First, the book of Proverbs is the oldest book in the Holy Bible. While King Solomon and King Hezekiah wrote most of Proverbs, according to Martin’s book, some of it was also written by authors of ancient Egypt hundreds of years prior to King Solomon and King Hezekiah. In the Hebrew Bible, The Wisdom Literature which are Job, Psalms, and Proverbs are arranged in a different order than they appear in our modern day Bibles. Instead of Job, Psalms, Proverbs; it’s Psalms, Proverbs, Job. These Holy books were inspired by God to be written primarily for young men.
The Hebrew language breaks up each stage of childhood in the Bible into specific names from birth to adulthood. I will not list them here at the moment, but what is key to point out here is the Book of Proverbs was written for young men (Hebrew: Na’ar). Na’ar is the teenage years, 12 years to roughly 19. During this stage of life during biblical times, young men were considered ready to learn the Law, looking to marry, and able to understand abstract concepts. This makes sense as reknown psychologist Jean Piaget recognized that people 12 and up were in the Formal Operational stage of cognitive development. Young children cannot think abstractly. That is why a young child will run to the window if you say it’s raining cats and dogs. The young child truly expects to see cats and dogs falling from the sky. The young takes everything at its literal meaning. For infants and toddlers, everything they learn is through senses. Therefore, if you slap their hands, despite what pro-spanking Christian advocates may say, they do not, can not understand exactly why they’re being hit. Life is all trial and error for young children. As I mentioned before in Part one, Jewish scholars and leaders recognize this fact and absolutely forbid the use of harshness and physical punishment for young children, especially those UNDER 6 years of age.
Secondly, the writers of the New Testament were well versed in the Book of Proverbs. And yet, Proverbs is quoted only in a few books of the New Testament. None of the quotes deal with the harsh punishment of children! Jesus doesn’t even mention the punishment of children in His Sermon on the Mount where He changed and added to the Law (Matthew 5 & 6). Instead, He held children up in high esteem for that day. Look at this passage:
“13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He 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. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” Mark 10:13-16.
Notice that Jesus was indignant when His disciples rebuked parents for bringing their children to Him. Nowhere does it say Jesus hit children or taught people to spank children. Other New Testament writers didn’t either. Paul and Timothy gave many instructions regarding families and children, and yet, they do not quote any of the Proverbs that seem to advocate spanking. Instead, Paul writes:
“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” Colossians 3:21. The word “fathers” is also translated into parents. The one passages in the New Testament that Christian pro-spankers often point to in order to claim that we are to spank is Hebrews 12:5-6 which states:
“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Notice that the author quotes Proverbs 3:11-12 in this verse. Proverbs 3:11-12 states:
“My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.”
If this verse was really talking about the use of physical punishment, why didn’t the author quote one of the many verses dealing with the rod? And if we look at the whole chapter of Hebrews 12, it doesn’t seem to be even discussing actual children, but adults who are God’s children. Now let’s look at the definition of the word chastise. Does it automatically mean physical punishment? No! Here’s what Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary says:
“1: to inflict punishment on (as by whipping)
2: to censure severely : castigate
3archaic : chasten 2″
Now before we go and say, see, it does mean physical punishment, look at how it’s used in these two sentences from this dictionary:
“The waiter was chastised for forgetting the customer’s order. The coach is always chastising the players for minor mistakes.” Obviously, chastise is being use as a verbal correction in these sentences! Now look at some of the synonyms of chastise: Rebuke, Lecture, Scold, Reprimand, Bawl Out, Dress Down, and Lecture. Yes, it can mean physical punishment, but it also means many other things! Given the Biblical context in which chastise is being used here in Hebrews, we are walking very shaking ground if we choose to interpret it as a command to spank our children. God rebukes us all the time. No, it’s not pleseant, but it’s not in a harsh tone and He immediately forgives us when we repent. And yes, if we choose to do our own thing against His Will, He will ALLOW, NOT INFLICT, pain into our lives. But even when we do His Will, He still allows pain into our lives. Look at these verses:
“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” Acts 5:41.
“Not only so, but we [Or let us] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance” Romans 5:3.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” Romans 8:17.
“All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering” 2 Thessalonians 1:5.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” James 1:2-4.
To conclude this part of my series, let me reiterate that the Holy Bible is all divinely inspired by God. The Law of Moses is still Holy. But to accurately interpret Scripture, we must look at it in context of the whole; Old and New Testaments. Jesus fulfilled, and thus freed us from, the Law! As the apostle Paul states:
“For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law” Romans 7:5-7a.
Open the eyes of our hearts that we may see Your Truth, Lord! Thank You, Jesus!
Spanking is NOT God’s Will by Steph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.whynottrainachild.com.