A proper understanding of the shebet (translated “rod”) and its role in the Ancient Jewish world, along with an understanding that muwcar (translated “chastise” or “correct”) carries the connotation in Hebrew of “come let us reason together”, further combined with the absence of the modern idea of spanking in Torah, it is important that as believers we approach the idea of spanking with skepticism.
When something is required by God it is clearly explained and while we find directions for how often a slave may be beat with a rod and the penalty for the master whose blows lead to death we find no similar instructions on how to beat a child. Study into rabbinical teaching and understanding of what many Christians have come to refer to as “the rod verses” further reveals debate on whether these verses even refer to corporal punishment at all and, if they do, the exercise being limited to striking a young man across the face with a shoestring.
Ironically, the modern idea of spanking first appears as domestic discipline between sexual partners and such popular catchphrases within the Church as, “Spare the rod, spoil the child”, “a spanking should be done in love, never in anger”, and even reference to “the right way to spank” are actually references to the practice of Domestic Discipline. Even today the neophite to the internet learns very quickly not to Google “spanking”. Yet in many churches today the practice of spanking has not only become the primary method of parenting but it has been coupled to the Gospel in such a way that it is pure heresy. Christians who choose to not spank have their salvation questioned, even by pastors, and are told that their children will not be able to enter into salvation. This is incredibly troubling when one of the fastest growing religious movements in America, practicing pagans/witches, is so offended at the thought of spanking children that doing so is blatantly called abuse.
When churches partner the false doctrine of spanking to the Gospel, the spread of the Gospel to pagans is hindered.
Scripture makes plain what we must do to be saved. We must accept the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, who is God and man, on the cross. We must turn from our wicked ways and turn to the Lord. The Lord’s ways are given to us in Torah and as the Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever we can trust that His standard remains. As James said, when the Council at Jerusalem issued a proclamation in Acts 15 that Gentile converts from paganism must do four things (the four elements of the pagan communion must be abandoned), the rest of Torah had been taught in Synagogues since the time of Moses.
When it is understood that the early believers were attending Synagogue weekly it can clearly be seen that the assumption was not that they would abandon Torah, but that Torah was not to be required as a prerequisite to faith, but as a way of living that would be learned as the believer grew in understanding and knowledge. We continue to have handed to us the complete Old and New Testament—all of which is our guide. Yet nothing in the Gospels or Torah speaks of spanking.
The Great Command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. “On this hangs all Torah and the Prophets.” The idea of neighbor is expounded upon in the parable of the Good Samaritan and the point, according to Jesus, is that each individual is the neighbor. Everyone is the neighbor. This includes children. The Great Commission is to go and make disciples of all nations—first to the Jew and then to the Gentile. Neither the Great Command nor the Great Commission is accompanied by an instruction to spank children.
Many who are drawn to paganism have shared that they came from a Christian upbringing in homes where the rod was not spared. They were beat in the name of Christ and therefore want nothing to do with him. Others, from more neutral backgrounds, are attracted to the teachings of Jesus himself but are offended by the way that believers treat children. Anyone who can preach love of neighbor while striking their children is considered a hypocrite and while the teachings of Jesus, who never struck a child, but embraced and blessed them, can be accepted the teachings of a church that insists on striking children is rejected. Many are confused at the linguistic olympics that go on within the church in an effort to redefine spankings as “not hitting, but discipline.”
If a spouse were spanked without permission it would be nothing short of spousal abuse and the authorities should be called. Anytime one person uses a hand or object to strike another person they have been “hit”. Interestingly, many pagan women find that their embracing of such a strong feminist position and goddess worship leaves them feeling out of balance in the relationships with the men they love and they turn to sado masochism and domestic discipline within the bedroom in order to restore balance to their earthly unions.
Yet there are so many within the church who have put an empmhasis on spanking children as both a requirement of Christian parents to prove they are strongly committed to living Scripture and to guarantee their children’s salvation. When a pagan who believes in valuing and protecting their children, is aware of the maternal forces in the world and tapped into her maternal callings put in her by her Creator (whether she realizes it or not), and believes in spanking with her husband in the bedroom as part of their most intimate sexual acts is confronted with Christianity as a religion that requires spanking children she is often viscerally repulsed. To ask her to apply a sexual act to her child to teach and love is not something that even makes sense. She wants nothing to do with such a twisted approach to family. And those who do embrace the Gospel and love God because he first loved them and accept Jesus as their savior, if they do get involved in a Church, often feel less than while they refuse to spank their children but are afraid to tell anyone lest their salvation comes into question or they are accused of being backslidden.
It is illegal to spank children under age 2 and over age 12 in Canada. It is becoming illegal to spank in South Africa. The issue is being debated in England and laws are being proposed in various states throughout America that would limit if not make illegal the supposed “right” to spank. The United Nations is taking a stand against the idea of spanking children. While Christians proclaim that this is evidence that they are being persecuted for Christ. At a seminar led by Michael Harris, well known author and head of the Home School Legal Defense Association, at the 2005 Arizona Families for Home Education annual homeschooling conference, the warning was given by Mr. Harris to not spank or threaten to spank in public because “the world” is going to report you. Everyone was assured that they still have a legal right to spank, but because the Church is being persecuted they have to act in secret. The seminar deteriorated into a group sharing of all the legal and secret ways to hurt children in public and not attract attention. Yet nothing the Lord instructs us to do must be hidden in secret for fear of persecution. Daniel was confident to pray in full view of the city. He knew that when he was thrown into the lion’s den he had done nothing wrong and the Lord would be his defender.
