In 2 days it will have been 7 years since I got married.
Two years ago, February 1st was a painful day. It was the first year I’d been separated from my husband. It was our 5th anniversary (we weren’t yet divorced). I’m still very grateful to my parents who sent me along with Kiersten (who wasn’t yet 2, so was free to fly) to Idaho to spend the weekend with my brother and sister and their spouses. It was a nice weekend, and mostly took my focus off the anniversary of what was in 2003 a happy day.
I was told at the time that it would get easier. Many people said I would eventually even “forget” that February 1st was anything important. I won’t do that…I remember dates and numbers no matter what. I remember dates for the most inane events, February 1st won’t ever pass me by without me remembering February 1, 2003.
However, it did get easier, less painful.
Last year was still rough. I was still praying for reconciliation, and while it wasn’t as hard as the year before it was still painful.
But events that happened since then have made it so that this year is so much better. And I know it will only get better from here.
I listed our wedding rings/my engagement ring on Craigslist this week. I tried to do it over a year ago and couldn’t. It was not difficult for me this week. So far, only his ring has sold. But that ring is going to pay for a night out with a girlfriend on Monday.
It’s been a hard, horrible year in many ways. But healing is a process, and I’ve been working through it, and am amazed at how far God brought be in the last year. He is so awesome!
Before I get to discipline/punishment I just wanted to talk about this oft-quoted line. Many people often quote “spare the rod, spoil the child” as being from the Bible. In fact, it is not. It is from a poem by Samuel Butler and was written in the 17th century. The poem, “Hudibras” is about corporal punishment between adults in the bedroom.
What med’cine else can cure the fits
Of lovers when they lose their wits?
Love is a boy by poets stil’d;
Then spare the rod and spoil the child.
A Persian emp’ror whipp’d his grannam 845
The sea, his mother VENUS came on;
And hence some rev’rend men approve
Of rosemary in making love.
As skilful coopers hoop their tubs
With Lydian and with Phrygian dubs, 850
Why may not whipping have as good
A grace, perform’d in time and mood,
With comely movement, and by art,
Raise passion in a lady’s heart?
It is an easier way to make 855
Love by, than that which many take.
Proverbs 13:24 is often quoted as a defense of spanking. No, actually, it is often quoted as a command to spank. I’d like to take a little bit of a look at this verse, and offer some of my thoughts here.
First of all, most people don’t take every verse in the Bible as having a literal application to us today. You must, must, must look at a verse in context, as well as in its original language. Most Christians I know would be able to think of or look up a number of verses that we don’t take to have a literal application to Christians today. Many choose to eat pork and shellfish, saying that the Old Testament laws don’t apply to those of us saved by Christ. That’s just one example. So, my choosing not to apply this verse literally does not make me a heretic or a heathen or whatever else you might be able to call me.
What’s more, the book of Proverbs is a wisdom book. It’s poetry. Symbolism abounds, and the book is not meant to be read and applied literally.
So, with that, let’s look at the verse. “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline.” I’m going to post a link or two at the end of this post that take a very in-depth look at what key words in this verse mean. I’m just going to share some thoughts that come to me.
So, let’s say we take this verse literally. Literally, it says not to spare the rod. The rod, if taken literally in a way that means to hit someone with it, is going to be a branch of some sort, something rather thick (not a little twig). I’m pretty positive that I don’t know anyone who applies this verse literally. Spanking in today’s Christian world is normally with a hand–a swat to the bottom. Some people use a wooden spoon or a spatula, and more extreme folks will use a paddle or a piece of piping, or even a switch from outside. But most spankers I know simply use their hand on the child’s rear end. That is not a rod.
Somehow, the Christian experts have come up with a “way” to spank properly and spankers defend their choices with the Bible (almost exclusively with verses from Proverbs). Use your hand or a wooden spoon. Spanking is generally for children ages 2-7 or 8. Spank a couple of times, enough to cause pain but not enough to leave a mark. I don’t see these instructions anywhere in the Bible. In fact, I see nothing in support of spanking and in fact quite the opposite: admonitions to be kind and gentle, instructions to not incite your child to anger, and the greatest example–Jesus–showing mercy and compassion over and over again when faced with the worst of sinners.
Every family must do what’s right for them. I truly don’t judge anyone for their choices in parenting, and only ask the same in return. If you spank and believe in it, stand by that decision. However, be careful in quoting Bible verses to back up your decision. Make sure you know what you mean. And, please, don’t use them to insist that I am commanded to spank my children. It’s simply not so.
Coming next, my thoughts on discipline vs. punishment, and how I feel God has disciplined me.