Thursday, June 20, 2013

Further Study on Discipline in Early America

Here's an excerpt from Edmund Morgan’s The Puritan Family, ch. 4 “The Education of a Saint.”

“Every parent had to decide for himself the proper method of disciplining his children. It has sometimes been assumed that the birch rod constituted the Puritans’ only method of correction. It can hardly be doubted that many resorted to it, and it is safe to assume that some parents were excessively severe. Cotton Mather’s epigram, ‘Better whipt, than Damn’d,’ expressed a large part of Puritan educational philosophy; and John Eliot’s praise of chastisement even approached eloquence: ‘The gentle rod of the mother, is a very gentle thing, it will break neither bone nor skin: yet by the blessing of God with it, and upon the wise application of it: it would break the bond that bindeth up corruption in the heart.’ Nevertheless, there is no proof that seventeenth-century parents employed the rod more freely than twentieth-century parents. When Sewall recorded the occasions of punishing his children, the offenses were much the same as those which still overtax parental patience. On Sept. 15, 1688, he ‘corrected’ his son Sam for playing hookey and lying about it, ‘saying he had been at the Writing School, when he had not.’ On Nov. 6, 1692, he corrected Joseph, the future minister of the Old South Church, for equally grave misbehavior. Joseph had thrown ‘a knop of Brass and hit his Sister Betty on the forhead so as to make it bleed and swell; upon which, and for his playing at Prayer-time, and eating when Return Thanks, I whipd him pretty smartly.’ A modern parent would probably not be considered unduly severe for correcting his child ‘pretty smartly’ under the same circumstances. A modern parent, however, would not be likely to make the reflection that Sewall made upon this occasion: ‘When I first went in (call’d by his Grandmother) he sought to shadow and hide himself from me, behind the head of the Cradle: which gave me the sorrowful remembrance of Adam’s carriage.’

Sewall, like other Puritans, saw all children as creatures of sin, but he did not therefore conclude that a free application of the rod was the way to bring them to righteousness. In fact, if he listened to his religious adivsers, he employed bodily punishment only as a last resort; for the ministers who wrote and spoke on the subject almost always counseled their readers and listeners to win children to holiness by kindness rather than try to force them to it by severity. The aim of Puritan education was vastly different from that of modern ‘progressive’ education, but granted the difference in end, the Puritan methods of discipline, as expounded by the ministers, sound strikingly modern. The Reverend Richard Mather, who had been subjected to a particularly harsh teacher during his boyhood in England, is said to have exclaimed: ‘O that all school-masters would learn wisdom, moderation, and equity towards their scholars! and seek rather to win the hearts of children by righteous loving and courteous usage, than to alienate their minds by partiality and undue severity.’ According to his grandson, Cotton Mather, Richard put his own educational principles into practice. Becoming a schoolmaster himself at the age of fifteen, he ‘carried it with such wisdom, kindness, and grave reservation, as to be loved and feared by his young folks, much above the most that ever used the ferula.’ If Cotton Mather is to be trusted, Grandfather Richard was no exception among Puritan schoolmasters. In a funeral service for Ezekiel Cheever, who kept the Boston grammar school for seventy years, Cotton expressed his assurance that the schoolmasters of New England ‘do watch against the Anger which is fierce, and the Wrath which is cruel; and that they use not Instruments of Cruelty in their Habitations.’ As a reminder of their duty, he pictured Cheever as speaking to them from on high:

‘Tutors, Be strict; But yet be Gentle too:
Don’t by fierce Cruelties fair Hopes undo.
Dream not, that they who are to Learning slow,
Will mend by Arguments in Ferio.
Who keeps the Golden Fleece, Oh, let him not
A Dragon be, tho’ he Three Tongues have got.
Why can you not to Learning find the way,
But thro’ the Province of Severia?
Twas Moderatus, who taught Origen;
A Youth which prov’d one of the Best of men.
The Lads with Honour first, and Reason Rule;
Blowes are but for the Refractory Fool.’

