The Law

This post is going to be somewhat brief. It’s late and I have to get up in the morning. At the same time, I have to be honest and say that this subject grieves me (and I know it does many of you as well). One of the things that tears at me is the fact that this subject has been on my mind (and often discussed with Andrea) for years. About 3 years ago, Andrea and I discussed something she found (a story I may tell in a subsequent post) and the weight of it has never really left me since. Part of that weight has been the thought that what I am going to talk about in this post and a few future ones needs to be done. Have you ever had that feeling that I can’t not say this?

In the post below Doc left a link to Growing Families International (Ezzo). As it turns out, these folks are ones that Andrea and I have discussed before. To our understanding, they promote very similar treatment of children as do the authors of TTUAC.

I have scraped the following from their homepage:

The primary focus of Christian parenting should be defining God to our children and we believe that task is best accomplished by introducing and guiding our children in and by God’s moral law.

On Friday night, while reading, I found this:

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:4 NIV)

In the New Testament, whenever the term ‘the law’ is used without any distinction (i.e. a specific law) it refers to the law given to Israel in the Old Testament. In the letter to the Galatians, Paul is telling them that setting out with a focus on observance of the law (i.e. Ezzo’s defining God via moral law) is contrary to Christianity and salvation. What we can conclude from Paul’s statement is that children will not learn about (or get to know) God by being taught as recommended by the Ezzos.

Without promise of when, I’ll pick this subject up in another post.

About Ron

Homeschooling dad of 4 (ages 27 - 14), grampy to 3, WordPress core contributor, former farmboy & software developer by profession.


  1. I’d like to hear more about your thoughts on this topic Ron. I am a little confused but I think you are referring to the boycott going around the internet about a homeschooling magazine and church group that supports corporal punishment of their children as a law of God. Am I right? If so, I’d like to hear your opinions when you get the time. I know time is tight right now though!

  2. Yes, the post is related to the corporal punishment issue and the recent death of Sean Paddock. The site I linked to is one of those.

  3. I’ve always been extremely suspicious of these parenting systems. Kid goes astray? Guess what? There’s someone else you can blame? Each child is a unique, precious gift who responds to discipline differently, but they ALL respond to love and encouragement. Call me a softie. Also, teaching a child what it means to ‘turn the other cheek’ and be blessed as a ‘peacemaker’ sounds a little empty when you’ve been hitting them for years. I honestly can’t picture Jesus setting up a “training time” to purposely smack a baby’s hand so she’ll learn not to touch something that Mommy values.

    Teens I’ve seen so far having been raised with GKGW tend to be very judgemental and unable to really think for themselves. They spout whatever party line they’re taught without question. That’s probably valued by some parents. For me, no thanks. I don’t want to them to adhere to an authority simply because the authority says so. What if, someday, they find themselves under an authority that is hardly Christlike? Why do so many Christian kids go astray at secular university? We can’t shelter them until they’re 40.

    I want my children to understand their actions have consequences, surely, but not consequences that don’t have anything to do with the transgression. A friend of mine had a daughter that would argue and balk at getting dressed for school. Finally one morning, she made the child go in her pajamas. The child never did it again! That’s the type of creative parenting we all can learn from. If she had administered a spanking, how would that have have equipped her daughter for the future? Our bosses don’t spank us; our mates don’t slap our hands; the IRS doesn’t come knocking on our door with a “switch” when we’ve failed to pay enough on our income taxes.

    TTUAC talks about training training training. I’d rather teach, teach, teach. If that’s idealistic . . . guilty as charged. Thanks for having the courage to address this divisive issue, Ron. is a great site that addresses this issue.

  4. sorry, that link is

  5. Thanks for the link. wish I’d learned it sooner, but the word system when applied to people isn’t a good thing.

  6. Hi Ron. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I look forward to more of your thoughts on this topic. I know a family who used GKGW and it breaks my heart to hear some of the stories. It is very focused on making everything convienient for the parents at the expense of the kids. This of course is just my impression from stories I have heard not from any reading of the material on my part.

  7. I was a product of the GKGW concepts. I did not have a happy childhood. I spent most of it looking for approval and had very little in the way of ability to think for myself and escaped when I was 17. It took years of rethinkng to get away from my upbringing and I didn’t have any children of my own til I was nearly 30 as I did not want to unwittingly behave like my parents. People won’t agree maybe but I feel it was child abuse in the name of god.

