Review Of “13:24: A Story Of Faith And Obsession” By M. Dolon Hickmon.

I read this book over a year ago.  It is excellent!  Now that I finally have a blog of my own, I can post my review here.

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Ephesians 5:11, NASB).

As Christians, we are called to expose darkness where we find it, and to recognize sin not only in the world around us, but also in the Body of Christ. M. Dolon Hickmon has done just that in 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession, a fast-paced crime thriller that offers readers a sobering glimpse of one of the darkest aspects of Christianity.

13:24 opens with protagonists Chris and Josh leading hard, sinful lives. Chris is an emotionally neglected teenaged fan of the heavy metal band, Rehoboam. Josh is the wild, tattooed leader of that band. At every concert, Christians protest with signs and slogans that are almost as hate-filled as Josh’s violent lyrics seem to be. When Chris goes on a murderous rampage, people blame his fascination with “demonic” music. Meanwhile, celebrity evangelist Allen Garnfield capitalizes on the media frenzy, using details from Chris’ crimes to rail against what he sees as the true cause of violent youth: society’s ongoing shift away from old-fashioned physical punishment. While the criminal investigation unfolds, Garnfield’s sermons are presented alongside scenes of disciplinary beatings, which contribute to the implosions of both Chris’ and Josh’s lives.

For some believers, it might be tempting to deny that Christian spanking advocates have contributed to such tragedies of physical abuse. Sadly, Allen Garnfield’s incendiary lines could easily be quotes from popular books by real-life iconic Christian pro-spanking teachers:

“On the bare legs or bottom, switch him eight or ten licks; then, while waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If the crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If the crying is still defiant, protesting and other than a response to pain, spank him again” (Pearl, 1994, p. 80).
“The child may be more strong-willed than the parent, and they both know it. If he can outlast a temporary onslaught, he has won a major battle, eliminating punishment in the parent’s repertoire. Even though Mom spanks him, he wins the battle by defying her again. The solution to this situation is obvious: outlast him; win, even if it takes a repeated measure” (Dobson, 1970, p. 45).

“For example, a dime sized bruise on the buttocks of a fair-skinned child may or may not indicate an abusive situation. It all depends. In an otherwise secure and loving home, that bruise may have no greater psychological impact than a skinned knee or a stubbed toe. Again the issue in not the small abrasion; it is the meaning behind it” (Dobson, 1996, p. 25).

“After you have spanked, take the child up on your lap and hug him, telling him how much you love him, how much it grieves you to spank him, and how you hope that it will not be necessary again. Then if he is still not restored, you are to check your own spirit to see if you have handled him roughly… [or] brought unholy anger on this holy mission, and if you have, seek forgiveness from God. If your child is still angry, it’s time for another round, ‘Daddy has spanked you, but you are not sweet enough yet. We are going to have to go back upstairs for another spanking'” (Tripp, 1995, p. 149).

As a Christ-follower I was a bit nervous about reading this book. I was concerned that its purpose was to rip Christians and the Bible apart. Having read it, I can assure readers that Hickmon does no such thing.

The title of the book is taken from Proverbs 13:24, “He who withholds his rod hates his son.”   See here regarding how to accurately interpret the “rod” verses.  The importance of this verse becomes clear when Josh uses music and stagecraft to reenact the rarely-told history of King Solomon—widely credited as the compiler of the Book of Proverbs. In these concert scenes, readers graphically witness that King Solomon, though gifted with wisdom from God, was also deeply flawed as a father, husband, and spiritual leader. He ultimately chose worldly sensuality and treasures over keeping with the wisdom that God gave him.

“Solomon was a great ruler who sowed the seeds of the dissolution of his empire and his kingdom was split into two after he died. Solomon’s blunder was that, as he got older, accumulating personal wealth became more important than building up his country. His love for foreign women caused him to accumulate a ridiculous number of wives (I Kings 11:1-4). As Solomon himself noted, leaders need wisdom, understanding, righteousness, and truth to ensure the success of their reign. Wealth, fame, beautiful women, and incredible edifices are not what leadership is all about. God himself praised a young Solomon for choosing wisdom and justice over wealth, longevity, or power over his enemies (I Kings 3:10-11), but it seems that he forgot about his mission” (Friedman, http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/economic/friedman/moralleadership.htm).

