LETTER TO "PROVERBS HITTERS" by Stephen and Susan Lawrence
Jesus teaches that we should forgive "70 times 7" and "blessed are the merciful." Jesus teaches that adults should not offend children. Jesus teaches that children are the highest in the Kingdom of God, that children are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And Jesus teaches The Golden Rule, to treat others as you would want to be treated yourself. This applies to young people and old, big people and small.
We are very sorry to learn that you subscribe to "Proverbs-hitting." You probably are unaware that the book of Proverbs is one of the 12 books of the Antilegomena, or "spoken against" books in the Bible. Christian scholars did not agree as to whether or not the book of Proverbs even belonged in the Bible. So it is of course better for Christians to listen to Jesus in the Gospels, because the Gospels have been universally accepted as belonging in the Bible.
Some people like to say that Jesus "affirmed" the Old Testament. This claim is faulty because Jesus mentioned only 3 sections of the Bible: the Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. He did not "affirm" any of the books ascribed to Solomon: Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, and Proverbs. These writings are all part of the Antilegomena. Furthermore, Jesus said in Matthew that His wisdom was greater than Solomon's. We agree, and are puzzled why you don't.
God was displeased with Solomon, an idolator, a polygamist, a slave-whipper, a murderer. Surely you can find a better role model for Christian family values than Solomon! Solomon's advice on beating children is not taken literally by Jewish people, for whom Proverbs was originally written. In fact, Israel is one the 19 countries that has successfully banned hitting children.
We have 10 different Bibles; in none of them does it say that Solomon spoke the words of God. They all say in Matthew, however, that God said "This is my beloved Son, listen to Him!"
We hope you will listen to Jesus, and put the verses about "beating your son with a rod" into proper perspective. In biblical times, it was fairly common to beat and whip children and adults, to stone, burn, and crucify people to death. If you are determined to believe that God is speaking in every verse of the Bible and that everything in it is a command, then you also believe that prostitutes should be burned to death (Leviticus 21:9), witches should be stoned to death (Leviticus 20:27), females found to be non-virgins upon marrying should be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:21), and it's fine to have slaves (Leviticus 25:44-46). These are all blatantly UnChristian activities. Likewise, you should not inflict pain upon children, because Jesus said not to offend children, and He said children are the highest in the Kingdom of God. Also Jesus made it clear that you should follow the Golden Rule: you must not hit people because you yourself do not want to be hit (unless you're a spanking fetishist or into S & M, in which case you should stay away from children entirely).
One other thing you need to know, is that the practice of spanking, or striking the buttocks, is nowhere described in the Bible. Whipping the backs of fools, such as in Proverbs (and we trust you are not entering mental institutions and whipping people) is mentioned, stonings and burnings, and crucifixions, yes, but not hitting the buttocks area. Spanking is in fact a secular practice, a misguided attempt to improve fertility in girls and women that arose in the early middle ages in Europe. God has nothing to do with this secular, and often sexualized, practice.
We hope and pray that you will come nearer to true Christianity in the future, if Christianity indeed is your professed religion. Here are some websites that may help you:
These sites represent both mainstream and evangelical Christianity.
Jesus said "The truth will set you free." We are obligated, as Christians, to always face the truth. The truth is that we should listen to Jesus, and value His words over Solomon's. The truth is that children are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, and should be treated as such. The truth is that over 100 research studies have shown that spanking has many harmful effects, and no benefits at all that cannot be achieved with gentler forms of discipline. "Discipline," BTW, means "to teach", that is the root meaning of the word, so often lost when those who listen to pop psychologist James Dobson begin to believe his cruel and preposterous claims which are not based on facts. Dobson, you should know, is not a pediatrician, has no medical degree, and has no religious degree either. His views have been refuted by experts and by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association.
We hope you will listen to Jesus, and that you have "ears to hear." This is the way to true Christianity, to value children as Jesus did, to treat them with utmost respect because they are the highest in the Kingdom of God. If we treat children less well than adults, whom we do not hit, we are not being true Christians. Remember the words of St. Paul, too, that love is patient and kind. Hitting is neither patient nor kind.
"If we are ever to turn toward a kindlier society and a safer world, a
revulsion against the physical punishment of children would be a good
place to start." - Dr. Benjamin Spock