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Beating Children For The Glory Of God?

Discussion in 'Parents & Couples' started by Coconut, Dec 7, 2005.

  1. #1 Coconut, Dec 7, 2005
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2005
    A recent CBS evening news segment really upset me. It seems there is a Christian based community in northern Vermont that, among its other beliefs, practices severe discipline of children, justifying their position by quoting portions of the Bible such as, "Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you beat him with the rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from sheol" (Proverbs 23:138r,14).

    These Scriptures, in their hands, have led to the awful conclusion of brutality so severe (and un-Christ-like) that one of the church elders is up on charges of beating a child for over seven straight hours. This is sick and has nothing to
    do with true Biblical Christianity.

    Now, I'll be the first to agree with the fact that discipline, loving discipline, needs to be administered to our children, for this is part of our commitment to them. If we really do love our children, we will be firm with guidelines and we will not shirk our parental responsibility of discipline when it is called for.

    Although this group quotes the Bible to defend themselves, what they are really doing is selectively choosing the Scriptures which appeal to their own beliefs, and at the same time ignoring the other Scriptures which would balance out or even contradict their treatment of children.

    This type of poor handling of the Word of God goes on all the time. True Christians are exhorted to "handle accurately the word of truth," and to "study to show thyself approved unto God."

    This means that before you concoct some strange doctrine about justifiable child abuse, you must first read all that the Bible has to say on the subject and then, and only then, do you draw a conclusion. Any other approach to Scripture will surely lead to error.

    Just look at Church history. The inquisitions, periodic persecutions and slaughters of the Jews, the current war in Ireland between Catholic and Protestant, Jim Jones' Guyana mass suicide; each of these tragedies carries a common denominator of irresponsible and selfish handling of the Bible.

    And, oh how the media loves to point its finger at these types of situations. If your only source of information about Christianity was time Magazine or the network news, you would conclude that all Christians were demented souls who equally divided their time between beating children, burning record albums, and occasionally holing up in some house waiting for the Second Coming.

    Today's media believes the unspoken yet constantly affirmed "religion" of humanism which is quick to trash Christianity, but will save the whales while it advocates free abortion to all. You won't find many page one stories about the millions of true Christians who devotedly give their lives in service to their fellow man, because in the secular press's mentality, that would be advocating a specific religion, which of course they say they cannot do.

    So in this twisted frame of mind, all in the name of fairness, Christianity can never be applauded, but on the other hand it is constantly open to putdown and criticism, such as in this case of child abuse.

    Now to be sure, a situation like this one is reprehensible and deserves to get the full scrutiny of all. The Bible actually says that judgment begins first with the household of God. This is why it is so important that we, who claim Christianity as our life, make doubly sure that any position at all which we adopt is firmly and fully based upon the whole weight of Scripture.

    For instance, if you really care about what the Bible says on the subject of children you would have to also consider these verses: "Love is patient, love is kind, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered," "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
    gentleness, and self control," and "Fathers do not exasperate your children that they may not lose heart."

    You see, a proper and honest handling of Scripture will prevent you from just quickly grabbing a few choice verses to shore up your own personality traits or doctrines, and you would never be able to come to a conclusion of such severe discipline of children.

    Moreover, anyone who is a true follower of Jesus simply could not treat a child in such a way, because it would be totally inconsistent with the nature of Christ and the heart of God.

    Once you remove the heart of God from the Word of God, then you no longer have the Word of God. You have, instead, what the Apostle Paul referred to as "the letter of the word" which he said kills. It is the spirit, or heart, of the word which gives life.

    I'm sure you could prove just about anything you wanted from the Bible if you were selectively choosing your verses instead of reverently and respectfully handling accurately the Word of God. As an extreme example, a person could take the two phrases "Judas went and hanged himself" and "go thou and do likewise" and you can see the off-the-wall conclusion that would lead you to!

    What is at the heart of the matter here is the issue of personal yieldedness to the Lordship of Christ. Instead of coming out swinging at your children, maybe you should be on your knees confessing your own sin of anger or lack of patience, or over-reaction or self-centeredness.

    The Bible says that children are a precious gift of God and should therefore be treated as such. I know that when it comes to disciplining my own little boy, I have to first stop and check out my own heart with God and make sure that it's the Spirit and not my ego that is in control.

