Monday, September 22, 2014

The Hot Topic of Spanking

I feel like I'll get some heat for what I'm about to write. But then again when haven't I?! So I just need to learn to thicken my skin a bit in the internet world I suppose. Today I'm writing about that all too touchy subject.... spanking. Also, the original post was bit long so I've divided it into two different parts. Find part two here -

Man this subject is overwhelming. I am not even entirely sure where to start but I'll just write as thoughts pop into my mind so please bear with me. Spanking has been in the news a lot lately. Sports stars beating their wives and coming under fire and sports stars beating their kids and being stood up for. Its conflicting and makes no sense to me.

There is a LOT of conflicting info out there about spanking. Even more so for Christians. For the most part, we're taught to spank. Spanking is good, it's discipline, and kids turn out awful without it. "I was spanked as a kid and I turned out fine!" Can I tell you a secret? I was very rarely spanked as kid, I only remember a handful of times.

 I had a few face slaps, was pinned up against a door with my tongue pulled out into someone's hand once, but other than that, not a lot of physical discipline that I can remember (unless I blocked it out). I was however verbally and emotionally abused (I started cutting at 8), a personal Cinderella,  and pretty much locked in the house until I was kicked out over haha, get this, cat litter and Harry Potter DVDs.  And I turned out "fine." Doesn't mean that behavior is okay, nor does it mean my children deserve to be treated that way (no way in hell). Many people are in car accidents and come out fine, doesn't mean we shouldn't use safety in cars or car seats, am I right? People have been sexually abused and turned out "fine" but it's still not okay, so let's refrain from that term.

The big term Christians use is "spare the rod spoil the child." But did you know that term is not from the Bible? Spanking is not Biblically mandated. There is a verse talking about "he who spares the rod hates his son" but you need to read the rest of the verse, the context, AND the original Hebrew or Greek (depending on the book of the Bible) translation. There are many translations of the Bible but what it comes to is the definite meaning of the Hebrew word. Hebrew is a beautiful language with different words and meanings for the same things.

This link here translates beautifully the original Hebrew, and I'll share some of the post below but I encourage you to read the rest of the post to garner an understand of the Hebrew context of the verses. 
"Let’s look at the words translated ‘discipline’ and ‘punish’ and ‘rod’ and others:
The word muwcar is translated ‘discipline’ and means, literally, ‘verbal instruction and teaching.’ In Hebrew culture muwcar was vernacular for ‘let us reason with one another’ implying a mutual discussion for learning purposes. And towkechah is translated ‘reprove’ or ‘rebuke’ but also means ‘reason with, convince, prove, persuade.’ Neither of these words means to physically punish in any way, shape, or form.
The word nakah is translated ‘punish’ in most English translations of the Bible, though its literal translation is ‘beat’ as in “The sun beat down on his head,” implying a constant presence; or ‘hit’ as when beating back an enemy or punishing a slave or criminal; or ‘smite or smitten’ which can mean ‘hit or trigger the conscience’ or ‘be favorably impressed, enticed, or entranced’ as in, “He was smitten with the idea of a new bicycle.”
The word shebet is translated ‘rod’ and means, literally, ‘shepherd’s crook’ and, in Hebrew culture, was a means not only of guiding and protecting sheep, but also a symbol of leadership. The markings on the head of the shebet often identified the head of a family or tribe, letting everyone know who to go to for guidance and protection. The shebet, then, denotes wisdom, leadership, and protection.
The word muwth is translated ‘die’ and has several meanings related to death including ‘to follow a path of destruction.’
The word ‘ivveleth is translated ‘foolishness’ but also means ‘inexperience, naivety, silliness.’
And, finally, the Hebrew word sane is translated ‘hate’ and yet means ‘does not love’ or ‘does not choose or show a preference for.’
When we read the five ‘rod’ verses with the literal translations of the words above, the meanings become more clear.
So Proverbs 13:24 reads:
“He who spares his rod wisdom, leadership, protection hates does not love, does not choose or show a preference for his son, but he who loves him disciplines offers verbal instruction and teaching to him promptly.”
Proverbs 22:15 reads:
“Foolishness Naivety, silliness, inexperience is bound up in the heart of a child young man; the rod of correction wisdom, leadership, protection will drive it far from him.”
Proverbs 29:15 reads:
The rod Wisdom, leadership, protection and rebuke reasoning with, convincing, proving, persuading give wisdom, but a child young man left to himself brings shame to his mother.”
And, the last two ‘rod’ verses, found in Proverbs 23:12-26 read:
“Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. Do not withhold discipline verbal instruction and teaching, reasoning together from a child young man; if you punish guide, trigger his conscience, favorably impress, entice/entrance them with the rod wisdom, leadership, protection, they will not die follow a path of destruction.
Punish Guide, trigger his conscience, favorably impress, entice/entrance them with the rod wisdom, leadership, protection and save them from death following a path of destruction. ....The father of a righteouschild young man has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful.
Such a beautiful image of a father tenderly and diligently sharing his wisdom with his son, isn’t it? Clearly, applying these scriptures to small children is not in line with a literal interpretation. It actually makes more sense to apply them to the disciples, which is exactly what Jesus does with his twelve ‘sons.’
Beyond translations and interpretations, though, and of far greater import, what seems to get lost in the spanking debate is that Jesus brought grace and mercy as his methods and message for a reason. The purpose of the law in the Old Testament was to highlight the need for a Savior because humans simply cannot live perfectly.
Jesus came to fulfill the outward requirements of the law that highlighted man’s sins and replace them with an inner heart change. He demonstrated in many ways that the law (outer governance and control through fear of punishment) was no longer to be a rigid yoke with its heavy burden of cleansing and rituals and sacrifices and punishments, but instead was to be a kingdom of the heart, of mercy not sacrifice, because the sacrifice was Himself.

