Saturday, September 02, 2006

Hands are not for hitting

God bless the smock lady for her presentation on spanking

It’s no big news or new news that I’m not a fan of the Ezzos. I’m not a fan of the Pearls either. I write this after months and months and even years of thinking on this subject, but having recently been fronted with a few things I’ve read in many places, it’s hit hard at my heart once again. This is not something I can write without passion or tears. The longer I parent and the more I study, the more convinced I am that spanking is wrong. I’ve been holding on to this post for a long time and it still isn’t ready, but I don’t think I can hold back on it anymore. I’ll just have to work on it as it goes. This is extremely hard for me to compose and say what I believe and feel in my heart and how to interpret the Scriptures on this subject clearly enough for me to explain why I believe what I believe.
I will ostercize myself from some people for this and I will probably offend some as well. While my goal is to do neither of those I can not be quiet any longer. I’ve read the books by the Ezzos and I hate the books strongly and I do not agree with what they say.
Look at the outcome of what they teach; see where it has gotten thier children and them as a family. I’m not going to link everything I want to about the Ezzos here (this is not about the Ezzos), but you can follow many of these links at TulipGirl’s site and Chewymom has quite a few too. I could go off on the Pearls too as they are basically the Ezzos on steroids, but I will not even go there right now as all I will do is get extremely angry.
“Spare the rod and spoil the child” is NOT in the Bible. Samuel Butler is NOT God and his poem Hudibras is a satiric epic about the Puritans and their separation from the king.
Proverbs 13.24“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”Proverbs 19.18“Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.”Proverbs 22.15“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.”Proverbs 23.13 & 14“13Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. 14If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol..”Proverbs 29.15“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”
OK, so there it is, many scripture quotes right from my BIBLE in the English Standard Version. I do not deny that they mention the rod and using it on a child. Why do so many people take those five verses and turn them into a whole child rearing philosophy? Does one really think that those should be translated in such a literal manner? Apparently some do or at least make it fit their reasons. If that’s the case, which came first - the belief to hit spank a child or the study of these verses? I think the first is the honest answer.
Let’s do a little thinking on that. Proverbs. What are proverbs? Proverbs are sayings that express a basic truth or idea and are given to teaching wisdom and truth through the medium of aphorisms and are metaphoric in nature. Proverbs bear truth through similar means as parables. The Proverbs do teach wisdom, but they are not to be interpreted as literal. Why do we choose to use these five Proverbs as literal and not the others? In understanding Proverbs this way I do not believe that the rod described here is a literal one. Do you know what a rod is? I’ll come back to that in a minute.
I want to stop and say right here and now that I am NOT against discipline. May I say that again: I am NOT against discipline. May I also stress that there is a huge difference between discipline and punishment. I’ll stop there and let that one just sink in a bit.
Discipline: training to improve strength or self-control; train by instruction and practice; especially to teach self-controlPunishment: the practice of imposing something unpleasant on a wrongdoerMercy: being denied that which we deserve (as Christians, the punishment of hell)Grace: being given that which we do not deserve (as Christians, an eternity in heaven)
Now back to the rod. The rod is basically a baseball bat with nails/spikes driven into it to be used in defense of oneself or of something we have been given charge. It can also be a rather thick walking stick with a larger end sturdy enough to be used for protection, but it does differ from the staff which is a tall walking stick with a crook on the end used for holding and grabbing as necessary to keep from losing an object. Let’s look further (farther?) into that a bit: the literal rod.
Psalm 23A Psalm of David.
1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.2He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters.3He restores my soul.He leads me in paths of righteousnessfor his name’s sake.
4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil,for you are with me;your rod and your staff,they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before mein the presence of my enemies;you anoint my head with oil;my cup overflows.6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow meall the days of my life,and I shall dwell in the house of the LORDforever.