    I am told that Friedrich Nietzsche, the philosopher and atheist, grew up in a strict so-called "Christian" environment where regular and severe discipline was handed out by his minister father. What a terrible image of God to have planted in a young mind! The world is full of such stories. Scratch the surface of your average atheist and you'll uncover some negative experience at an early age which totally turned the individual off to Christianity.

    My Bible tells me that God is love. I want to make sure that in what I say and do that it is love, real straight from the heart, understanding and compassionate love, that is being expressed. One of the Scriptures that severe disciplinarians frequently refer to is Proverbs 22:6 which says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it."

    I think these people would do well to really consider what this verse is saying. They may come to the unpleasant conclusion that what they assumed was the path to God through strong beatings was, in fact, the path to a future separation
    from God and family. Yes, it may be unpleasant to admit a wrong handling of the Bible and a wrong heart attitude, but it would be far better to admit it now, while there is still time, than at some future date when no amount of tears and pleading for forgiveness will be able to undo the damage and destruction of their violence. -

    amen and amen! God bless the little children!
  2. #2 jiggyfly, Dec 8, 2005
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2005
    It is a tragedy when things like this happen. When children are abused and or neglected because of someone's religious attitude. The word of God is very clear on all issues of life, but in many cases we misunderstand and lack revealation from God because of wrong motive.

    Many cults are birthed or started this way. Disciplining a child may in some cases require "the rod" Just as God has stated in His Word, but in many cases a child misbehaves because of lack or neglect on the parents part. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us on the implementation of God's Word as much as the revealation of God's Word.

    I wish the Church would take responsibility and apply correction in such cases as mentioned above instead of putting it off on the government, this too is a bad case of neglect and a very bad witness to the world.
  3. #3 Jesuslovesu, Dec 8, 2005
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2005
    Right now by where I live ( Cleveland area) there is a investagation into a "Church" Were terrible child abuse is reported.. They are under the name of "deliverence teams".. Right now there is actually a child (and his father) in protective custody because of the abuse... They also after undercover work discovered that not only are they abusing kids with beatings (some adults also are receiving beatings) they are also saying their Pastor is Christ..It is actually a very sad situation.. A cult expert has recently said that this church is one of the worst he has seen..

    It is very sad that many do not understand what being a christian is and will see these things on the news and might think that all christians are this way..
  4. You are very right Jesuslovesu, really there is no way you can be a Christ follower and do something like this, it's totally impossible. Jesus would never even hint to go in this direction.
    Here is an interesting thought, The first century Church did not determine what their group should be called, they were not looking for any kind of recognition from man. It was the unbelievers or world that labeled them as Christians. Maybe we should be careful and not express that we are this or that and just confess the name of the One who has sent us? Kinda sounds familiar doesn't it LOL.
  5. It makes me very angry to hear of this kind of situation...I have been part of several churches but one in particular was quite abusive towards my twin sister and I as well as a few other families. As well as using God's name to justify their abuse, they insisted that we not point out where their doctrine contradicted from the bible. "Their doctrine was right and what right had we to think the Bible was over them." It was sick and awful and for years I turned away from God...didn't see any reason I should accept a God like that as my Lord. Fortunately God has allowed me to heal some from that and surrounded me with good people who aren't perfect but do not do that kind of stuff. Anyway, enough about me. Basically I was just trying to say that it's awful and especially when done to children, it totally muddies their idea of who God is...How can it not? My biggest comfort has been that there are some people, real children of God, who love me and have God's truth in there heart and who won't abuse me like that. I pray that others in the similar situation might find that same comfort and truth
  6. Treatment of kids

    What a terrible situation. The children are the ones to suffer, the ones who have no choice in the matter. They definitely will form an opinion of the church based on this...wouldn't you? We already tend to view God like we did our earthly father while growing up. My dad took off when I was younger, so if I'm not careful I can see God as distant sometimes.

    Jesus was very specific about treatment of kids. He rebuked the disciples when they tried to stop the children from coming to Him. Then the swimming with a millstone necklace reference (Mtt 18:6; Mk 9:42; Lk 17:2). Scary stuff.

    I have a 1 1/2 year old adopted boy, and I would die before I would taint his view of God. I can't imagine anyone mistreating a child, yet it happens everywhere. A hard heart is capably of anything, I guess.
  7. Beating Children For The Glory Of God

    It is so sad when christians take scripture out of context or interpret to fit their beliefs. Its really sad.

