Whats All This Talk About The Rod And The Staff
Sheep were an important part of the agricultural landscape for ancient Hebrews when the Bible was written. Shepherds had an important role in guiding the sheep along the path and protecting them from predators. Like all of the Bible, while the words are ancient, the application is very relevant in contemporary society.
The shepherds tools were a staff to guide the sheep and a rod to redirect them. The concept of spanking comes from the rod. But the other side of disciplinethe staffbrings us the most tools in an effective discipline toolkit. In their jobs, shepherds used staffs far more frequently than their rods. We should do likewise.
Story #: Alexs Pesky Brother
Alexs brother, James, has been bothering him all day. He just wont leave Alex alone. Alex has tried to ask James to go away nicely, but that didnt work. Alex told his mom about it, and his mom made James leave him alone for a little bit, but when their mom isnt looking, James just starts bothering Alex again. Alex is getting really angry, and he thinks that maybe if he hits James, thatll make James go away.
What do you think? Should Alex hit James to make him go away?
Hitting Does Not Improve Behavior
Many times we have heard parents say, The more we spank the more he misbehaves. Spanking makes a childs behavior worse, not better. Heres why. Remember the basis for promoting desirable behavior: The child who feels right acts right. Spanking undermines this principle. A child who is hit feels wrong inside and this shows up in his behavior. The more he misbehaves, the more he gets spanked and the worse he feels. The cycle continues. We want the child to know that he did wrong, and to feel remorse, but to still believe that he is a person who has value.
The Cycle of Misbehavior
One of the goals of disciplinary action is to stop the misbehavior immediately, and spanking may do that. It is more important to create a conviction within the child that he doesnt want to repeat the misbehavior . One of the reasons for the ineffectiveness of spanking in creating internal controls is that during and immediately after the spanking, the child is so preoccupied with the perceived injustice of the physical punishment that he forgets the reason for which he was spanked.
Sitting down with him and talking after the spanking to be sure hes aware of what he did can be done just as well without the spanking part. Alternatives to spanking can be much more thought-and-conscience-provoking for a child, but they may take more time and energy from the parent. This brings up the main reason why some parents lean toward spankingits easier.
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`spare The Rod Spoil The Child’ Isn’t Biblical
This letter is in response to the story in the March 6 edition about the mother who pulled her son out of the Christian school rather than spank him at the school’s demand .
I am a social worker and have also taught Sunday school in two different denominations of the Christian religion. The phrase, “spare the rod and spoil the child” is not a Christian phrase and is not in the Bible. That phrase actually comes from a narrative poem written in the 1600s titled “Hudibras” by Samuel Butler. Two of the main characters are planning on starting a love affair, and one of the characters asks the other to engage in sadomasochism and flagellation before she will go to bed with him. The actual quote is: “If matrimony and hanging go/By dest’ny, why not whipping too?/What med’cine else can cure the fits/Of lovers when they lose their wits?/Love is a boy, by poets styl’d/Then spare the rod, and spoil the child.” How this phrase got mixed up with the Bible is a mystery. I found the book when I did a library search several years ago while training parents involved with DCFS to use methods other than corporal punishment.
Explanation And Commentary Of Proverbs 1: 24
It is an epidemic today that children are undisciplined by well-meaning, but confused parents. It is true that there are some parents that are overly strict and harsh, but the vast majority do not discipline their children, or they do so in a wrong or inconsistent way.
It is controversial today whether this verse commands that the form of discipline come in spanking with the rod. Some say that the verse cannot be interpreted in any other way. This is perhaps true, but the spirit of the rule is more important than the method. The rod itself can be used to torture and for cruelty. Therefore the person on the other end of the rod must be loving and wise.
The wider and more common problem is that parents do not discipline their children. Often this is out of a desire to be liked by the child. But undisciplined children can quickly become exasperating to the parent. Even though the goal of the parent was to be nice, they will eventually lose their temper with the unruly child and do something to cause infinitely more harm than simple, consistent discipline done without anger, but only love. Indeed, this is the way our Father in heaven disciplines us .
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What Is The Context
This Proverb is an observation of a general truth. Once again, this is not a command.
This is the fruit of one who is a fool and quite possibly this is talking about a foolish king.
Sowing injustice or iniquity often happens when a foolish son trains for future leadership and comes to power as a ruler or king. There are many examples of this in the Old Testament with the accounts of wicked kings.
