Well, Mrs. Nancy Wilson has (inadvertently) joined No Quarter November. You’d think she’d donned her own flame thrower and torched an oversize cut out of the Huggies kid. Although to be completely fair, if she had done it in a burka, with a Palestinian flag wrapped around her shoulders and the Huggies toddler stamped with an Israeli flag on his backside, we’d being hearing cries of how brave and heroic Mrs. Wilson is. Instead, what she did was sit at a table (actually a few years ago now) with her husband and answer questions about parenting and relate a particularly juicy story about a time when her daughter (now a grown, happy wife and mother herself) as a toddler was a bit grumpy and how she corrected her when they got home, including a spank.
The Twitter account I found with the offending clip going viral was at a half a million views when I first saw it and was near 2 million last time I looked, and the comments were hilarious and sad, ranging from “yep. This is child abuse” to “arrest her” to “CPS should’ve received a call.” That last one was from a Twitter handle titled “Pro-Choicetifa.” Apparently, it’s perfectly fine to behead and dismember little babies (before they are born), but if you require them to be cheerful, that should be illegal? And since I’ve shared the clip approvingly, the hordes (of mostly women and beta males) have come out insisting that this is teaching children to lie, teaching children to hit, or simply teaching fear and manipulation, and of course I’m a (insert expletive) supporting every form of abuse known (and unknown) to mankind.
Adding to the excitement surrounding all of this is the about-to-be-released docuseries Future Men, with interviews from Nate Wilson, Doug Wilson, CR Wiley, and yours truly. The good people at Canon Press dropped a trailer which you can watch here as well as a minute or so of me explaining how the Bible teaches that spanking is particularly good for raising boys which you can watch here. The Wilsons also got together yesterday and had a good chat about the whole thing which you can watch here.
But how many of these same people shrieking in my replies wouldn’t bat an eye at hitting their kids (particularly the boys) in the head with the baseball bat of antidepressants to make them be happy and docile? My Christian community advocates quick swats that correct and restore fellowship in less than five minutes, but some of these same people waving Harvard studies at me would support mastectomies for teenage girls and chemical castration for prepubescent boys, scarring them for life. Also, let’s not forget that the same “scientific studies” being heralded about the grey matter in the brains of children have been prophesying environmental apocalypse every three years for the last fifty years, forecasted COVID as the bubonic plague, and have been experimenting on aborted baby parts, so forgive me if I’m not impressed when your high priests mix up another cauldron of herbs and start pontificating about how we train up our children in the Lord. I’ve seen how the heads of toddlers have been rolling down your high place every day for the last 50 years. I don’t take parenting advice from Aztec shamans.
How We Discipline
But for those who honestly want to know how we discipline our children in Moscow, here’s a scattershot which will no doubt miss something. First off, we believe that the duty of discipline resides firmly with the parents to whom God gave the children. Perhaps one of the more astonishing things about the “mostly peaceful protests” that have erupted around Mrs. Wilson’s comments is the fact that apparently many thousands believe they know from the distance of many years, many miles, and having virtually no knowledge of the Wilson home over forty years ago, have proceeded to lecture, mock, and condemn. For all the “judge not” nonsense that usually gets bandied about, I’d say we’ve witnessed a heap of judgment without a Lacroix’s whiff of knowledge.
But our church teaches that God has established the government of the family as responsible for the training up of children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Dt. 6, Eph. 6). And while it may come as some kind of shock, this means that we don’t tell any parents exactly how to handle any particular circumstances that may arise in their home. However, we do happily teach that the rod of correction is one of God’s ordained means of discipline. Where does the Bible teach this? “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Prov. 22:15). “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die” (Prov. 23:13). “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Prov. 29:15). And as noted in this last verse, we also believe in lots of talking with our kids: encouragement, exhortation, teaching, and good stories and jokes. Especially funny jokes.
We also teach that Proverbs is such fantastic wisdom literature we should actually obey it regularly in our homes. The Proverbs also teach that the younger children are the more you can shape them: “Train up a child in the way that they should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). This is why many of our teenagers are sat down by their parents somewhere in the middle of high school and told that they are now free to do whatever they want. And then they carry on like responsible young adults into adulthood. And the reason that isn’t crazy is because we believe that in the first 3 or 4 years, you should run their world like a benevolent totalitarian dictatorship. Go ahead and mock, but tell me how many communities give that kind of freedom and responsibility to their teenagers and the whole thing not go to pot (pun intended).
