The following are my comments and thoughts from a recent discussion on spanking in a Christian women’s Facebook group. My apologies in advance if some of the paragraphs do not transition well. I do plan on revising this!
I have including many other links for other believers who have written against spanking with Biblical “back-up”. Those links are compiled at the end of this blog post.
My personal goal in writing this is that I have thoroughly understood what the Scriptures instruct believers on disciplining our children and I want to have a clear and concise “argument” to present to fellow believers who are wondering if spanking is mandated by the Bible.
As with all the words that come out of my mouth or come out of my typing fingers, I want to carefully consider my words so that they reflect the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:37-40) as well as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Here are my thoughts and comments:
The Bible contains passages that refer to the rod. I’m no expert on shepherding but I’m not convinced that the rod means spank your children — I do believe that it means that we need to discipline our children. I think that we can all agree that there is some symbolism in the Bible. Is it at all possible that the rod is symbolic? If spanking our children is so crucial to leading them to Christ’s salvation, wouldn’t Jesus have explicitly said “hey, parents, be absolutely steadfast in spanking your children”? So there is my first thought on spanking and the Bible.
Here is a passage of the rod that cannot possibly mean spanking: “he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[a]I will fear no evil,for you are with me;your rod and your staff,they comfort me.5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” Psalm 23:3-5.
Additionally, we are New Covenant believers. We are not held to the requirements of the Mosaic Covenant. Christ has fulfilled the law on our behalf and He took the punishment for our sins. I mean, read the letter to the Galatian church. Paul calls them bewitched for trying to follow the Old Covenant rules. Jesus didn’t spank His disciples or the sinners He encountered; He offered love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness AND He corrected their behavior with the Truth (His words). There was no reason for Jesus to resort to spanking and nor do I find that spanking could be found in the two greatest commandments or the fruit of the Spirit.
Furthermore, Christ took the punishment for our disobedience. If we, as adults, sin after receiving eternal redemption, does God spank us or require that we be punished with Old Covenant punishments? No, He convicts us of our sin and we have a choice to repent and to have our minds renewed and transformed so that we can reject sin in our lives. If we are to follow Jesus’ command to treat other people as we would like to be treated (Matt 7:12), then should we not speak to and treat our children who are people — people made in the image of God.
Yes, of course, we correct our children when they are in error but we should do this in a way that we would like to be corrected. Re-read how Jesus corrected the woman who was caught in adultery — did He stone her according to the Law of Moses or did He correct her by showing her unprecedented mercy, forgiving her sin and telling her to sin no more? John 8:1-12.
How did Jesus treat the children who came to them; did He give them a whipping to drive the foolishness out of them? Let’s visit how Jesus talked about children and how He treated them. Mark 10 – “15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” Here are more: http://www.biblegateway.com/ Matt 19:13-15; Matt 11:25; Matthew 21:15-17 A friend mentioned James 1:19-20 ”19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the ighteousness that God desires.” So those are but a few Biblical examples that lead me to believe that spanking my children is not mandatory to leading them to salvation in Christ.
A friend then posted this link and I read it (and recommend it): http://www.gentlechristianmothers.com/articles/rodstudy.php
Here are my comments about that link: There are some passages that I really liked from it. “So many Christians have taken FIVE verses and hung a whole child rearing philosophy on them! Parents are told to use this as a primary form of punishment (what these experts refer to as discipline). Some use the words “punishment” and “discipline” interchangeably when they mean two entirely different things. These people are basing their theology on nothing more than the traditions of men! ” and then “If we are no longer to stone, then why do we assume we should use physical beatings to bring about repentance? Shouldn’t we make examples of a few children and stone them too? Why were they to go ahead and stone them to death if they would not repent and be oobedient? This was because the Holy Spirit was not actively convicting hearts and they did not yet have direct access to God. Jesus said in the case of the adulterous woman to let him who was without sin to cast the first stone. Parents don’t stone their kids because the parents themselves are just as much a sinner as their rebellious child.”
Here are two passages from that link that address children and the rod and adults and the rod. “When we see the use of the rod on fools, this would be adults who are “fools” because they are grown and still have no self control. It would be comparable to a criminal being beaten. This is not speaking of a young child. We see examples of criminals being beaten in Scripture. There are no examples of children being beaten with a rod. We see in most other instances that the word “rod” is used to symbolize God’s authority or the authority of a nation. ” as well as this one: “IF this Scripture were referring to a literal beating, taken in context, it would have to be speaking about a grown child. The verses before and after are written by a father speaking to his grown or almost grown son. ” And, okay, this one is really good too: “Another observation worth mention is the word child used in all of these “rod” Scriptures in Proverbs. This word is “na’ar.”
This word means as follows:
a boy, lad, servant, youth, retainer
a. boy, lad, youth
b. servant, retainer
Concretely a boy (as active), from the age of infancy to adolescence; by implication a servant; also (by interchange of sex) a girl (of similar latitude in age).
The KJV translates it as follows: young man 76, servant 54, child 44, lad 33, young 15, children 7, youth 6, babe 1, boys 1
This would mean that we are speaking about boys most of the time when we see this word (since a lad would be a male) here and usually young men.
Therefore, *if* one took these Scriptures to mean literal physical punishment, than it would possibly only apply to fathers spanking their sons who are older (since adolescence can go through the early 20′s). Most Christian discipline “experts” do not mention this. Yet, if you’re going to interpret it literally, this would have to be the explanation. Most Christian parenting authors say you should be able to STOP spanking by the time they become 12 or 13, yet according to this Scripture, you would not even START using physical punishment until then. So, we see that these Scriptures, if taken literally, would be referring to this form of punishment as an absolute last resort to save the child (which was possibly a boy only) from hell.”
A friend who does spank because she believes that the Bible calls for spanking mention Hebrews 12:4-6 and here is my reply:
“Let’s talk about Hebrews 12:4-6. Have you studied this one and only passage in the New Covenant scriptures that SEEMS to promote spanking? Have you studied it in the original language that it was written? Well, the Hebrew word is better described as SCOURGING and according to this source http://aolff.org/spare-the-rod/hebrews-12/3 it wasn’t in the original text after all. “Apparently the word “scourge” first appears in the KJV and then is translated back into Greek texts by later translators. This is supported by the fact that the references in the study Bible are for Strong’s dictionary which is the dictionary for the KJV. I contacted the head of the Aramaic Society which is very much into researching the most original texts, and this is what I learned. Aramaic is the oldest Semitic language and basically original Hebrew. In the version of the Bible they are releasing, this is how the passage reads for verse 6: “For those whom the Lord loves He chastens him, and disciplines the son in whom He is pleased.” I was assured that in the oldest versions of this text the idea of scourge is nowhere present. Discipline yes. Scourge no. This would be a more accurate representation of the verses being cited.”
Here is my reply to another friend who said that she is at a loss for dealing with some disobedience in her older children:
“Dealing with the trials that our children present to us is very tough. I wonder if perhaps parenting is more about God producing character in us than “getting our children under control.” James 1:2-4:Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Romans 5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
I am aware of some of what No Greater Joy Ministrties teaches about child-rearing but it smacks of Pharisee-ism to me. If you have been influenced by NGJ Ministries and want to read a non-sensational evaluation of their belief system by a group of Christians, you can find the free e-book on this page — you’ll have to scroll down a bit but you can’t miss it: http://scitascienda.com/scienda-store/
Here are some additional links (and previously posted links) to explore:
http://parentingfreedom.com/discipline/ (this is the one I would recommend the most if you were only going to read one link)
http://www.aholyexperience.com/2006/04/perfectionism/ (turn your speakers down before opening this link)
My Pinterest board of related websites: http://www.pinterest.com/elissamama/ministering-to-my-children-with-love-joy-mercy-etc/
I’m happy to hear your thoughts, even if you disagree with me. And, of course, if you have some Biblical knowledge that supports my position, I’d love for you to share.
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Grace, mercy and peace to you!