  8. Children are so special; they truly are gifts from God.

    They come with so much love and they are not prejudice.

    They can look over ugliness and they say such innocent, yet, quite wise little things that can really teach us a lot.

    I was talking with my son, John, when he was about 3 or 4 years old and he was telling me something that I knew was not true; so, in a loving-fun way, I said, "I think you're a-lyin'." He said, "No, I not a-lyin' (a lion), I a TIGER!" lol

    I'll never forget that, Lord willing! :eek:)

    Another time, in the kitchen, I was trying to make dinner and the same son was jabberin' away at me. I was trying to concentrate on what I was doing and he was bothering me (sorry to say); so, I said, "John, remove yourself from my presence!" lol He said, "Mommy, where are your presents?" lol

    I love my gifts from God! :eek:)

    I think that is why so many young girls desire to have children, even if they are not married. Children are little bundles of joy; even though, they do come with BIG responsabilities. It is hard to find a child's forgiveness and acceptance in adults, these days. I see, a lot of times, where children are more mature than their parents.

    Let's pray for those little gifts, out there, that are being used and abused. God can and will heal them! Through our prayers.

    God bless the little children of the world, Red and yellow, black and white!


    (Pray for the abusers, too! We can help stop the abuse, through prayer, with faith and uplifted hands!)
  9. My children are still very young. I have decided to myself that I will not use physical punishment - smacking - with either of them. For me it runs too close to the line of abuse and teaching violent retribution. And both times I have used smacking as a form of discipline, it has not seemed to be very effective.

    It has troubled me that this appears to bring my conscience into conflict with the Bible's teaching on discipline: "You shall beat him with the rod and deliver his soul."

    More recently I have come across a different reading of these verses. The idea is that the rod is not an instrument of punishment to inflict pain, but a guide to correct, rather like the shepherd's staff that steers the flock in the right direction. Think of Psalm 23 "Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me"

    This appeals to me. It pulls the rug out from under the feet of those who use this verse as an excuse for abuse. It also seems in harmony with Jesus' words and actions regarding children.

    But I have this nagging doubt that this interpretation comes as an attempt to dilute and modify the teachings of the Bible to make it more acceptable to modern ears.

    If anybody else here has dealt with this question, I'd love to hear about it.
  10. With great care...(long)

    Rev. Billy Graham was quoted as saying that the Bible must only ever be read with both great intelligence and great care, for it contains the words of God, the words of man, and the words of Satan.

    Given that we have been warned in the Bible itself that Satan may use *any* scripture for his purposes, it becomes vastly more important to pay attention to how we use the Bible.


    The first clue that man or Satan is trying to twist Scripture is that a verse or phrase is taken with no supporting context anywhere else in other Scripture (or that it is used in a way that outright contradicts Scripture elsewhere). God doesn't work that way. He doesn't contradict Himself.

    If you are interpreting the Word the way God intended, then your interpretation *must* hold agreement with every other Word God spoke. If you cannot do that, then something is wrong with how you are trying to use that piece of the Word (the Word is infallible, we're the ones that mess up).


    For example, it's easy to harp all over Proverbs 23:13 as a "justification" for the godless abuse of innocent children, but it's very hard to raise your hand to *wound* your child in the face of other Scriptures.

    First and foremost, Jesus told us: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

    As a child, that would have gotten me off scot-free of any corporal punishment, but as an adult I can honestly say there have been times in my life when I would have been better off for a good thrashing to make me think about things.

    Be that as it may, unless you are possessed or psychotic (or both) you do not *want* to be beaten (the way we mean that word today) at all, let alone beaten with a rod, cane, belt, or whatever for hours.

    Paul wrote:

    Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4


    Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Colossians 3:21


    "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2

    It is impossible to act in accord with these pieces of Scripture *and* beat your children to injury or misery or bitterness or a genuine desire to either flee or retaliate.


    That said, I'm going to fall back on my standard of examining the Hebrew of the OT for a look at God's wisdom. My usual disclaimers about exploring the Text of Scripture apply: Nothing has been mistranslated and I do not question the Word of God, but we need to explore the development of the translation to understand God's intentions in choosing this or that English word over any other in a possible translation. I assure you He is a very careful author.


    There are several words commonly translated as "rod" in the Bible. Two are of particular interest: One is shebet the other is choter.

    Choter translates pretty clearly to branch or twig. Now I personally see a world of size difference between a branch and a twig, but the fact that this would could be used equally to describe both gives you a gestalt of the range of size and strength for the bit of tree in question.

