He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines diligently and punishes him early.
I looked up as many commentaries and opinions as I could regarding this passage and I thought I was going to get sick. This little piece of scripture written by King Solomon is the justification for parents to spank their children with a stick, or "rod" as they now call it, from the age of 15 months to apparently forever. There are child psychologists, teachers, moms, pastors, doctors, and entire institutions who condone disciplining children by hitting them. Focus on the Family's James Dobson officially states that the Bible, being the unerring Word of God, tells parents to spank, smack, or hit, their children as young as 18 months. James Dobson says "If the child cries for more than five minutes, I would offer him more of what caused the original tears." So, the fundamentalist Christian view point is that to not hit your kids is mamby- pamby liberalism and hitting them is straight up Biblical. You are either a weak parent who interprets the Bible any old way you want, or you are an enlightened follower of God's teachings. In fact, these people go so far as to correlate the lack of "corporal punishment" (euphemisms are always invented when the true word is unacceptable) with the escalation of drugs, crime and violence in the world today. If we just hit them when they were toddlers, they would be nice girls and boys instead of gansta's and hoochies.
THE ROD WAS A SHEPHERD'S ROD
Not that complicated. His father, David, WAS A SHEPHERD!!!! The guy knew what a freaking rod was, it's not a metaphor taken out of context. The Hebrew word used in the text is shevet or shebet (#7626) which means "rod" and is the same word used one of the most comforting Psalms of the Bible, Psalm 23:4 "your rod and your staff comfort me". Here we go again, people who are wounded from their own childhoods, refusing to see their parents with a clear eye, are interpreting clear Biblical instruction in a manner that supports their own upbringing. And these people have huge influence on Christians who buy their books, go to their conferences, listen to their tapes and send them money. A rod is not a hickory switch, wooden paddle, yardstick, wooden spoon, talking stick or, in a pinch, an open hand on "bare buttocks". All of these methods are recommended by many, many so called Christian leaders today. They say a hand should only be used if nothing else is available because a hand should be used for loving and the rod for disciplining. Ok...right. Like a stick isn't attached to a hand that's using it to whip the kid. "Oh, that stick is hitting me by itself! I'm so glad my mommy or daddy isn't the one hurting me!"
Jesus said: "I am the Good Shepherd and I know my sheep, and I am known by my own." There are good shepherds and there are bad shepherds. Some would probably beat their sheep with their staff, that doesn't mean that's what it's for. A shepherd's sheep are very valuable to him, they're valuable to the entire community. James Dobson's child rearing notions are not only archaic and dangerous, they're psychologically ridiculous not to mention Biblically inaccurate. "I am the good shepherd"...does the Lord correct James Dobson by slapping him, humiliating him, scaring him or intimidating him? Would you love Jesus if He hit you with a stick when you made a mistake? No. You would hate him. Or hate yourself for doing something so bad that it caused our Savior to hit you.
A GOOD SHEPHERD USES A ROD TO:
Separate: He uses it to separate wounded sheep from the rest of the flock. At night, when the flock enters the fold, they pass under the shepherd's rod, which is held slightly above their backs. They enter the fold single file in the same order every time. When he gently touches a sheep's back, that sheep knows to leave the line and come to the shepherd so it's wounds can be dressed and attended to.
Guide: A shepherd will gently guide his sheep where he wants them to go by sort of "nudging" them with his rod. He does this if the sheep is wandering off on it's own, distracted or off in it's own little world. Sheep are vulnerable when they're away from the security of their flock. He'll also give a little warning tap to any bully sheep who won't allow the young, older or wounded sheep to eat where the best grass might be. A shepherd knows which one of his sheep are likely to bully or wander and he anticipates their behavior. If he's moving his flock from one pasture to another, he can't afford to let any of his sheep get out of line.
Protect: A shepherd's rod can knock a predator off it's feet before it knows what hit him. The sheep trust the shepherd to look after them, they know that he is watching out for their safety so they don't need to be so anxious. A rod is used to hit the enemy, not the lambs! The enemy of the flock quake when the shepherd starts coming at them with the mighty rod, not the sheep in his care.
Hold back from danger: Sheep are not stupid, they just don't have a very good sense of smell. They wouldn't know bad grass from good, they'll eat dirt if the shepherd doesn't lead them to green pastures. Sometimes a shepherd will have to hold the staff out in front of a sheep that is determined to go where it shouldn't, where it's dangerous. The sheep don't have to know where not to go, the shepherd does.
I think it's pretty obvious that Solomon was not saying that if you don't hit your kids with a stick, they'll grow up to be drug dealers and thieves. He is saying that if you do not attend to your children's wounds, protect them from the enemy, or hold them back when they're about to do something hideously stupid, you're going to end up with a child who doesn't know how to care for themselves and doesn't feel loved. Also, he's saying that to predators, your sheep are prey and if you don't take a stick to anyone who tries to hurt your babies, good luck.
CHRISTIANS MAKE ME SO MAD!!!
Honestly, I don't understand how educated Christians can take the PRECISE Word of God and so pervert it to justify their behavior. In John 21 Jesus is telling Peter how to take care of His beloved flock when he's gone. He's passing his shepherd's rod to Peter with clear instructions to ensure his sheep's health and usefulness. Notice, these are three different sentences with three different messages. Often this passage is taught as if Jesus is repeating himself 3x, he's not:
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
Feed the babies, the vulnerable lambies... take good care of them. Feed them the Word, feed them the Truth. Nurture my love for them.
16Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
Take good CARE of the sheep as they grow. Protect them, guide them, pull them aside if they are wounded or being naughty. CARE for them.
17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
Never stop nourishing my followers with the Word, the Truth. Find them healthy sustenance, lead them to green pastures where they will thrive and grow and be useful.
Do you see "John, do you love me? Then give my sheep a premeditated smack with your rod aka 'corporal punishment', not your hand (hands are for love, not beatings), when they are sassy or lie. Make sure you don't hit them out of anger, but for their own good. And if they bleat for over 5 minutes, tell them there's more where that came from." James Dobson ought to be run out of town, I'm not even kidding!!!
We do not follow Christ because we are afraid of Him, we follow Him because He loves us, takes care of us and would lay down His life for us. Oh yeah, and He's kicked the devil's ass for us, too. Jesus doesn't use cruelty or permissiveness with those he loves.
If more parents loved their children more than themselves, the world wouldn't be as messed up as it is. If more Christians stayed home and spent time with their kids, protecting them from the predators at church instead of 4 nights a week in revivals and prayer meetings, kids wouldn't resent Jesus and church like they do. I tell you, there's a few dumb ass parents I'd like to smack with a shepherd's rod!!! They'll stick their kids in the childcare room or let people take their children on mission trips that they don't even know because they're such strong Christians. Then spank their children because they tell the truth.