When I was ten until I was twelve years old, I attended a small non-denominational Christian school in which spanking was permitted. Although such practice is almost unheard of now, even among private schools, it was fairly common a few decades ago. Of course, like most Christians who spank, the rationale for using a paddle as a disciplinary tool was because “the Bible said so.” As has been noted here several times, the “rod” verses are time and again misinterpreted, as is so much in the Bible these days.
My personal experiences with spanking were absolutely terrifying. Every teacher had the power to spank, and the offenses that called for spanking were at the discretion of the teacher. Since none of my peers knew what could provoke a spanking, we went to school in constant fear. The one instance that stands out most for me was being spanked for a dubious reason.
It was gym class, and one rule that was established at the beginning of the year was that students could not wear jewelry for the duration of the class. One day, I was wearing a new digital watch that my mother had given me for my birthday. After we lined up Coach Baker yelled at me, “I thought I told you no jewelry.” I responded, very sincerely, that I didn’t know watches were jewelry. Immediately, my gym teacher, in a fit of rage, his voice raised several decibels higher, screamed, “Don’t you dare talk back to me.” And that was my first experience with spanking. I remember being confused, hurt, and humiliated, and I can say without hesitation that I have never felt like that before or since. But I didn’t learn anything, except that, apparently watches count as jewelry.
Having had a first-hand experience with spanking, I can say with a measure of authority that spanking does not produce results, neither short nor long-term. After leaving that school, I personally left the church, and refused to attend throughout my school years. Why? I felt that if a school like that could condone and embrace abuse, then I did not want to have any part of the religion or God associated with it. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that God is not about punishment, abuse, and humiliation. God is, in short, love.
But there are many children from Christian households who get spanked, and I don’t doubt for a second that a majority of these children will grow up to either forsake religion, or they will become adults who are angry, scared, or both. After all, as the joke goes, the quickest way for a Catholic to leave the religion is to send him to a Catholic school. I can’t tell you how many of my friends, having equated Christianity with hate and intolerance, stopped believing merely because their instructors in religious practice were angry people concerned only with physically and psychologically subduing those younger and weaker than them.
In the final analysis, then, spanking isn’t just bad for the child. We know that already. But it is bad for the future of our religion. Our Christian inheritance is distinguished from other religions in that it was the first belief system with its radical message of unconditional love. So for those who constantly cite the Old Testament rod verses, consider this, from the book of John:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” –I John 4:18-21.
By Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @ gmail.com.