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Christians and gentle discipline

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
There has probably already been a thread about this but since I don't have time to dig it up...

I don't have DC yet so this is far off, but one thing DH and I as pacifists have come to agree on is that we will not spank our children. This goes over great in liberal circles, but DH and I come from conservative Christian families who taught "spare the rod spoil the child". Without creating a separate argument...I am close with my parents, think they are the greatest people on earth and do not harbor anything against them for spanking me, but I will definitely not do the same with my children.

How have you crunchy Christian gentle-disciplining Moms handled "spare the rod spoil the child" nonsense? Especially when well meaning people I love will have genuine concern that I am spoiling my children? Ofcourse I will explain gently, in love...and ultimately my childrens best interest comes before anyone's opinion of me.

I am just preparing now. Any advice?
post #2 of 30
Hey Mama!! Well, I am not Christian, but I have lots of crunchy Christian friends. I'll just throw in my friend Karen's bumpersticker here: "Who Would Jesus Spank?" Kinda says it all, KWIM? Also, there are many Christian anti-spanking resources on the web and elsewhere that pretty handily refute, in very solid Biblical terms, the idea that violence is acceptable in ay loving relationship. At least in the New Testament
post #3 of 30
I read a great thread on this here in this forum a few months back; you might search under "spare the rod" or the like. Hope those same mamas will chime in, but the gist of the posts was about how the "rod" in those quoted verses is used with the analogy of the shepherd and sheep -- the rod isn't used to beat the sheep into submission; it is rather gentle guidance, a protector from harm. HTH
post #4 of 30
I don't fit any of your requirements, however I have seen several parents on here respond with "thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me" (23 Ps.) As in, guide gently, like a sheep, not beat them with it. the rod is intended to set limits not punish, to keep sheep from wondering off the path and ... well, dying (making them spoiled, or worthless)... thus if you spare the rod (fail to guide them on the path by setting firm but gentle limits), you do spoil the child (allowing them to "die' spiritually)...

and of course, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
post #5 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by laoxinat View Post
I'll just throw in my friend Karen's bumpersticker here: "Who Would Jesus Spank?"
I'd LOVE to know where she got that!! I like that!
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by OpenHanded View Post
I read a great thread on this here in this forum a few months back; you might search under "spare the rod" or the like. Hope those same mamas will chime in, but the gist of the posts was about how the "rod" in those quoted verses is used with the analogy of the shepherd and sheep -- the rod isn't used to beat the sheep into submission; it is rather gentle guidance, a protector from harm. HTH
I'm not Christian but my mom was later in life, and one of DH's friends is 7th Day and is almost a bible scholar, and that is what I have heard from *anyone* who seriously studies the bible. The rod isn't a rod.

From someone outside of it all, however, I personally think that there's a twist in the way it's said and meant. I believe it's not a backwards way of saying to be physically punitive, but rather an order. Spare the rod and spoil the child. Do both. Not "spoil the child", but yes, spare the rod, spoil the child.

That works for me. Except you're not really spoiling the child, but when my stepdad (who has a different outlook on religion than my mom did) would go on, that kinda, um, got him to be quiet.
post #7 of 30
Check out the articles at www.gentlechristianmothers.com
post #8 of 30
I just can't picture Jesus hitting a kid.
post #9 of 30
www.aolff.org

This site answers a lot of those questions.
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post
Check out the articles at www.gentlechristianmothers.com
That is a great resource

You also might consider checking out
http://www.stophitting.com/religion/christian/
http://nospank.net/cnpindex.htm
http://parentinginjesusfootsteps.org/


Also
The Complete Book of Christian Parenting & Child Care: A Medical & Moral Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Children
by Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears is a great too I've heard http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Book-...7853186&sr=8-1
Good to have on hand as something concrete to give to your parents.
I have not read this, but I have ordered it to give to my Sister in Law who is having a hard time with my mother in laws constant preassure for her to spank her daughter as I am a big fan of the Sears, and have heard great things about this book.

