing when it says we are not to prevoke our children to anger.
    I also was upset that many of the mom’s went away from the MOPS meeting with wrong idea.

    Georgiann momma of 6 blessings so far!

    PS I’m glad to hear your pregnancy is going well!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:


    While we can learn and benefit from the wisdom of other men, like Micheal Pearl, the only true, infallible wisdom comes from God.

    I suggest that you look first and foremost to the Bible. This is GOD’s instruction to us, not Mr. Pearl’s. (Let me clear, I am not saying that Mr. Pearl’s ideas are wrong, just that to use and agree with his system as the standard is wrong.) In as much and Mr. Pearl’s thoughts and words are in accord with the scripture he is right and helpful. If there is any place that he is inconsistent with scripture, he is wrong. My point is we MUST look to scripture as our standard, not men’s reasoning, thoughts or understanding.

    So I urge you again to look to the Bible as your standard. I only referred to a few passages above, God gives us a lot more instruction on child training and use of the rod. Do a word study on “rod” see what it means, what it was used for. This is THE message of my whole blog – CHRISTIANS MUST STOP TRUSTING IN THEIR OWN “WISDOM” AND BEGIN TO TURN TO GOD’S WORD. THEY MUST BEGIN TO HOLD GOD’S WORD AS THEIR STANDARD AND NOTHING ELSE.


  17. Fruitful Harvest
    January 25, 2010 | 4:24 pm

    I have been really looking for the truth about to spank or not to spank?

    I have found a book that I already owned but I guess never looked at it totally.

    The book is called Parenting with Grace by Gregery and Lisa Popcak.

    In this parenting book based on scripture it says that:

    We must look at the Old Testament through the prism of the New Testament.

    There was a time Peter attempted violence as an act of LOVE on GODs’s behalf (in the garden of Gethsemane)- to “save” Him- Jesus called Peter “Satin”. Christ could not have given a more definitive responce to the use of violence–even when dressed up in the laguage of “Love”.

    Jesus never struck or hit people to train them. When he was angry at the money changers in the temple he upturned tables and whipped the Oxen….NOT HIS PEOPLE! (Jn 2:15)

    The Rod is meant metaphorically as the shepherds staff. A shepherd would never beat his sheep….they are to presious.

    “Thy rod and thy staff shall comfort me” (Ps 23:4) God’s truth do not contradict eath other.
    You can not find comfort in a stick or “ROD” you are being hit with.

    In the story of The Prodical Son, the father did not beat, hit or even yell at his son went he returned home after spending all his money on drink and women.
    The father showed LOVE and open arms as Jesus had showed us.

    There are many facts shown of the ill effect of children that have been spanked.

    I know there are always going to be those that differ. I did not come to this blog with the intent do differ….we were spankers years ago then became a non- spanking household but did not base the choice on the bible.
    The MOPS meeting I had attended stired something in me to find out the truth. I want to do what is right in accordence with the bible.

    I know from past blog experience it is hard to tell the tone of a comment or a message. This comment of my findings comes with LOVE. You said you welcome it. I debated wheather to come back and let you know what I found. I am a quiet and shy person that likes peace.



    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I am glad that you are looking at this issue. Once again I urge you to look to scripture, not to books or other human opinions (not even mine).

    You make a few points here that I think are worth addressing.

    1. You say that, “we must look at the Old Testament through the prism of the New Testament”.

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean by that. Our family certainly believes that both the OT and NT are vital for understanding the whole of God’s will. We believe that Scripture that is clear should always be used to interpret Scripture that is unclear. And we believe that often the New Testament expands our understanding of the Old Testament.

    We certainly do NOT believe that the New Testament does away or abolishes the Old Testament.

    2. You say that because Christ called Peter Satan and Peter attempted violence (in Gethsemane) that this is a clear condemnation of violence even when that violence is dressed up as love.

    Once again, I urge to go to the scriptures themselves and not man’s interpretation. These passages have been taken out of context.

    In Matt. 16:23 and Mark 8:33 (they are parallel passages relating the same event) Christ is revealing to His disciples that He will suffer and die and Peter takes him aside and says,

    Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never be unto thee

    at this point Christ says,

    Get thee behind me Satan

    . Peter is not attempting, nor has he attempted any violence and it is here that Christ calls Peter Satan.

    Christ’s reaction to Peter’s violence in the garden of Gethsemane is quite different. This story is related to us in Matthew 26:51, Mark 14:47 and Luke 22:50. In both Mark and Luke, there is no rebuke to Peter recorded. In Matthew Christ says,

    Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?

    You’ve combined two separate passages of scripture and come to a conclusion that a simple reading of the complete text does not warrant. Christ calling Peter Satan had nothing to do with Peter’s use of violence in the garden.

    3. You point out that, “Jesus never struck or hit people to train them. When he was angry at the money changers in the temple he upturned tables and whipped the Oxen….NOT HIS PEOPLE! (Jn 2:15)”

    I have two responses to this.

