Do not hold back discipline from the child,
Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
You shall strike him with the rod
And rescue his soul from Sheol”
Proverbs 23:13-14 NASB
So many Christians believe this verse and the other “Rod” verses are to be taken literally. Some very watered down versions of the Bible even say to spank. But, if we were to take this literally, wouldn’t that make God a liar?
Let’s think about this.
1. The Hebrew word for rod is Shebet. It was a big heavy stick with spikes on it. Striking a small child with this instrument even gently would kill the child.
2. Sheol is the Hebrew word for death, not Hell, as many Christians believe. To say that spanking/hitting children will save them from Hell would discredit the horrible suffering and agony of what Christ did on the cross. All we would need to be saved from Hell would be a good beating. Yet, many reject God due to “loving spankings.”
3. Many children have physically died from spankings. This verse and the rest of the Bible does not give “rules” on how not to go too far. In fact, the King James Version of the Bible, which many fundamentalist Christians tout as the “only true version,” tells us to beat children with the rod.
Again, this would make God a liar to say that a child will not die if we beat her/him. God NEVER lies (“so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18, NASB)!
4. Even if children don’t physically die after being spanked/hit, an emotional/spiritual part of them does die and their brains are damaged. This is NOT good. This makes it harder for them to receive God’s grace.
5. Jesus said a lot about children. Why did He not talk about spanking/hitting them?
Considering all these facts, which I explore much more deeply in my book, Gentle Firmness, wouldn’t it make more sense to interpret these verses in keeping with the original context and actual meanings?
The deeper we look into the original context and meaning, the clearer it becomes that God never intended for children to be spanked/hit.
If we discipline children with God’s Word, they will not die.
If we protect children with the rod, they will not die.
If we use our authority properly to teach and guide our children in a gentle but firm way, they will not die.
Punishment leads to death. Discipline leads to LIFE!
“But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”
Matthew 19:14 NASB
Let’s listen to Jesus instead of man!