Are results a valid measure of good, biblical discipline? Are you thinking “pragmatism” at this moment? Now, notice that I do not say “the” valid measure, but “a” valid measure. Are you still thinking “pragmatism”? Let’s take a look at Scripture and see if it gives us the answers we need.
Colossians 3:21 says “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” (c.f. the more common Ephesians 6:4)
It would be difficult to obey this verse without in some way examining the results of my parenting methods, wouldn’t it?
Now look at Hebrews 12. We often look at this passage when someone is teaching about spanking, but we less often look at it to examine the purpose and expected results of chastisement.
For they [earthly fathers] verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he [God] for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Again, if a godly parent disciplines his child and that discipline results in the peaceable fruit of righteousness, is it unbiblical to conclude that the discipline is appropriate for the situation?
Stop! The knowledgeable reader will at this moment likely object: we do not have the luxury of evaluating the results when Scripture is clear about how to discipline. And I agree with this statement. The question then, becomes, how specific is Scripture regarding parental discipline? In fact, Scripture leaves much to wisdom, and in this realm, I believe examining the results to be a necessary part of wisely disciplining our children.
We should also reconsider how we throw around the term, “pragmatism.”