Several recent news items have brought attention to how fragile many in our society are today. There have been several high profile protests on college campuses where students demanded so called “safe zones”; places where people were not allowed to say anything that might offend someone. Apparently, there are people in our culture today who literally cannot deal with any opinion that differs than their own so they seek places where no one can speak or even think something offensive. Additionally there was a news story about a young man who literally got physically sick because he saw a campaign poster of a candidate he didn’t like and another story of a woman who had to be taken by ambulance to a hospital because she saw a flag that offended her.
One theory that has been offered for how so many people can be this fragile is that they have been raised to never have any conflict in their lives. They have never been told “no” and they had come to believe that the world literally revolves around them. This shouldn’t be a surprise to those who have watched the progression in our society that began when Benjamin Spock published his famous best seller “Baby and Child Care” in 1946. Spock’s started the snowball down the hill that changed the way entire generations have viewed parenting. Spock taught that disciplining children damaged their egos, and our education system, counselors and the media completely embraced his theory. Of course, the results of this thinking are easily seen in our culture today. Even Spock himself finally figured it out. He was quoted in 1974 as saying, “We have reared a generation of brats. Parents aren’t firm enough with their children for fear of losing their love or incurring their resentment. This is a cruel deprivation that we professionals have imposed on mothers and fathers. Of course, we did it with the best of intentions. We didn’t realize until it was too late how our know-it-all attitude was undermining the self-assurance of parents.”
Generations of parents have been influenced by Spock and others who have advocating letting kids pretty much do what they want. It is a shame that these didn’t read another parenting book that has proven over and over again to provide sound, even perfect, advice on how to raise children. In fact, this book was written by the greatest Father in all history – our heavenly Father. By inspiration, God directed the wise man Solomon to provide guidance for parents in Proverbs 1. In verses 8 and 9 he wrote, “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck“ (NKJV). The Hebrew word translated “instruction” can mean ‘teaching’, but the primary use of the word is ‘discipline’. What Solomon was saying was that while parents must teach their children God’s ways (“fear God” in verse 7 and “avoid sinners” in verse 10), their primary job is to discipline their children. Take that Dr. Spock!
The Bible makes it clear that discipline is not a bad thing! Hebrews 12:6 says that God disciplines those He loves. If God loves us enough to discipline us, then obviously parents should love their children enough to discipline them as well. Sometimes loving discipline involves the rod of correction: He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly (Proverbs 13:24).However, Solomon’s focus in Proverbs 1 was more on disciplining by teaching or training; literally, talking the talk and walking the walk. Such discipline requires an investment on the part of parents; an investment of time, energy and even money. In fact, there is no greater investment a Christian parent will ever make than in instructing their child about God and His Word.
Of course, many today refuse to read God’s Word or obey it and many of those still hold to the idea that disciplining a child is not a loving thing to do. God says differently! Proverbs 19:18 puts it this way, “Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death” (NIV84). When Christian parents don’t discipline their children and teach them God’s ways, they are leaving their children exposed and unprotected and trust me, no worldly “safe zone” will keep the devil away from them.