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Understanding the ‘Bible way’ of discipline


Editor: Very often we would hear from all our pulpits, that parents are to follow ‘the Bible way’ of disciplining their children. The implication is always a mixture of blame and the whip. They would turn around and misuse certain texts in the Bible to support their acts of ignorance.{{more}} Let me first establish here that I am not writing in support of any denomination’s doctrinal stance. I am a lover of poetry and take much of my time to examine the imagery of every kind of poetry. Among the lot, you would find the writings of the Psalms and the Proverbs to be the best types of imagery used by any poet.

Before I go any further, I must apologize to the children I taught for years in the primary school, especially those that I taught between 1966 and 1975. I must admit that what I did between those years was done in ignorance, in the earnest discipleship of a misguided tradition. I was under the illusion that like every other honest, hard-working teacher, I was doing what was in your best interest.

One of the key texts of my deluded friends is ‘The rod and reproof gives wisdom; but a child left to himself, brings his mother to shame.’ Let’s carefully examine this text. If the rod means the whip, then we must conclude that if the child is held responsible (blamed, reproved) and you whip him, the child would be wiser in the future. Where is the correction in this position? Is it not saying blame him, whip him and he would be wiser? The imagery of the rod is clear, if we open our eyes here. Shepherds used their rods to guide sheep, not to whip them. The idea here is to use proper means to correct; correction is the symbolic rod here. Show the child his error and then show him the right way. How about ‘He that spares the rod hates his son.’ If we go to the Bible and the story of Eli and his sons. Read 1 Samuel 3:13. Did God punish Eli’s household because Eli did not blame his sons and whip them? Is it not preposterous to think of a father whipping his sons who were priests? Eli was rejected and his sons died horrible deaths because as a father, he failed to show them the error of their ways (reproof ) and instruct them in the right way (correct). Proverbs 22:15 says ‘the rod of correction shall drive it (foolishness) far from him’. Let’s look at Proverbs 23: 13: ‘If you beat him with the rod, he shall not die.’ How many children have we not known to have died at the hands of their parents and guardians as a result of the whip ?

Here are other images of the rod: Proverbs 110: 2 …rod of strength. Proverbs 10:14…rod of pride. Proverbs 22:8…rod of anger. Isaiah 9:4…the rod of his oppression. Wouldn’t it be stupid to insert whip in any of those cases?

I beg my friends who read this and belong to genuine Christian homes to raise your voices here, tell your communities that your parents had a sound understanding of the principle of true ‘Bible discipline,’ that you were never flogged and that you are of well disciplined grooming. You may be few, but stand up, speak up against child abuse of the worst type, child abuse with a stamp of God’s approval.