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                   Backside Baptist Child REAR-ing



I doubt those tiny tots weighed forty pounds apiece soaking wet! That polished hardwood board was thick and rounded, crafted of heavy hardwood. The husband of the household, who had a crabby face, must have made it himself, I thought.  It looked more like a Neanderthal cave man’s club than a civilized tool to train toddlers to love Jesus. Wielded with sufficient force, it could have crippled a 300-pound man.  Maybe I was being a little nosy, but while nobody was looking I picked up the massive “rod of correction” and tried it out on myself with one very gentle swaying motion.   It registered. My conclusion:  These very nice-looking people wanted to make sure they got the maximum pain out of each whack!  I truly felt sorry for their poor little kids.


I picked it up and showed it to the children’s mother. I asked her, with a look of disbelief, “Is this what you use to spank your children with?”


She sounded as matter-of-fact as if I’d asked about her choice of curtains.  “Well, it gets the job done,” she said, showing no surprise at my question.


WHAT job?  Causing severe injury and/or lasting psychological and spiritual damage to your own child?  What if a husband hit his wife with something like that?  Why she’d file charges at the courthouse for spousal abuse!


I realized that even the weakest woman, if she got mad enough, could cripple a toddler if she swung that thing hard enough. I recalled the flatter wooden paddles used at one country school.  They were bad enough, but this one was more monstrous than them all!


If you struck an adult with something half that size it would be criminal assault!  So why is it okay for parents to use their own judgment in what implement to use (belt, paddle, yard stick, etc.)?

Even wild animals are protected by law from cruel and inhumane punishment.  What guidelines should people observe when they judge how much force is reasonable when hitting a child with their chosen implement of punishment?  How many times are they allowed to pummel the same place on a child’s body, compounding the pain and possible injury?  Should the corporal punishment be confined to the buttocks, or should the legs be struck instead, or possibly even the back?  Where do you draw the line in deciding which types of offenses merit corporal punishment?  Should a huge, muscular parent, a body builder or martial arts expert be banned from physically punishing a child?


Then there’s the risk of uncontrolled parental anger increasing risk of serious injury to the child.  Some parents might get in such an ugly mood from others picking on THEM at work that when they see a bad report card they take out their frustrations on the youngster, forgetting how fragile human flesh (and life) is.  Parents yell about THEIR rights to discipline any way they see fit.  But what about the rights of the child not to suffer physical and emotional damage?


That incident left me wondering: What kind of a “Christian” father could either make or buy such an instrument of cruelty to hurt his own children with? That “paddle” was such a crude-looking club I’m sure it wasn’t bought at your local K-Mart. Does such a parent have a clue about the grace and mercy God expects us to display toward weaker people who don’t know any better (Rom.15:1; Heb.5:2)?  Does a “strict” Christian parent expect his own Heavenly Father to go any easier on him when he slips up?  Some people can dish it out but they can’t take it. When they fear their Heavenly Father might be getting out His belt, adult Christians will desperately plead for mercy and patience from Him. Mercy they refuse to extend to the tiniest, most vulnerable members of their own family.


Gen.49:5: Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.


At what point do you cross the thin line between reasonable chastisement of a child and injuring him with “an instrument of cruelty?”


One popular manual for raising Christian families, published back in the 1970’s, takes child REAR-ing to extremes. “Brother Bat”, the author,  seemed to be into rigid legalism. He confused a father’s authority with being a control freak who monitored the inner lives of his children.  It wasn’t just a case of forbidding his children to commit actual sins.  It was all about regimented  control of their daily schedules.  Every child was expected to rise and shine at the crack of dawn every day. Brother Bat expected ALL people to be cheerful early risers (what about people working night shifts)?  Daily life at his house was a bit more bearable on Saturdays, the only day the children could read their comic books. If that’s not a law (legalistic behavior) nothing is.