Hickmon’s ultimate point is made when Josh, while being questioned about his possible connection to a string of murders, points out how Solomon’s seemingly harsh, authoritarian prescriptions violate Christianity’s important ideals: “Jesus didn’t burden his disciples with impossible demands or whip them into automatic obedience. Rather, Jesus said ‘My yoke is light,’ and demonstrated his authority by kneeling to wash his servants’ feet. On the subject of physical punishment, Jesus said, ‘Whoever is without blame, cast the first stone.’ And while Solomon dismissed children as fools, Christ insisted, ‘Heaven is ruled by such as these'” (Hickmon, 2013, p. 47). Yes, the entire Bible is divinely inspired. However, Jesus changed everything when He suffered and died on the cross for humanity’s sins. Jesus desires mercy, not sacrifice.

I must quickly point out that upon deeper study of Hebrew, the “rod” verses of Proverbs do not mean to spank children, but rather to discipline (teach, guide) children. Most Jews do not practice corporal punishment.

Another aspect of the book is that both Chris and Josh experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Hickmon does a wonderful job depicting what people go through when they have this serious disorder. Wired with fear from harsh/abusive parenting, a child may suffer with anxiety for the rest of his/her life. Experiences of maltreatment can also leave victims feeling like failures, because no matter how hard they try, they can’t always overcome the intense, overwhelming fear and anxiety.

Chris and Josh also demonstrate a range of other effects that we now know to be associated with even mild corporal punishment. “Corporal punishment has been linked to a host of psychological problems. A history of harsh punishment has been found to underlie ‘conduct disorder,’ and anxiety disorders in children. Adults who were physically punished as adolescents are more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts and alcohol abuse” (Grille, 2005, p. 184).

One of my favorite quotes from this book is a comment one investigator makes about his grandfather: “He used to say that Satan’s greatest trick wasn’t making people think he didn’t exist–it was convincing Christians that he couldn’t speak from the pulpit” (Hickmon, 2013, p. 308). This is so true. Pro-spanking theology is not from God. Hurting children in God’s name is blasphemy. I explain this in detail in my own book, Gentle Firmness.

If you like mystery/thrillers, you will not be disappointed with 13:24. I must warn that many scenes are extremely graphic and can be triggering for some. I had a very hard time reading the child abuse scenes and cried through them. I give Hickmon five stars for creating a totally fictitious story that exposes one of Christianity’s darkest corners, creating the possibility of real insight and change.

References:

Dobson, J. (1970). Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Dobson, J. (1996). The New Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Friedman, http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/economic/friedman/moralleadership.htm.

Grille, R. (2005). Parenting for a Peaceful World. New South Wales, Australia: Longueville Media.

Pearl, M. (1994). To Train Up A Child. Pleasantville, TN: No Greater Joy Ministries.

Tripp, T. (1995). Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press.

Physical “Discipline” Is NOT Biblical Nor A Part Of The “Rod” Verses

Once again I have seen another Christian leader try to claim that physical “discipline” (I hate when people try to call corporal punishment “physical discipline” as hitting a child is NOT “discipline,” it is punishment!) is a part of the “rod” verses of Proverbs.  They just do not understand that the Hebrew meaning of the “rod” verses do not include the use of corporal punishment with children.

If they did, God would have provided more instructions on how, when, why, and at what age children should be spanked/hit.

I mean, inflicting pain on a child is serious business.  Why would God leave it up to a bunch of sinful adults to figure out how to use corporal punishment?  And these sinful adults don’t even agree on what is “abuse.”  Here are quotes from the popular “Christian” advocates of spanking:

The child may be more strong-willed than the parent, and they both know it. If he can outlast a temporary onslaught, he has won a major battle, eliminating punishment in the parent’s repertoire. Even though Mom spanks him, he wins the battle by defying her again. The solution to this situation is obvious: outlast him; win, even if it takes a repeated measure” (Dobson, 1970, p. 45).

For example, a dime sized bruise on the buttocks of a fair-skinned child may or may not indicate an abusive situation. It all depends. In an otherwise secure and loving home, that bruise may have no greater psychological impact than a skinned knee or a stubbed toe. Again the issue in not the small abrasion; it is the meaning behind it” (Dobson, 1996, p. 25).

After you have spanked, take the child up on your lap and hug him, telling him how much you love him, how much it grieves you to spank him, and how you hope that it will not be necessary again. Then if he is still not restored, you are to check your own spirit to see if you have handled him roughly… [or] brought unholy anger on this holy mission, and if you have, seek forgiveness from God. If your child is still angry, it’s time for another round, ‘Daddy has spanked you, but you are not sweet enough yet. We are going to have to go back upstairs for another spanking'” (Tripp, 1995, p. 149).

“On the bare legs or bottom, switch him eight or ten licks; then, while waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If the crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If the crying is still defiant, protesting and other than a response to pain, spank him again” (Pearl, 1994, p. 80).

It is very scary to me that they say different things, but yet, advocate harsh, “loving” spankings.  Also, dark skinned children must suffer much more pain than a lighter skinned child as bruises don’t show up as quickly on dark skin.

But since there is yet another “Christian” leader teaching parents to spank/hit their children in order to “Bibically discipline” them, I will explore the topic once again. I cover all of this in my book, Gentle Firmness.  

This time we’ll focus on Proverbs 22:15 (NASB) which states:

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”

We know that the Hebrew meaning for “rod” is Shebet and that the rod was a large stick with spikes on the end of it.  The shepherds never used it to hit the sheep.  Shebet is also used in the Bible as a symbol of authority.

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The Biblical rod. Source: http://20reasonsnottospank.blogspot.com

The problem most Christians have with this verse as well as the other “rod” verses that seem to advocate using corporal punishment with children is that the Hebrew word for “discipline” which is Muwcar includes “chastisement” in the definition.

What confuses most pro-spanking Christians is that the English definition for chastisement includes physical punishment.  However, it means verbal correction as well.

When looking at the dictionary, there are many synonyms for chastise.

Let’s look at some of them: “Rebuke, Lecture, Scold, Reprimand, Bawl Out, Dress Down, and Lecture.”  Yes, it can mean physical punishment, but it also means many other things!

Given the Biblical context in which chastise is being used here in Proverbs, we are walking on very shaky ground if we choose to interpret it as a command to spank our children. God rebukes us all the time. No, it’s not pleasant, but it’s not in a harsh tone and He immediately forgives us when we repent. And yes, if we choose to do our own thing against His will, He will allow, not inflict, pain into our lives.  It’s called natural consequences.

Another issue with insisting on punishing and spanking/hitting our children and using the Bible to justify it is that Jesus suffered and died for ALL of our sins!  How come adults can just pray for forgiveness and they are forgiven?  But our children who are just learning don’t get grace and forgiveness until they “pay” for their “sins.”  How is this Biblical or Christ-like?

Finally, sadly, some Christians do follow this verse to a “t” and spank their children for being children. Yet, when we really study this and other verses that seem to advocate corporal punishment with children, we see that there is no reference to spanking/hitting children.  It is also important to understand child development as God created children to think and behave the way that they do. To constantly hit them for being “unwise” by adult standards is neither Biblical nor fair. And you can’t beat foolishness out of children any more than you can beat the devil out of them.

Jesus has raised children’s status and has called us to be like little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, Jesus had plenty of time to teach about children and NEVER said anything about spanking/hitting them!

We are to drive out folly by teaching, guiding, protecting, and comforting our children. To do anything other than that, especially to take the above verse literally, would be to teach children that no matter what they do, they will never be able to measure up. Does this sound like the way to raise children up in the Lord?

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References (I don’t recommend any of these):

Dobson, J. (1970). Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Dobson, J. (1996). The New Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Pearl, M. (1994). To Train Up A Child. Pleasantville, TN: No Greater Joy Ministries.

Tripp, T. (1995). Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press.

 

Using Agape Love To Parent

Agape love is basically having unconditional love for all people. God loves us with agape love as He sacrificed Himself as Jesus for our sins.  He also had to watch His Son suffer and die.  Agape love is the best way to describe God since God is love (1 John 4:8).

But do Christians show agape love to others, especially their children?  In my experience, they often do not. They insist on condemning others and punishing their children.

Don’t get me wrong, I am far from perfect.  I struggle at times to love people how God wants me to do so.  I get hurt, offended, and judgemental.  Thankfully, God lovingly corrects me when I mess up.  He loves me with agape love.

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Sadly, most devotionals for children teach that they must be punished for their sins. So do the child-rearing books by popular “Christian child-rearing experts” such as James Dobson, Michael Pearl, Ted Tripp, and Roy Lessin.  How is this teaching children about agape love that God has for them?  Jesus took the punishment for all of our sins, including children!

Obviously, these Christian advocates of spanking do not understand God’s unconditional love for us. Due to adults’ sinful nature, we struggle with practicing agape love.  Sometimes it is easier to condemn, spank/hit, yell, or ignore our children.  But the Bible says:

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1, NASB).

This means getting up at 2am to care for the baby instead of letting him/her cry-it-out.

This means redirecting our toddlers for the 20th time away from something we don’t want them to play with and telling them what they can do rather than yelling at them and/or smacking their hand because they won’t listen and we’re sick of redirecting them.

This means sitting on the floor while our young children have a meltdown over a limit we’ve set and validating their feelings over the limit that they don’t like.

Finally, parenting with agape love means taking the time to truly listen to our children so that they will want to come to us when they are in trouble.

Yes, we will make mistakes, but when we do, agape love allows us to be humble and apologize to our children.

I am well aware that some Christians will read this and say, “Spanking is a part of what the Bible says about loving our children.”  If this is you, please read these posts.  And check out this book by theologian Samuel Martin.  It’s free!

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes exactly what agape love is.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (ESV).

There is nothing in the above verse that say spanking/hitting, using cry-it-out, or using other harsh punishment is a part of agape love.  If anything, it points to gentle firmness as agape love.

It may not always be easy but by parenting with agape love, we can show children God’s true character and teach them how to love others unconditionally.

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Withhold Use Of “The Rod” On Your Children To Truly Love Them

“He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Proverbs 13:24, NASB).

Many Christians misinterpret this verse to mean that they must spank/hit their children if they truly love them.  But, as with all of the “rod” verses in the book of Proverbs, this was never intended to be taken literally.  Let’s examine a few key points regarding why this verse means to teach and guide rather than to spank/hit children.

  1.  Shepherds never hit their sheep. Nor did they break their sheep’s legs when the sheep wandered away. Rather, shepherds used their rods to protect their sheep. If you injured a sheep and had to carry it around, that sheep as well as the entire herd, would be more vulnerable to predators. Using the rod against the predator protected the sheep.  Therefore, we are to use the rod to protect our children against our number one predator: satan!
  2. This leads us to the Hebrew word for “rod,” which is Shebet.  Yes, it was a big, heavy stick that was used in the Bible to strike people. But, the only people it was used to strike were adults in the Bible.  Not once was a child ever hit with the rod in the Bible. It would have killed the child.  Shebet is also symbolic of authority. It makes more sense that we are to use our authority to teach and guide children.
  3. Love doesn’t hurt. Or at least it shouldn’t!  God came down as Jesus to take the horrible punishment for all of humanity’s sins!  We now live in the age of grace!  Not once did Jesus mention using corporal punishment with children.  Yes, we are to discipline them as this verse clearly states. But inflicting physical pain does not constitute Biblical discipline.
  4. This is not a mandate from God to spank children in order to show love to them. Love and this type of pain never go together. What this is saying is that parents who love their children will discipline (teach and guide) children in a manner that will enable the children to thrive and will ultimately lead them to Christ. Spanking and permissive parenting do the exact opposite of what this verse is saying. Being hit or not being disciplined at all does not make children feel loved by their parents. Hurting children intentionally never accurately shows love for them. God does not intentionally hurt us to show His love for us as God is love. The Bible is also quite clear on what love is and is not.
  5. Interestingly, many use the saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” to try and summarize the above Proverb.  However, it is not in the Bible and comes from a seventeenth century poem dealing with sex.

Here is what the Bible tells us love is:

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NASB).

It is quite obvious that according to the Bible as a whole, spanking/hitting does not fit into the definition of love.  Discipline your children to love them.  Use the rod against the enemy, not the children!

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Sacrifice And Love For Others–Especially Our Children

Romans 15:1-7:

“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”

I think this Scripture is key in how we should interact with others, especially our children. It seems that many Christians are not willing to self-sacrifice for the betterment of others. If it’s not convenient for us, then we won’t sacrifice for others.

Guess what!  Being crucified on a cross was not convenient to Jesus, but because He loved us so much, He died a horrific death for us–His beloved children!

I think it’s beyond sad that many popular, mainstream “Christian child-rearing experts” actually discourage parents from self-sacrificing for their children. Instead of rearranging their lives to include children, these “experts” teach parents to force a new human being to fit within the parents’ lives so the child knows that he/she is not too important.

How is that obeying what God clearly lays out in the above Scripture?  Children are indeed weaker than us. They need constant care and guidance from us which should involve major self-sacrifice from us.

Leaving infants to cry-it-out so that we can get a good night’s sleep is not self-sacrificing nor is it accepting infants for who they are.

Staying up with them and engaging in nighttime parenting despite being absolutely exhausted is self-sacrificing and accepting them.

Spanking/hitting, using time-out, shaming, arbitrarily taking things away, yelling, and other harsh punishment with our children is not self-sacrificing or accepting children.

Doing the hard work of disciplining (teaching, guiding, correcting) using positive, respectful, and gentle techniques such as modeling, child-proofing, validating feelings, fulfilling the child’s physical and emotional needs, setting realistic limits and boundaries, helping children comply, giving choices, and using natural and logical consequences with children is self-sacrificing and accepting of our children.

Most Christian claim that if they don’t spank/hit and “teach” their children that the world does not revolve around them that their children will turn into self-entitled brats.  Let me tell you this: Children learn by our actions. Some of the most self-entitled people I know grew up in punitive households where they were constantly “put in their places.”  Their parents were so focused on forcing their children into self-sacrifice that the children never truly learned how to sacrifice for the sake of others.

True love means being willing to sacrifice, accept, give grace and mercy for another no matter how inconvenient it is to us. We must model this to our children.

Biblical love does not involve inflicting pain on children as many Christians still believe due to errant interpretation of this verse:

“He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Proverbs 13:24, NASB).

In order to understand this, we need to understand that the Biblical Rod was a big, heavy stick with spikes on it. Shepherds never hit their own sheep with the rod. Rather, they used it to protect their sheep from predators. We need to do the same with our children. We need to sacrifice ourselves in order to protect our children from the enemy, satan, who comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).

Biblical love is clearly defined as:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cornithians 13:4-7, ESV).

May we use self-sacrifice to truly love our children and everyone!

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When He (or in my case, She) Gets Old He Will Not Depart From It

“Train up a child in the way he should go,

Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Yesterday I learned just how true this is for me. I’ve always noticed it here and there with some of my actions and thoughts, but yesterday, it smacked me in the face.

 You see, it was discovered that a veterinarian we knew and had used had let things get way out of control and had lost her license in December of 2014 and was still practicing medicine with the animals in her home. Her clients were unaware of this. Then, this past weekend over 60 animals were removed from her home.

I’ll spare you the rest of the details as they are pretty gruesome. When my husband told me all this, I felt panic, anger, sadness, and confusion. And…I assumed the worst of this woman. I had trusted her with my fur babies from 2007-2009/2010, way before any of this, but I still had scary thoughts of what my cats may have witnessed or experienced while in her care.

My husband felt anger and was horrified initially, but was quickly able to move to having compassion for her based on what he knew of her when we used her. He didn’t think she was being malicious in any way and suspected an organic reason for her behavior such as mental illness or a brain tumor.

I, on the other hand, was slower to have compassion towards her. I wanted to believe she wasn’t some sadist vet. But, I assumed the worst of her. I thought she was horrible all along and we’d missed it. How could someone who loved animals so much treat them, operate on them, and keep them in deplorable conditions in her home?  My husband was under the impression that she had left them in her house in order to escape being caught by authorities, which made me even more upset. I cried on and off throughout the day that so many animals had suffered and even died in her care. I couldn’t believe I let her care for my sweet cats for a few years!

It wasn’t until last night that my husband’s suspicions were validated. The vet was not a sadist. She was honestly trying to help the animals. She had spent her whole savings to keep up practicing veterinary medicine. And she was living in these deplorable conditions with the animals. Mental illness is a part of this horrific situation.

I felt relief finding out that her motives were pure. I cried for her. I had been praying for her throughout the day yesterday, but was so angry at her. After the relief of finding out that she wasn’t trying to hurt any of the animals came the guilt of realizing just how wrong I had been for assuming the worst of her. I immediately asked God to forgive me which He did. Then I had to fight the lovely self loathing that I struggle with all the time, but especially struggle with when I mess up.

So, what makes me assume the worst of people?  I believe it’s the way I was trained as a child. No, my family did not purposely instill this in me. However, there were certain members of my family who would put on a facade to make themselves look better to outsiders than how they really were in private with me. I have had other people do this too. Sometimes I feel like I attract “fake” people.

Having to deal with this throughout my life has made me prone to go negative instead of positive when it comes to people, especially when bad things happen.

Children are constantly watching us even when we don’t think they are. Every little thing we do, say, or feel does not go unnoticed by our children.

Proverbs 22:6 is absolutely right in that how we are trained as children can be very difficult to undo as adults. BUT, thankfully, Proverbs 22:6 was never meant to be taken as a promise. We have the power in Christ to break free from the negative things by which we were trained. I know I will be working on not immediately assuming the worst when I am not aware of all the details of situations. I trust God will give me the grace to continuing on my journey to be more Christlike.

Please be intentional with your children as you help them grow and develop. Trust me, they are always watching!

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What is Proverbs 23:13-14 Actually Saying?

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!

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