Monday, July 11, 2011

Spare The Rod

Mark 10:13-16
13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

Luke 18:15-17
People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs."

Matthew 18:1-5
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, " Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child, whom he put among the, and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."

Matthew 19:13-15
Then little children were brought to him, that he should lay his hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Allow the little children, and don't forbid them to come to me; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to ones like these." He laid his hands on them, and departed from there.

Luke: 6:35-37
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.

Luke 22:47-51
When his followers saw what was coming, they said, “Lord, shall we use our swords?” And one of them struck at the High Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “Let them have their way.” Then he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Christians are the disciples of Jesus. Disciple, as defined at, follows:

/dɪˈsaɪpəl/ Show Spelled [dih-sahy-puhl] Show IPA noun, verb,-pled, -pling.
one of the 12 personal followers of Christ.
one of the 70 followers sent forth by Christ. Luke 10:1.
any other professed follower of Christ in His lifetime.
any follower of Christ.
(initial capital letter) a member of the Disciples of Christ.
a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower"

The origin of the word "discipline" is "disciplīna," which means "instruction, tuition" or "to disciple."

If you are Christian, while the whole biblical witness is authoritative, the witness of Jesus must be the final word. As we've seen, there are multiple accounts of Jesus telling disciples (you) to become more like children. There are multiple accounts of Jesus rebuking violence, even in defense of his own life, or the lives of others. Nowhere do I see Jesus, the end all authority of Christianity, promoting the use of violence against anyone, for any reason.

Over and over again we read of Jesus teaching by example, and through explanation, and occasionally a stern verbal reprimand, but never by hitting one of his disciples. Over and over again he bids us not to judge, to be merciful, compassionate, to pardon. If he would have us do that much for our enemies, do you think he would have us do less or differently for our children - the same children he encourages us to become more like? I don't. Jesus did not punish. Nor did he reward. He left that to God. What he did was offer guidance. He set an example of perfection for us to attempt to emulate. He knew that everything he did, everything he said, was being watched, was being heard - was being learned from.

This is true of you as a parent, too. Your children are your disciples. You are leading by example at all times. You're children are always learning from you, even when you don't want them to, and often not what you meant for them to learn. You're children, like those Jesus laid his hands upon, are blessed. Here is my challenge for you, take Luke 6:35-37 and replace the word "enemy" with "child." Should we not treat our children at least as well as we would treat our enemies?

Spanking involves a certain action. One that you may not call hitting, because it is on those few inches of you blessed child's body that are their bottom; but if you moved that same action to any other part of their body, what would it be called? Luke 6:31 tells us "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Are your children not "others." Not people? You've all read the bumper stickers, the bracelets, the buttons, and so on that ask, "what would Jesus do," and I'm sure most of you can now guess what I'm going to say next.

The next time you feel like it would be appropriate to use physical force to get your way or in an attempt to teach something, the next time you feel it would be appropriate to hit a child, whether it be a smack on the hand, a smack on the butt, or beating with a wooden spoon, ask yourself that question. Is that what Jesus would do? Are you actually doing your best to do as he taught? Are you truly one of his disciples? Or are you following him as is convenient, and hoping to play the "I'm an imperfect human" card come the end? No, I don't believe God expects you to be perfect, but I believe he expects you to do your best. Is that what you're doing when you use your size and strength to domineer over someone vulnerable and dependent upon you for care? What part of that is humble?

As for "spare the rod, spoil the child," I have several responses. First, that exact phrase does not appear anywhere in the bible. It was a poet interpretation and rephrasing, part of a longer poem, written by a mortal.

Second, a rod was used by shepherds to guide sheep, not to beat them and frighten them into submission. Yes, there was occasion where a shepherd might, in order to keep the the sheep from true physical harm, give it a smack on the leg, perhaps to keep it from wandering off course on treacherous path. So, yes, if my child steps off the sidewalk into busy traffic I will probably grab them and yank them back to safety as quickly as I can, which may cause an injury as a side effect. However I will not then inflict a punishment on them, nor was yanking them to safety intended as a punishment. I would simply prefer to have a child with an over-extended joint than a child who's been hit by a vehicle going highway speeds; just as I imagine a shepherd would rather have a sheep with a sore leg from a rod than a sheep who has caught its hoof, tripped and broken a leg.

My second thought on that biblical quote is that it was said by King Solomon, not by God. You know, King Solomon? Whose son grew up to be a cruel ruler, who despised, ridiculed and mocked his father, alongside his illegitimate half brothers?

In response to a query posed by an acquaintance who identifies herself as Christian, yet advocates in favor of hitting children (ie spanking); yes, I have read Dr. Dobson's work, and I have read the Bible. I believe Dr. Dobson has lead an unfortunate life, and that he, albeit seemingly unintentionally, has done the devil he professes to hate a great service - and continues to serve him.

Having read the Bible, multiple times, cover to cover, I can say that I sincerely believe that men taking it upon themselves to decide to punish our children was just that - a decision made by men, not a divine command. While discipline may be necessary, punishment is not synonymous with discipline, or an inherently integral part of discipline, and judging and punishing our fellow humans is not something I can recall Jesus having ever mandated, or even encouraged. And yes, our children are humans.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I appreciate respectful comments, whether you agree or not with my views. I value diversity. However, please remember that this is my house, and I can tell you to leave. Anything I deem purely offensive, mean-spirited or disrespectful, with insufficient pertinent content value, will be deleted.