Insofar as instilling holiness into a child, the paddle seems to be put on a par with the Cross of Christ.  Brother Bat advises parents to continue a hard spanking until the kid’s crying signals repentance, not just pain, fear, anger, etc. The philosophy behind this brutality is to beat the child until his or her will is broken. That’s worse torture than water-boarding someone at Abu Ghraib to force a confession, isn’t it? One book illustration was a semi-circular REPENTANCE METER (should have been called a SPANKOMETER) where you used your imagination to move an arrow in the middle left or right to determine what type of crying your child was doing while you were carrying out the spanking sentence.  The first point was “pain”. Somewhere in the middle were other negative indicators such as anger, fear, etc. The final point, to the far right of the SPANKOMETER, was “repentance”, indicated by submissive sobs and a sorrowful face. At that point the spanking could stop and the child could be asked if they were sorry and wanted to reconcile with the parent and pray a prayer for forgiveness.


Brother Bat insisted a few swats just wouldn’t do.  A SPANKING IS AN EVENT, he insisted. Well, Brother Bat, so was a hanging in the Old West.  The whole community came out to watch that event.


What joy it would bring to the parent’s heart if, after working their child over, that little one wanted to repent and ask God’s forgiveness.  But what do they expect?  That poor kid would do or say anything to avoid further destruction to his battered butt.  Either the child changes its tune or that already bruised caboose gets beaten to a pulp with further licks from the “rod of correction”. Of course that kid will mouth the right words.   What sane individual wants to end up in the hospital emergency room with  broken hip bones and massive internal bleeding from crushed muscles and broken blood vessels? How can any Christian parent beat the love of Jesus into a tiny, defenseless child?  After that destructive book made its rounds in Christian circles back in the 70’s, some survivors of its harsh teachings may have been left with a severely damaged concept of the fatherhood of God.  The very term “father” would carry the connotation of brutality and terror, a being to be fled from instead of loved and trusted.


There was a lot in the book about how considerate and loving husbands should be toward wives, etc. There was much talk about devotion to Jesus, the priesthood of the father, etc.  But for the most part, it was a “How to Beat Your Kids” manual which whitewashed physical torture by elevating it almost to a sacred religious rite administered by Daddy, the priest of the family.


If pain is what drives kids to faith in Jesus, then how big does the stick have to be?  Are we talking about an oak club or a fly swatter?  Is a kid has been “worn out” with a three-inch thick holey paddle, is he any holier than the child who only gets a few licks from a lightweight ping pong paddle?  How many licks should your child get for dropping a gum wrapper on the floor?


Some Christian parents are so strict they refuse to relent even if the child pleads for mercy with tears.  They insist that even if the child repents before God the spanking still has to be enforced because that’s the law in their home.


The Law demanded the death penalty for sexual sins, offenses far more evil than any childish pranks (Lev.20:10; Deut.22:20-24). Nothing is said about the guilty people being spared the punishment even if they ask God’s forgiveness. They had to die.  Period. So far the Bible agrees with Brother Bat, at least the Old Testament.


Brother Bat related an incident where he spanked one of his kids for something he didn’t do.  Brother Bat said, “I can’t unspank you.  But will you forgive me?” 


The boy said, “Sure, dad, can I have a peanut butter sandwich?” 


Brother Bat was trying to reassure parents that even if they get it wrong sometimes and spank an innocent child, it’ll all come out in the wash.  When I read it, I felt like saying, “Bend over, Brother Bat.  You spank your children when they do something wrong.  Why should you get off the hook when you foul up?”


In John chapter 4 Jesus spoke with the woman at the well about salvation. This particular woman had a long string of former lovers and wasn’t even married to her present partner.  Jesus didn’t tell that shameless hussy to bend over the well so he could spank her for unchaste conduct. And in John 8:3-11 he dealt kindly with another woman who committed adultery and was about to be stoned by a mob of enraged men. Jesus helped her escape the penalty stipulated by the law: death by stoning (He knew He would soon die to pay the penalty of her sins).  Jesus asked the crowd if they were any better than she was.  He told her to go and sin no more.  No mention of any whipping being necessary to “discipline” her flesh or “break her will”.


Imagine an affluent pastor visits a poor family of six, and they’re all gathered at the dinner table.   The three eldest children’s backsides are all swollen and sore from the bad walloping Daddy gave them yesterday.  The mother, bless her soul, is worried it’ll happen again before their blackened buttocks get the chance to heal up. 


