Once again I found myself dealing with a Christian pro-spanker that insists that the “rod verses” in the book of Proverbs must be taken literally. Yet, when I asked the following questions, the pro-spanker couldn’t answer:
*If we must spank/hit our children then shouldn’t we also stone people, cut off body parts, pluck eyes out?
*And what about slavery? Shouldn’t we continue to keep slaves?
*Shouldn’t we also sacrifice animals for our sins?
People pick and choose what to take literally. It makes no sense to take a few verses literally to justify spanking/hitting children but not other harsh verses.
The Bible was written for us, not to us. As I have said many times, we must seek to understand the historical and cultural context of Scripture. We must also study the original languages of the Bible to truly understand what it’s saying and how to apply it to us.
Not every Scripture is meant to be directly applied to us! We are to learn from all Scripture, but because of what Jesus did on the cross, we do not need to directly apply every single Scripture to our lives. To do so is to downplay what Jesus did for all of humanity on the cross!
“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14, NASB).
After a while, the pro-spanker tried to answer the questions above by saying that we no longer live under the Law, but rather, we live under grace.
Exactly! And this grace applies to children as well. Jesus freed us from the Law.
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18).
When we spank, we are parenting under the Law. We are not accepting the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus. Jesus died for us. He was beaten to a bloody pulp for us. Why do we feel we must beat, spank, and hit our young children who do not understand sin nor physical punishment?
“In regard to evil be infants” (1 Corinthians 14:20b).
If we are to interpret all of the “rod” verses that appear to advocate spanking/hitting children with a large weapon with spikes on it literally, then we must take all of the other harsh verses in the Bible literally. Who are we to apply only a handful of verses to inflict pain on children but not do everything else in the Bible?
After all, the Bible also says:
“Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts” (Proverbs 20:30, NASB).
I truly do not believe that God wanted us to take the entire Bible literally. Rather, we are to see how God redeemed His people. The Bible is meant to be read in a redemption manner.
For more information about how to interpret the “rod verses” in Proverbs, please click here.
Finally, as Christ-followers should easily realize that all the verses telling us to be kind, merciful, graceful, gentle, peaceful, loving, forgiving, and patient with one another apply to children too. Jesus is our example!
In fact, Ephesians 5:1-2 says,
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
So to imitate God is to walk in love, not hurt each other. And the fruit of the Spirit is:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, *gentleness,* self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
I will end with two final verses.
“For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).
God favors mercy over judgement.
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance, not fear and pain. This is what we should take literally!