Any shepherd (real sheep hearder) will tell you that the rod was never, ever used on the sheep directly for correcting purposes. It was used on the sheep’s enemies. The rod is used to scare away the wolf and the bear and the lion, or in some cases to beat those enemies to death so that the sheep are safe. The rod is a form of comfort in this manner. Sheep, by nature are very, very stupid. My great aunt and uncle used to have sheep; they used them for the wool and I still have some shirts that are made from those sheep and even a baby blanket that came from the wool of those sheep. I recall one single conversation with that aunt and uncle, who are no longer with us, many years ago when I was very young. they lived so far away that I didn’t see them often. I can remember them saying to me about how much they learned about the 23rd Psalm by having sheep. Sheep are totally dependent on the shepherd. They are unable to protect themselves. Sheep learn the voice of the shepherd and learn to respond to it. They learn that voice so well, that they don’t respond to other voices. This is the voice of their master, the one on whom they can depend. It is quite fitting that David compares us to this sheep. We are stupid. We try to live life without God and his protection and his guidance and his care and love and compassion, but he continues to guide us, and feed us, and care for us, and protect us. And we learn, we should learn, his voice. To know when to stay away from the edge of that cliff so we don’t fall over. But sometimes, because we are stupid and try to go it alone, we stumble, we fall, we get stuck, and we need help. So what does he do? He, the loving shepherd, reaches over the cliff with his staff and brings us back to safety. And when we walk too far away and the dangers of the wolf are hiding behind the nearest rock just waiting for us to get a little bit closer, he calls to us. If we listen and obey, we are safe again. If we listen and don’t obey or we don’t hear him, we get too close to that wolf and just as the Big Bad Wolf is preparing for his attack, the staff grabs us and slides us out of danger while the rod is beating away at the Big Bad Wolf so he cannot harm us.
Often the shepherd’s rod was used to pull back the thick wool covering the body of the sheep to check its skin for infections and disease and parasites. This too is using the rod as a comfort for the sheep.
I want to come back to the word rod now. First notice that in the Proverb passages the word ‘authority’ can always be used as a substitute for the word rod. I am trying really hard to bring back my Biblical Greek and Latin student days and the professor who often brought in his own great knowledge of Hebrew to further explain meanings and translations. I will also rely heavily on the missing knowledge of mine to be corrected by
Rev. Mr. Know Tea. The word used for rod is ’shebet’. There are very few places I can recall that specific word being used and one of them is in Exodus.
Exodus 21.20“When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged.
Obviously, the rod can kill. So why would Solomon (he wrote the Proverbs, King Solomon) tell parents to beat their child with something that could possibly kill them? I don’t believe this is what he is saying - refer back to my comment on using the word authority instead. Beating a child with Authority (teaching, educating, instructing) will not kill the child. Beating a child, even hitting a child, with the rod (shebet) could cause death. This is not grace. King Solomon, one of the wisest, if not the wisest king who ever ruled, was writing Proverbs from the perspective of a king, an authority figure. Sure Solomon was not perfect, none of us is. The scepter of a king is the representative equivalent of the shepherd’s rod and the king is the representative figure of the shepherd. Why would Solomon tell us to beat our children when he alone knew in his heart that the love of a mother would protect her child from harm at any cost? Remember the story, the story of the one mother whose baby died in bed next to her and she stole the child of another woman? How did Solomon discover the real mother? He ordered that the child be killed and split in half to be shared among the two fighting women. Did Solomon really want harm to come to this child? Of course not. Did he have the intention of ever killing this child and splitting it in half? No, of course not. He knew the real mother’s love would rather sacrifice herself and her ever being able to see her child again before she would let harm come to her child - she gave up her rights to the child so the other mother could have the baby. Why? To keep him safe because she loved him. The other mother was ready to go along with Solomon’s order because she was hurting, feeling loss, and jealousy. She wanted a child at any cost. Solomon knew from the sacrificial loving acts of the real mother who the baby belonged to and he gave her the baby to love. He knew that baby belonged to her; that baby was born from her womb and had nursed at her breast. (Story account in I Kings 3.16-28)
Note from the
