Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Stand for Truth

2 Timothy 2:24-25
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

In this passage, Paul is exhorting Timothy in how to properly react to false teachers.  In this morning's sermon, Pastor John used it to illustrate a point about standing for truth in a world that prefers spin, hype and illusion.

God used it to speak to me about a particular truth, one about Biblical parenting.

If false teachers are to be treated kindly and patiently and instructed gently, how much more should I be kind, patient and gentle with my child?  If it's God's job to change the hearts of false teachers, then it stands to reason that it is God's job to change my child's heart.

Yet there are some who claim that spanking is ordained by God, that spanking is necessary to effect change in a child's heart.

Does that argument hold up in light of the hundreds of verses in the Bible that tell us how to treat others?  Jesus made it clear that we are to love (exhibit the fruit of the Spirit toward) not only our friends and family, but also our enemies and enemies of God. 

Let's be blunt.  Spanking is hitting a smaller and weaker person.  It is a violent act.

It is only through verbal gymnastics that one can argue that a violent response is a kind, patient or gentle response to child, no matter how disobedient, immature or inconvenient their behavior. 

Children are fully human and are not in a separate category or an exception to the verses that tell us how God wants us to treat our fellow man.  

But what of the six "rod" verses in Proverbs?  Don't they command corporal punishment?

First consider the source and style of writing.  Proverbs is a book of poetry and wisdom, where many if not most of the sayings are meant to create a picture rather than be taken literally.  Therefore they must be interpreted in light of the rest of Scripture, particularly plain verses of instruction such as those found in Paul's epistles.

In light of the many verses urging us to kindness, gentleness and patience, and the type of literature and context, isn't it reasonable to could it be that the "rod" in the verses is a metaphor for authority rather than a literal implement to be used as a weapon of violence?

For more thoughts on the biblical arguments against spanking, please visit Why Not Train a Child, particularly the series Spanking is NOT God's Will, and Dare to Disciple.

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