Bubba, the  children’s daddy, wants to impress the pastor with the reverent atmosphere of his household. Bubba wants to prove how blessed he is even if he ain’t rich. Bubba had been flabbergasted when the pastor invited himself to come over “to get better acquainted.” Funny how Bubba’s  wife only smiled, as if she weren’t too surprised. But very few folks ever got a visit from this popular pastor.  Laid off from his last job because of his bad temper,  Bubba had to  dip into his emergency funds to be able to afford this feast.  Normally the family subsisted on starchy junk like noodles and pinto beans, or anything they could get from the local food bank.


Soft pillows were placed on the children’s chairs.  Only baby Jason was able to sit without pain. Roast beef was set on the table, along with a pile of  mashed taters, gravy, butter beans, corn bread and black eye peas. There was even a vase of  fresh flowers on the clean white tablecloth.  Soft CD hymns played very softly.  Every head was bowed and every eye closed.  The preacher, given the seat of honor at the head of the table,  smiled at the tranquil scene before him, the way the well-mannered children sat so reverently with bowed heads and folded hands. Not one eye dared to open to peep at the mouth-watering treats on the table.  The preacher shut his eyes too.


Before the preacher could utter the first word of grace, the silence was broken by a loud, deep bullfrog burp.  The children held their noses to stifle their nervous snickering but couldn’t help it.  Starved of fun and laughter for so long, they fell out of their chairs, in uncontrollable hysterics.  The toddler saw the older kids laughing and joined in, so excited he made a puddle in his high chair. 


HIS moment has been ruined!  All year long Bubba had waited for HIS chance to impress the senior pastor of his 5,000-member church.  That wonderful Christian leader in the fancy blue suit would probably never drop by this heathen home again. 


That rich pastor must think we’re all a bunch of dumb hicks, Bubba fumed, mad as a hornet.


Alvin!” he yelled at his oldest son.  “You done that on purpose!  You got in trouble yesterday, so I know it was you!  I’m gonna tear your britches up real good, boy!”  Bubba unbuckled his belt.


“Daddy, no!”  Alvin cried, cowering.  “Don’t hit me!”


“NO!” his wife pleaded.  “Leave him alone!  I done it and I couldn’t hep it ‘cause my innards always growl when I git hungry!”


“Just look what you made that baby do!” Bubba yelled.  “It’s drippin’ all over the floor and that dumb dog’s a-lickin’ it up!  Right in front of the pastor, too.  Oh, Pastor Hibbins, how will God ever fergive us for the unholy things you witnessed here today?”


To his surprise, the preacher laughed too.  “Brother Bubba, I’m used to stuff like that.  I was raised in a family of seven children and we had our awkward moments too.”


“Still, there’s gotta be diz’pline in this here house,” Bubba said.  All you kids laughed, so go stand off to the side of the table and bend over.  The baby made a mess so it gets punished too.”


“What about me, Bubba?” the wife asked.  “I told a lie when I said I was  the one that burped.  Nobody knows who done it ‘cause all our eyes were shut tight.”


“And I laughed too,” said the pastor.  “It’s a good thing you weren’t laughing, Bubba, because you won’t like what I have to say.”


“Huh?”  Bubba blinked, looking up from the meat he was carving.  He kept on slicing, mouth open, staring into space, until…


”Dagnabbit! I cut muh durn finger!  Hazel, go fetch the Bactine!”  Bubba picked up a paper napkin to stop the bleeding as his frazzled wife fled the room.


“There you go again, Bubba,” said the pastor.  “I just heard you swear.”


“Didn’t do no such thing, pastor.  I said ‘dagnabbit’ and ‘durn’.”


“But I know what those words stood for, Bubba.  Not only that, last Sunday I was getting in my car to go home from church when  I overheard you in the parking lot cursing and swearing and using REAL cuss words.”


“Well, what of it?”


“Don’t you think that’s a sin, Bubba?”


“Naw, I had every right to do that.  A bee snuck up from behind and stung me.  Where, I won’t say.”


“But Bubba,” the pastor sighed, “what if one of your children had used such foul language?”


“I would’a tore ‘em up right then and there.”


“Even if they asked God for forgiveness?”


“Yep.  Gotta diz’pline my children.”


