Caryn the Controversial

Carla: Well, it looks like our little Caryn went and got herself a controversy (see the comments for the previous post). It all started when she was interviewed here.

Then, as things do in blogland, one click led to another and a reader found Caryn here. And Scott, while we’re always happy to have new readers, I have to say, I am totally with Caryn on this one.

I don’t know of anyone outside of the most conservative of Christian movements who believes that God “calls” us to spank our children. But that’s the only interpretation one can come to if one believes in a strictly literal understanding of the Bible–again, an understanding held by a very small minority of Christians. So for the sake of clarification, here’s where I stand on spanking: It’s an unnecessary and potentially harmful form of discipline.

I have dear friends who spank and I don’t for a minute think they are terrible parents. We have spanked one of our three children exactly once and haven’t felt the need to do it since. But as a rule, I don’t believe spanking accomplishes much of anything. It’s certainly not the only way to alter a child’s behavior. It doesn’t teach them anything that can’t be taught through other forms of discipline. It does nothing to shape the character of a child. There might very well be times when it truly is the only way to deal with a child’s behavior, but I think those times are few and far between.

I’ve worked in the Christian parenting field for nearly a decade and apart from Ted Tripp and a very few others, I don’t know of any Christian parenting “experts” who would say that God “calls” us to spank. Some of them believe the Bible allows for spanking as a form of discipline, but most stand in the “rod as metaphor” camp that holds the language of the rod to mean that parents need to guide and correct their children as a shepherd guides and corrects his sheep. As with every Bible reference, it’s important to look at the whole of Scripture to determine what a particular passage has to say to us. If one verse a parenting philosophy makes, then we don’t really need the rest of the Bible, do we? So, looking at the whole of the Bible, it’s pretty clear that it consistently refers the rod of the shepherd as an instrument of help, of gentleness, of loving guidance. I mean, “thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me” doesn’t really work if the rod is an instrument of pain.

Okay. That’s enough from me. Caryn? Got any more radical liberal insight here?

Caryn: What I love most about being “controversial” is that if you knew me (which Carla does) you would realize how ridiculous this is. That such a nice sweet woman like myself would be so often a rabble-rouser. How do I do it….? I believe, in all honesty, it’s part of my calling. I get to be crazy and radical sometimes and yet I come in this nice “white bread” (or “Polly Purebread” as I was once called by a-jerk-of-a-former colleague) Conservative, suburban package.

I mean, get this: The reason I’m anti-spanking? Because I SUBMITTED to my husband. Honestly, when I first became a mom, I could see good reasons to spank (on occasion) but my husband was TOTALLY opposed. And I “submitted.” I don’t know what Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill Seattle folks would say about that (but I DO hope they say it here!).

All this to say, well put, Carla. Nicely done. Ditto. And great work with that Psalm 23 bit (that is where that’s from right?). Seminary did you well, my friend.

Carla: For an excellent understanding of “the rod” in Scripture, check out Ryan’s comment in the previous post. It’s a wonderful explanation of this metaphor.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Okay, this is scary:”Rebellion can be something as simple as a small child struggling against a diaper change or stiffening his body when you want him to sit on your lap,”
    Hmm. So when your child tries to set boundaries by not wanting to be on your lap, you hit him? what does that teach a child? GAaaaa!!
    Spanking is unnecessary. There are plenty of other ways to teach, train and help kids learn self-control. I have a 12 and 14 year old, they are both great kids, and we never hit them. We used time-outs, we used distraction, we talked about choices. they had consequences related to their misbehavior. the book “Positive Discipline” is a great and helpful resource. It’s frightening how people take one verse out of context to justify a lot of really scary stuff.
    Keri W. Kent
    author of God’s Whisper in a Mother’s Chaos


  2. Posted by jack on July 27, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    whwn i was a 14 year boy my teacher band me over the table ands pankd me because i was disobaying him in class and i made fun of him in front of otehr students yet. one might argue that this isn’t the way he should’ev handle it but i can asure you that after a few times getting spankd i changd my behaivier my teacher used to spank me in the clasroom by laying me facedown on the table and somtimes i would take me in his private room and do the spanking there he used always have a studen hold my legs so wouldn’t kick with my legs but believe me after geting spanked quite a few times i would have the most respact for him, and when he showd me the paddl or the strap that was enaugh for me


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