SPARE THE ROD AND SPOIL THE CHILD, DOES THE BIBLE COMMAND US TO BEAT
The phrase ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ is a slight
modification of the actual words found in the Bible, aimed at
justifying the use of cane and beating when correcting, punishing or
disciplining a child. Proverbs 13:24 (King James version) says “He
that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth
him betimes. (betimes means early or on time ). Notice how “hate” was
changed to “spoil”. That not only alters the meaning but also creates
a sense of urgency and seriousness in using cane to beat children.
The coiner of the version with the word “spoil”, that we use in
everyday speech was Samuel Butler, in Hudibras, a satirical poem first
published in 1662. In this 17th century work, a love affair is likened
to a child, and spanking is mockingly commended as a way to make the
love grow stronger. The actual verse reads:
“What medicine else can cure the fits
Of lovers when they lose their wits?
Love is a boy by poets styled
Then spare the rod and spoil the child.”
But does the Bible command us to beat our children? The answer is no.
Strong’s concordance of Bible words helps us know the exact meaning of
the actual texts before they were translated into English language.
The greek word translated as spare is “chawak” and it means to
withhold, to hold back, to keep back or to refrain. While rod is from
the greek word “shay’-bet” and it means stick for (writing, walking,
punishment, fighting or ruling). It also figuratively means
correction. And lastly the word chastise is from the greek word
“musar” meaning to instruct, to check, to guide, rebuke and form a
bond with. So with these meanings the phrase should read more like “he
who refrains from or holds back correction from a child doesn’t love
that child, but he who loves his child will correct, check, instruct,
guide and use a stick if necessary. Emphasis is on correction and not
Beating has severe consequences on children. Study shows that it makes
them suffer mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and
substance abuse problems, and are less likely to empathize with others
or internalize norms of moral behavior. It stands to reason that God
would not command parents to do what will affect children negatively.
It is clear that the emphasis is actually on correction and not using
cane to beat children.
Finally, Hebrew 12:6 says ” Even God disciplines and corrects the
child He loves”. For me this verse lays the matter to rest. God has
never ever used physical cane on us but we know He allows certain
situations to keep us in check. This is the idea behind correction.
No, we are not commanded to beat children. The Bible however, encourages the use of a cane to lash sense into kids that are slow to get the idea of good behaviour.