The pastor opened his Bible.  “Bubba, James 3:1 teaches that those who are in charge of teaching others will be judged more severely by God when they stray from the paths of righteousness.  Also, our Lord Jesus taught that the servant who didn’t know any better received fewer stripes than the one who knew his Lord’s will and disobeyed Him anyway.”


“But pastor, grown-ups don’t get spanked, kids do.”


“Wrong again, Bubba.  Read Hebrews 12:6 and you’ll discover how risky it is to provoke God to anger like you’re doing right now by being mean to your family.  God disciplines every son whom he receives, not just those under 21.


Bend over, Bubba.  The Bible says the father is supposed to set a good example for the family.  If your children have to get spanked every time they foul up, so do you.”


“But pastor…”


“No buts, Bubba.  Except the one I came here to beat.”


* * * * * * * * *


Bubba’s bein’ a tad hypocritical, ain’t he?  Some Christian adults feel free to wear their kids out for acting cranky when they’re tired or for leaving food on their plates.  Are adults any better?  Christians sometimes envy other Christians, they sometimes get mad at God, they gossip about other Christians, they sometimes act uncharitable or dishonest toward other people.  Sometimes Christian marriages break up because of adultery or desertion. Occasionally you hear of some famous Christian leader who’s on his third or fourth marriage.  Adults act no holier than the children they punish. But they’re eager to cast the first stone. Perfection is expected of tiny children who have just entered the world.  But grownups who have had many years to learn the difference between right and wrong  expect others to overlook their own flaws and imperfections.


When some little children were brought to Jesus for His blessing, the disciples thought they were a nuisance (Matt.19:13-15). But Jesus welcomed them and blessed them.  He didn’t do like one popular televangelist who yelled that little children, even newborn babies, are vipers who need to get their spiritual education out in the woodshed.


Human will is evil, Brother Bat asserted in his manual.  So evil it must be broken in early childhood to make us pliable in the Hands of the Lord (or other people’s hands?). Truth carried to extremes becomes dangerous error. 


Acts 5:4: WHILES IT REMAINED, WAS IT NOT THINE OWN? AND AFTER IT WAS SOLD, WAS IT NOT IN THINE OWN POWER? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.* * * *Peter tells Ananias that while he had his own land in his own possession, Ananias had the right to do whatever he wanted with that land.  That implies the right to personal human will! God did not break Ananias’ will to force him to sell his own land. Incidentally, Ananias’ fatal sin was lying to the Holy Ghost, not refusing to give all his cash to the church.


I Cor.9:17: For if I do this thing WILLINGLY, I have a reward: but if against MY WILL, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.* * * * *Paul’s will is involved here as to his own personal choice.  Paul does not condemn the possession of a human will.


I Cor.7:39: The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, SHE IS AT LIBERTY TO BE MARRIED TO WHOM SHE WILL; only in the Lord.* * * * *Paul does not advise a Christian widow to have God break her will.  She uses her will to choose any new husband God approves of.


This phrase, “break the human will” appears NOWHERE in Scripture, only the surrender of that will.  Brother Bat is teaching heresy here. 

These counterfeit teachings slipped in by satan seem to be oh, so spiritual because they involve a false humility  (drummed-up self-abasement) discouraged by Col.2:23.  But these practices do nothing to counteract the weaknesses of sinful flesh. They APPEAR to be wise ways to live because of the discomfort and difficulty involved in such self-abasement.


Some see certain non-Biblical teachings  as being binding “principles” of the Christian life.  Many are deep into Christian mysticism, a practice of searching for “deeper” truths of God hidden in the Bible, instead of being content with its plain content.   Only more “mature” believers understand these hard-to-find secondary and tertiary meanings hinted at by scripture texts while the rest of us just take the Bible at face value.  Much of Brother Bat’s rationale for harsh paddling springs from his Christian Mysticism point of view.  Jesus suffered terribly so in order to make your kids holy, so it follows that in order for them to walk THE WAY OF THE CROSS (as defined by Brother Bat), they have to suffer terribly too.


