Spare The Rod

Q. Most of the time I read your articles and agree with you, but I have to ask you about proverbs 23: 13. I believe children need correction, and sometimes a little reinforcement in the way of showing them who’s in charge. Why did you not include the very next verse in the article you wrote? Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

A. Would you ever beat your child with a baseball bat, or a hockey stick or a broom handle? Because that’s what the word rod means if you take it literally.

And if you did, do you really think you’d be pleasing the Lord by doing so? Or even saving your child from Hell? Have you ever been beaten this way?

What would you do if you saw someone else beating a child this way? Would you say that the adult was just taking the bible literally? Would you characterize it as a “little reinforcement to show him who’s boss”? Or would you be concerned that the child was being hurt? I didn’t use verse 14 because for all practical purposes, it’s a repeat of the one before it.

A literal interpretation of either verse simply cannot be reconciled with our knowledge of the character of God. As an example, how can we reconcile a literal interpretation of Proverbs 23:13-14 with Romans 2:4?

Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

A literal interpretation of Proverbs 23:13-14 says we have to beat our children to keep them from dying and going to hell, and Romans 2:4 says it’s God’s kindness, tolerance and patience that leads us to repentance. Which view represents what we know of God’s character? Which view of God do we want our children to have?

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