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"Spare the rod, spoil the child"...maybe not what you think it means [View All]

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xray s Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-18-05 04:34 PM
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"Spare the rod, spoil the child"...maybe not what you think it means
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This LTTE appeared in my local paper. The next time you hear a "Christian" advocating beating children, tell them this...

Bible says guide kids, not beat them
In an article on the debate about spanking, which appeared March 8, a school administrator from a private Christian school is quoted as saying, in regard to corporal punishment, "The Bible teaches it." The article does not provide any Scripture that he may have offered to back up this claim, and I am wondering if he is thinking of the oft-quoted "Spare the rod and spoil the child" taken from Proverbs.

In what context is the term "rod" used in this, and other, Proverbial quote(s)? Is it the same "rod" that is found in the Bible's 23rd Psalm: "Thy rod and staff, they comfort me"? How can it be that the same item - a "rod" - is mentioned as both a tool for punishing (striking) a child and then also gently spoken of as a reassuring source of comfort?

To understand this, consider what type of "rod" is being discussed in the first place, which is a shepherd's rod/staff that is used when guiding and caring for sheep. Throughout the Bible, the comparison is made that the relationship between God (and Jesus) and his followers is similar to that of a shepherd caring for his sheep.

Since this text originated during a time, and place, when the people were very familiar with the care of sheep, it is an analogy that provided an understandable frame of reference. A shepherd carried with him a tall wooden rod/staff that was curved at the top.

How was this used in regard to the sheep? When a sheep would leave the flock and stray, did the shepherd use the rod to beat the sheep back into place? Hardly. In fact, the curved end of the shepherd's rod is used to go around the errant sheep and guide it back into place, or even to grasp the sheep and pull it up from where it may have fallen while straying.

A shepherd's rod is used to open gates and brush off, fend off attackers of the sheep, and to guide and steer the sheep along the right path. It is not a tool of pain used to beat the sheep as punishment or something the sheep fear.

If you consider this - the actual use of a shepherd's rod/staff - it is easy to understand that when it comes to children, the Bible teaches guidance and bringing children back to the right path through vigilance and care, in the same manner a shepherd continually guides his sheep along the right path, as opposed to the justification of striking children as form of punishment and to keep their behavior in line.

H. Lyjak


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