I have a number of things to get to, continuing my series on The evil god challenge, and this blog’s Bible read through, which I intend to start early in the new year. But I’m going to put that aside for a moment, since there is an issue that often gives me a crisis of faith, in that it makes me wonder whether or not it’s worth following any particular church, or if just being a stay at home Christian is a better option.
From Proverbs 13:24, we get the famous “spare the rod spoil the child” doctrine, waxed lyrical by many Christians. In fact, it is what seems to be believed by my own father whose religious views seem to be in support of relativism, but definitely not in direct support of Christianity. Proverbs 23:13-14 seems to support the claim, in fact, it claims beating your child will deliver them from hell (in Hebrew – Sheol, which is the grave). This is a reasonably mild punishment considering that stoning your rebellious son, or adulterous daughter, to death were legitimate punishments. I can write off the stonings in the Old Testament to historical context and a greater plan of God’s. I’m also quite happy to write off corporal punishment for the same reasons, but fundamentalist Christians (you know, the kind that believes that LGBTs should be treated as second class citizens; the Sabbath command, which they believe was written in stone by God, isn’t worth worrying about; that twenty children got shot in a school in Connecticut because God was angry with America for taking prayer out of school, and that hurricane Sandy was God’s wrath against homosexuality – those guys, and many more moderate ones too) don’t want to give up their right to discipline their kids – with a weapon.
I’ve often been told that it doesn’t mean beating your kids black and blue, but something more reasonable. I disagree, I think that’s exactly what it means, after all, it does prescribe using a big stick, not a hand spanking. (Cf. Proverbs 20:30)
I honestly believe that violence begets violence, and that the chain of violence should be severed wherever possible, especially starting with young children. Beating children shows that violence is a solution, and there isn’t a way to make it reasonable by talking about it, or beating them less hard. To illustrate the point I have a scenario for you to examine:
A pair of siblings is having a fight, of course this includes the customary beating of each other that goes with it (this beating is unsurprising since it’s their parents method for sorting out issues). The father arrives and breaks it up. He very reasonably and clearly explains that violence isn’t an answer, and that disputes/differences/conflicts should not be resolved by hitting each other. To drive the point home, he then proceeds to hit the two kids.
If you can’t see something irrational in that scenario, I would like to hear from you why you don’t see a problem with the father’s actions – use the comment box.
I personally think that violence is one of societies greatest problems. Consequently, I think that when children are violent, the most severe form of correction we are willing to administer should be reserved for violent activity. Obviously, to respond violently is irrational and contradictory, and amounts to saying to your child that they must listen to you, but mustn’t follow your example. I’m not a parent, so I can’t say how I would react, but I’d be interested to hear from parents and caregivers, how they actually respond to cases of violent children. I would also like to hear from parents who do think the spanking/hiding/beating (choose a term that makes you feel better) is the correct solution.
Finally, to cap off, I don’t get the impression that Jesus actually endorsed beating kids. It rather seems that he probably didn’t, but that is a focus for another day, but I would still be interested to hear from those “New Testament Christians” who feel that we don’t have to worry about the Sabbath or our diets because “that’s the Old Testament, and the Old Covenant, and we are under the New [lawless] Covenant,” how they justify giving hidings, from the New Testament.
Please comment, and share this if you think the idea is as absurd as I do. There are plenty of share buttons below to use if you think children should be spared the physical and emotional trauma of being beaten in the name of a loving God.