    First of all, the specific commands of the use of the rod that I referenced above (Prov. 13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14) all refer directly to children, specifically sons. I do not believe that Biblical discipline involves adults going around and using the rod on other adults. On the contrary, I think that Matthew 18 clearly lays out how we are to handle those who sin against us.

    Secondly, Christ did not do several things that Christians the world over find acceptable. He did not marry nor did he have children. Yet, I do not believe that you would argue that commands to marry and have children (and all the laws pertaining to those things) have now been abolished because Christ did not do them.

    4. You say that, the rod is meant metaphorically as shepherd’s staff and that a shepherd would not beat his sheep.

    I’m not going to claim that I know what a shepherd back in the days before Christ did or did not do with his staff.

    One of the basic, most generally accepted principles of interpreting scripture is to take the most obvious meaning of a passage first. A metaphorical interpretation violates that principle.

    If this is metaphorical, God’s promise to us in Proverbs 23:13 “For if thou beat him with the rod, he will not die” makes no sense.

    5. You say you can not find comfort in a rod that is used to physically discipline you.

    Once again we should interpret unclear passages (Psalm 23 does not say, “do not use the rod for punishment”) to interpret clear. Proverbs 23:13-14 (“Withhold not correction from the child; For if thou beat him with the rod, he will not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, And shalt deliver his soul from Sheol.”) and the others seem pretty clear.

    Hebrews 12:4-13 pulls this together. First of all it is pointed out that we know that we are sons because we are disciplined and that if we are not disciplined that we are not sons. (Discipline encompasses much more than the use of the rod.) It is obviously comforting to know that we are sons and not illegitimate children. The passage goes on to say,

    All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

    Here it is evident that sometimes painful events and circumstances yield comfort and blessing.

    6. You reference the story of the prodigal son.

    First of all, this is an adult child. See my response to #3. Second, simply because God commands the use of the rod does not mean that parents should not show mercy, grace and love to our children. (I believe that all of these things are commanded.) Third, the prodigal son was repentant. He had already turned from his sin and was seeking forgiveness there was no need for discipline, the fruit of discipline was already being exhibited.

    This is also a parable. Even if none of the above were true, it would violate all the priniples of scripture interpretation to use a parable to deny a direct command from God.

    7. You say, “There are many facts shown of the ill effect of children that have been spanked.”

    This is not a Biblical argument.

    Someone used this exact argument on this blog to support abortion because of all of the “ill effects” that would come to a child who had a mother who didn’t want it. They argued that the child would be better off dead.

    When we begin to argue from outside of God’s Word we are in a very dangerous place.

    There are two options, either God requires parents to use Biblical discipline (i.e. the rod) or He forbids it. There is no middle ground. I believe that God has you and me in different places for a reason, but we are not both right.

    I do not need you to agree with me and I don’t expect you to. I simply feel that it is my obligation, as your sister in Christ, to encourage you to study scripture, to look at passages in their proper context (see your #2 argument above), to use scripture to interpret scripture and to not rely on your own understanding (or that of Mr. Pearl’s or the Popcak’s).

    May God bless your home and family.


  18. TulipGirl
    January 26, 2010 | 12:59 am

    I really don’t want to debate at all — I know the mothers discussing here love their children, are actively parenting, and looking to the Lord for wisdom.

    However, I believe it is important to point out that many Christians (both now and through Church history) interpret the passages being discussed as ones instructing parents to carefully discipline and disciple their children. However, these taking-the-Bible-seriously Christians reject that Biblical discipline requires using a hand or implement to spank a child on the bottom/thigh.

    It is commonly accepted within the US Christianity that “rod” is translated into the application of how we spank in our subculture. A more honest exegesis of the rod verses, if I were to summarize, would be that the Bible neither directs nor forbids spanking.

    And, for our family, careful discipline and discipleship which points our children to their need for the Gospel does not include spanking.

    Again, I do not wish to debate or to cause offense to other Christian mothers — just present the idea that perhaps the ideas about Christian spanking are not as Biblical as many of us have assumed.


  19. Laurel
    January 27, 2010 | 3:09 am

    GREAT discussion!

    As the mama of 13 children (ages 8, 8, 9, 11, 13, 13, 16, 19, 21, 21, 23, 24, 25,) I fully agree with Kimberly on this.

    Something that the Lord showed me many years ago was:

    Rules without Relationships equals Rebellion

    That is the key. When there is precious relationship with the child, than a spanking (done without anger) can be used to train the child, without provoking the child to anger.

    Yes … my children were spanked. But … I have their hearts. My goal was not to be the “best friend” of my children, my goal (along with my husband) was to train up our children in the instruction and admonition of the Lord. As this was done, we each developed beautiful friendships. My eldest daughter (24) is my dearest friend; and I am hers. (We live 9 hours apart, but we are meeting 1/2 way this weekend to scrapbook together for 3 days.)

    I have seen MANY families who have the “rules” down pat … but they don’t have the relationships, they haven’t won their children’s hearts. In the later teen years or young adult years, I have seen so many of those children rebel … and families hearts be torn apart.

