Over in Sanityville, there’s been a small discussion of spanking after our Out of Our Minds podcast on that subject. One question was when to stop spanking? At what age? Here’s a good story.
Years ago, a father came alive in the faith, and was soon ordained an elder of the church. His wife had been an elder in prior years, but reading Scripture, he thought she shouldn’t be and she stepped down. It was only then that he agreed to serve, for the first time in his life. It was too bad his pastor hadn’t explained to him and his wife that it was wrong for her to be an elder. Instead, he explained it to his pastor. And by the way, I know his pastor well. Too well.
Anyhow, the change in his life was obvious to all, including being in church every Sunday, now. But his middle son was not a happy traveler and continued to live his teenage wasteland as he had before. Rambo was the thing back then and this son would show up every Sunday morning for worship with a scowl on his face and a red bandana around his forehead. He was a punk.
This had been a constant state of affairs for some time, but no big deal in the congregation since all of us have our months and years of teenage funk. Older people know this too shall pass, but not when or how. Lots of times it’s simply marriage.
The elder was respected in the community, but quite shy and reserved—almost to the point of being taciturn. When he spoke, you had to give it your attention to notice and hear.
One Sunday, his pastor was walking up the center aisle following the service and the elder sidled up and cleared his throat before saying, “Pastor, I was wondering how old you thought was too old to spank a child?”
Obviously, it was a hypothetical, so the pastor thought about it a second, then responded, “I don’t know. We haven’t spanked our (oldest) for a while now, and she’s eight or nine. But I’m not sure it’s because she’s too old to spank.”
He responded, “What would you think about sixteen?”
No smile. Just question asked quietly and matter-of-factly.
His pastor was silent for a few seconds as red pulsed through his body and up to his face, when he let out an exclamation, “No! You didn’t!”
Again, softly and matter-of-factly, “I did.”
“No, you didn’t! Tell me you didn’t, Don!”
“What happened,” his pastor blurted out, filled with embarrassment at the thought of Rambo getting spanked.
He responded, “He was being disrespectful to his mother during chores. We were out in the milk parlor and I told him, ‘Danny, you come over here and bend over.'”
“Aaargh! He’s bigger than you! Weren’t you afraid he wouldn’t come?”
“Yes, so I was praying.”
“Then what?” I gasped (or strangulated), still finding the whole thing incomprehensible.
“He came over and leaned over and I gave him the belt,” he said, “telling him he was not to speak to his mother that way.”
End of spanking, but not end of story.
From that point on, teenage wasteland was gone. Instantaneously. Because of the spanking. The pastor has always said so, but years later he went to the couple’s fiftieth wedding anniversay celebration and heard Danny get up and tell the story himself, as a tribute to his godly father.
Danny became a man who feared God, like his Dad. And I tell you, a middle-aged husband, father, and church member who repents and comes to faith is a powerful instrument in the hand of God for the good of his wife, his children, his church, and his community.
In this particular case, this man and his wife recently visited their former pastor, and what joy they had together!
Still today, all three of his sons are godly.
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For more on the discipline of children and fatherhood, pick up a copy of our book, Daddy Tried, available on Amazon.