Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Which do you choose?...

Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit?"  (1 Cor 4:21) 

It is interesting...or disturbing...well both, that I come across many Christian writers who claim that corporal punishment is an aid to the spiritual upbringing of children.  That it will 'drive out sin'.

One of the scriptures quoted in line with this idea is:


Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. ~ Proverbs 23:13-14

I always wonder about such Christians.  Why do they believe that corporal punishment will 'drive sin out' of a child? That it will save a child's soul from hell?  Why would a Christian believe this?  On the one hand we say that salvation only comes through faith in Jesus Christ, but for some reason if you're under the age of 18 then salvation comes by being beaten with a stick?  Mmm, no...

The only Rod that can saves souls is the Rod of Jesse - Jesus.  He took the punishment we deserve, therefore because of Him we are saved from punishment.  So why do we add extra punishment for children?

We are under the new covenant.  The writer of Proverbs is writing under the old covenant.  Why do some parents think that children are different than adults in this sense?  Children need the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ.  Corporal punishment will not save their soul from hell.

I also read often that corporal punishment apparently encourages first time obedience.  The idea is that ensuring first time obedience to parents is an essential step in training a child to obey the Lord.  But again, we are under the new covenant.  Our obedience to God comes not from physical chastisement but from our belief in Christ.  Our doing of good works comes not from fear of punishment but from our love of God because He first loved us and expressed that love by sending His only Son to die for us.

Thus we cannot 'train' a child to be obedient to God.  Physical chastisement may mean that a child acts obedient, but God is interested in their hearts.  How can their hearts be changed?  By Jesus.

I pray that my children will obey me because they honour me, not because they are afraid of me; most of all I pray they will be obedient to God because they love Jesus.

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. (Galatians 6:1)


Originally written 26/2/13 for my old blog. Published here 28/3/14

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