    If other readers are interested in seeing a family that is similar to Kimberly’s in many ways … but has already walked 6 of our 13 children to adulthood, I hope you’ll check out my blog. While many people questioned our parenting when we had a house full of young ones (we were much more “strict” than others at our church) they now look at us and wonder “How?” We get asked all the time, “How did you raise up so many missionaries?” But … we didn’t set out to raise up missionaries, we set out to raise up children who would love and serve the Lord. In doing that, they have searched God’s will for their lives, and 4 of our 6 young adults have traveled the world in service to Him.

    Keep up the good work, Kimberly!

    mama of 13


  20. Laurel
    January 27, 2010 | 3:49 pm

    I wrote the above comment last night … and today just walked past a book I had recently purchased. I hadn’t yet even opened the book. However, when I randomly opened it to the center of the book, this is what I read, “Developing a Biblically Based Procedure for Spanking”. Wow! I read the whole chapter, and would fully recommend this book: Teach Them Diligently … How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training. by Lou Priolo

    I bought this from Doorposts Publishing, which I highly recommend for a variety of resources in how to teach/train our children using God’s Word.

    mama of 13


    Lorie Reply:

    What is your blog? I’d love to have a look at it. Thanks!


  21. Clare
    May 23, 2010 | 1:15 pm

    I’m coming pretty late to this discussion I know, but I really wanted to comment since this is something I’ve struggled with since becoming a mum (my kids are 4.5, 2 and 7 months). I’ve read Shepherding a Child’s Heart, and others (Don’t Make Me Count to Three, Hints on Child Training etc) and I know lots of amazing Christian families who make use of spanking. I am convicted that it is a fruitful and Biblical discipline.

    However, my issue relates to my temper, my outbursts and lack of self-control. Partly because of the way I was raised (as an adult my dad apologised for his spanking in anger) – I always thought that I was one of those ‘I was spanked and it did me no harm’ kind of people, but now I wonder. I only ever smack my oldest child in anger and frustration – if I am calm I always naturally use a different (hopefully no less effective) form of discipline.

    Because of the verse “In your anger, do not sin”, I have removed smacking from my discipline repetoire (if I tell myself it is not right for me to do it, I am less likely to resort to it while angry – does that make sense?). I guess my question is – do you think this is right? I wonder if I should be praying to ask God to help me use smacking wisely, or if, because of my sinful nature and temper, it is ok to focus on other forms of discipline? I can already see my anger and temper in my son, and it breaks my heart.

    I am getting so much out of your blog, and would love to know what you think. Thank you 🙂


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Clare,

    I’m very hesitant to do anything but point you to Scripture on this issue. I agree that physically punishing your child in anger is sinful and is something to be abhorred and avoided.

    God says,

    He who withholds his rod hates his son,
    But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

    . As a Christian I am not at liberty to encourage you to violate God’s Word.

    As a side note, I do not believe that ‘smacking’ your child is Biblical discipline.

    I pray that God will give you wisdom and strength as you raise your children for His honor and glory.


  22. Clare
    May 25, 2010 | 5:40 pm

    Thanks for your reply and your prayers – always much needed!

    (Also, my post might not have translated well – I think in the UK the terms smack and spank are used pretty interchangeably. I mean a swat on a covered bottom or hand – but often in my case, even if the action is not extreme, the spirit behind it is. Will continue to strive.)


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Sorry Clare about misunderstanding your use of the term ‘smack’. 🙂


  23. Emily
    March 3, 2012 | 12:03 am

    I am so grateful to have stumbled upon your blog! 😀

    I do think it strengthens the relationship. The LORD disciplines those he loves and I rejoice in and cherish that!

    Discipline is a relationship at work. Often times I find that if a child is disobeying it is a reflection of something I am not being faithful in. This doesn’t mean that the disobedience is ignored, on the contrary. However, there are times I find myself apologizing for my behavior as well.
    Every action has a consequence…even for mommies. And I think the heart is won when they see that the rules apply to us as well.
    And no, I am not advocating blurred order here…just humility.


  24. Nicole
    May 1, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    I understand this is an older post..and I also know you are going through a difficult time with your miscarriage. I would like to say I will be praying for you and your family and I am sorry for your loss. My concern is the behavior of my almost four and two year old boys. Particularly my four year old. Lately they have NOT been obeying. At all. It takes forever to get them to pick up the toys. They open the door and run outside when we say no. They don’t come when they are called. They have been screaming at each other and hitting each other and the four year old will just rip toys out of the two year olds hand when he wants it. We do spank them and I am reading them the bible and I try to be calm when I am disciplining etc..I just don’t know what is going wrong! Of course I have been praying about it every day but I am just at my whits end..I do not know what to do. Help!


  25. Rachel
    June 12, 2014 | 1:53 pm

    I don’t disagree with what the Word says about spanking but I will say that we have had to stop spanking (for the most part) because we have realized we are not doing so calmly and out of love but rather in anger and frustration. Though I can’t make a direct Biblical correlation, I do know that we are told “in your anger, do not sin.” I figure spanking in anger is abuse and therefore sin. That would be my only thing to add to your comments 🙂 I have just found your blog and I’m so grateful God led me here!


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