Friday, June 24, 2011

On Righteous Anger

I've been reading another good book, called, "Shepherding A Child's Heart," by Ted Tripp. It's all about bringing up children to a knowledge of Christ, being examples to them, and how to discipline based on Proverbs. It's very biblically-based, and feels like a "safe" read, because there are few opinions offered that are not backed up with Scripture. I like those kinds of books...

There was one chapter on "do's and don'ts" of using the rod to discipline. I especially identified with his section about so-called "Righteous Anger."Sometimes parents feel they are "righteously angry" with their children, who may have acted in foolishness, and caused harm to person or property. Here's what he says about that.

"I know that there is such a thing as righteous indignation, although I think it is not well understood. People tend to think, 'I am right and I am indignant, therefore this is righteous indignation.' The difference between righteous and unrighteous indignation is illustrated by asking, 'Whose honor is being preserved?' If I am angry because God has been dishonored and that vexes me, I am probably experiencing righteous anger. If my anger is the garden variety, 'I cant believe you're doing this to me, who do you think you are, you little brat,' it is probably unrighteous anger. That kind of anger will muddy the waters of discipline."

Now, while I don't regularly use the words in the illustration, I do find myself indignant at being disrespected so frequently, and put in embarrassing positions by my children, and pushed to the point, if you will, of being "fed up" with certain behaviors they exhibit. I could see, from that illustration, how I was more inclined to experience unrighteous anger with my daughter than true righteous anger. Very rarely, I must confess, can I identify my feelings of anger at disobedience as being offended at dishonor to God. Far more often,  it is a self-centered anger. MY rules crossed, MY plans disrupted, MY things messed up, MY "image" embarrassed.

While this is convicting, and causes me to want to put away the wooden spoon in remorse, I can't just *NOT* spank because I am angry. God gave me a child, and He clearly directs me to discipline: "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." (Proverbs 13:24) and " Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death." (Proverbs 23:13-14) Instead, it drives me to repent....more frequently than I ever have before in my life.  As a parent, I have been forced into repentance more often than ever before in my life.

Funny how you think of adulthood as "I've arrived." when actually, it's just a subtle cloak for what is really an incredibly difficult version of all the lessons you thought you learned in childhood. Here I am, age 30, still learning to repent from anger. Only not over my parent's knee anymore.....rather, on my own knees before I go in to lay my daughter over them and help her to repent.


  1. Awhile back, the scripture which says, " our parents disciplined us for awhile as seemed good to them, but He for our profit that we might be partakers of His holiness" (several different translations there, but the idea with "as seemed good to them" is also translated "according to their pleasure") took on a special meaning to me. We tried SO HARD to be good parents, but failed in so many ways. The scripture seems to be saying to me now, "Relax, enjoy it, be the authority, but know you are not God, you will not do it perfectly, only He can perfect them in holiness, for their eternal good." It's going to be a patchwork job, though you try with all your might to be consistent and as orderly as a first-rate Suzuki teacher like yourself can be. As that book you are reading teaches, sending them to the Shepherd who will guide them all their lives long is the greatest goal you can have. Takes the heat off you, too, as it is easier to end up a repentant sister to your daughters than a fallen dictator!

  2. I would like to just offer the suggestion that, actually, YES, if you are angry, you should not discipline. Until your anger is removed from the situation, I think it's better to just forego the discipline. I would offer that it is worse to over-discipline than to under-discipline. I would encourage you to re-look at how you're thinking of discipline perhaps. It sounds like you may be afraid that if you don't discipline for Every Single Offense, you'll "mess up."

    I would offer that perhaps while you're getting your frustration or anger under the Holy Spirit's control, you send Violet somewhere alone, quiet, away. Or turn away from her while you offer up a prayer and take a few moments. I don't personally know what you would need, but just by way of ideas.

    Also, I would use the Scripture you quoted in Proverbs 23:13-14 to argue that it is NOT talking about the Rod as a true spanking device, since we all know a child CAN die from that. I would offer that the Scripture quoted means the "rod" there is something else.

    Just some thoughts.

  3. I definitely did mean to say that I am *forced* to repent....give up, relinquish, turn away from my anger before I attempt to offer discipline to my daughter. There's a definite time line there.....repent, *then* discipline. Violet will wait in solitude for me if I need time to talk to the Lord. I didn't in any way mean that I have a lack of control, by the way, when spanking her. Rather, even a heart that is successfully holding annoyance in check during a spanking is not one that is necessarily succeeding in being a Christ-figure to her. Though the spanking may be doled out passionlessly, it still may bear no fruit in her. There must not only be a lack of anger, but a presence of obedience in myself to Christ. Even when I am keeping anger/annoyance in check, I am still *keeping* it. I must be filled with the Spirit when disciplining, or else I am a "clanging gong," if you will.

    It is my opinion, (after only a brief glance into the Hebrew) that the use of the word "rod" in Proverbs is a reference to a physical discipline with an implement. If you google it, you will definitely find a lot of opinions about Proverbs' corporal punishment and varied interpretations of what that is, but throughout history, a rod-type implement has been used to dole out correction in the form of purposeful striking to cause temporary pain in a person who has acted in a rebellious/foolish manner.

    There are other words used in Proverbs to refer to verbal reproof and correction. I can see no reason the word "Rod" would be used to mean anything other than an implement for the purpose of physical correction. The famous Psalm 23 refers to a "rod and staff".......each having its own use. Rod for "spanking", staff for "reining in" or recovering or guiding "sheep."

    That's my 20 minute take on it.

  4. Got it. I understand now what you were saying. It wasn't clear to me whether or not you were saying you had to punish whether you were angry or not. Definitely agree that any heart issues on the parents' part should be settled and grounded in a Christ-like manner first, so we can be tools of use FOR Him, rather than something He will have to use in spite of ourselves.

    The Proverbs Scripture can of course be taken differently. I just personally can't see the black and white of it to make sense when taken literally. I'm not saying there are not other clear references to a "rod", as I believe there are. That one just would never be one I'd see as a real "rod." I have not looked into the Hebrew/Aramaic. My personal opinion is that spankings are over-taught as necessary by many Christians, should be one of the latter things a parent needs to apply to instruct and guide their children. Each child will be different, and each parent's relationship with that child.

    Again, just an opinion.

  5. So, Denise, what do you think is the "black and white" of the Proverbs Rod? One thing that this author makes pretty clear is that Proverbs is telling us to entreat, reprove, discipline, and even be careful of what company we keep, as well as employ the rod. I don't think that a spanking is the only, wordless method parents should use when bringing up their children. That doesn't seem to be what the bible is saying.

  6. Just an encouragement... I am really enjoying this conversation. Three has been a tough age for Joey and I, and Joey and Matt. One and Two seemed very easy in comparison (and I am told, often, how easy and compliant my boys are). I am learning more and more how sinful and flawed I am, and embarrassingly, that I have a temper and am not the calm, collected, patient mother I thought I would be.

    I'm glad to read comments and conversation, (regardless of how closely I align with each particular opinion) that encourage me to be thoughtful, prayerful, and above all, nurture my growth and relationship with the Lord. There is clearly nothing else that will more greatly improve my parenting and prepare the kids (and myself) to be a good and faithful servant and witness to others.

    thanks ladies.

  7. I totally agree with Laurie's words, and echo them in my life: " that I have a temper and am not the calm, collected, patient mother I thought I would be." Oh how much parenting has shown the weeds of sinfulness I have allowed into my life, that otherwise were hidden in darkness. I hear tones of voice I would have sworn didn't exist toward my Beloved, Longed-for, Prayed-For, Precious Child (and husband, but that's a separate post).

    I was humbled and encouraged all at once this morning singing these words (after a challenging morning with Elyana's temper/contentment/whining).

    "You broke my shame and sinfulness
    You rose again victorious...
    You are stronger, You are stronger
    Sin is broken, You have saved me"

    Literally, my joy could return while singing because I realized MY OWN sin (and shame) have been BROKEN because I'm His child... I am not a slave to continue to fail in motherhood... And neither will Elyana be a slave to her own sinfulness either, by God's grace when she received Christ in her. That, the very heart of my parenting: I do not "make" her do right, and nor do I "make" myself be right. What an encouragement it was.

    So.... on to your question. :)

    I truly do not have a "black and white" I am trying to profess here. I mean, I think Proverbs IS teaching to use a Rod, literally, although I lean more heavily on the New Testament and Christ relating to us to try to influence my parenting. Relationships, trust, mercy - working in my daughter toward a desire to not disappoint me instead of a fear of punishment.

    As one example, when she's trespassed, we like to walk through what she did, what she deserves, and tell her we are going to give her Mercy instead. I want her to see that in us, as God gives it.

    I would agree with what you said - that "Proverbs tells us to entreat, reprove, discipline, and even be careful of what company we keep, as well as employ the rod."

    My personal conviction is that it is used too often, and without a lot of teaching to "watch the fruit" in your child... Even up to their facial expressions and attitudes afterward. Some children will be more hardened or hurt by the rod than they will another method. Specifically as the child grows older, I think the need for the rod is less.

    I am by NO means trying to say at all these are anything I've thought about your parenting, and I'm not trying to criticize. I jumped in because this isn't often talked about among my friends, and yet I want to glean from their experiences and Biblical thoughts. Hence, the discussion. I appreciate your kind replies.