What is Love
Experts say that you are not supposed to spank your children with your hand. I have heard that this supposedly causes emotional scars on the child and damages the parent child relationship to the extent that the child may associate their parent’s hand with abuse and grow to mistrust their parents. I don’t know that I can fully agree with this assessment. My dad’s hand swatted my tush more times than I care to remember, and I don’t feel that this affected my trust in him whatsoever. However, watching Steven King’s, The Shining, at age 6, and seeing my brother accidentally hit in the face with a splitting maul may have led to some minor distrust…not to mention, having my dad throw an arrow in front of my nose as I stepped into the garage, (because apparently it was funny) and being deserted with my brother on the side of an isolated country gravel road??, (again…funny). Yeah, that didn’t exactly bolster trust, but the spanking???... no…not so much.
I know that there can be a great deal of opinions tied to spankings, but as a pastor, I have no choice but to adhere to this controversial correctional system. As one who teaches to obey the Word of God, including Proverbs 13:24, “He who spares the rod, hates his son,” I must therefore be willing to initiate the task as necessary…because after all…I love my children more than any father ever has…save God himself.
Despite my personal growth experience as a child, I choose not to use my hand during the disciplinary action. I have heard countless stories of wooden spoons being broken over children’s bottoms…and being an extremely frugal minded father…I really didn’t want to have to continually purchase replacements. The implement of choice in our home was a plastic slotted spoon. It was by nature a cooking utensil first and foremost…I couldn’t justify the purchase of a singular spoon…just for spanking…so the spoon was utilized in the cooking of spaghetti, beans, rice and the ever famous macaroni and cheese. This came in particularly handy…when a spanking was needed during the cooking of the evening meal. There was no need to waste time searching for the instrument of discipline.
Each night we would begin our bedtime routine; jammies, dental hygiene, potty time, drink of water, story, song, tuck in, threaten a spanking, close the door, open the door to see the child out of bed and threaten the spanking again, yell through the closed door...“If you are not in bed when I open this door, I will have to get the spoon!,” open the door just in time to see their little bare feet dash back onto the mattress, walk to the utensil drawer and rattle it…while loudly speaking to your spouse “IF SHE IS OUT OF BED WHEN I GET IN THERE I WILL HAVE TO SPANK HER.”
On one of these adventurous nights…after rattling the drawer…and continuing to see my threats disregarded…I was left with no choice but to take the spoon of doom…and march into my daughter’s bedroom. I held the spoon aloft like a sword at the ready and boldly stated, “DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS FOR????....DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS FOR???...”
At the sight of the spoon…my daughter began to cry.
”No want panking!!! No want panking!!!”
“DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS FOR???”
Sob, sob, sniffle, sniffle…”iiiittts…iiiitts….iiiits…it’s for making ‘roni and cheese…”
How do you spank a child after that?
I took her gently in my arms and placed her face down over my lap…I raised the spoon…laid my other hand gently over her footie jammied bottom…and began to spank the back of my left hand as I sternly remarked…“STAY IN BED.”
She wailed…though the spoon never touched her. I hugged her. She hugged me…I tucked her in and she went to sleep.
I took that one for the team. It was an act of love. To let it go un-corrected…would not have been an act of love. But that day, I took the correction for her. I don’t know that she ever realized what I did that night. But that is just a small taste of the love that God expresses to us in Jesus. The Bible says that God is love…and then he “manifested” (big word for “made known”) his love…in Jesus. When we say “yes” to a relationship with him, we then have that manifested love…living in us by His Spirit…we can then love…like he loves. This manifestation of love first came…at Christmas.
May you come to see that the love spoken of in 1 John 4:7-20 and 1 Cor. 13 is all about God’s manifested love for us.