Rev. Mr. Know Tea:Most of the Rabbinical authorities agree that the Hebrew word shebet (rod) is to be taken as a metaphor for authority. In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible which was made during the intertestamental period) the word shebet is translated by the Greek word skeptra, from whence we get our word “scepter.” The kings of Israel and Judah are described by the poets in the Bible as wielding a scepter (rod), because the kings were to be the shepherds of their people. and the rod is a shepherd’s tool. Thus it is a symbol of the king’s authority over his “sheep”, and also of his defending his sheep (the people of Israel) against all of his and their enemies (read the Shorter Catechism question about Christ as our King and you’ll see a striking parallel). To underscore the metaphorical nature of shebet even further, while there is at least one instance in the Bible of a foreign king (Artaxerxes in the Book of Esther) holding a scepter, none of the kings of Israel or Judah is described as holding a literal scepter in his hand: the scepter or rod was simply a figure of speech for the king’s authority and his role as the defender of the nation.
But, if the Ezzos and Pearls of the world insist on taking shebet literally in these few verses (despite the evidence), they must also take the word used for “child” in these verses, na’ar, literally as well. Na’ar most often refers to a “lad”, specifically a boy, from around the age of 12 to around the age of 20. It could denote a son or a servant boy. If there was any hitting with an actual rod going on (and that, at this point, is a big “if”), this type of punishment would most likely have been used on boys only, and only then beginning at the age when most people nowadays would stop spanking.End note.
I John 4.18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
I know what it’s like to grow up being spanked. I know what it’s like a child trying to interpret how getting hit is loving or an act of love. I know what it’s like to grow up being afraid of that. Being afraid to do anything. Not knowing what decison will bring down the wrath of spanking, the beating. I know what it’s like to be spanked and then be told, “I do this because I love you.” HA! I know what it’s like to have to sit there afterwards in pain, while sitting only made it worse, and listen to a parent discuss why I had to be spanked. I know what it’s like to have to focuss on praying and God and the act my parents had just performed while I still wanted to cry in pain, but knowing I better not, because it might start over again. I know what it’s like to be told to be quiet and stop crying because I got what I deserved.
I remember being small and realizing that I couldn’t tell my parents the truth about how I felt or what I thought because it could be interpreted as disrespect or a sinful heart that needed to be ‘trained by the belt’ again. I remember the day I realized I had to go along with what they said at all cost or chance getting spanked again. I remember at a young age going into what I refer to as ’survival mode’ - just live life day to day so I could some day get out of there and live my life in freedom, freedom from them. I remember the day I realized that as long as I didn’t get caught, I wouldn’t get spanked. I remember the day I realized that one day I would be too old or too big to be spanked. I remember the day I realized that spankings only had to do with getting caught. I remember learning a few lessons from being spanked: 1) that if I didn’t do what my parents thought I should do, I would get spanked; 2) that my parents hit me; 3) if I don’t get caught, I don’t get spanked; 4) if spankings are acts of love then I’d rather die than know what hate and fear were; 5) realizing that what I had felt all my life was fear; 6) and that spankings cause damage - physical and emotional damage to a childas well as a lack of trust. I know that damage that spanking can do.
I also know what it’s like to love a child. I know what it’s like to want my child to behave and make good decisions and know what’s right and what’s wrong. I know what it’s like to spank a child. I know what it felt like and I do not believe that is what I am supposed to do as a parent. I know what it is like to see the look on my child’s face when we’ve said the word. I also vowed to never do it again. I know that there are other ways to discipline a child. I know that no two children are alike. I know that what works for one child with discipline, will not necessarily work for all or another.
I also know that I am no expert and that I fail daily. I know that I don’t have all the answers. I know that I pray daily for those answers and the answers to the questions that will come. I know that when I take a step back and ask God for guidance with teaching my children that he gives it to me. While I know that I am passionate about what I believe and why I believe this I may sound just as adamant that this way is the only way, that what I wrote could be interpretted as I think this is God’s way to raise children. I have no disclaimer to write out for everyone to read, but what I do know is that I believe spanking is wrong. I also know that I will be held accountable to God for my actions; I am responsible for myself, my actions, or even lack there of, and I am responsible to God for these beautiful people he has intrusted to me (us, my husband and I) to raise. They are ours for only a short time. He has loaned them to us to raise and to teach. I believe that we are to do this without spanking.
Christ, on the cross, took the ulitmate punishment for our sins, all our sins. Christ took the ultimate spanking. This is mercy and grace in its ulitmate form.
Note: all scripture quotes from the English Standard Version

No Stitches to Whew, here goes - spanking and why I believe it is wrong


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