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May 9, 2017
Parental discipline: Modern civilization vs Biblical method

EDITOR: The irreconcilable catfight between modern civilization and some basic tenets of the Bible continues to degenerate in different dimensions, one of which includes: Choosing the most appropriate method of parental discipline.

Sequel to the heightened attention human/child rights receive globally (well, at least in countries of advanced civilization), people of divergent opinions – atheists, ex-Christians, liberal and non-committal Christians, and many other categories of freethinkers, consider it a failure and large indiscretion on the part of the Bible to suggest the use of the “rod” in enforcing discipline on a child.

The Bible, as accused by its critics, creates the ‘negative impression’ that efficient parental love and discipline can only be effectively shown through hitting children with rods, as instructed in the following scriptures:

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” – Proverbs 13:24 NIV “13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. 14 Punish them with the rod and save them from death.” – Proverbs 23:13-14 NIV

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;

The rod of correction will drive it far from him.” – Proverbs 22:15 NKJV

“Discipline your child while there is hope, but don’t get so angry that you kill him!” – Proverbs 19:18 CJB

Adding gas to the fire, Bible critics further indict the legitimacy of the Bible in giving parental advice, when the God it projects seems quite driven by a rather weird thirst for blood: when He first demanded the sacrifice of Abraham’s son, before having a change of heart, and at a later time, sacrificed His own – only Begotten Son!

While the Bible, from the above scriptures, encourages the use of corporal punishment (with love) as an effective method of modifying a child’s behaviour, it doesn’t necessarily promote abusive parenting!

Modern civilization, on the other hand, places an embargo on any form of corporal punishment given to children, substituting it with other disciplinary measures that don’t involve physical pain.

Attempting to analyze which of the conflicting methods will yield a better result in child discipline could eventually turn out to be an effort in futility, as both methods carry alongside their productive and counterproductive baggage.

It’s important to note that there’s a thin line between corporal punishment and torture.

The intention of correcting a child with the “rod,” as suggested by the Bible, deals with disciplining a child with the infliction of a measure of pain, but absolutely not such that warrants physical injuries! This is done through caning a child on the palm or buttocks with a wooden cane, or most recently, as improvised – with a belt, when a series of verbal warnings has been ignored.

Although, the biblical method of discipline has proven to be very efficient in some homes and societies (especially in Africa) which I’m quite a huge beneficiary of, the big question remains:

How do we determine an objective measure of pain that is commensurate with a child’s offence? Not forgetting also the fact that some parents could be extremely driven by anger, which sometimes makes it difficult to differentiate punishment from abuse.

On the path of modern civilization, condemning the use of the “rod” (or to be politically correct), tagging corrective measures like spanking, caning, whipping and so on, as forms of child abuse, isn’t exactly incorrect!

A lot of dangers, as well as the possible side effects resulting from corporal punishment gone wrong, can be averted.

But…a child growing up without the consciousness or fear of the possibility of being physically punished for wrongdoing may hardly come correct on his or her morals/attitudes, and may likely undergo transition into adulthood with such deep flaws in character.

Perhaps the absence of corporal punishment for derailing children (as rumoured) can be considered a major contributing factor for the widely perceived extreme moral decay and child rebellion, supposedly exhibited in most civilized countries.

The biblical and civilized forms of child-rearing may continue to run on parallel lines, as both methods can either actualize or sabotage their original intentions. Hence, the application of these methods will always differ between societies and the individual discretion of parents.