In his own family Cotton Mather endeavored to follow the principles which he so evidently approved. Concerning his disciplinary methods he wrote in his diary:
‘The first Chastisement, which I inflict for an ordinary Fault, is, to lett the Child see and hear in me an Astonishment, and hardly able to beleeve that the Child could do so base a Thing, but beleeving that they will never do it again. I would never come, to give a child a Blow; except in Case of Obstinacy: or some gross Enormity. To be chased for a while out of my Presence, I would make to be look’d upon, as the sorest Punishment in the Family. … The slavish way of Education, carried on with raving and kicking and scourging (in Schools as well as Families,) tis abominable; and a dreadful judgment of God upon the World.’

Thomas Cobbett had the same opinion of the ‘slavish way of education.’ He advised parents to make commands to their children in ‘pathetical’ terms, ‘namely as in the most moving expressions, which may help on affectionate attendance and observance thereof.’ These statements provide the gloss for Mather’s epigram on the value of whipping. Though it was better to be whipped than damned, it was still better to be persuaded than whipped. In reading the Puritan praises of the rod, it is necessary to remember that they regarded it as a last resort. They saved their highest approval for a much more intelligent method of discipline, a method which depended for its efficacy upon the development of a special attitude in the child and upon a thorough understanding by the parent of each child’s peculiar personality.”

I found this in this article's comments by a man named Hester.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Questions for my Friends that Spank

So, if I don't spank what does that mean? Is my salvation lost? What about my kids? Will they ever have a place in heaven? Where is the biblical direction to spank so everyone can be sure to do it correctly? What has your church done in their study of spanking? How does a parent spank reflect anything biblical? If they repent, and that sin is removed as far as the East is from the West, do they need to endure physical pain, or was that pain already spent on the cross? What does the bible say about ages to spank? Where does it say to spank? Did Jesus's parables or example show that we should spank? Is hitting love? If you tell a child you spanked them because you loved them and their future spouse hit them and said they loved them and that's all they knew; is that biblical? Is that the relationships you hope for your children? Have you researched the sexual issues that spanking can lead to since a parent is hitting a private region of a child? What do you teach your child about private areas and who can touch them, or cause pain to them? 

I have no doubt that spanking parents love their children. I think we all want to parent to the best of our abilities. But hitting and causing pain to someone isn't love. And there are many ways to teach right from wrong, to model and teach and train in the way they should go; without physical pain. 

I am completely open to any discussion and questions.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gentle Discipline in Early American History

Has anyone read a book of gentle discipline through American History?  I found this text in my kid's homeschool History book.

“Everyday events were filled with wonderful meanings.  Ministers and teachers helped, but everyone became his own preacher, solving his own Bible puzzles.  Some New England leaders kept diaries where they explained these meanings to themselves.  Judge Samuel Sewall left one of the best.  In his diary for November 6, 1692, he wrote that his little son Joseph threw a brass knob and hit his sister Betty on the forehead, making it bleed and swell.  To make matters worse, Joseph did not repent, but insisted on playing during prayers and actually started eating before grace was finished.  Judge Sewall “whipped him pretty badly” and sent him to bed.

Joseph’s grandmother intervened, asking the father to come into the bedroom to forgive his naughty son.  “When I first went in (called by his grandmother), he sought to shadow and hide himself from me behind the head of the cradle: which gave me the sorrowful remembrance of Adam’s carriage (behavior)”

Judge Sewall at once had found a Bible story to fit his son’s misbehavior.  His little son was acting just like Adam in the Garden of Eden.  After Adam ate the forbidden apple, he tried to hide from God.  Adam knew he had done evil, and that he had something to hide.  Puritans call this the “fall” of Adam.  Were not all men, and all children too, like Adam?  And did this not make it easier to see the dangers of sin, and yet forgive all sinners?

For the Puritans, then, every little fact had a big meaning.  And they could be sure, too, that all their little troubles served some large purpose.
"The Landmark History of the American People: From Plymouth to the Moon" page 9.


A woman's role: a helpmeet

I just read the following on Above Rubies FB page:
My Husband’s Helper

Genesis 2:18 says that I was created to be a help-meet to my husband. I can be a helper to him by:

Heaping love and kisses upon him.
Excitedly preparing meals for him.
Lovingly serving him rather than my own pursuits.
Praying for him.
Encouraging him daily.
Reverencing him and submitting to him.

How often I fall short of God’s divine plan for me. May God help me to be the helper he wants me to be to my husband.

I think you are missing the mark. The idea of Helpmeet means a partner in making sure the family is spiritually on track. Our husbands are as imperfect as we are, and we need to work together with our different gifts in making sure we are not missing the spiritual mark in God's plan, role and purpose for the family.