    However, this word for twig/branch is used only rarely in the whole Bible -- as in Proverbs 14:3 -- In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his back, But the lips of the wise will protect them. (emphasis mine)

    Note here we have a very specific structure -- a rod for his back. Note that the word used for this rod which strikes a person's back is choter.

    Now we know that the Hebrews beat people with "rods" because there's an admonition in Exodus 20:21 that basically says you can't beat your slave to death. It also uses yet a third Hebrew word for "rod". God is a very careful author, so these different words were likely chosen to describe different things.

    The Hebrew word translated as "rod" in Proverbs 23:13 is "shebet."
    This word is no longer in use in modern Hebrew, but it translated variously (in context) to rod, staff, scepter, club and tribe.

    Luckily, we can pretty much eliminate "staff" and "club" and "scepter" from the list of possible translations, because Hebrew had other words that more clearly meant those things in context. Tribe doesn't make much sense either, taken literally, but might make sense if we were to see the rod as a metaphor for public shame.

    In Psalm 23 (interesting that it has the same number as Proverbs 23), we read "Thy rod (shebet) and thy staff, they comfort me." So this separates the rod from the staff.

    Notice that God chose a *different* word for the rod used to discipline children than the rod used to crack across a foolish person's back metaphorically in Proverbs 14:3 or the rod misused to kill slaves in Exodus.

    This rod (shebet) ... is a rod that comforts.

    Where was God wrong then? Was He wrong about the rod's ability to comfort, or about the ability of a comforting tool to be used to "beat" someone?

    God is never wrong. So we must be the ones in error. Let us examine further.

    The word translated as "beat" in Prov 23:13 is the Hebrew word "naka."

    In the other places were it is used in the OT it is translated as "smite." Generally it's God doing the smiting, which might be why the writers of the KJV were inspired to use a different word (beat/chastise) for what a man might do to his child. Today however, we might need to go back a step to the first word God chose in order to get a clear understanding.

    When you smite something, you mean *business*. There is also an indication of a clear, purposeful, single strike. God never smote anything repeatedly - He struck it once and that was it. That was all that was needed.

    So now this shebet is some kind of device that can both comfort and smite. I can't think of *anything* comforting that you can do with a physical rod.

    God clears it all up pretty succinctly in Proverbs 22:15 -- "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod [shebet] of correction shall drive it far from him." (emphasis mine)

    Here again, the structure is specific. The Hebrew construction for "rod of correction" is the same as if I were to say "box of cardboard" or "plate of steel" -- it tells you the nature and composition of the thing being modified.

    Therefore this rod to be used in Proverbs 23:13 is clearly defined, once and for all, a whole chapter beforehand in Proverbs 22:15.

    Because the whole of Proverbs 23:13-14 indicates that if you smite your child with your rod he will not die, there may be a physical component to this correction. Remember too that God was speaking to a culture that believed (perhaps rightly) that a spoken curse alone could *kill*.

    I leave that last distinction to your own study, prayer, and decision.

    However, everything I can find in Scripture to amplify the meaning of this verse points to the physical aspect being wholly overshadowed by other aspects. In any case, even if physical punishment is commanded, it clearly was not meant to be more than a single severe strike that would perhaps leave a mark (but not a wound), or a few strikes that leave a mark (but again, not a wound).
  11. This is really helpful. Thank you very much indeed for the effort put into this.
  12. So this is what she was talking about...

    Our nephew's MIL has talked about the "horrible" Christians who beat children saying it's right and in the Bible. I've listened to her ALOT (that is sometimes all the options there are with her at the moment). And then on those rare moments when feeling lead by the Lord I've spoken and shared how they are not Christains. In a gentle and clear way, I've told her how I've not heard of the group she speaks of but as a Christian that is not what we do. I cried talking about children being abused and how Jesus loved the children. He would not want them to be hurt. And how there is probably mental illness and or just plain evil attached to those involved. Some times she has received it sometimes she continues in her rants. My assignment is to pray for her and love her. Let her experience Christ's love (hopefully) through my husband and I.

