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Old 8th August 2010, 01:58 AM
Climacus Areopagite Climacus Areopagite is offline
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,433
Default Discipline

My understanding is discipline is basically instruction or the state of receiving instruction. The word is used very many times in the Wisdoms books and is interchanged with the term like teaching, training, and instruction. The word comes from the same latin origin as disciple, disciplina which literally means instruction. So disciple is one who is instructed or one who follows a teacher. Disciples of Jesus.

Everyone needs discipline since we are all sinners and in a fallen state. Adults need discipline in one degree or another depending on circumstance and occasion. An adult should come to a point where he disciplines himself like Saint Paul taught using the athletes as a metaphor, then he will need less discipline from others.

Children especially need discipline since in addition to being in the fallen state they are vulnerable and weak. Discipline takes on many forms. One of them is corporeal punishment. A modest and ordinate form of corporeal punishment used on children is a fitting means of instruction especially when teaching them right from wrong. God punishes the human race when we sin and one sense this is instruction so we may learn the nature of our evil acts, their harmful consequences and so hopefully repent.

God's punishment for evils committed is just but it is also merciful. If God did not punish our consciences and our bodies for the severe evils we commit then we in our fallen and sinful state may not realize the wrong we do and all the harm it causes. Ordinate punishment is merciful because it leads the sincere to repentance and the changing one's self. Pope Benedict says somewhere that teaching a person right from wrong or teaching one the moral life is the greatest act of mercy. So parents are imitating God when they use an ordinate corporeal punishment on their children. And this is in accord with their roles of teaching, leadership and authority over the children God has entrusted to them. It is just, merciful and also an act of love to ordinately punish children so they may see the truth of good and evil, right and wrong, etc.

Maybe corporeal punishment was abusive, inordinate or used inappropriately in the past but the principle of using it as a means of instruction is sound and moral. And one does not have to use crude forms like whipping. One could may his son do push-ups or have them do extra chores or something of the sort. The point is that it is a means of instructing and done out of love, mercy and justice for the sake of the young one who is a maturing child of God.

Here is Sirach on discipling children:

{30:1} He who loves his son will frequently chastise him, so that he may be happy in the very end, and not grope for the doors of his neighbors.
{30:2} He who instructs his son will be praised over him and will glory in him, in the midst of his household.
{30:3} He who teaches his son will make his enemy jealous, and in the midst of his friends, he will glory in him.
{30:4} When his father has died, it will be as if he were not dead. For he will have left behind someone who is like himself.
{30:5} In his life, he saw him and rejoiced in him. And at his passing, he was not sorrowful, nor was he confounded in the sight of his enemies.
{30:6} For he left behind himself a defender of his house against his enemies, and someone who will repay his friends with kindness.
{30:7} For the sake of the souls of his sons, he will bind up his wounds, and at every voice, his gut will be stirred up.
{30:8} An untamed horse becomes stubborn, and a child left to himself becomes headstrong.
{30:9} Coddle a son, and he will make you afraid. Play with him, and he will make you sorrowful.
{30:10} You should not laugh with him; otherwise you may have grief, and in the end, your teeth be clenched.
{30:11} You should not give him power in his youth, but you should not despise his thoughts.
{30:12} Bow down his neck in his youth, and slap his sides while he is a child, lest perhaps he may become stubborn, and then he will not trust you, and so he will bring sorrow to your soul.
{30:13} Instruct your son, and work with him, lest you give offense by his shameful behavior.

I am not a parent, but I played a lot of sports when I was younger and I finally realized that I can assume some of the principles I learned into the spiritual life. I think the Church and the world needs to willing practice discipline (not that we need more rules, just the attitude). When done correctly it can be such a great aid and even beautiful to see someone who is truly disciplined in his state of life. Athletes, musicians, artists need discipline to get them to a higher state of performance. Officers and soldiers need discipline and their are so many examples.

Last edited by Climacus Areopagite : 8th August 2010 at 02:06 AM.
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