Or this could also be saying that those who do bad or wicked things will suffer bad things? In any case, this is not talking about disciplining children.
Should There Be An Age Limit On Spanking
Part of my background has been in Early Childhood Education where I studied the ages and stages. Infants and babies should never be spanked, as they are not old enough to understand the reasoning behind it. They need parental redirection, attention, and care. They do not know right from wrong yet, and spanking will come as a shock. This stage of life is a time of building trust and spanking them will only confuse them.
Children aged two through seven usually have established trust with parents. They go from dependence to independence. They test parents to see what they can get away with and they want to overrule their parents authority. Spanking may be appropriate at this age from time to time, but children at this age still need a lot of grace and patience. Children can naturally be impulsive, selfish, and easily frustratedso its important to empathize with them and help them talk through emotions.
“Love is patient, kind and full of grace and forgiveness”
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Things The Bible Says About Discipline
May 17, 2017
I am a self-professing people pleaser. Even if those people happen to be my kids.
For a lot of years as a mom, I viewed discipline as an unpleasant side effect of parenting because it meant being the bad guy.
I would feel mean sending my son and daughter to timeout, speaking sternly, and taking toys and privileges away. Im sure I always felt worse than they did when they misbehaved and I had to dole out consequences.
Lets face it, nobody wants to be accused of being THAT helicopter parent.
When did we start buying into the worlds parenting mantra that says its unloving to punish a child for their behavior? In our politically correct culture, its even unacceptable now to offend your own children.
But in Scripture, we see that parents are actually called to protect their children from the ruin of an undisciplined life.
Ignoring direct disobedience can make a child vulnerable to an ongoing spirit of rebellion.
I suspect thats why we have so many millennials today who are self-centered, irresponsible, and entitled.
As Christians, we need to faithfully apply the Bibles teachings to all areas of our lives even if they run counter to pop culture. What does Gods word say about issues of authority, discipline, and obedience?
Again This Passage Is Descriptive Not A Command It Paints A Vivid Picture Of Two Kinds Of Sons:
The wise son one who speaks with discernment and prudence, living the blessings of a covenant life in Gods community and sharing those verbal blessings with Gods people.
The fool the one who lacks heart. His character runs counter to godliness. His oppositional defiance to God, Gods people, and to his family warrants Gods curse, which is punishment.
It makes no sense if we attempt to force Proverbs 10:13 to say this is about young children. Little children do not have the capacity for morality, wisdom, or foolishness as defined and described in Proverbs. They do not speak with discernment or express moral wisdom until later in life. Only Jesus had this level of wisdom and then it was when he was twelve-years-old. Neither do children have the years to demonstrate persistent and blatant rebellion against God.
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Do These Seven Verses Prove Parents Have To Spank Their Children
Thats the simple answer.
When we practice good interpretive methods, we look at the grand context of the whole Bible. That is how to study Proverbs. The Bible is Gods redemptive message and is about Jesus. Jesus is the God who became sinless, perfect Man in order to save Gods people. He is the perfect Son of the perfect Father, the epitome of wisdom, and the fulfillment of the Old Testament, including Proverbs. This means we also must consider that God has moved history up to and through Jesus. The Old Testament points us to Christ and Christ fulfills the Old Testament. We no longer live in the ancient nation of Israel, abide by their civil and religious laws, or practice their customs. And we are not expected to. We live in Christ as a new nation in Gods new covenant.
After looking at the context of Proverbs in this redemptive history, we must learn to read the individual passages in their own contexts. The terms must be examined and the particular proverb needs to be understood as it fits the companion verses or the chapter. The original message and principles of those proverbs can be applied to us today, but only through the filter of Jesus and the New Covenant.
Objections To Wife Spanking
The primary objection to wife spanking is that such an action infantilizes women, or in other words it treats women as children. I receive comments like this one I did today all the time:
Women are no more sinful than men, no less intelligent and shouldnt be treated like naughty children. If a husband has authority to discipline his wife than a wife should have authority to discipline her husband. They should treat each other with love and fairness. Both are adults none is a lesser being. A marriage should be a loving partnership.
There are several false presuppositions in the statement above.
Spanking no more infantilizes a woman than a speeding ticket from a police officer infantilizes a man. Adults can and do discipline other adults all the time.
But some will answer my police officer giving a ticket analogy witha speeding ticket is a piece of paper and the officer is not bending you over his knee and spanking you. The reason for this kind of answer is because in our modern culture we look on any type of physical punishment with disdain. We think physical punishment, especially toward adults is uncivilized. But such thinking is at odds with the Bible.