The Sears' book "The Discipline Book" also has a small section on gentle Discipline from a Christian POV. http://www.amazon.com/Discipline-Boo...7853370&sr=1-1
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by laoxinat View Post
Hey Mama!! Well, I am not Christian, but I have lots of crunchy Christian friends. I'll just throw in my friend Karen's bumpersticker here: "Who Would Jesus Spank?" Kinda says it all, KWIM? Also, there are many Christian anti-spanking resources on the web and elsewhere that pretty handily refute, in very solid Biblical terms, the idea that violence is acceptable in ay loving relationship. At least in the New Testament

well...there was that one incident with the whip and the moneychangers in the temple...

Sorry I just had to bring that up! :

To pp's all great stuff, I love Dr. Sears, and GCM people too.
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidirk View Post
well...there was that one incident with the whip and the moneychangers in the temple...
True, true, but they were adults
post #13 of 30
The book, Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson deals with a lot of the questions I had about the clearly non-figurative passages about the rod, the fact that the Hebrew culture was very harsh, etc. in what I felt was an honest and theologically sound way. His conclusion is that spanking is definitely not a biblical requirement and that the non-figurative rod passages are not referring to young children.

I just bumped an old thread that was talking about some of these issues that you might find interesting, too.
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by kapatasana View Post
The Complete Book of Christian Parenting & Child Care: A Medical & Moral Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Children
by Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears is a great too I've heard http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Book-...7853186&sr=8-1
My very conservative Christian aunt gave me a copy of this book when my oldest was born. I was thrilled, already being a Sears fan, which she did not know. It was wonderful to find a connection to that branch of my family in our ideas about childrearing and discipline, even though we used different language to discribe our beliefs....

I second the recommendation. I think it would be a very good tool for your purposes.
post #15 of 30
Keep in mind, too, that the Psalms were written in figurative language- they were poetry. So the rod was symbolic. Shepherds don't beat sheep. They use the rod to guide, and if anything, to beat wolves away. Sheep are dumb animals in need of constant guidance. And we are likened many times over to sheep in the bible


Now, I am not one who thinks people are inhierently "good". I think once children get to a certain age, they understand more and can learn to be manipulative,(and by this I do not mean very young children!!!) which may make even some gentle parents want to spank. But I think there are so many other ways to deal with issues.

the Bible also says"in your anger do not sin". I know when my kids don't behave all day, what I am feeling would most likely be described as anger
post #16 of 30
In full disclosure, I have not read as much of the Bible as I ought to, although I am Christian.

With that said, my belief is that the Bible is not to be taken literally. That it is not a "scientific" book, but historical prose. In that way, there are passages or phrases which are symbolic and not literal.
post #17 of 30
[QUOTE=heidirk;10972713]well...there was that one incident with the whip and the moneychangers in the temple...

It is ridiculous to think that Jesus whipped anyone. Read the verse. He used the whip to drive out the animals- not to hit people with! :

-----And I also wanted to mention that 'Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child" is not found anywhere in the bible. More on that in Crystal's site www.aolff.com

Also- the Rod is a symbol of authority. We are called to be the authority in our children's lives- and yes, to discipline them. But disciple means to TEACH. We are to correct them by teaching them. Not by hitting them.
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by kindergirl77 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by heidirk View Post
well...there was that one incident with the whip and the moneychangers in the temple...
It is ridiculous to think that Jesus whipped anyone. Read the verse. He used the whip to drive out the animals- not to hit people with! :

-----And I also wanted to mention that 'Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child" is not found anywhere in the bible. More on that in Crystal's site www.aolff.com

Also- the Rod is a symbol of authority. We are called to be the authority in our children's lives- and yes, to discipline them. But disciple means to TEACH. We are to correct them by teaching them. Not by hitting them.
LOL, so Jesus wouldn't hit people--He would only hit animals?

What version of the Bible are you using? At least as the King James Version reads, I don't really think it's fair to call a literal interpretation of this passage "ridiculous."

Quote:
John 2

"13And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;

16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.

17And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
A literal (and standard grammatical) interpretation would take the phrase "and . . . he drove them all out" to refer to the merchants and moneychangers, since they were the subject of the first part of the sentence (right before the connecting "and"). It would be a complete sentence even leaving out the next phrase which says that He also drove out the animals. So basically he drove the moneychangers and their animals out of the temple with a whip (that he made with his own hands, BTW).

