The United Church Observer has published an article called, To Spank Or Not to Spank, by Sarah Boesveld about the spanking controversy in Canada. While I am glad that the United Church of Canada has taken a public stand against spanking, I do not link to this as Christian arguments, but of interest as a news story. Canadian Evangelical, C.L. Dyke of Scita Scienda, explains why in a comment which I will reproduce here.
The greater context to this is that the UCC is a denomination which has thrown out orthodox (I use the word generically, not denominationally) Christian doctrine in favour of unbridled humanism. They actively disavow the deity of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible–scripture is a text to be interpreted by today’s shifting social customs, and filtered for generic principles common to human decency, rather than a narrative deserving of the same respect and scholarly approach as any other ancient text.
The quote in the article about supporting the oppressed lines up to this:
–Support homosexual advocacy and lobbying
–Support abortion (hmm, an interesting clash of principle occurs here)
–Reject the deity of Jesus Christ and His calling upon humankind to repent of sin and accept personal, substitutionary salvation based on Christ’s atonement; eject pastors who preach it.
Meanwhile, Canadian law is already very pro-child.
In writ, it is illegal to spank under the age of 2 or over the age of 12; it is illegal to leave so much as a red mark; it is illegal to spank with an implement.
In practice, spanking of any kind has the potential to incur social services intervention.
As someone who is anti-Pearl and pro-attached/gentle parenting, but not anti-spanking across the board, I feel the scales are already sufficiently balanced against the principles of individual freedom in our country’s legal system.
While the compassion expressed for Hana Williams’ horrific death is only appropriate, the UCC’s word is pretty tainted to me as a Canadian evangelical. I’m not sure how we are to see the brokenness of humanity healed without Christ.
The UCC’s solution is moral relativism and socialism. Given the (for now) fringe push on the far left to accept pedophilia under the guise of “children’s sexual rights,” that approach doesn’t avail for me as a guarantor of children’s rights and safety in this life, all eternal considerations aside.
I really believe that most parents get no pleasure out of spanking their children and do so only so that they will “learn their lesson.” But what does spanking children really teach them? I have seen many testimonies of adults who were spanked as children who did not learn what their parents meant to teach them. Some of those testimonies can be found in this discussion at Gentle Christian Mothers. But wait. Can a child really learn without corporal punishment? Here is a memory from David H. Roper who learned a very important lesson without being spanked or even yelled at. After reading both the discussion and the devotional, take a while to reflect on this question: would he have learned the same lesson if the person who heard him say that word had spanked him, yelled at him and/or washed his mouth out with soap?
Dara Stoltzfus has a post about this same topic regarding The Lion King.
Author Samuel Martin says in his latest blog post that he is now willing to send a free PDF of his book, Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me: Christians And The Spanking Controversy to anyone who emails him at firstname.lastname@example.org to request it. Edited to add: Samuel Martin says,
I just saw on Amazon that hard copies of my book are selling for $207.33 US Dollars. Can that be possible? I can tell you that that is not right. If you do like to get a hard copy of my book (Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfot Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy – The first edition is still in print, but not for much longer), just call 1 800 204 2063 – Archives Book Shop – A great source for all of your new and used Christian book needs. But my free ebook is still free and remains free until corporal punishment/smacking/spanking of children ends – write email@example.com to get yours.
Molly ponders The hypocrisy of children’s rights on Adventures in Parenting. I had similar thoughts when I heard a pastor mention that a pastor or Deacon must not be a striker (1 Tim 3:3 and Titus 1:7.) I whispered to my husband, “Ah, but they believe in striking children. Apparently they don’t consider children to be people.”
And here is a bonus link. While completely off topic for this blog, I found this video interesting. Someone took an informal poll at a college campus asking the question, “Can Men And Women Be Just Friends?“ The answers might surprise you.
Megan Graham of The Daily Illini (Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Illinois) looks at To Train Up A Child and its influence as well as the issue of Free Speech in Parenting book missing childlike innocence.
When I saw this, I postponed what I had planned to publish this month and I immediately started writing to a number of religious scholars that I know asking them to speak out on this outrageous, unacceptable and evil publication. Thankfully, my call has immediately been answered by Prof, William Webb of Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, Canada. I know that I will be hearing from other religious scholars very soon and I will be sharing more testimonies and comments from them as I receive them. We need to hear these voices now.
Many of you know that I have strongly endorsed Prof. Webb’s book in this newsletter (July 2011 Newsletter). Today, I am herein once again not only endorsing this book, but I am asking you to support this book to ensure that it obtains the widest possible reading, attention and exposure. Rather than telling you what Prof. Webb told me, I am herein including a written communication from him that I received just this morning. The following is a direct quote from Prof. Webb and is used with his permission.