As women of God we are marked as HIS!  Praise God.  We submit to God fully without reservation.  Our men, and I will add I am married to a most wonderful Godly man, are imperfect, selfish, greedy, etc men.  Just like we are.  We both are sinful, needing God's grace and salvation through Jesus Christ.  If our men are off the marks we don't blindly submit.  I generally submit.  I am pretty easy going.  But when I KNOW the Holy Spirit is moving an idea in me, better watch out.  Nothing comes between me and God, and DH knows that.  I have saved our family from financial distress, saved the life of our child, and many other things.  I wasn't looking to my fallible husband, I was looking to God in everyday things.  And gosh darn it, spoke up like nothing before.  We are daughters of the MOST HIGH GOD.  We are of high value.  We are created in HIS image for HIS purpose.  He spiritually gifted us at the time of our salvation, with COMPLETELY different tools than our husbands received.  We are to use these tools for HIS glory.  We are to help the broken and the needy, to share the gospel message to the ends of the Earth.  These other things like heaping love and kisses, well that’s fun.  Excitedly cooking, well sometimes I get excited because I am a good cook, I enjoy tastey food, and I get satisfaction when everyone (husband and kids and guests) enjoy what I prepare for them.  Sometimes cooking is drudgery.  I get tired, sick, lack ingredients I need.   I do serve him, as I am called to serve all my brothers and sisters in Christ, and yet I do try to find an hour or two every week to balance that out and do something that brings me joy.  Of course I pray for him and serve him, I love Him and God chose him for me; and I pray for all my brothers and sisters.  My relationship with my husband is wonderful most of the time, we have disagreements.  Most people that have passion and care about things will vocalize their opinion.  Exhibit A.  J  My husband is not my Lord, I have 1 that I serve above all others and only 1 worthy of complete submission.  He is my temporary life partner.  He will not be my Lord on earth nor in heaven.  He is most wonderful though.  He is a thoughtful, intelligent, Godly husband; and wonderful, attentive, active dad.  I give all praise to the Most High God for bringing him into my life.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Which Biblical Laws Are We Called to Keep?

Now which of the Old Testament Laws are a Christian called to keep?  It's sometimes confusing.  Therefore I have done some study and here's a good way to remember which ones were redeemed on the cross, and which ones we are called to follow today. 

There are Cultural Laws.
These Old Testament Laws are directions Yahweh gave to the Israelites to keep them safe, healthy, and define them differently than their idolatrous neighbors.  Things such as what to wear, what to eat, and how to stay clean.  These Laws were fulfilled by Jesus's death on the cross, and the Holy Scriptures covers this in Acts 10-15.  These Laws no longer have to be followed.

There are Ceremonial Laws.
These Laws were directions on how to offer sacrifices, ceremonies and festivals that God gave solely the Israelites.  Christians believe that Jesus was the fulfillment of all these laws, the Lamb of God. 

Finally, Moral Laws.
Moral Laws are timeless descriptions of right and wrong.  The Ten Commandments are a clear example, as are premarital sex, incest, homosexuality.  The Moral Laws were given in the Old Testament and reaffirmed and true in the New Testament.  Moral Laws do not offer us salvation, they just point to our depraved nature and our need for Christ's sacrifice on the cross.  Without the law there is no reason for grace.

Of course I must personalize these as a mother.  I must seek God's will in raising my children.  The decisions I make will influence them the rest of their life.  Some decisions such as "Should I circumsize my son?"  Well, that would fit into ceremonial laws, and therefore Christ's sacrifice fulfilled that.  How about "Should I use corporal punishment?"  That would be a cultural law, if you even really translate the rod verses into believing they are talking about a hitting rod, and not a king's sceptor; that died on the cross.  What about "Should we attend a church that allows women to be pastors or otherwise teach men?"  This would be a cultural law.  At the time of that direction women were either Proverbs 31 wives who ran all affairs while their husband studied the Torah and therefore knew little of the scriptures.  Or they were temple prostitutes, also unprepared to teach.  I believe this direction was to a specific people at a specific time, and it ended with Christ's sacrifice on the cross.  If a woman is prepared, gifted by the Holy Spirit, there is absolutely no reason she can't teach.

Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice!