In this series, we’ve been dealing with some of the idols in the world that need to be torn down and the fact that Christians keep their own version of these idols in their hearts. Same-sex mirage out there is akin in some ways to fornication and sexual looseness or an unbiblical desire for divorce. Gender defacement as the world worships it bears a close resemblance to the church’s own rebellion against God’s designation of gender roles. Giving these idols a place in our hearts renders our demolition tools useless in our hands (Ps. 66:18).
The third and last cultural idol I want to deal with is abortion. Abortion is the idol of personal choice we are probably most familiar with. “My body, my choice.” This idol lusts after the blood of unborn children. Abortion is a gory scourge on our land, and you are told that you must celebrate a woman choosing her body and her lifestyle over the life of the baby she carries.
The idolatry of abortion is imitated by (or perhaps is an imitation of) parents in the church who do not faithfully discipline their children. The Bible teaches that children need “the rod” (Prov. 13:24, 23:13-14). Why? It is one of the tools God uses to deliver their souls from hell (or death, if you want–though the Bible frequently links the two). God says if you don’t use this tool, you hate your child.
I am not simply equating abortion and a lack of spanking. When we stop and consider what the Bible says about withholding the rod, however, the similarities are shocking. Parents who murder their children through abortion hate their children and, to state the obvious, approve of killing them. Parents who do not faithfully discipline their children hate their children as well. Those who do not use the rod in love of their children do not care to deliver their children from death and hell.
In both instances, parents sacrifice their children on the altar of personal choice, of self-love. You know this. You know that often the thing that keeps you from spanking your children faithfully is your comfort, your peace of mind, and your laziness. It’s inconvenient because you’re at the park. Or, what will your neighbors think? Or, you just got home from work, and that’s the last thing you want to do. Or, it’s been a legitimately crazy a day–you cannot handle any more screaming from your children. Spanking is hard work, and we must be wise and loving in administering it. But, God has called you to it because He wants to save your child from hell. God has appointed the rod in your hand as one of the means of this deliverance.
Rebellion and Obedience
Submitting to your desires instead of to God and His Word is idolatry. Pastor Tim Bayly says, “If you think you can raise up godly children while avoiding the use of the rod, you are a rebel against God” (Bayly 2016, 122). If that sentence irks you or gets your hackles up or you find yourself breathing hard with teeth bared, pause. Why might that be offensive? Could it be because–to borrow from the pithy Westminster Divines–you “love to study arguments” about raising your children instead of actually obeying what God has said? Could it be that your laziness or selfishness has caused you to argue yourself into disobedience? Spanking may not be the only method of discipline, but it is the method God particularly identifies. Bayly again: “Patronizingly, we explain to Him that we know what He wants, but we have a better way to give it to Him than the one method He has commanded” (Bayly 2016, 109).
“Hath God said, Ye shall spank your children?” quoth the serpent.
The reverse of this is that faithful discipline and instruction of your children is one of the ways you resist and push back against abortion idolatry. Every time you spank faithfully, you say to the world, “No, I will not bow down, and I will not sacrifice my child. The world’s way is idolatry and death, but God’s way is salvation and life.”
One of the primary accusations against the pro-life movement is that we care about babies until they’re born, but we stop there. On the one hand, this is stupid and false. However, looking at the way Christians predominantly discipline our kids (or don’t), our accusers might be more right than they even know. We must demonstrate to the world that we love children because God does. He has taught us how to love them.
There is much to be said for how we obey what the Bible teaches about spanking with wisdom. But here’s the bottom line: Jesus said to let the little children come to Him. He obviously loves them. He also identifies to you one specific way that you too must love them and help them to come to Him. You must take down the idol that sets your comfort or your worldly wisdom above the wisdom of God. Take it down, repent, and obey. Start there.
Wrapping it all up
Same-sex mirage, gender defacement, abortion–these are idols, giants in our land. They are tall and powerful. Joshua and Caleb knew the feeling. They also knew that if they feared the true God, giants were simply too big to miss. But fearing God means we cannot house those same idols or anything like them in our own homes and hearts. If we do, God will not heed our prayers. Hear the Word, the sword of the Spirit, and let it flay you open so you see and tear out the idols in your heart, your idols of pride and self-love. And then, live out that Word. Be light, be salt, be potent for Jesus. Do this by loving marriage the way God made it. Do this by loving and embracing your role as a man or a woman, as a boy or a girl, as God made you. Do this by loving and disciplining your children the way God says to.
This all starts with dying. All gods require sacrifice. Following idols never ends well, whether out in the world or in our own hearts. They require sacrifice that ends in death. The one true God requires sacrifice which ends in life. Jesus Christ died for His people, and He calls them to die with Him. Obedience is dying to yourself in Christ. Unlike any other god or idol or savior, though, Jesus rose from the dead. Follow Him, obey Him, because in Him is newness of life.
Bayly, Tim. Daddy Tried: Overcoming the Failures of Fatherhood. Bloomington: Warhorn Media, 2016.