It was brought to my attention recently by one of my readers that my comments about Solomon in the post, “Grace”, may seem to discredit the Bible as God’s Word, or may indicate that I don’t believe the Bible is entirely true. The same reader was also concerned that my letters to Dobson were disrespectful to him, and posting them here was slander, not in keeping with the Biblical mandate to approach our brothers and sisters directly to resolve conflicts.
I appreciate her thoughts on the matter, and understand her concerns. It is never my intention to cause anyone to be stumbled by my writings. I do believe the Bible is entirely God’s Word, and I tried to approach Dr. Dobson in a loving, Biblical manner.
My goal with this blog is to present a more Biblically accurate approach to child discipline than what has traditionally been taught in our culture, by Dobson and others. I don’t believe any if them have meant any harm to children. But, unclear interpretation of Scripture, combined with the natural sinfulness of man, can become Satan’s playground.
Following are excerpts from my reply to her. I hope it may clear up any confusion I may have caused for others:
On reading 1 Kings chapters 11 and 12, we find the accounts of Solomon’s rebellion against God, and Solomon’s son, Rehoboam’s, slander against his father. While I DO believe that the whole Bible is God’s inspired Word, I am thankful God sees fit to tell us the whole story. Solomon, in all his glory and God-given wisdom, in the end, did not make wise choices.
If the proverbs literally mean we’re suppose to beat our (adult) offspring, then these fall under grace, as do the commands to stone, as Jesus illustrated with his parable of the prodigal son, and also with his treatment of the woman caught in adultery.
While I do hold Solomon’s wisdom in high regard, because he was inspired by God to write them, I still hold the direct teachings of Jesus above all.
There is no record anywhere in the Bible of someone actually beating a child with a rod. Solomon is the closest example we have, and it seems his sons didn’t hold him in high regard, neither did they seem very merciful. They seemed to be following in Solomon’s footsteps, to whip and scourge the people of Israel.
However, inspired by God’s wisdom through the Proverbs, I take seriously the wisdom to be a constant source of authority for my children.
Although I did not write directly to Dr. James Dobson, I got about as close as possible. My real hope was that the letters would make their way into his hands. Since there’s no way to call him up on the phone, writing to his organization is the closest I can get to confronting him directly.
I am writing on behalf of all families who’ve been negatively affected by his teachings on child discipline. I felt, then, that it was appropriate and helpful to also allow families like ours, access to the responses I received. Affected families, as they so choose to seek websites like mine, may choose to also share the letters on their own blogs.
I do not feel that I have slandered Dr. Dobson in any way. I mentioned more than once the positive influence he’s had on my marriage. I simply reiterated the facts as they unfolded for my family.
It could be argued that the practice is in direct disobedience to everything Christ teaches. I can conclude since He spared stones, He would also likely spare the rod. It is dangerous for Christian organizations to create a whole system of “Biblical” spanking, based on unclear interpretations of a few Proverbs taken out of context.
It’s important to note, sparing the literal rod does not mean we spare the figurative rod. Children need discipline. It is has been through loving, Christian approaches, such as those described on gentlechristianmothers and goybparenting, that we’ve found ways to truly disciple (the root of the word, discipline) our children.
By openly talking about these difficult experiences in our lives, we pray to influence Christians to turn way from these damaging practices, so others can avoid the same mistakes. We are aware that many people were spanked and turned out just fine. I’m one of those. However, for every person whom God’s grace allowed a good outcome, there are countless other families at their wits end because of spanking. Marathon spankings are not uncommon, even among loving families. It is especially the spirited, lively, intense kids who suffer. I’m certain FOF does not intend these outcomes, but it’s important they’re aware it’s happening.
I appreciate the time anyone takes to write me, and pray my answers have been satisfactory.