The saying “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is a tragic misunderstanding of a passage of the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 13:24). The rod referred to that used by shepherds in ancient times to guide sheep to go in a certain direction, but NOT to ever BEAT them! Beating children with anything should be considered abuse, because adults are stronger than children. Therefore, the only thing kids can learn from being beaten is that bullying is acceptable and thus they can get ahead by bulling weaker and smaller people!
I wouldn’t even consider buying into a discussion on this if you were not sounding like you actually read the Bible, but since you explain it rather than dismiss it….
If we were not meant to beat them with a literal rod, how then do you explain this verse?
For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell. (Prov 23:13-14)
I agree that “beating” your child is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! in the context which we currently associate with beating. No argument there. I can’t however see that lovingly applied correction, for the sake of a child learning safety and self discipline is a wrong thing. I think it comes down to your definition of “beat”.
Have you ever read the verse in question in the original Hebrew? There seems to be several versions of it in English. The New International Version puts Proverbs 23:13-14 as “Do not withhold discipline from a child; If you punish him with a rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” I suspect that the Hebrew word used in English as “beat” in the King James Version and as “punish” in the New International Version may mean something else, but until we find someone that actually knows Hebrew and thus can read the original Hebrew scriptures, we may never know. That’s why one should never take the words of the Bible, in any version, too literally.
As for the “beating” I condemn, it is using anything other than your hand to physically punish a child for chronic cases of misbehavior. Using any weapon, such as a rod or a belt, as a tool of punishment on a small child is brutality in the extreme. If your hand is not enough for you, get some professional help, please!
Check out this blog by a Jewish person on the same issue.
Whoever wrote this does’t matter. It’s BS. The most obvious interpretation of the verses is that they are really about beating children. Who cares if it kills their soul? That’s the whole point! The ancient Hebrews, If they even halfway followed their scriptures, were an evil people who would make the Taliban look like flower children. They openly practiced child-rape in the form of circumcision, a mode of severe abuse which has leaked into American “medical” practice due to the influence of fundamentaltalist Christians in the early 20th century US Medical community.
The whole point of the three Abrahamic faiths is that we should be God’s bitches. If it takes genital assault, beatings, and stonings to make that happen: Let’s get to work! These faiths are the enemies of human thriving and everyone who values human freedom should seek to defeat these faiths.
Just look what happened when the US elected a president who said he got mesages from God stacked staff positions with graduates from Regent’s and Liberty “universities”. A war founded on lies, and torture, lots of torture.
Don’t think we’re out of the woods yet with the last elections. US fundies have been seeking to gain control of nuclear weapons. That’s the whole point their decades-long evangelical effort at the USAF Academy. They want operatives with access to The Bomb.
The fundies want Power. They see themselves as God’s bitches and want to make the rest of us their secondary bitches. They want more of us in prison, they want more of us to live in fear and insecurity. They will ally with whoever have to in order to meet these goals.
Hmm, not a new perspective, but certainly interesting. One thing that the author does not address however, and more surprisingly as he is a Jew, is that God is portrayed in a lot more ways than as a Good Shepherd.
God used all manner of things to chastise His chosen people – not all of the ways were gentle and lovely. Some of them seemed pretty harsh. Is it because God did not love Israel? No, He was as hard as they needed Him to be, to draw their hearts back to Him. The Old Testament, (which I guess is the only part the author counts as having something to say) is full of accounts of His judgments on Israel, and subsequent wooing back of their affections.
Whether you agree on spanking with a rod or not, there is no question He is a Good God, that He strives with the heart of man. (off topic I know, but dwelling on His mindfulness of man makes me astounded anew that He bothers with us!)
I would like to correct one little misconception – I did not write the blog-entry Blog: Does the Bible justify Child Abuse? a good friend, an Evangelical Lutheran, did. I simply got his permission and posted it unabridged on my Blog.
However – I agree with him in his assertions and his analysis of the text in the Hebrew Bible – one of the few instances that I have come across a Xian who actually bother to check what the true custodians of Torah say about this.
Henry Gordon is correct – Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) is not speaking about using a physical implement to “discipline” our children – Bava Batra 21 a in the Babylonian Talmud:
“Rav said to Rav Samuel bar Shilat: If you hit a child, strike him only with a shoestring.”
This is the Jewish Position on the matter of child abuse through caning, flogging and generally beating our children as “discipline”.
Now, Xians may have another view, but they cannot truthfully say that the Hebrew Bible endorses physical child abuse (and any physical “discipline” is abuse), for a myriad of reasons, but the most primal is the fact that the Jews have the right of interpretation of their Scriptures, just a the Xians have the right of interpretation when it comes to the Xian Scriptures.
The Xians may borrow, steal, kidnap and hi-jack our Sacred Texts, but we have to remember that this is exactly what they have done. Which basically invalidates any interpretation that does not concur with the Jewish understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures.