And, finally, we return to our Butler reference to spare the rod and spoil the child within the context of adult sado masochistic relationships. Sadly, this is the real history of spanking, not Scripture. At the turn of the previous century there was a very popular little book called “The Spencer Spanking Plan” that taught men and women how to employ spankings within the marriage bedroom in order to “even the score” and not allow disharmony in day to day life to interfere with the sexual relationship.
Before you ask what this has to do with spanking children, let me tell you that the tag line for this book was “spankings should always be done in love, not in anger” and it was the first book to outline “the right way to spank”. The way outlined is identical to the method offered today by punitive experts ranging from Lessin to Ezzo to Pearl. They cannot show you in Scripture where this right way came from, but “The Spencer Spanking Plan” is the book in which that right way was first outlined.
What concerns me the most about the issue of spanking is that the Church has taken it up as not only an issue of proclaimed persecution, as though any attempt to outlaw or restrict corporal punishment is striking right at the heart of Christian parenting, but in many circles this idea supported through prooftexting a handful of Scriptures has also become a means for challenging the very salvation of a parent who chooses to not spank. This is not a salvific issue!
There is not even a mandate to spank. Within the entire Law, or Torah, where God outlined what He required of His people, there is NO instruction whatsoever to spank. For an issue proclaimed as so important, there is no instruction within Scripture of how or when or where to spank, or even who to spank. And for such a vital and important topic, Jesus has nothing to say. Rather, He warns us that the Kingdom of God is like a little child, and as we do to the least of these we are doing to Him.
In light of that teaching, let me also share another meaning for Shebet in the Hebrew. In one passage from prophecy the word Shebet is used to speak of the Messiah, Jesus. So not only when striking a child are you striking Jesus, but if you claim to do it with the rod/Shebet, you do it with Jesus.
I hope that the weight of this is as convicting to you as it is to me. And I hope that you will read more of what I have here on the site to learn about some effective discipline tools that you can use. These tools will result in well-behaved children, and as you use them on ‘the least of these’, you can have no concern about doing to Jesus.