  8. This stuff breaks my heart. I’m with you … “systems” and “dignity of the human person” do not go together ….

  9. I think I am sticking my nose in where I am not really welcome, because it seems that all parties present have already decided, and are firmly convinced, that corporal punishment is a bad thing. And I am not going to attempt to change anyone’s mind on that count. I think that some of you are interested in hearing someone from the other side address the subject in their own words, so, merely for your interest, I offer this.

    First I point out a few things:
    1. I do not know of GKGW or TTUAC.
    2. I have met children of rigid homeschooling families and for all I know they used one of those programs–I have met homeschooled kids who are eerie in their eagerness to say, do, and think “right” things, with little or no comprehension in evidence.
    3. I have been homeschooled (though not unschooled) and corporally punished.

    I agree that some people practice a new law of punishment that is thought to produce godliness, who codify the gospel with the help of a new Oral Law, and look to that law for righteousness rather than God.

    And of course I certainly agree that corporal punishment can easily become abuse.

    Nevertheless, I believe that corporal punishment is a proper method of discipline for Christian parents. Lisa mentioned the “turn your other cheek” teaching of Jesus (and I am not trying to criticize her personally, many people say the same) and asked how we could teach that and hit our children.

    Turning the other cheek is about resopnding to people who are wronging you. If you are hitting your child because you personally feel offended or wronged, you are certainly doing the wrong thing.

    Others pointed out that “system” should not be applied to people. I think I agree, although that is a little too vague to be sure… let me say it in my own words. Punishment should not be used to control children. Some people even try hitting their grown children to achieve their will–quite futile, and beyond what even most strict corporal punishment advocates usually suggest. As a child grows he or she must be allowed to experience the natural consequences of his or her actions. As Lisa pointed out, corporal punishment is not a typical consequence (at least, we would like to hope so).

    Corporal punishment should not be about “consequences” or “control.” Yes, the punishment is a consequence of the misbehavior, and yes, corporal punishment can be appropriate for disobedience. But the goal of the punishment is not to cohercively control or train in Pavlovian fashion; it is to morally teach.

    I mentioned that I thought “turning the other cheek” applied to offense against oneself, so that it could be taught while still disciplining a child. In a sort of contrasting example, I think that corporal punishment is an important way to teach a child that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness.”

    We childern of God are punished by God for our disobedience in ways that are more painful than any spanking should ever be. The affliction of the soul that the psalmist writes about, which I have tasted of, lasts far longer than the sting from a spanking (which I have felt). The spankings that we give our children should not reflect our momentary outrage, but our constant and timeless belief that God hates sin. Lying and rebelliousness (stubborn and spiteful disobedience) are two examples of things for which the children of God have been punished very severely by God (the former quite explicitly in the New Testament).

    Our punishment, then, is not meant to repay the child for the infraction. God’s penalty for these sins is death. We provide the merest shadow of that punishment, in hope of turning the child back before the sin becomes entrenched. While a more severe punishment might be appropriate for a repeat offense on a small scale, generally escalating punishment for habitual infractions misses the point that God has one penalty for sin.

    Lisa is right that in our adult lives we usually aren’t struck for bad behavior. In fact we can very easily get away with a lot of unethical and immoral behavior without any punishment at all. The wicked sometimes live their entire lives without getting the due penalty for their ways. Thus the “real world” or the “consequences” is not what we are trying to teach our children, but the fear of God–the fear that caused Isaiah and Ezekiel and John (NT) to fall down before his holiness.

    We must also teach the love of God, so that the repentant child is welcomed with open arms, and even the wayward child is protected from grievious harm.

    I was never afraid of being hit by my parents unless I knew I had done wrong. I had been warned ahead of time that my behavior would result in a spanking. Having done what was wrong, I was afraid; and that is right. A child who is afraid because he does not know what he might be punished for next has not been disciplined rightly at all. But we should be afraid of the chastisement God will bring if we sin.

    Certain relatives have said within one conversation how they would never spank their children and remarked on how well-behaved the childern of my father are. We are not brainwashed automatons. Yes, I know that anyone can and would say that, and you will pretty much have to take my word for it; I don’t want to divulge the personal stories that would substantiate it. Generally people regard us as smart, well-behaved, happy children, and we are.