Either way, he was at the very least using the threat of violence, and violently turning over tables and dumping out money. His righteous anger was strong, and he wasn't exactly gentle about defending His Father's house.

Jesus sometimes acted harshly, and sometimes even used force. He knocked people over, killed a fig tree that wasn't bearing fruit, spoke extremely harshly to people, etc.

However, my understanding is that He did not direct his harshness or his judgement at children, sinners or the repentant . . . it was directed at the hypocrites and those who had ultimately rejected Him and were beyond hope. Children definitely do not fit into that category (and even if they did, I don't think it is our job to decide that they are beyond hope or to exact God's judgement upon them in that way).

Jesus spoke very highly of children and very harshly against anyone who would hurt a child, turn one away from him, or cause one to stray.

I agree with your conclusions that we should correct children by teaching them, not by hitting them. But an honest and accurate reading of the Bible is very important to me, and I think it's important not to perpetuate the myth that Christians who don't advocate physical discipline of children don't really understand the Bible or take it literally and seriously.

I know that, for some people, those kinds of arguments (Jesus was never violent, the rod passages couldn't possibly mean a literal rod, etc.) are convincing. But they weren't at all convincing for me.

So, just in case someone runs across someone like me, I'll try to explain the arguments that are and are not convincing to me personally.

It's technically true that the exact phrase, "spare the rod and spoil the child" is not in the Bible. It's basically a folksy way of summarizing a few different passages such as:

Quote:
Proverbs 13:24 "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."

Prov. 19:18 "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying."

Prov. 23:13-14 "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."
Saying, "spare the rod and spoil the child isn't in the Bible" is not a convincing argument to me. Because the Bible clearly does convey that general idea even though it doesn't use those exact words.

To me, it is an equally unconvincing argument to say that all references to the rod or to beating in the Bible are figurative.

The "poetic symbolism" argument does apply to passages like those in Psalms and perhaps Proverbs, that are (or at least arguably could be) speaking symbolically. But it doesn't do anything for me in understanding passages like those in the books of the Law such as Exodus 21:15, 20-21, Deutoronomy 21:18-21, etc. that are clearly talking about beating servants and stoning sons to death, etc.

For me, it is important to acknowledge that there are passages that talk about literally hitting people with literal rods and whips or using other violent physical punishments. Pretending that those passages aren't there, or that they aren't saying what they are saying, will only give an excuse to disregard arguments against spanking. A different approach can be much more effective.

Understanding the type of literature and common ways of communicating can help a lot in sorting through which passages are symbolic and which are literal.

For instance, to me, a much more convincing argument is that Proverbs is, by its very nature, a set of true-isms. They're a poetic/folksy type of literature that are basically nuggets of wisdom. They are a wise man's observations of general principals, not laws or promises. So the basic underlying principle is not to reject the training and discipline of your children--to take teaching and directing them seriously. That doesn't mean we're required to do that in the same way people in the very harsh Old Testament culture did it, or in exactly the same way as in the example Solomon mentioned.

Also, it's also rather telling that Solomon's own kids didn't turn out particularly well, so that could reasonably affect how much weight we give to his parenting advice.

Some sections of the Bible, such as Proverbs, Psalms, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes are a very different type of literature--and are generally interpreted and understood very differently--than sections such as the law portions, the historical narrative portions, and the epistles and more directly instructive portions. So making an argument from the type of literature, as with Psalms and possibly Proverbs being figurative, can be convincing. But trying to say that Leviticus isn't really talking about literally beating/stoning/killing people is a much harder sell.

I think it's pretty convincing that most of the non-poetic, more literal passages that show violence toward people are either (a) Old-Testament Law that does not apply to us today (i.e. the order to kill unreformable disobedient sons by stoning them) or (b) they are descriptive (narrating/telling what happened in a specific event) rather than prescriptive (instructing readers what they themselves should do).

For an example of prescriptive vs. descriptive take the story of David and Bathsheba. It's a historical account of what happened, but of course nobody believes that because the Bible talks about it, then we should all go out and murder people to take their spouses for ourselves, KWIM? It's not telling us to do that--the message is actually the opposite. The story shows the consequences of sin. It's descriptive, not prescriptive.