A really important point to underline is that we teach that the foundation for faithful discipline that is effective is warm fellowship between parents and their children. If your ordinary life together is not sweet and happy, then you will not be communicating love when you spank. Closely related, the Bible teaches that all correction is to be done in meekness, which means filled with the Spirit and all of His fruit, especially self-control (Gal. 6:1). Discipline that is carried out in anger, flying off the handle, violent, etc. is not Christian. Our church teaches against that kind of harshness, and we would hold parents accountable that were known to treat their children that way.
While I do not think the state should be in the foster care business, my wife and I were foster parents for a number of years, and I would generally discourage foster parents from spanking foster kids (it’s against the law anyhow in every state as far as I know). Many of those orphans have been abused and mistreated, and it is very difficult for complete strangers to come into a situation like that and communicate love through corporal punishment. Nevertheless, when I explained to one of our social workers how we disciplined our own children in our home (which is perfectly legal in Idaho), she seemed impressed and said it sounded very “constructive.” And despite all the accusations on the Twitters that I must be lying since no sane social worker would ever say that, much less place foster kids into a home that practiced regular spanking with their own children, all I can say is that it is true and don’t forget this is Idaho where we also let our kids ride around in the back of our pickup trucks (without helmets).
But when there is a warm and joyful atmosphere in a home, and a child is in sin, spanking is one of God’s ordained means of bringing that child back into fellowship. A few swats are a quick, measured bit of pain, aimed at getting a child’s attention in order to call them back from the path they are on that leads to far greater pain. What path is that? Well, uncontrolled emotions, angry outbursts, and complaining spirits are the path to all manner of dysfunction: substance abuse, theft, out of wedlock pregnancies, abortion, rape, murder, prison, death, and Hell. “If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol” (Prov. 23:14).
This is why the Bible clearly teaches that refusal to use corporal discipline is hatred of children: “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Prov. 13:24). While the rod is certainly not the only tool in a wise parent’s toolbox, and we encourage our families to utilize many other tools as well (practicing obedience, positive reinforcement and incentives, and other forms of physical exercise and restitution), the Bible teaches that there are some significant advantages and blessings of wisely employing the rod.
Our community does discipline privately, calmly, explaining the offense, giving the swats, followed by quick comfort and hugs, prayers of confession, assurance of forgiveness, and full reconciliation and restoration of fellowship. And it has been massively constructive indeed.
This means that modern studies and psychotherapies that claim that all spanking is abusive, damaging, and will only be received as threats of violence, etc. – those studies are science the same way Al Gore’s climate alarmism is science.
That Goddess of Empathetic Emotionalism
But perhaps the central eyeball that has been touched in this #spankingate controversy is the idea that a parent can and should shepherd a child’s emotional state. While some would no doubt not mind very, very gentle verbal correction of a child’s bad attitude, many, listening to Mrs. Wilson’s description rushed to spin her daughter’s emotional state in the most innocent, defensible way, while assuming that Mrs. Wilson was in the worst possible way having a bad attitude, embarrassed by the moment, offended, hurt, or even angry. And while that sort of thing has no doubt happened many times in the history of parenting, it wasn’t what Mrs. Wilson was describing because that sort of thing has been roundly condemned pervasively by the Wilsons themselves for many decades. She wouldn’t be telling that story in order to give parents an example of helping a child work through their sinful emotions if she was the one with the sinful emotions.
No, the story was clearly offensive because the child was sinning in her bad attitude seeing her mother and needing to leave her friend’s house. And of course any human with an ounce of empathy can imagine being in the little girl’s shoes. But the question is: what does God require? God requires immediate, cheerful obedience. God requires a joyful, submissive heart. Now, does every single infraction require that exact response? Of course not. Sometimes parents use verbal encouragement. Sometimes parents redirect. Sometimes parents might just have their kids do it over again the right way. But parents are God’s assigned deputies, and sometimes it is actually more kind to nip that kind of sin in the bud. Many parents in the name of being “gentle” will do anything except spank trying to deal with a bad attitude, and the bad attitude just keeps rotting in the back of the family cupboard: “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Prov. 12:10). But faith sometimes sees an opportunity to bring a far more gracious resolution to a situation. God says that physical, corporal discipline is sometimes the more gracious means of correction and resolution. And this really is loving your neighbor as yourself. Haven’t you ever been in an emotional funk and wished you could just snap out of it? It’s a great gift to young children when parents help them do it by God’s ordained means.