    This does not mean that children must be spanked to turn out happy, well-behaved, or smart. There are indeed people who are gentle, who evidently never harm another, and who have not been and/or do not believe in spanking. I believe that such people will always have a harder time understand the full awfulness of the punishment God has in store for the ungodly, or at least how such a punishment could come from a loving God. Good social behavior does not necessarily mean a true heart of humility and obedience before God, the ruling and reigning God over this present creation.

    Interestingly enough in light of some of the preceeding comments, I went to a secular university. I did not go astray in what I take to be the sense of the earlier remark, but the thing I regret the most involved in part not listening to what my father and brothers advised. (Advised, not demanded; for my father always taught that you must do what the Holy Spirit convicts you to do through your conscience. Doing something without believing for yourself it is right is “sacrifice without obedience.”)

    I believe that the God who was willingly crucified for our sins is the same God who specifically told the Israelites to kill man, woman, and child, and I believe it is Christ himself who will judge and punish the world at his second coming. I do not believe that children born to Christian parents have any sort of presumptive grace, any kind of free pass to heaven until the age of accountablity. If I believed differently, I might have a different view on corporal punishment. If you believe differently, I expect you to disagree about corporal punishment.

    As I said, I think you guys have pretty much made up your minds on the issue and I am not trying to convert you. For the record, I thought I would contribute a first-hand account of corporal punishment, notwithstanding that you seem to have found some really misguided examples out there.

    We met the local school district’s cirriculum requirements but behind the scenes we had a pretty relaxed school system. I am the only one to attend a college full time; so far the two ahead and two behind have found other avenues for pursuing their interests.

    It was fun to find your site.

    Arlan Purdy

  10. Arlan, I read most (skimmed some) of your comments and personally (not speaking for Ron or Andrea) so much appreciate your tone and reasoning. *grin* Honestly, through my walk with the Lord and my study of the Word, I do have a different perspective. But I can appreciate your understanding of this topic, and I respect the way in which you present it.

    Grace and peace,

  11. Both sides?

    Where in the Bible does God hit any of his children?

  12. The issue I keep coming up against in our parenting travels is — where do we find the middle ground between behavior control (Ezzos, TTUAC), and what Ron has called “unparenting”. I ‘Ezzo’d’ my older two through toddler hood, but feel as they get older the emphasis is more on behavior control than heart change. If you’re not Christian, heart change might not be your goal. It is ours. But I feel that no discipline plan at all is going to put us in trouble as well. So, now I’m in a vaccuum!

  13. Gem, as long as I can get the train of thought going, I’m going to give a couple examples from recent things that have transpired between Emma and I. I don’t think they will settle everything for you (we shouldn’t expect that they would). But I think you have the essence of the issue. There are times when I suppose I wish there were an easy pat answer to all our parenting issues. What I can say is there is a middle road that we can aim for. You never entirely stay on it, but you can always aim to be on it.

  14. Gem asks a great question – what is between the two extremes? You may want to look at some of these resources, which provide book titles and information about that tough middle road: (book: Larry Cohen’s Playful Parenting) (book: Gordon Neufeld’s Hold On To Your Kids) (book: Adele Faber’s How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen) (Barbara Coloroso’s, The Bully, The Bullied and the Bystander) (books: Nancy Samalin’s Love and Anger, Love and Anger, Loving Without Spoiling, Loving Each One Best)
    The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families by Mary Pipher –

  15. there are also some great books on PET (parent effectiveness training)… there is also one from a Christian perspective I think it’s called You Can have a Family Where Everybody Wins. I’m sure you can find them on

    There IS a middle ground! Or is it a higher ground? Walking in the freedom of Jesus Christ… seems higher to me. 🙂


  1. […] A gentleman named Arlan Purdy left me us a very lengthly comment below. The first paragraph is this: I think I am sticking my nose in where I am not really welcome, because it seems that all parties present have already decided, and are firmly convinced, that corporal punishment is a bad thing. And I am not going to attempt to change anyone’s mind on that count. I think that some of you are interested in hearing someone from the other side address the subject in their own words, so, merely for your interest, I offer this. […]