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The Apostle Paul on Parenting

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    Paul on Parenting: Unity in Discipline

    September 22, 2014

    Dr. James Boyd

    A second "jewel" of parenting wisdom occurs in Paul's second letter to the Corinthian church in chapter two, verses six through eight. Paul is giving instructions to the church on how they are to discipline. If both the church and parents are to be instruments of God's discipline, then principles of discipline given to the church are valid also for the home.

    The punishment inflicted by the majority is sufficient for that person. 
    As a result, you should instead forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, this one may be overwhelmed by excessive grief. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 (HCSB)


    In this passage, Paul is likely referring to the man who was having sexual relations with his father's wife (1 Cor. 5:1). Paul told the church to provide correction to the man (1 Cor. 5:5, 11). Having disciplined for the sake of the man's salvation and the holiness of the body, Paul now gives some important follow-up instructions to which we should adhere as parents. Paul says "The punishment by the majority is sufficient for such a person."  This phrase "punishment by the majority" indicates that there should be agreement about the punishment. In a family with two parents, a majority includes both parents. Both parents should agree concerning the type of punishment and both parents should be in unity in enacting it. This means that if mom punishes Junior by grounding him from the phone, dad cannot sneak Junior a phone in order to get in Junior's good graces or be the favorite parent. Neither should mom soften dad’s consequences for Junior when dad is at work.

    The second point of this phrase is that there is a relational dynamic at work here. When there is agreement that a punishment is warranted and that a particular consequence is fair and appropriate, it will be a more effective punishment. If Junior knows that both parents are in total agreement, Junior will be less likely to try to play one parent against the other. Children are quite perceptive. If they sense that mom is less convinced that the punishment is warranted or appropriate, they will go try to get her to change her mind about the prescribed consequence. If there is a difference of opinion about an appropriate consequence, try not to discuss it in front of the child. Take a few minutes to discuss it in private, pray together, and return with a unified plan. If at all possible, allow your children to experience the natural consequences of their actions. If the natural consequences are indirect or delayed, apply a fitting consequence with the goal of fostering holiness and right relating with God and others. Communicate that both parents are in agreement concerning the consequence. If “punishment by the majority” is good enough for God’s family, it is good enough for our families. 

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