What is discipline?

Picture this: A faithful, church-going couple has a young daughter who is not married and pregnant. She is also hanging out with the wrong crowd.  She has a hatred of authority, especially the authority of her parents, and she displays her rebellion any moment she gets. Her parents are at their wits end. They complain of her delinquency and insist that they had “disciplined” her often. Her parents often took away privileges and spanked her when she was younger. This girl is almost 20 years old and she is experimenting with drugs. She also has no knowledge of how to wash clothes, cook, study, work, or obey a simple command.


Here’s the question: Was she disciplined? If you think she was, you need to understand what parental discipline means. Sure, the parents chastised her, but her parents did not discipline her. Today more than ever, Christian parents and school teachers need to comprehend the principle of discipline.


I’ve heard discipline explained this way: Discipline is systematic training and submission to authority, and it is the result of such training. Chastisement or punishment is the penalty that is administered for departure from authority. Clearly discipline and chastisement are related subjects, but just as clearly they are distinct.” Let’s bring this definition into greater clarity by demonstrating why the Christian parent must work to raise disciplined children. In the next blog post, I’ll give you some practical steps to begin the process of forming discipline in your children.


The Hearts of the Children

A civilization is comprised of individuals. The character of the individual determines the character of the civilization. We live in an age of laziness. Laziness as we have never seen before. This is also an age of self-pleasure and disrespect. In order to gain an understanding of these problems today, we must consider that the root of all these problems is with every individual’s desire to rebel against God. In order for a civilization to be changed, the hearts of individuals within that civilization must be changed. The Christian parent is the principal means God uses to change individual hearts.


The Westminster Confession says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. We see this in Genesis 1:26-28 as God commands mankind through Adam to exercise dominion over the earth to the glory of God. But, Scripture later shows us that as we became fallen man, we were no longer Dominion Man. We became Lazy Man, marked as sluggards, as we avoided our work. Since man fell and considered himself to be his own god, he is only concerned with his own needs and desires. Now his chief end is to glorify himself and enjoy himself forever.


The statement “If it feels good, do it” is popular these days. The inverse is also implied, “If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.” So, when it comes to work, study, and anything involving self-discipline, he doesn’t do it because it doesn’t feel good. This is what’s wrong with all of our children. God must use us in our office as parents to change our children’s hearts from self-worship to God-worship.


The Hatred of Authority

Also, God has built structures of hierarchy and authority into every sphere of life. We have God-ordained authorities in our families, churches, and civil governments. These authorities are parents, pastors, teachers, employers, and government officials. As man rebels against God, he naturally rebels against these authorities. This is where disrespect comes in. If individuals are naturally rebels against God and His authorities, what do you think marks their culture?


The productivity of our lazy nation has dramatically decreased over the course of the last 100 years. Teens who have their desire for self-gratification frustrated, show a high suicide rate, as they sink to their eyeballs in self-pity. In the Great Depression, authority structures built on Christian capital restrained rebellious behavior. But the “woke” youth of today feel like they have the right to destroy city blocks by looting and rioting.


Generally speaking, this age of disrespect is really an age of incompetence. Men and women who do not obey the orders of those who are in authority over them are men and women who lack discipline. They cannot finish anything, except maybe a level on Call of Duty. They complain about an eight hour a day job. Undisciplined housewives are unable to fulfill their God-given assignments, so they retreat into novels, Netflix, or scrolling through mommy group Facebook feeds looking for something to help them justify their abdication. Undisciplined students can’t compete with others academically and cannot overcome a challenging assignment without breaking down and crying to their parents or teachers.



Our society is marked by self-pity, low-productivity, poor character, and incompetence. As Christian parents, we must understand that only parenting informed by Scripture and Scripture alone can solve these problems. Every family, regardless of size and socio-economic status can and must labor to solve these immense social problems. Where do we start? We start with the hearts of our children. That’s where we’ll pick up next time.