    I'm a transplant to New England & sometime the Yankee independence is hard to break through. Like hard soil that is so packed down... I am finding that love - the good stuff that Jesus gives us :) - is what is melting people's hearts up here. We know that we were called to live in NE so we keep trying our best to walk it out. Not always sure of what that looks like. But one thing for sure is that they will know us by our love (Christians). So, I guess if we (Christians) live the truth out in front of people - no matter where in the world we live - God will use that. We know that satan would want to do anything to tarnish our Savior's name - some of you wrote about praying. I agree that is our first line of defense. And also the best choice for the healing of the children and the abusers. I'll be praying extra on this...
  13. #13 Firstborn, May 2, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2007
    uncontoled beating of children

    Do anybody ever realize what this abusive beating does to a child. I have been a victim for 30 years because of abnormal beating. That is why I feel somebody stole 30 years of my live, When I was a child. My father use to beat me very often and not just 6 stripes sometimes 30 to 40. I got my last hiding when I was 16, then I left home. Because of these beatings, I started wetting my bed and sucking my thumb and later on starting with panic attacks. I remember sometimes I used to curl myself in a bundle and sucking my thumb, I felt so uloved. Inside me there was a lot of pain, I tried to ease it with a lot of bad things. Because of this situation at home I became rebellious at school and also got hidings there. I also became aggressive and start fighting with boys after school, I became a real fighter. You see I was looking for love and people to recognize me, not just beatings.
    After I left home I became worse, I don’t want to go into detail. When I was in my twenties a wonderful thing happed, I got saved, just on the right time, otherwise I could be a criminal to day. My whole life changed dramatically. Although I was saved I still had these panic attacks and lots of fear with a very low selfhood. I was a member of a reform church whom does not believe in praying for the sick or laying of hands. So I battled through my life with these problems, till I moved to a charismatic church, where they prayed and laid hands and I was healed.
    Then the lord showed me I had to forgive my father, but he already died. So I stood up early in the morning with my quiet time, and just sat there for a while and let Holy Spirit flow through me. After a few months I heard my fathers voice very clearly “ I am sorry my son I have done you wrong ” I started crying and realize I was completely healed. Because of this wrong picture of a father it did influence my relationship with my heavenly Father. But God is good, through the Holy Spirit He is changing me and I love Him more every day. Hallelujah Today I wish I can just give my father a hug.
    Be blessed
  14. #14 SpiritLedEd, May 6, 2007
    Last edited: May 6, 2007
    "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with gthe rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death."
    (Prv 23:13-14)

    "Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools." (Ecc 7:9)

    Physical discipline is sometimes necessary when dealing with strong willed children. But it must be done in a spirit of love. It is physical discipline done in anger that tends to be excessive and does only damage, not good.

    FirstBorn, I join you in celebrating your reconciliation with your father. The fact that that reconciliation came after your father's death does not diminish it in any way. God is doing an awesome work in your life.

  15. Re: BeatingChildren for the Glory of God?

    In order to fight effectively, you have to know who's directing your enemy forces. The power-mad sick-os who take part in these organizations are only the front-line soldiers. The chain of command begins with Satan.

    By ourselves, we don't have the power to bind the devil. But Jesus does and we need to pray that He does so quickly.

  16. i watched the documentry of this recently and was left bitterly hurt.I am raising my 4 yr old grandson and i could never strike him.I always use a gentle approach and make him aware of his wrong doing.He still comes back and says sorry for what he has done.Children need love and guidance and 4
    minutes sitting on a stair is enough punishment for him then bringing him back
    in to a loving envirerment works for me.
  17. This is a great thread, and very moving...I agree wholeheartedly with you pinkangel.

    My daughter is six now and drives me crazy on occasion (of course, she knows everything about everything!:zip:) - but I would NEVER strike her.

    No, she is not perfect, but neither am I I try to consult the Holy Spirit daily on how to raise my little one, not just when I'm at my wits' end.

    God bless,


  18. I believe you hit the nail on the head brother Ed. You provided two excellent Scripture examples to back up your views.

    True, but you must keep in mind that there are children who are literally out of hand. How can I word this nicely? Ever hear the phrase "bat out of hell". That's a saying when someone expresses another's unacceptable behavior. Unfortunately, children can act this way. We can understand that it can be a few factors. Their school environment, home environment, etc. So my point is, as GOD teaches us in Scripture we must not spare the rod.
  19. IT is sad but true that some families believe that this type of punishment and behavior is a way to glorify our lord. We can only hope that they will see the error in their ways. Those poor children...
  20. Thank you SpiritLedEd it does mean allot if someone understands.
    You are a blessing

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