The Breaking of the Will was a Christian Mysticism teaching circulating in the church world back in the 1970’s, taught in Christian magazines and articles.   Another one was the Breaking of the Soul, taught nowhere in scripture as a binding doctrine on the believer. It was manifested by deep mournful sobs of self-abasement.  I almost fell for this gloomy doctrine, but my pastor caught it in the nick of time and dealt with the brother who tried to bring it into our church. One article I read on the Brokenness heresy was based on the story of the broken alabaster vase which released the fumes of sweet perfume for all to enjoy (Mark 14:3). Before the perfume could be enjoyed, the alabaster vase must first be broken.

I believe God included that story in scripture to show that our love for Jesus must sometimes manifest itself in extravagant ways, just like Mary was thought to be extravagant when she used the expensive perfume to anoint Jesus for His burial instead of selling it and giving the money to the poor.  The aim of this story was NOT to teach God’s people to beat up on themselves!   NOWHERE in the Bible does God demand the destruction of your soul in order for the fragrance of Jesus to be released!  Another popular heresy.


The only scripture where “break” and “soul” appear together is Psalms 119:20: My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.* * * *The psalmist has an intense longing for the Word of God.  He doesn’t beg God to break his soul to pieces.


I got spiritual indigestion from Christian Mysticism teachings.  They made me a sadder Christian, not a happier one.  Christians don’t need to complexify the teachings of Scripture to get sufficient meaning out of it. Why isn’t the PLAIN Word of God, correctly applied to New Testament believers, enough to help a Christian raise their families?  Don’t feel like a failure just because you don’t listen to flaky teachings which can actually do more harm than good. I feel sorry for children brought up by parents who are steeped in the “suffering is good” and “break the human soul and will” heresies.  They know firsthand what that breaking involves.


I’m not advocating a lack of discipline in the home.  Far from it.  Any kid who’s beating up his brother or sister might do well with enough of a swat on the seat to let him know who’s in charge.

Christian parents must use godly wisdom and refrain from rash, harmful actions, even as they remain in charge of their own homes.  They must never let their kids trash the house, yell curse words, beat each other up, deface the walls, refuse to obey orders to help clean the yard, etc. But the butt isn’t the seat of faith in Jesus.  Our HEART is the seat of faith. That’s the place where a change is wrought by the grace, not the brutality, of Almighty God. Human personality and will don’t need to be destroyed.  God created individual personalities.  To say people’s personality and human will must be destroyed so others can control them is the manifesto of cult leaders. Humans don’t have to beat themselves with a whip to get closer to Jesus.  Their need to be transformed BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD so they’ll daily have the grace from within to surrender to the Lordship of Christ. That’s an act of our will.  Otherwise, we’d be mere robots controlled by fear. Actually, our will plays a crucial role in determining whether we will come to a saving faith in Jesus.  God doesn’t force Himself on anyone.


And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.* * * *Through use of our sanctified faculties, we determine what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.  We are not robots!


Whosoever WILL may come and drink freely of the Water of Life (Rev.22:17).  You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, as this far-fetched tale illustrates.


There once was an Old West prospector who wanted to water his mule.  But for some reason the mule wasn’t acting very thirsty.  Determined to force the mule toward the water hole and get water down its gullet, the man struggled with the ornery critter, sweating and straining and digging in his heels as the mule tried to back away. Now stubbornness is part of a mule's nature, but today the mule was acting even more bizarre because he had been grazing on loco weed.  So he didn’t have sense enough to know when he  was thirsty. The owner feared his animal would die of dehydration if he didn’t have a drink of water.


The mule reared backed and bucked, nearly knocking the poor man down.  But the man persisted.  Finally  the mule gave in because the strain on his bit was making his mouth sore. The man began to sing and rejoice because it seemed like the mule was meekly following him to the watering hole, head bowed in submission.  But the mule was steaming with resentment on the inside because he had been overpowered by a smaller creature.


Finally they reached the edge of the pond.  "You’d better get your belly full now," said the man. "It’ll be a long way before we see fresh water again."


The mule didn’t want to give his owner the satisfaction. Stiffly he raised his head, mouth tightly closed. He brayed in defiance.


"Being stubborn again, eh?" his owner grumbled. "Well, I’m gonna break you of that right here and now.  I’m not gonna be beaten by any dumb mule.  You’re gonna drink this water if it kills you!"


