Read this article and listen to the audio clip, then read what I write below.
What this pastor says is appalling. Listening to him as he preaches, hearing the raised voice and authoritative words… it brings back memories of many pastors, speakers, whatever that I have heard in my lifetime (all Fundemental Baptists). There are many times I can recall them getting hot about this issue or that and essentially putting their foot in their mouth and saying something outrageous or ridiculous – just like this guy. I am actually somewhat familiar with this particular church – Berean Baptist of Fayettville, NC – and know many people who think very highly of it. I also know that, if someone were to get up and preach like that in the church I grew up in, there would be some laughter, several shouts of “Amen!”… and then the few people scratching their heads and wondering why it’s alright to punch a child. Why is it even alright to joke about punching a child (not that this preacher was joking)?
The older I get, the more I question the rightness of corporal punishment. A scene from Little Women stand out in my mind, when the mother writes an angry note to one of the girls’ schoolteachers. The child had been hit on the palm of the hand with a ruler (hard enough to leave visible marks). The note made this point: If you hit a child, you teach the child that hitting is okay. I’m not a parent, but I was a child once, and I have done some research into other ways of disciplining children – ways that do not involve violence. If I do ever have the privilege to be a mother, I will not hit my child. There are plenty of other methods that do work – research it.
In regards to what the Bible says in Proverbs 23:13-14 – “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” – I find the logic, particularly in that first verse, to be sad. Beat your child with a stick, don’t worry, he won’t die from it. Besides, you have to keep him from going to hell, so stay really tough on him! Yeah… no.
Discpline is very good and very necessary, but hitting a child, someone who is in the initial stages of learnig what is right and wrong, seems like an oximoron. Don’t do bad things, because if you do, I’ll hit you to make you learn it’s bad. Words and actions that show great anger usually make people become defensive. It’s hard to learn if the method of teaching seems more like you’re trying to beat the ignorance out of them instead of helping them learn how to live.