Question:

I am a Swedish man living in Denmark, not a Christian or religious at all, but I am brought up in a tradition where spanking and what my father called "male virtues" was normal. This was in the 60´s and beginning of the 70´s.

I do agree that for boys it is a necessary act of love and discipline from the father to use corporal punishment, and that should only be given on the bare buttocks. I do not believe in mothers spanking either boys or girls and I certainly do not believe in girls being spanked. I tell you I had never heard before I was adult that a girl could be spanked. I had to take my sisters' punishment if it was any serious thing, but it was seldom. I made my own boyish mistakes and learned from my punishments.

I was raised with my parents love and with corporal punishments always given directly and on bare buttocks by my father. My father never screamed at me, but his authority I never doubted and neither his love for me. When it was needed he used his palm, the birch, the belt, a rod or a rattan cane, it depended of the age and the severity of my wrong doing. I had my punishments until I was 17 and then moved from home and started to work and earn my living. My late father and I become the best mates. We didn´t meet that often because of geographical distances, but we talked a lot on the phone and I always trusted his advice. I just wanted to say this in a world where boys are made into thugs or sissies: Let us change it. I never will become religious, but here we have a common interest, seeing young men becoming mature men!

Nowadays in most European countries it is forbidden to raise boys properly, with well known results; thugs and sissies making problems at streets, committing crimes, rapes and violent acts. Thugs and sissies are, as my father once said, two sides of the same coin. What I mean by that is that boys are not raised into balanced manhood any longer, but they are still often acting like big brats, continue to be so in their 30´s and beyond. It is a pity.

I believe fathers must get their authority back and the natural method of raising their sons into balanced manhood, not "macho" behavior or trying to get away from a man's responsibility like many men do today under the rule of female values. My father talked about male virtues and acted out of these ideals. I am grateful for that and deeply concerned about what will become of our fellow young men today?


Answer:

I am sorry to hear that you feel no religious leanings in your life. In some ways, I find your honesty in this regards refreshing. I hear from too many people who claim Christianity but do not live it. It is novel to find someone who does not claim Christ, but supports some of the teachings of Christ. I hope you will write back and discuss why religion doesn't interest you. You notice that the lack of discipline in the raising of children is having a major impact in European society. I submit for your consideration that the same forces behind this also drove humanistic values into your culture with the natural result that people have difficulty in believing in God.

Your father managed to pass on to you a set of values which you called "male virtues." I like the term, but think for a moment ... where did these virtues come from? The characteristics that you value in your fellow men: who decides what is right or wrong? What standard is to be applied?

If you answer society decides, then we have a problem. You already noted that your society is changing, and by your own standards it is not changing for the better. I can say the same is true in my own country though we are behind the Europeans in this regard. Standards based on the changing whims of fashionable people is not much of a standard. As we noted, we as people tend toward the worse and not the better. The Bible notes this as well, "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). This observation is perfectly sensible. If I decide to learn say, Tae Kwon Do, I would not go to a novice in the sport. Neither of us would make much progress, in fact, we would likely become very poor at the sport. Instead, I would search out someone who was very good at it. His instructions would lead me to improve and become more like his own. The thing is, this same reason applies to moral decision making. We know men have a tendency to be corrupt. If we turn to our fellow men for moral guidance we will all end up in a bad state. "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch" (Matthew 9:27). To improve, we must seek a standard that comes from a source greater than mankind. The Bible has been proven to be just such a standard. Men have always become better beings when its principles have been applied to their lives. The guidance found in the Scriptures has always been solid, consistent and uplifting. God said, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).

Even though recent studies have upheld the need for corporal punishment in the lives of children, it is not the studies which drive my advice. Studies can be flawed both in their measurements and in their conclusions. I advise spanking when necessary because God said this will produce better results.

"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15).

"The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother" (Proverbs 29:15).

For those who cannot simply accept God's word on the matter, I found a fascinating study by Larzelere, Schneider, Larson and Pike, 1996, that concluded that while "reasoning" with a child ("rebuking" would be a better word) produced a reduction in bad behavior, it didn't work quite as well as physical punishment, but when the two are combined, the result is far superior.

Mean Delay Until Next Fight

Mean delay until next fight

Mean Delay Until Next Disobedience

Mean delay until next disobedience

What has consistently shown to fail is permissive parenting ("a child left to himself"). Again, if studies are attractive to you, see "Is Juvenile Delinquency and Aggression Produced by Permissive or Punitive Parenting: Re-evaluating 50 Years of Research." Isn't it interesting that I was able to use one verse to make the same point as these two massive research papers? I don't think it was by happen chance.

Because of my appeal to a higher standard than my own personal feelings (or any one else), I must disagree that corporal punishment should be only reserved for men. The Bible teaches that it is needed for children (male and female) to develop their character properly. Nor do I find the Bible limiting the administration of punishment to men alone. I suspect you came to that conclusion searching for a compromise between what you instinctively know is right and what your society wants to redefine right to be. Especially during the younger years, punishment must be delivered close to the time of the infraction; otherwise, children will not connect the punishment to crime. The memories in small children don't function that well. "Just wait until your Dad gets home," just develops a dread of seeing Dad. "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11). In older children, such as teenagers, I do believe that corporal punishment is best administered when needed by the parent of the same sex. But in this later case, this is my own personal opinion. A short delay is not harmful as their memories are better developed.

In answer to your final question, the Bible does tell us what happens to a society that rejects God. "Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, ... And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful" (Romans 1:21-22, 28-31). This, Paul said, was what happened to the Greek and Roman societies and it is what is happening to our own for the very same reason. Without restraint, the moral fiber of society decays. This is the reason you and I need religion in our lives.

June 12, 2012