With all his might the man tugged at the mule.  But still the animal made an unearthly racket and  refused to bow his head in submission and drink.  The man jumped in the water, still holding the reins.  "About time you had a good bath, too," he said.  "C’mon in."


The mule stood his ground at the bank of the pond. But the  man did manage to force the mule’s muzzle into the water and hold it under the surface.  "Ah," said the man, "you’re drinking now.  I’ve won."


No, he didn’t win.  The stubborn mule drowned because the water went down the wrong pipe.


* * * * * * *


Medieval “Christian” crusaders forced conversions to their religion at the point of a sword.  The same principle applies to beating a child with a paddle until he/she tearfully prays for God’s forgiveness.  Does the child feel heartfelt sorrow for his/her sins (or alleged sins), or do they fear a second helping of the belt if they don’t pray with the parent?  You can’t force the Water of Life down anybody’s throat, and you better be sure you’ve drunk it yourself, and haven’t just swallowed a lot of religious hot air.


Rom.10:10: For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.


Beating a child until they surrender to Jesus is just as much TORTURE as the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition, which forced  people to conform to the will of Catholic religious leaders on pain of burning at the stake. Even if someone tortures you to break your will, they have no control over what’s happening in your heart, although they can force you to “confess” something to stop the torture.  Maybe someday mind-reading technology will be developed but at the present time our thoughts are pretty private unless we speak them out. Only God knows for sure if an expression of repentance is genuine. Sometimes Christian parents overreach their authority and barge into the inner sanctum of the human heart where God speaks gently to try to reach that child with His love. Only God knows if a child’s heart really is truly contrite, or if there is resentment smoldering in it because of brutal treatment by the parent.


Children who grow up being brutalized (as opposed to fairly, lovingly disciplined) run the risk of turning away from their parents’ religion when they get older because they associate God with a razor strap.  Especially if no one teaches them what God is really like.


Psalms 103:13: Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.


Isa.40:11: He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.


Contrast this tender attitude of Almighty God with the heartless attitude of Christian parents who go to extremes in child REAR-ing.


…. with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. (From Ezek.34:4).


Proverbs 13:24 and 22:15 are the scriptures used by spankers to support physical pain as being the only means of discipline.  King Solomon is touted as being the best child rearing expert in history just because he allegedly wrote the Book of Proverbs.  Proverbs is undoubtedly part of the Word of God.  But so is this scripture passage which instructs parents to have a disobedient child stoned to death:  Deut.21:18-21. There is NOT ONE exhortation in the New Testament epistles to put a rebellious child to death. Nor does the New Testament give instructions on whether to spank, or how hard, what to use, how many licks to administer, etc.


What about King Solomon, the Dr. Spock of his era?  He beat his own people with whips (I Kings 12:10-11; 2 Chron.10:14). Just like today’s politicians whose favorite byline is “I feel your pain”, Solomon lived in ease and luxury while conscripting forced labor gangs and inflicting pain on others.


One proverb quoted by spankers is:


Prov. 20:30: The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.


In the New Testament we are taught that the blood of jesus cleanses away our sins, not a brutal beating.  Jesus took a horrible scourging on our behalf in order to purchase healing for us (I Pet.2:24). The teaching that our own physical pain cleanses away sin and makes us holier people is contrary to our Gospel of Grace. This doctrine perpetuates to this day in the ascetic practices of some Roman Catholic nuns and monks, who sometimes beat themselves with tiny whips to “mortify their flesh”.


I wonder if Solomon was ever struck by his own father.  David seems to have been indulgent with his other sons. David refused to punish Amnon, who raped his sister Tamar.  David dealt as leniently as possible with rebellious Absalom; he didn’t order him to be killed or even flogged if captured. People say David’s son Solomon was the wisest child-rearing expert in scripture.  But the proof is in the pudding. How did Solomon’s own son and successor, Rehoboam turn out?