I find that, for me, a good response to the Lev/Ex/Deut passages is the argument that Old Testament law doesn't apply to us. OT law regulated things like slavery, polygamy and divorce that most people now understand clearly are wrong or at least less than ideal. It didn't necessarily mean that God condoned those things, but He did often meet people where they were at and work within the culture they lived in.

Jesus is quoted many times in the New Testament basically saying that the old, harsh laws no longer apply . . . for instance, where He says that the one without sin should cast the first stone, and that "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" no longer applies, but we should forgive and show grace.

If we look at the prescriptive passages about how to treat others, especially others in the family of Christ, in the New Testament, they are all about grace, love, mutual submission and gentleness.

Galatians 6:1
Quote:
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Or, as the amplified version says,
Quote:
BRETHREN, IF any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.
IMHO that's a strong argument for treating our children with gentleness and grace when we find them in a fault.

These ideas are discussed quite a bit in this old thread, too.

Anyway, I hope some of this might be helpful for anyone conversing with a person who is used to a more traditional and literal interpretation of these passages.
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by purple_kangaroo View Post
LOL, so Jesus wouldn't hit people--He would only hit animals?

What version of the Bible are you using? At least as the King James Version reads, I don't really think it's fair to call a literal interpretation of this passage "ridiculous."



A literal (and standard grammatical) interpretation would take the phrase "and . . . he drove them all out" to refer to the merchants and moneychangers, since they were the subject of the first part of the sentence (right before the connecting "and"). It would be a complete sentence even leaving out the next phrase which says that He also drove out the animals. So basically he drove the moneychangers and their animals out of the temple with a whip (that he made with his own hands, BTW).

Either way, he was at the very least using the threat of violence, and violently turning over tables and dumping out money. His righteous anger was strong, and he wasn't exactly gentle about defending His Father's house.

Jesus sometimes acted harshly, and sometimes even used force. He knocked people over, killed a fig tree that wasn't bearing fruit, spoke extremely harshly to people, etc.

However, my understanding is that He did not direct his harshness or his judgement at children, sinners or the repentant . . . it was directed at the hypocrites and those who had ultimately rejected Him and were beyond hope. Children definitely do not fit into that category (and even if they did, I don't think it is our job to decide that they are beyond hope or to exact God's judgement upon them in that way).

Jesus spoke very highly of children and very harshly against anyone who would hurt a child, turn one away from him, or cause one to stray.

I agree with your conclusions that we should correct children by teaching them, not by hitting them. But an honest and accurate reading of the Bible is very important to me, and I think arguments like those made by Crystal Lutton tend to perpetuate the myth that Christians who don't advocate physical discipline of children don't really understand the Bible or take it literally and seriously.

I know that, for some people, these arguments are convincing. But they weren't at all convincing for me.

So, just in case someone runs across someone like me, I'll try to explain the arguments that are and are not convincing to me personally.

It's technically true that the exact phrase, "spare the rod and spoil the child" is not in the Bible. It's basically a folksy way of summarizing a few different passages such as:



Saying, "spare the rod and spoil the child isn't in the Bible" is not a convincing argument to me. Because the Bible clearly does convey that general idea even though it doesn't use those exact words.

To me, it is an equally unconvincing argument to say that all references to the rod or to beating in the Bible are figurative.

The "poetic symbolism" argument does apply to passages like those in Psalms and perhaps Proverbs, that are (or at least arguably could be) speaking symbolically. But it doesn't do anything for me in understanding passages like those in the books of the Law such as Exodus 21:15, 20-21, Deutoronomy 21:18-21, etc. that are clearly talking about beating servants and stoning sons to death, etc.

For me, it is important to acknowledge that there are passages that talk about literally hitting people with literal rods and whips or using other violent physical punishments. Pretending that those passages aren't there, or that they aren't saying what they are saying, will only give an excuse to disregard arguments against spanking. A different approach can be much more effective.

Understanding the type of literature and common ways of communicating can help a lot in sorting through which passages are symbolic and which are literal.

For instance, to me, a much more convincing argument is that Proverbs is, by its very nature, a set of true-isms. They're a poetic/folksy type of literature that are basically nuggets of wisdom. They are a wise man's observations of general principals, not laws or promises. So the basic underlying principle is not to reject the training and discipline of your children--to take teaching and directing them seriously. That doesn't mean we're required to do that in the same way people in the very harsh Old Testament culture did it, or in exactly the same way as in the example Solomon mentioned.