THE PEARL’S BEATINGS ARE NOT REALLY BIBLICAL
“Although they will tell you it is from the Bible, the Pearl’s version of child discipline is not really biblical. Not in the truest sense. Not in the deepest sense of what should shape biblical authority. Not in a way that honors the Bible’s underlying redemptive spirit. It is utterly heart breaking to watch “Christian materials” written by Michael and Debi Pearl become part of the murder investigations in three separate cases where so-called Christian parents allegedly abused their children in life-threatening and life-ending ways. I am stunned and appalled by what I have seen on CNN, King5 News, etc.
Unfortunately, Christians often get stuck in their ability to apply the Bible in today’s world. It is my hope that my recent book (Corporal Punishment in the Bible: A Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic for Troubling Texts) will inspire hope and positive dialogue that helps the Christian community move towards something better for our children. The book outlines how Marilyn (my wife) and I changed our minds about spanking. Like the Pearls we were severely deluded in thinking that the rod was God’s way. But over time we learned how to read and understand the Bible differently. We also learned a truck-load of non-corporal methods of discipline which were far more weighty and effective than the Dobson version (2 smacks max) and certainly better than the abusive Pearl prescription (many beatings with the rod). Like the slavery texts of Scripture, the answer is not simply in moving towards a better form of slavery. That only captures part of Scripture’s redemptive spirit. The Dobson approach is to be commended because they move away from the Pearl-type literalism. But, that is not where biblical application should stop. Like the slavery issue of past days, we need to move beyond a gentler, kinder form of slavery/corporal punishment. Two smacks max is good but it does not reflect an ultimate ethical application of the Bible. As with slavery, only abolitionism (of the rod) will permit Christians to fully embrace effective non-corporal methods and do the courageous, William Wilberforce action in this hour of time. I pray that contemporary followers of Jesus might be known as those who want to live out the very highest ethical application of Scripture. What the Pearls offer is nothing other than “gutter theology”; it is not really the Bible at all . . . well, not if we want to live out Scripture’s redemptive heartbeat.” Dr. William J. Webb is Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, Canada. (Quotation from Prof. Webb ends here.)
Brethren, now is the time for all of us to take action to work to stop what is happening today to children at the hands of dear misguided parents/others who think they are doing God’s will.
First, I am asking you to take this newsletter and the exact comments of Prof. Webb and post them to your blogs, pass them to your networks, put them on your FACEBOOK pages and disseminate his above referenced quotation as far and as wide as you can. For more links, reviews and other information about Professor Webb and his book see: http://redemptivechristianity.com & http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/review/code=2761. Please include these in your posts.
Third, I am asking you to write positive reviews of this book in any forum that you come across including but not limited to Amazon, news sites and other book related sites and blogs.
Fourth, I am also you to join me in applauding and supporting InterVarsity Press (www.ivpress.com) for publishing such courageous and careful scholarship. They need to know that we are watching and supporting Christian publishers who stand up for what is right. Please join me in doing this by writing/emailing them or leaving comments on their site.
I would like to thank Prof. Webb for standing up and letting his voice be heard through this newsletter at this difficult time. His message is an important one. His work is really an inspiration for those of us who are looking for truth. I am reminded of a quotation from a giant of Biblical scholarship who was a friend of my late father and I think it is appropriate to reference it here. “…we must bear in mind that the cause of learning has often been promoted by scholars who are prepared to take a risk and expose their brain-waves to the pitiless criticisms of others” (F.F.Bruce, “Modern Studies on the Judean Scrolls,” CT, I (11):5).
Prof. Webb, thank you for your courage, risk taking, intellectual honesty and standing up and speaking out for the truths of the Holy Scripture. I look forward to supporting you and your work for many years to come.
Christianity Today Reviews Corporal Punishment In The Bible by New Testament scholar William Webb. This book is of interest because while the author concludes that the Bible teaches harsh corporeal punishment, he also concludes that we are no longer to apply such harsh teachings.
Also, Aubry Grace reviews the same book on her blog, My Offerings. She writes about how this book has freed her to give up spanking and she is now looking for alternatives. It gives me great pleasure to direct her to my posts on Gentle Parenting.
What message do children really take away from corporeal punishment? Carissa Robinson has asked some mothers what they remembered about being spanked and posts their thoughts and stories in What Do They Really Think?
Dulce de Leche shares a letter someone wrote to her pastor about her experiences with spanking and why she does not believe it should be preached from the pulpit. She shares her testimony of what it was like to be spanked and how it effected her. She also looks at the blurred distinction between spanking and abuse. This letter may be triggering so it is not for the faint of heart.
Pearl in Oyster has a post examining what the Bible says about how to respond to false teachers in A Stand For Truth.
If false teachers are to be treated kindly and patiently and instructed gently, how much more should I be kind, patient and gentle with my child? If it’s God’s job to change the hearts of false teachers, then it stands to reason that it is God’s job to change my child’s heart.