Punishment as a Last Resort

Question:

What about punishments, especially spanking, as a last resort? Doesn’t the Bible say in Proverbs 23:13-14, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you beat him with the rod, he will not die. Beat him with the rod and save his soul from death”?

Answer:

I would actually condone hitting a child as a last resort, if that child were an adult child who was behaving as a fool and bringing shame on your family and himself. I would consider this a better and preferable alternative to the instruction given in the Law that an adult child who is a glutton, drunkard, rebellious and stubborn be taken by his parents to the city gates where he is to be stoned by the city elders.

So, if my child was out date raping, carousing, living in debauchery and drunkenness, or somehow bringing shame on us — if I had to admit that I had completely and totally and utterly failed my child — I would probably be provoked to taking up a large object and chasing him around the room before I would give up completely and take him to be stoned.

The thing we need to remember about the rod verses, however, is they are not discussing hitting a child — even an adult child. The rod is the symbol of authority — a walking stick held by the head of the family, a shepherd’s staff, or a king’s scepter.

Because Proverbs is a compilation of wisdom sayings compiled by a king, we can assume a scepter as the intended rod. This was never used to hit and, as we see in Esther, it is when it is extended to you that you have life and when it is withheld that you have death.

If the verse in question was intended to mean hitting then it would be lying and Scripture is not filled with lies. You *can* kill a child by hitting them with or without a stick. And if the literal meaning cannot be the possible intended meaning, then the meaning must be figurative or symbolic.

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