Do believers truly believe that the Lord will defend striking children with hand or object when he said that what is done to the least of these is done to him? Do believers truly believe that spanking is endorsed and required by God when he says that anyone who offends one of the little ones who loves him would be better to have a millstone hung around their neck and be thrown into the sea? Do believers, who admit that spanking sometimes angers their children, truly believe that this act falls under the instruction of Paul to parent without provoking your child to anger? Is the church of today going to find itself in the history books grouped with those of yesterday who defended slavery and wife beating with Scripture? We are the Jesus that the world sees. Our lives are our testimony. It is currently the church’s testimony that children raised in the Body of Messiah are required to be struck. It is no wonder that pagans reject the Bible when they are told this is what God requires.
Jesus alone is to be the stumbling block to salvation. People who reject the Lord should do so because they arefuse to believe he is God and man; refuse to believe he died for their sins; refuse to believe that God loves them and would offer them the free gift of grace and salvation. When the church adds a requirement that believers strike their children to prove their salvation and save their children they cannot cry persecution in the name of Christ. That is persecution for their actions, not preaching the Gospel. The Gospel is good news and if the church makes it bad they are failing to fulfill the Great Command and Commission. This is especially true when witnessing to the pagan community who generally finds the idea of spanking a child both sexual and offensive while they need God’s love as much as anyone. If the church wants to be effective witnessing to the growing pagan community the doctrine of spanking must be reevaluated completely. First and foremost the church must take a stand against those groups within the body who have entertwined the idea of spanking with proving or guaranteeing salvation.
The history of Rabbinical interpretation of the rod verses is found in Martin, Samuel. The Rod And Thy Staff They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy. Samuel Martin: 2006. Martin is a Jewish Christian living in Israel and studies this with a uniquely Hebraic perspective.
This line is actually found in Samuel Butler’s satirical poem Hudibras , commenting on the Cromwellians and the Presbyterian church. In the poem the line appears in the context of Domestic Discipline between a man and a woman. Part II, Canto I, ll. 839-44.
See the Spencer Spanking Plan by Dorothy Spencer. It is out of print but can be read online at ecstagony.com. Please be warned that this is the first official published manual for Domestic Discipline.
” Our belief in a sovereign God prompts belief in standards of behavior that are not relative, but are absolutes. Absolutes are absolutely critical, not to be taken lightly. Thus the believer’s child training methods will express the conviction that children must be directed to walk the path of truth and holiness. Those who believe otherwise will be lax and indifferent, not appreciating our serious commitment to obedience. Belief in ultimate accountability dictates practicing short-range accountability, which is part of what the rod is about.” Page 2; “The rod is the parents’ main tangible aid to bring the child to understand the judgment of God–and eventually the grace of God.”, Pg 50 of To Train Up a Child. Michael Pearl. Self-published. You can read the beginning of the book online at http://www.gospeltruth.net/children/pearl_tuac.htm
“The spanking is designed to rescue the child from continuing in his foolishness. If he continues, his doom is certain. Thus, the parent, driven by love for the child, must use the rod” (p. 106 revised edition) Tripp, Ted. Shepherding A Child’s Heart. Cornerstorne Publishing: July, 2003.
“People call it spanking, popping, smacking, paddling and a number of other things that often make it sound less serious than it really is. I believe it’s an assault. It is violence against our young; some of the most vulnerable beings on the planet. What’s worse is that it is violence inflicted on children by the very people that are supposed to protect and cherish them.
I do not look at spanking as simply another choice a parent can make, but rather as a violation of the human rights of a child.”
“A Gentle Parent’s View of Corporal Punishment – Calling Spanking Out for What it Is.” Kristina B. The People’s Media Company: Feb 1, 2007 http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/131444/a_gentle_parents_view_of_corporal_punishment.html
Deuteronomy 11:13-14; Matthew 22:37-40
Mark 16:5; Romans 1:16
This conclusion is based on first hand testimonies of former pagans who are members of the website Gentle Christian Mothers and is not based on an interview with any one mother but rather the postings of many similar mothers.
The author was present and walked out of this seminar and heard these things first hand.
Col 3:21; The admission is recorded in The Spanking Debate, Primary Focus.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was not ratified until January 31, 1865.
“In 1872, Alabama became the first state to outlaw domestic violence, followed by Massachusetts that same year. By 1911, all states except Mississippi had outlawed domestic violence.” Taken from http://www.opdv.state.ny.us/public_awareness/bulletins/spring2000/difference.html which also informs that the first domestic violence shelter in NYC was not opened until 1976 and most action on behalf of abused women was not taken until the 1980′s.
“A Gentle Parent’s View of Corporal Punishment – Calling Spanking Out for What it Is.” Kristina B. The People’s Media Company: Feb 1, 2007
Martin, Samuel. The Rod And Thy Staff They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy. Samuel Martin: 2006.
OPDV Bulletin: The Power to Make a Difference. New York City. Posted at http://www.opdv.state.ny.us/public_awareness/bulletins/spring2000/difference.html
Spencer, Dorothy. Spencer Spanking Plan.. Out of print but can be read online at ecstagony.com.
Pearl, Michael. To Train Up a Child. Self-published.
The Spanking Debate, Primary Focus Episode 502.
“A Gentle Parent’s View of Corporal Punishment – Calling Spanking Out for What it Is.” Kristina B. The People’s Media Company: Feb 1, 2007
Tripp, Ted. Shepherding A Child’s Heart. Cornerstorne Publishing: July, 2003.
*Originally published as “False Doctrine of Spanking”