We accept that Jesus brought a new and better way, a way of the heart, “Not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:3b), but don’t seem to want to acknowledge that better way with our children. We accept God’s grace and forgiveness for ourselves, but often don’t share those gifts with, and model them for, our children. But we are our children’s first taste of God. Is it any wonder people have such a hard time understanding grace and mercy and unconditional love when they may not have been taught those things by their earthly parents and don’t exercise them with their own children?
Through Jesus’ sacrifice, he tore open the veil dividing man from God and brought a new kingdom, a kingdom of inner governance through the Holy Spirit whose fruit is “peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Nowhere does Jesus say to follow him except when it comes to our children. He doesn’t say to offer grace and mercy and forgiveness to everyone except our children. The Bible doesn’t tell us to show the fruit of the Spirit to everyone except our children.
If you truly believe that those five verses have been interpreted correctly and that “spare the rod, spoil the child” (Note: There is no verse in the Bible that says ”spare the rod, spoil the child.” That phrase is actually from a satirical poem called Hudibras by Samuel Butler first published in 1662.) refers to an actual physical rod (instead of a symbol of guidance and loving correction…i.e. discipleship) and that the word used for ‘child’ refers to a toddler or small child instead of the actual linguistic translation meaning ‘young man,’ then so be it.
But do you really believe that Jesus’ New Covenant is for everyone except children? That grace, mercy, unconditional love, and forgiveness are for adults only?
The disciples made that mistake, and Jesus said to them,
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16)"  
(Just to clarify since this opinion has be brought to my attention, the above verses with the Hebrew definition defined are not changing scripture or rewriting the word of God. It is simply showing the Hebrew definition of the correct word used in the context of the verse to show the proper meaning of the verse when we have knowledge of the Hebrew used. Not rewriting the verse, showing the definition.)

That says a lot, doesn't it? Here is my personal view. My daughter will be two soon. And I have popped her hands a few times. But when I hit her hands for hitting me it dawned on me how idiotic that was. YOU cannot hit sweet child. But I can hit you and it's okay. I cannot hit your daddy, I cannot hit my friends or any other adults, but it's perfectly fine to hit you. Even though you cannot hit anyone
. Does that make sense? It doesn't to me. It isn't logical. It is a quick fix punishment. Real discipline takes time. It is teaching and guiding and natural consequences. Hitting teaches nothing.

Now comes in discipline vs. punishment. What are disciples? 
  1. a personal follower of Jesus during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles.
    "the disciples of Jesus"

Did Jesus hit his disciples when they did something He didn't like or approve of? Did He hit them to prove a point or punish a behavior? No. He did not. He taught. He guided. He had grace.

Spanking doesn't teach behavior. It teaches fear, aggression, mistrust of parents, and even worse that hitting people is okay if you love them.

I read somewhere that you should never hit or spank out of anger or emotion. But that's the only time I have ever reacted to hit; I'm angry she spilled that or broke this or did that (whether she's a toddler and can actually understand certain situations or not). That, to me, means I shouldn't hit at all. Who calmly and patiently hits?? If you can, kudos. But personally I could not just explain to my child I was going to hurt them and then do it, it would break my heart. The whole "this hurts me more than it hurts you" thing? Just don't then. Disciplining can be hard and time consuming and rough, but if it hurts you to physically hurt your kids maybe it's your heart or spirit saying not to at all.

Then there are all the other complications if you do spank. At what age is it acceptable to start or stop? Where on the body is okay versus where isn't? And then why is it okay to hit a child but not a teenager or adult? It's just plain confusing and way too much to think about.

When I saw the pain, and the fear, and the confusion in my daughter's eyes that confirmed in my heart that I shouldn't be doing that. The mistrust. She doesn't understand that, I cannot explain to her why I did that. She just knows mommy hit her hand.

I saw a mom somewhere share how she's been spanking long before her child was a year old and that broke my heart. That baby doesn't understand consequences, they cannot grasp that yet. I guess I don't understand hitting a child who cannot understand what is going on or why they're being hit? What does a 9 month old do to warrant a spanking?!
"Punishments teach children to do what an adult wants from a selfish desire to avoid getting punished. Even if it "works" it gets in the way of internal discipline because it is focused on an outward behavior. It breeds resentment, deception, and poor self-worth. True discipline encourages kids to do the right things simply because it is right. It models mutual respect, unselfishness, self-control, and empathy. Children are motivated by love for others as well as themselves, and learn to develop healthy relationships and good boundaries. It is worth the time and effort."
I will be continuing the rest of this piece in a second part, which you can read here -

Please know I am casting no judgement on parents who do or have spanked. I go into that more in part two.

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