One night, when my son Royce was eight years old, my wife Tonya had to chaperon a school dance for a couple of hours. That left me at home with not only Royce but also his older brother Ryan, who was eleven at the time. Everything was going fine until Royce decided that he wanted to go outside and practice his baseball swing. As he stood in front of me holding his plastic ball and bat, I had to tell him that it was getting too dark to go outside.
Not long afterward, I heard some kind of crash down in our basement. I didn’t think too much about it because I knew that Royce had gone down there after I had told him he couldn’t go outside. I also knew that he averaged three or four “crashes” every day. If they were serious enough, he would come and report, and since he didn’t report, I figured that everything was okay.
Finally, after about fifteen minutes had passed, Royce came to me in tears. As it turned out, he had taken his ball and bat down to the basement to practice his swing. He had thrown the ball up and hit it straight into one of the fluorescent lights down there. The light was now lying in a million pieces all over the basement floor.
Now, here’s where I need to give you a little background to this story. A few weeks prior to that night, Ryan and Royce had busted another one of those lights by throwing balls in the basement. At that time I had laid down one of those eternal, never-to-be-challenged rules concerning balls, the basement, and fluorescent lights. Fathers love doing that kind of thing. So, naturally, when Royce busted another light with another ball, he knew he was in trouble.
Rather than face that trouble, he came up with what he thought was a better plan. While I went downstairs to survey the damage, he headed out the door toward the garage. By the time I came back upstairs, he had already pulled his little two-wheel scooter out into our driveway. When I said, “Get in here,” he answered, “I’m going to run away because I don’t want a spanking.” I said, “What are you going to do, just walk the roads?” He said, “That’s why I got my scooter.” I asked, “And how do you plan to eat?” In response, he showed me that he had gone to his room and gotten his billfold, which had $30 in it. (That was money he had accumulated from his grandparents.) When I asked him how he was going to live on $30, he said he would just keep on buying bags of Cheetos.
Well, I finally got the pint-sized runaway back into the house, and once inside I did give him a one-swat spanking. If I had let him off the hook for his disobedience regarding playing ball in the basement, he wouldn’t have thought twice about disobeying me in other matters. Actually, the fact that he expected me to spank him for disobeying was a good sign. It was good because it showed that he had a healthy respect not only for me but also for rules.
Continuing with this same theme, what struck me about Royce wanting to run away that night was how much it reminded me of the story of Adam and Eve. In the wake of their sin, when they heard God in the garden of Eden, their first impulse was to hide, get away, and keep from reporting (Genesis 3:8). This being Royce’s same response after he had disobeyed me proved that the inherited sin-nature was alive and well in the little fellow. He had been born with mommy’s eyes, daddy’s nose, and Adam’s nature.
As for other similarities between Royce’s situation and Adam and Eve’s, consider the following list:
#1: I didn’t want Royce to run away and hide any more than God wanted Adam and Eve to run away and hide. It would have crushed me to lose my son forever just as it would have crushed God to lose His two kids forever.
#2: Like Adam and Eve, Royce was all ready to accept an inferior way of living rather than confess his sin. Adam and Eve had their fig leaves; he had his Cheetos.
#3: Just as God couldn’t wink at Adam and Eve’s disobedience and say, “We’ll let it go this time,” I couldn’t let Royce off the hook. The disobedience had to be addressed.
#4: After the disobedience was addressed, the fellowship was restored. The souls of Adam and Eve are in heaven right now, still enjoying fellowship with God, and Royce and I are getting along just fine today as well.
#5: Even though the disobedience was dealt with and the fellowship restored, the fallout from the sin remains. We lost our basement light and Adam and Eve lost their sinless perfection, innocence, and immortality. Sin does damage, and there’s no getting around that.
Royce’s story ends with his parents buying a new light to replace the ruined one. And how does the story of Adam and Eve end? It ends with their heavenly Father loving them (and their race) enough to send His Son Jesus to die so that Jesus’ blood could potentially cleanse not only all their sins but also the sins of their entire race (John 3:16). You see, Adam and Eve learned the lesson that forgiveness of sin only comes via the shed blood of a sacrifice (Genesis 3:21). With that knowledge acquired, they placed their belief in the Lord and in so doing experienced salvation (the forgiveness of all their sins). Now the question to you is: Have you placed your belief in Jesus and allowed His blood to cleanse you from all your sins (Hebrews 10:4-14)? If you haven’t, then you might as well be (at least spiritually speaking) going down life’s highway on your scooter, living on Cheetos.
I know we share an abiding belief in spanking as a primary disciplinary option for naughty children. I previously described the disservice unwittingly done to me as a boy when neither my mum nor my oldest sister ever exercised their bottom-warming authority over me.
I take it Royce was already familiar with spanking when he tried to be a runaway child. I’d only ever been threatened with having my bare bottom smacked or paddled. What it mostly amounted to was ‘aggravated scolding.’ If I had any real fear of being spanked, it was only because of how I imagined it would feel. I can’t say I necessarily wanted to be spanked, but the whole point of my needing to be punished for misbehaving was being subverted by my never being made to feel well and truly sorry.
I can’t help wishing, when I was growing up, that there’d been a little wooden plaque on our kitchen wall saying “BEHAVE OR BE SPANKED!” I’m sure there were families in our town in the 1950s and ’60s that wouldn’t have been the least bit ashamed by having it known their kids got their backsides tanned as needed. Reasoning with a young miscreant is often put forward as the best approach to teaching them right from wrong. Perhaps, but reasoning figures to be that much easier when they’ve only just had their bare bottom soundly spanked.
When I think of how I misbehaved in my teens – playing with matches, making nuisance phone calls to a local radio station’s phone-in show, stealing a book from an Arts & Crafts shop – very possibly just one or two good, sound spankings would’ve pulled the plug on my impulsive naughtiness.
A bare bottom spanking follows the straightest path between the disobedient act and its unhappy consequence. There’s nothing the least bit unnatural about the child-rearing transition from tenderly patting an infant’s bare behind to smartly smacking it as they grow older and naughtier.