Question:

I read your site with interest and as a Christian I go to if often for advice. I wonder if you might be able to help me.

I am 30 years old and have recently got into trouble at work and I seem to be having real discipline problems, as though I'm a rebellious teenager again. I know this has to stop, but I just can't help myself. When I was in trouble as a teenager I know I benefited from the odd spanking. My question is am I too old to receive one now as I think it might shock me into learning some self control? I know it would be really humiliating but I think if I could confess my sins and be punished for them it may help. Should I talk to my pastor about it, do you think he may consider spanking me or, even though I will find it harder, should I confess to the people I have let down and ask them to discipline me? I look forward to hearing from you


Answer:

I find it disturbing that there are people who get thrills out of the thought of either physically punishing others or being punished. The technical term for it is "sadomasochism." A sadist enjoys inflicting pain on another person and a masochist enjoys receiving pain.

It ought to be clear that sadomasochism is contrary to Christianity. Discipline is needed, but it is viewed as a necessity and not an enjoyment. "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11). When a person asks for punishment, it is an indication of a problem because punishment works as a disincentive. It is because a person wishes to avoid punishment that he makes changes in his life. When a person desires punishment, he won't make changes.

All the way through the Bible you will see that chastisement is used as a wake-up call that change is necessary. The person needing the change doesn't agree. He is content to continue as he is. It is the person with authority, such as God with us, or a parent with a child, or a government with a criminal, who decides if and when some sort of punishment should be inflicted in order to bring about a change in a person.

The masochist turns this around. The one being punished decides he should be punished and seeks it out. But if a person truly realizes he is the wrong, then the proper response is to change one's behavior to no longer be wrong.

Let's suppose your claim was actually true, that you were acting like a rebellious teenager in the office. That behavior will bring about punishment by the boss who is in authority. He will put you on notice and if the behavior isn't changed, he will fire you. That is the chastisement you, as an adult, receives for your wrongful behavior. If you learn the lesson, you will change your behavior in order to retain employment. Nothing else is needed or as effective because the punishment is out of your hands. You can't call for what you will accept or when you will receive it.

You should speak to your minister because he needs to help you learn that what you are seeking is not proper. You need help, but not in the form of a physical punishment.