Also, it's also rather telling that Solomon's own kids didn't turn out particularly well, so that could reasonably affect how much weight we give to his parenting advice.

Some sections of the Bible, such as Proverbs, Psalms, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes are a very different type of literature--and are generally interpreted and understood very differently--than sections such as the law portions, the historical narrative portions, and the epistles and more directly instructive portions. So making an argument from the type of literature, as with Psalms and possibly Proverbs being figurative, can be convincing. But trying to say that Leviticus isn't really talking about literally beating/stoning/killing people is a much harder sell.

I think it's pretty convincing that most of the non-poetic, more literal passages that show violence toward people are either (a) Old-Testament Law that does not apply to us today (i.e. the order to kill unreformable disobedient sons by stoning them) or (b) they are descriptive (narrating/telling what happened in a specific event) rather than prescriptive (instructing readers what they themselves should do).

For an example of prescriptive vs. descriptive take the story of David and Bathsheba. It's a historical account of what happened, but of course nobody believes that because the Bible talks about it, then we should all go out and murder people to take their spouses for ourselves, KWIM? It's not telling us to do that--the message is actually the opposite. The story shows the consequences of sin. It's descriptive, not prescriptive.

I find that, for me, a good response to the Lev/Ex/Deut passages is the argument that Old Testament law doesn't apply to us. OT law regulated things like slavery, polygamy and divorce that most people now understand clearly are wrong or at least less than ideal. It didn't necessarily mean that God condoned those things, but He did often meet people where they were at and work within the culture they lived in.

Jesus is quoted many times in the New Testament basically saying that the old, harsh laws no longer apply . . . for instance, where He says that the one without sin should cast the first stone, and that "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" no longer applies, but we should forgive and show grace.

If we look at the prescriptive passages about how to treat others, especially others in the family of Christ, in the New Testament, they are all about grace, love, mutual submission and gentleness.

Galatians 6:1

Or, as the amplified version says,

IMHO that's a strong argument for treating our children with gentleness and grace when we find them in a fault.

These ideas are discussed quite a bit in this old thread, too.

Anyway, I hope some of this might be helpful for anyone conversing with a person who is used to a more traditional and literal interpretation of these passages.
I have one comment- on things pertaining to Old Testament law- those were laws. They weren't poetic prose. So I look at them differently.
I agree with pretty much everything you said.


And I , too, like a factual argument. Just presenting me something without any evidence or reason doesn't really fly with me.
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leilalu View Post
I have one comment- on things pertaining to Old Testament law- those were laws. They weren't poetic prose. So I look at them differently.
Yes, that's exactly what I was saying.

Oh, I also forgot to mention that I liked the arguments in Heartfelt Discipline that the passages about punishment in the books of Law and in Proverbs are written about teens and adults, not children. For example, the passage about stoning disobedient children talks about drunkenness in the disobedient son--hardly a problem that a child would have. And Clarkson goes into quite a bit of detail showing that the word na'ar--the word for youth in the Proverbs and other passages--generally did not apply to young children.

One other thing that rattled me even when I first started studying whether spanking was biblically required is this: The Bible, because of the time and culture in which it was written, talks about beating slaves, criminals, sinners, animals, and disobedient children. Why is it, then, that we now believe hitting adults and animals to be wrong, but we still hit children? It just doesn't make sense.

If we are going to say the Bible requires us to use the rod on our children, then we'd better also be baring our own backs for the scourge when we sin:

Quote:
Deuteronomy 25: 1 If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.

2 And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number.

3 Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.
There's no good reason to single out children as the only people who should still be receiving physical punishment. If a person TRULY believes the Bible requires physical punishment, then I think they need to apply it honestly, fully and equally to everyone, just as the Scriptures do. And if they're going to dole out the rod, they should be prepared to receive the same "benefit".

I prefer to rest in the fact that Jesus Christ took the stripes we deserved on his innocent self:

Quote:
1 Peter 2 :24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
Physical punishment isn't what cleanses us of our sins; Christ's sacrifice did that. By His stripes we are healed. That applies no less to children than to adults.
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