But I think the real nub of the issue is that for many Christians who objected to this story is that while they confess Christ as Lord with their lips, their feelings, their emotions, and their own heart are really what is most sacred to them. When it comes down to it, if God’s Word seems to be saying something that would hurt them, something that might be very hard or painful, especially making them or those they care about hurt in any way, they do creative exegesis in order to justify their disobedience. It has been particularly remarkable to see the number of “prochoice Christians” emerge from the woodwork, who, when called on it, explained that abortion was such a difficult issue which requires a lot of nuance, but if you ever give a child a swat, especially for not greeting their mother cheerfully, you’re a demon monster. I honestly wonder how much of this vitriol over spanking is actually the pent up guilt of abortion in our land. Having murdered their own children, it would make sense for many to have an insanely warped sensitivity to the treatment of children.
Regardless of the particulars, it’s simply true that our land is cursed. A land that kills their own children and not only does so, but enshrines the right to do so in their official documents, that land is cursed. That land is utterly, drooling mad. Many have tried to caricature our calm, biblical approach to corporal punishment as some kind of mechanical, clinical bludgeoning – “the more calm an abuser is, the worse it is!” But that is exactly what the Planned Parenthood ghouls and the whole medical establishment that carries out these murders is.
Many Christians have been tempted to try to salvage “family values” from the dumpster of modern values, trying to argue for life and marriage and freedom from feminism and egalitarianism and secular humanism. But you can’t get the fruit of life and happy homes and political liberty from the bramble bush of resentment, envy, or idolatry. Other Christians have tried to build their house on the sand of the innocence and sanctity of life, especially the lives of little babies. Of course babies are judicially innocent (and therefore should not be criminal executed, even for the crimes of their parents) and their lives are sacred in a sense, but they are not intrinsically sacred and they are not morally innocent. The Bible teaches that when Adam sinned, his sin was imputed to all of his posterity, and therefore all children are conceived with sin covenantally reckoned to them. Even the smallest zygote must have his original sin forgiven. This doctrine is incredibly offensive to the sentimentalists and humanists. But the center of the offense is actually the fact that our highest standard is not your feelings, the feelings of the child, or any kind of intrinsic sanctity in helpless babies. No, the highest standard is the holiness of God, the sanctity of God and the sanctity and authority of His holy Word.
I can’t count how many times people in my replies over the last few days excoriated me and the Wilsons, often including some variation on: God would never do that. I’m sorry, but that God, the God who would never inflict any harm on any child, is not the God of the Bible. And I know there are a bunch of Christians who are embarrassed and ashamed of this, but we cannot win this great war with sentimental platitudes. The God of the Bible ordered the genocide of cities in Canaan. The God of the Bible, the Lord and Giver of Life, is also the same God that takes human life whenever and however He pleases, using cancer, using crimes, etc. He is the Lord. All authority and power belongs to Jesus. Human authorities may only use the authority that He gives in the limited ways that He gives it. This is why totalitarian statism is blasphemy. This is why violent, angry homes are blasphemy. But this is also way sentimentalist empathy is also blasphemy. It is arrogance to disobey the King.
So this is the central crux of the issue, the central cross: the holiness of God and the humility of men. Jesus says that the only way to follow Him is by taking up a cross, by taking up an instrument of torture on your back. But if you take it up in faith, it is actually the lightest burden in the world and it is full of comfort and rest because Jesus has already taken it up. He was crushed and scourged for our sins, and by His stripes we are healed. If you look to the Cross, you can see your anger, your envy, your abortion, your harsh words, your evil thoughts, your apathy and despair, your sentimental empathy nailed there and there’s a blood-red stamp next to every single charge. And it reads: paid in full.
But if you struggle and resist and defy the Lord, you will end up with the heaviest burden and all kinds of cruelty crushing you and the ones you love. The pride and hubris of thousands mocking God’s Word, mocking Christian parents who submit to God’s Word is astounding, but not really shocking. We are a cursed land. We defy the living God routinely, openly, belligerently. But how’s that really working out? Drag Queen pedophiles in our classrooms and libraries? Mass incarceration of the fatherless? Skyrocketing levels of substance abuse and suicide? We are scraping the bottom of the outhouse behind the brothel and many Christians with last night’s bowel movements all over their faces and in their teeth have the audacity to scream at us, for loving our children so well. Heh. Sorry if we are not exactly impressed. The aroma of your “kindness” isn’t very persuasive.