April 22, 1997
The Ontario deputy coroner says that at least six children were murdered in recent months while under the care of children’s aid agencies. The same source also says there is a higher rate of child homicide for children cared for by these organizations than there is in the general population.
Children’s aid societies are supposed to protect children but this story reveals there is grave danger in some of that “protection,” at least in Ontario. Perhaps more children would survive if more effort went toward teaching parents effective methods for raising their families.
The most effective teaching comes from the parenting lessons offered by our heavenly Father. Up front, He challenges us to raise our children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” In other words, it is His plan that we care for them like He cares for us.
“Nurture” and “admonition” mean that we instruct and discipline our children with the noble goals of improving their character and of helping them become all that God intends for them. In the Bible, nurture and admonition are never negative actions but are described as positive activities and an important responsibility.
God’s nurture of His children includes care for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. He corrects us when we go wrong and instructs us in the right way. He also equips us for each responsibility He gives us.
Human parents must do the same for their children, including correction. However, many people object to Scripture’s mention of “sparing the rod” and if we do, we will “spoil the child.” They wonder how a loving parent could use a rod on a child? It seems contradictory to the nurturing command to be like our divine parent.
Actually, in Bible times a rod was used in several ways. One was to count sheep, another to protect them. In the familiar 23rd Psalm, God is likened to a shepherd. If sheep stray into barren or dangerous places, the shepherd uses his “rod and staff” to guide them home. The shepherd never used his rod with intent to harm the sheep, but rather to protect them. The psalmist even says that God’s rod comforts him.
Taken with other passages, it is fair to conclude God encourages parents to use their authority to guide and direct, not to beat their children. A child without guidance, without respect for authority and without standards by which to measure their life, is indeed a “spoiled” child.
Putting a rod in the hand of an angry parent is not what God has in mind either. No one can use this passage as excuse to harm their children. Instead, parents need to untangle their motives. God corrects for His child’s good, not because the child is annoying Him.
Our Father does not admonish us with the thought that, “I will have my own way,” but rather He wants the very best for us. He knows that His way will bring us the greatest joy and lead us in our way to eternal life with Him. Therefore, His discipline is never selfish.
If more parents had that in mind with their children, children’s aid societies, and the abuses within them, would be obsolete.