However, the Bible makes it clear in passages like Ephesians 5:22-33 and I Peter 3:1-7 that marriage is not a partnership but rather a patriarchy. It does not get any clearer than For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church .
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Hitting Is Actually Not Biblical
Dont use the Bible as an excuse to spank. There is confusion in the ranks of people of Judeo-Christian heritage who, seeking help from the Bible in their effort to raise godly children, believe that God commands them to spank. They take spare the rod and spoil the child seriously and fear that if they dont spank, they will commit the sin of losing control of their child. In our counseling experience, we find that these people are devoted parents who love God and love their children, but they misunderstand the concept of the rod.
Rod Verses What They Really Mean
The following are the biblical verses which have caused the greatest confusion:
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
Do not withhold discipline from a child if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.
The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to itself disgraces his mother.
Jewish families weve interviewed, who carefully follow dietary and lifestyle guidelines in the Scripture, do not practice rod correction with their children because they do not follow that interpretation of the text.
Old Testament and New Testament
In our opinion, nowhere in the Bible does it say you must spank your child to be a godly parent.
SPARE THE ROD!
Lets Do A Recap Of What Weve Learned:
Proverbs is an application of the Old Testament Law. In Christ, we are no longer under that Law.
The contexts of these seven proof texts have to do with observations but not commands. None of the verses require parents of today to spank their little children.
All of the verses are talking about older children or youth , not little children.
Discipline in Proverbs does not mean punishment.
The rod was used to punish teens who were persistent law-breakers that shamed their parents and rejected God and his covenant people.
The rod was only one of several instruments used for punishment. Sometimes, the term was a metaphor for authority.
When the rod was used, it was applied to the back of the youth, not the buttocks, legs, or anywhere else.
The general principles of the ancient ways that are taught in these proverbs can be applied but through Jesus and his New Covenant era.
It is wrong to impose our cultural traditions and expectations onto the Bible and read into the scriptures what we want them to say. There are seven verses people claim prove we must spank our little ones, but they are seven warnings out of 915 total verses in Proverbs. To be dogmatic and declare these seven Proverbs command or expect parents to spank little children, is twisting scripture. It does an injustice to the biblical text and to our children.
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How Do I Stop Disobeying My Parents
Avoid disrespectful body language when your parents are talking to you. Show your parents that you care by being attentive when they talk to you. Stand straight with your arms relaxed at your sides. If your parents think you are not listening, then they are more likely to get angry and assume you do not care.
This Verse Is Descriptive And Says What Is Or What Can Be It Is Not A Command
a. Proverbs 10:13 serves as a warning to older sons in training if they deviate from Gods Law and righteous path.
b. The broader impact was more than merely ones personal affront to Gods Law.
Such a person dishonored his parents. For a culture with the family honor code, it was a very serious thing to bring shame to the parents and family. We see this type of culture in our day with conservative Muslim families or various traditional Asian families.
This wayward son person easily influenced other members of the community
c. This verse is not commanding a parent to use the rod on the fool. Rather, it is a visual description of the kind of person a fool is. Everyone in that society knew the fool was identified with the rod of punishment. They went together like butter to toast or ducks to water .
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Your Rod And Your Staff They Comfort Me
In Psalms 23, the rod and staff are considered comforting. Lets unpack that.
Part of discipline is establishing boundaries, and boundaries are comforting for everyone. Theyre especially comforting to children who are trying to figure out the world and testing limits and authority. Its helpful to think of your parenting role as that of a shepherd, guiding your childrens paths and protecting them.
A shepherd uses his staff to provide small corrections along the way, allowing him to keep his sheep on the path. That model applies to parenting as well. Think about your discipline style. Do you guide and redirect along the way or do you tolerate, tolerate, tolerate and explode? If its the latter, you may want to take a cue from the shepherds.
Providing that comforting correction and encouragement along the way takes time and intentionality, but the payoff is huge. When you provide that correction often and early in life, your children will very likely need much less correction as they mature.
Rarely, a shepherd needs to use his rod to correct or protect his sheep. Its not punishment out of anger, but rather a protective mechanism to keep the sheep from danger. Its correction out of concern and love.
One of the strongest statements about discipline is in Proverbs 23:13-14, which states, Do not withhold discipline from a child if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod you will save his soul from Sheol.