I had a hilarious conversation reminiscing with a childhood friend about being raised in the age of thrashing. Born in the mid-50s, we are products of growing up in Scotland during the 60s. Now, if you are thinking that the idea of getting a “thrashing” is not funny, then it simply means that you are normal. However, it was the mentality of our parent’s generation, and our parent’s parent’s generation, that we were laughing at, yes, tears of laughter were rolling down our cheeks as we recalled our childhoods!
He told me that his grannie (born 1885) told his mum (born 1917) that she wasn’t thrashing him properly! Aye, luxury! We were in stitches because it made us think of ye olde Monty Python skit called The Four Yorkshiremen. See: https://tinyurl.com/k2pvvhss
Many Scottish kids would get a thrashing at home. Then they would go and end up getting a thrashing at school. And, then perhaps they’d receive another thrashing by a bully between school and home. Parents at home, teachers at school, and bigger students on the playground and beyond. There’s a whole lot thrashin’ goin’ on in the 60s. How come?
My childhood friend mentioned Presbyterianism. And connected it to the line, “Spare the rod and spoil the child”, which, surprise, surprise, isn’t actually found in the Bible. It comes from the 17th-century poet and satirist, Samuel Butler, in his poem “Hudibras”:
“Love is a boy by poets stil’d;
Then spare the rod, and spoil the child.”
The Bible verse actually says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” Proverbs 13:24 (cf, Proverbs 22:15; 23:13). How did this verse end up, firstly, being corrupted, and secondly, twisted into fuelling the fiery thrashings that some of my generation had to endure while growing up in 60s Scotland? For where does it say in Scripture that parents, schoolteachers, (yeah, even policemen kicked our backsides!) are to physically abuse children? Nowhere! These and like distortions of Scripture only serve to inoculate people against the Good News!
My friend even quoted from a portion of Ephesians, which says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’” Ephesians 6:1-3. I added that “thrashings” (with a rod or otherwise) was contrary to what the Bible actually teaches, for it says, right after the verses quoted by my friend, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4. Also, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” Colossians 3:21.
Provoke, embitter, aggravate, exasperate, irritate, and antagonise, are words that would describe what is happening to a child that is given a thrashing with a rod or whatever. Mega discouragement! Yet, this is exactly what the Bible teaches against! The idea is instruction, not destruction, but construction, i.e., edification. The Biblical idea is to, “Train up the child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6. Notice that it does not say “beat up the child”, but rather “train up the child”.
Okay, the “rod” as in the so-called “rod of discipline”, is as symbolical as are the “keys of the kingdom” and ‘the sword of justice”. The “rod” represents the Family, the “keys” the Church, and the “sword” the State. Thus, Family, Church, and State equals one nation (under God).
The Church does not have real keys, but the term simply refers to the role of the Church, i.e., the Gospel opening up the kingdom of Heaven to all who believe. The State does not have a real sword, but it represents its role as the promoter and maintainer of justice. Likewise, the rod is not a real rod, but merely symbolizes family discipline, and, like the Gospel of Grace, and the Sword of Justice, the Rod of Discipline must be used only in accordance with Scripture, lest there be trouble. Otherwise, the nation (i.e., Family, Church, and State) will pay the price. For the nation will crumble as each of these three spheres crumbles.
Solution? Yes, stop the thrashings! But don’t forget to discipline your children. Again, “Train up the child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6.