Rehoboam was an arrogant, spoiled brat who despised his lowly subjects.  In one day this young upstart unraveled a united Kingdom of Israel which  had taken his grandfather David years of  painstaking effort and diplomacy to achieve. In I Kings 12: 1-24 Rehoboam goes against the sound of advice of the older sages to treat the people kindly and fairly.  Instead he warns the people that he’ll whip them even harder than his dad did.  Result: Ten of the twelve tribes of Israel seceded from the Kingdom.  Abuse of authority results in estrangement, not love.


The Book of Proverbs warns against such sins such as slander, adultery, criminal conspiracies, drunkenness, gluttony and overindulgence in wine. Proverbs exhorts you to mind your own business, zip your lip, work hard, and be true to the wife of your youth. Good, sound advice.


Solomon wrote this piece of advice aimed at men:


Prov.22:14: The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of (hated by) the LORD shall fall therein.* * * *The KJV word “strange” can either mean “foreign” or “profane”, depending on the context in which it is found.


Solomon’s proverbs warn against involvement with the kind of woman God disapproves of.  After being respected worldwide for his wisdom in the early part of his reign, what sort of example did King Solomon set for holiness in his later life?


I Kings 11:1:But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;

2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.

3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.

7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.

8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,

10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.

11 Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.

12 Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.

13 Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen.


After writing hundreds of proverbs to teach people to exercise self-discipline in their own lives, King Solomon partied hard with a lot of wild women.  He even ENABLED their idol worship  and joined in it himself.  Solomon wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes, a book which laments the vanity and uselessness of all the ways he’d indulged all his own desires. 


Some people excuse Solomon by saying he didn’t worship the gods himself, he just built them for other people as an act of diplomacy. But I Kings 11:5 records that Solomon himself went after, or worshipped, Milcom and Ashtoreth, two abominable heathen gods. Two gods mentioned above, Molech and Chemosh, were particularly horrible because their worship involved child sacrifice, which meant throwing little babies alive into fiery ovens. Even if Solomon himself had not participated in acts of idolatry, he was an ENABLER who made it possible for these women to worship other gods in the Lord’s own land.


Interestingly, Proverbs warns against just about every sin under the sun.  But there is NO reference to the sin of  idolatry among the hundreds of proverbs in this book.  I wonder why. Strange how Solomon’s own life turned out after urging parents to spank their children to straighten them out.


Discipline is like salt.  So long as it’s necessary and applied where needed and used with godly wisdom to train children, and not used excessively, it’s a good thing. But an excess of discipline can made a parent paranoid and unbalanced. Too much punishment, like too much salt, can do far more harm to a life than good. A pinch of salt on your plate is good.  A cupful can kill!


Christian parents are zealous to raise their children to fear God.  To many, being zealous for godliness in the home is synonymous with

being zealous for corporal punishment because of Solomon’s advice in Proverbs 13:24 which states that if you spare your rod you hate your son. So many put 2 and 2 together and come up with 6.  They interpret that verse in a simplistic way to  mean that the more they hit their kid the more they love him/her, and the more they love God.  And the consequences are tragic.


Years ago I was in a religious meeting.  I walked over to one lady who gave me a friendly smile.  I commented about her little boy (about 5 at the time) lying on the pew, all curled up asleep.


“He went to sleep after I tore him up real good,” she said.


“Why?” I wondered.  “What did he do?” 


“He tore a page in his coloring book.”


It’s a widespread belief among Christians that children who get spanked the most are the best-behaved on the planet. Not necessarily. Years later, this lady’s friend told me that it didn’t work for this particular boy because he was always getting into fights with other kids, a real troublemaker.


Paul instructs parents to raise their children in the admonition (Gk. nouthesia, MILD rebuke or warning) and nurture (Gk. paideia, character-building discipline) of the Lord (Eph.6:4).  Paul stops short of advising parents to beat their children. What that necessary discipline entails may or may not involve moderate corporal punishment. Even God, father of all Christians, may allow physical consequences for wrongdoing to strike one of His disobedient children.  But in many cases that believer feels so awful when he realizes he’s grieved the Holy Spirit that he’ll do a U-turn and make his peace with God.  I Cor.11:31 promises that if we judge ourselves we won’t be judged by God, resulting in punishment of some kind in our lives.


Why do so many Christian parents expect tender, loving mercy and patience from God that  they’re unwilling to give their own children?