Use the Rod, Spoil the Child

Joey Salvati,

Joey Salvati, a father of two from New Kensington, Pennsylvania, wants to help you raise your children into moral, responsible, Christian adults. A carpenter by trade, Salvati has designed two wooden spanking paddles. You can choose which device better fits your needs at his Web site, Spare-rods.com. With the purchase of each paddle Salvati even throws in a guidebook detailing the number of swats each violation might merit: one for disrespectful behavior, two for cursing, three for cheating or lying. He offers advice for the demeanor of the parent as well: "Use [my paddles] lovingly and NEVER in anger."

"Spare the rod, spoil the child" has long been invoked by Christian parents as a foundation for proper child raising. The concept does indeed have a biblical grounding. The book of Proverbs instructs, "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him properly." Then again, the Old Testament suggests other guidelines for meting out punishment - stoning to death a woman caught having sex outside of marriage, for instance - that we today consider barbaric.

An evangelical justification for the physical discipline of children goes deeper than a few isolated verses in the Bible, however. Many evangelicals believe that because children are born with the stain of original sin, they cannot help but rebel against what is right and good. In other words, it is in the nature of children to do wrong. The threat (and practice) of pain, in this view, is the only tool that will steer children toward the good. James Dobson expresses the view well on the Focus on the Family Web site: "Corporal punishment, when used lovingly and properly, is beneficial to the child because it is in harmony with nature itself."

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Sojourners Magazine April 2005
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