God’s rod not only for children!

Once upon a time, by which I mean until six months or so ago, there was hardly an episode of Newsspin or Newsmaker Live that did not feature a tear-soaked report of child abuse by a parent, usually from what the present government enjoys referring to as “the more vulnerable classes.”
One particularly outrageous example featured a father who certainly should’ve known better: a police officer who had used an electrical cord on his teenage daughter when he thought she needed to be taught a special lesson.
The undoubtedly heart-rending accounts usually emanated from the glossy lips of an eye-catching representative of a local organization whose advertised raison d’etre was for the welfare and protection of females in distress. Alas, these days little is heard from her. Perhaps child abuse in Saint Lucia has gone the way of the economy. Or perhaps her organization has adopted Drone-like war strategies—or is now more concerned with hookers’ rights and the victims of a particular phantom serial rapist in the north of the island—about whose existence the police claim to know nothing at all.
Of course, Saint Lucian parents—male and female—good Christians that we are, had nearly always disagreed with the group’s denouncing as “child abuse” what their bibles told them was the right way to discipline their children.
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son,” they had often chimed in retaliation. “But he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Others let it be known, in accordance with Proverbs 22:15, that “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
According to one renowned authority on the Bible: “The rod in the Old Testament was basically a wooden walking stick, a stout club, staff, or a tree branch used primarily for defense, as in the Twenty-third Psalm, or for marshalling the sheep, or for thrashing cummin. Other uses of the rod included a scourge to inflict punishment or to strike a servant. It was also used as a scepter of authority, the symbol of a king’s power, and an instrument of miracles, such as those performed by Moses and Aaron. But essentially the rod of God was used for disciplining people, including children. What better means for controlling the folly bound up in the heart of a child than by using the shebet or rod? The rod of discipline will drive such folly out of children and make them docile and obedient; the rod of reproof gives wisdom.”
Meanwhile, in Delaware, a group calling itself Saints of God, recently started advocating that fellow Christians come together and discuss ways by which to take over the governing of God’s land.
“The reason why there seems to be so much strength against Christian parents in the way we discipline our children is because many nonbelievers are in government,” a spokesperson for the group observed this week on CNN.
She was at the time protesting the recent passing of a Delaware bill criminalizing the act of recklessly or intentionally causing physical pain on a child. Sponsored by Delaware’s Senate Majority Leader Patricia Blevins, Bill 234 asserts that “when a person recklessly or intentionally causes physical injury to a child through an act of abuse and/or neglect of such child” it is considered third degree child abuse and a Class A misdemeanor.”
The ambiguity of the definition of “physical injury” has some people describing it as a “spanking ban” and has sparked debate about the state’s right to interfere with personal parenting practices.
It turns out that one of the biggest promoters of the bill is the son of the Vice President of the United States. Attorney general Beau Biden insists that spanking is not the target of the law. He says: “This will not do anything to interfere with a parent’s right or ability to parent as they see fit. But it also makes it clear that you abuse a child in any way, shape or form, we’re going to have a statute that we’re going to be able to use to protect kids.”
Other voices have asked: “Why, then, didn’t they include a clause that protects from prosecution parents who spank?”
It’s not that simple, said a representative of the attorney general’s office. “If we said it’s okay to spank your child, and then we have a child who ends up dead from spanking, well, ‘gee, we didn’t mean that, we didn’t mean to kill. We didn’t mean to break their arm . . .’ It’s such a vague area.”
Additionally: “I can’t say no one is ever going to be prosecuted because, like I told you, we have children who have been spanked and have died from it.”
Meanwhile, still other powerful voices are citing scientific research that has linked spanking to long-term problems like depression, addiction, lowered test scores, increased risk of sexual functioning as adults—even “general psychological maladjustment.” The research is so widely accepted that the American Academy of Pediatrics officially considered physical punishment of a child as “the least effective way to discipline.”
“It is harmful emotionally to both parent and child,” according to a statement on Healthy-Children.org. “Not only can it result in physical harm, but it teaches children that violence is an acceptable way to discipline or express anger. While stopping the behavior temporarily, it does not teach alternative behavior. It also interferes with the development of trust, a sense of security, and effective communication. Spanking often becomes the method of communication. It also may cause emotional pain and resentment.”
Meanwhile, in Saint Lucia where, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no scientific research aimed at uncovering the effects of spanking the popular tendency is to parrot Scripture that seems to advocate regular use of God’s rod in the best interests of a child’s soul.
But what about the child’s limbs? The defenseless child’s spine? It’s head?
For goodness sake, what about the child’s life? (To be fair, Exodus suggests punishment for deaths related to over-enthusiastic applications of God’s rod but we hardly ever hear about that!)
Must the answer to my earlier question continue to depend on a parent’s ability to be as cold as a hangman when disciplining a child? Alas, the Scriptures were never as interested in this life as in the afterlife. We have no way of knowing how many of the children of Moses died from being pummeled with “a staff, a stout club, a tree branch or a wooden walking stick.”
We do know, however, that most of the murders in Saint Lucia were committed by young people who never learned from their rod-wielding, loving moms and dads about conflict resolution without a knife, a chunk of wood or a bullet in the head. Who said so? Have you never listened to Newsspin’s experts on the subject?
We have never cared enough to have a serious discourse on the topic of child rearing that allotted much discussion time for spanking. As for the Bible-endorsed walking sticks and tree branches, obviously our numbers offer further proof that Saint Lucian men not only enjoy citing Scripture but they also continue to believe in keeping our rods stout and well oiled!
PS: It may be worth mentioning, finally, that the Old Testament never reserved regular beatings with heavy walking sticks and tree branches for wayward kids alone. Servants (including, I presume, the day’s public servants) were also to be subjected to the scourge. Now, here’s a thought!

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