Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Proverbs: Day 13 - Two Verses - [Chapter 13]

There are two verses in chapter 13 that I believe are important to discuss.  The first is verse 10: "Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice."  The second is verse 24 "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them."  Both of these have present day implications that are key to living a faithful life.

Let's take a look at the first one from verse 10.  I really like this verse because of my experience in management for 12 years (before entering into the ministry) and the past 26 years of being in the ministry.  In those years, I have learned the value of hearing from others who have a different perspective than I may have had.  I can learn from them.  It's important to note that I may not always agree with their point of view, but I value it because it helps me to see the matter from another vantage point.  I'm not so wrapped up in the importance of what I believe or held to be true as I am invested in hearing what others have to say about the topic.

This verse speaks of making sure you are not filled with pride, so much so that you are unable to learn from others.  It's a healthy moment when we put aside our own agenda to hear what others believe.  

The second verse is more contentious.  This is the spanking verse - "spare the rod, spoil the child".  The background of this action comes from an ancient Near Eastern culture that recognized the human tendency to participate in sin and foolishness.  One form of discipline used to keep humans on the right path was to use some form of physical discipline as a measure designed to help them learn to stay on the path.  

Today, our world considers this an offensive action, with good reason.  There is no place for abusive behavior and this fits that criteria - for today's world.  Violence toward children and adults is reported in many instances in the world today and needs to be dealt with in protective ways toward those who are abused.  

Many from my generation would argue that it wasn't always this way - the world in which we grew up during the previous mid-century believed that disciplining a child via a spanking was perfectly acceptable.  It wasn't uncommon nor was it frowned upon.  It was normal.  I can recall the moments when I was the receiver of a spanking and I've always believed it was well deserved (on my part).  

I'm not saying it was right then and should be right now.  This world has made some important distinctions between what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to handing out forms of discipline - I wholeheartedly agree with the imperative to make those distinctions.  The parenting case of Adrian Peterson who struck his son with a switch is a case in point.  What the parent learned as a youngster translated to continued discipline for his own child, but it was no longer an acceptable means of correction or reproof.

So what is at the heart of this verse?  What corrective measures can be used if corporal punishment (spanking) is deemed harmful?  For today's world, punishment for wrongs by a child needs to be consistent and clear, but not physical.  There are a number of ways that punishment can be meted out that help the child to think twice about their actions and none of those ways should ever include spanking.  

The other day, I was on FaceTime with my daughter and her little boys.  One of them was just being a terror - carrying on with a temper tantrum for no reason whatsoever.  He was promptly placed on the couch in the other room for a time out.  I could hear him in the background "I'm done, Mom!  I'm done" - meaning that he understood his time of bad behavior needed to end.  It appeared that he fully understood that his behavior and the taking a time out action of discipline matched together.

The key is taking forms of discipline consistently and lovingly.  While I can see how those were doled out convincingly and lovingly in my own childhood, I can also see that today there needs to be other, alternative ways that accomplish the same thing.  

Two verses that talk about having an open mind and showing tough love.  Good wisdom for today!

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