Should We Keep Spanking Our Children?

by S.A. Prince

Spare the rod, spoil the child. You’ve probably heard that before. It is a scripture from the Bible, the Christian holy text. This scripture is found at Proverbs 13:24. It reads:

“He that hateth his son spare him the rod; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (King James Version)

The Layman’s Translation:

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (English Standard Version)

The King James Version can be difficult to understand. It is however the version of the Bible we should work from as it was released in 1611 by King James, using the work of St. Jerome who translated the New Testament from Greek into Latin. This was called the Vulgate.

Often we see modern day preachers translate the New Testament directly from English into Greek, often disregarding the fact that Jerome translated the Bible from Greek into Latin. Therefore, we must translate English into Latin to get an accurate understanding. I’m not saying these pastors are wrong, just that there’s more to the translation.

The idea of this scripture before we translate it (from English to Latin), is that the father who does not discipline his son, hates him, however; the father that loves his son will discipline him betimes (Betimes is simply defined as “early” or “before the expected time.”).

First things first, this was written by men, to fathers, regarding child rearing, specifically that of the son. This is in no way written for the discipline of daughters. Can this be applied to them? We assume that it does, but if we’re being honest, this content is solely speaking to the discipline of a son, and only by a father.

Continuing on, this scripture speaks to the action of disciplining, to which the King James Version explicitly tells the father to use a “rod,” and also that those that do, love their sons. On the surface level, this obviously refers to discipline through the use of physical force. Basically, as a father, one should use physical harm AND the idea of receiving physical punishment as a deterrent to adverse behavior.

You’ll see many parents, MEMES on social media, and posts that support this logic. People in their late twenties and up, criticize the youngest generation. These people often say, “My parents whooped me, and  look at how I turned out.”

I think that’s a fallacious statement. If all these generations have positively benefited from physical discipline, then how do we explain the current state of affairs? We attribute the entire sphere of adverse child behavior to a lack of physical discipline, a physical discipline that YOU, their parents and grandparents received and benefited from? Do you understand how impetuous that thought process is? If physical discipline is so great, and your entire generation benefited from it, wouldn’t that benefit trickle down, regardless of whether you physically disciplined your children? Does the child of a rich person benefit from their parent’s riches, or do they have to go out and build from scratch?

Now that we have demystified the theory of physical discipline, let’s return to the scripture.

The author of the scripture is referring to accountability, as oppose to physical discipline. We must hold our children accountable (I am including daughters even though the original writer does not, and will continue to do so through the remainder of the article). A better version of this scripture (before we translate from English to Latin) is as follows:

“The parent who hates their child will not hold them accountable, but the parent that loves them will.”

Let’s talk about accountability a little bit. In order to hold somebody accountable, you, yourself must do so from a morally superior position, otherwise; it is all for naught. If as a parent you’re sexually promiscuous, teaching your child to not be sexually promiscuous is all for naught. If you’re out of control with your emotions, teaching your child to be in control of their emotions is all for naught. Teaching anything hypocritical to your own behavior is always, and will always be all for naught.

Now, we could stop right there and you can go home enlightened and happy. And if you feel like it, do that. I however am a perfectionist, and this article won’t be complete without me translating this scripture. 

English to Latin Translation:

“He that hateth his son spare him the rod; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (King James Version)

There are two key words in this scripture that we will focus on. These are “rod” and “chasteneth,” which can simply be shortened to chasten.

Rod in Latin translates to tribus. When translated back to English tribus translates to three. It also translates to masses, poor folk, and tribe.

Chasten in Latin translates to castigoWhen translated back into English, chasten translates to reprove and correct, but also to improve and better.

So, this scripture could also be looked at in two different ways.

  1. “He that hateth his son spares him the three; but he that loveth him betters him before the expected time.”
    1. This can refer to the Trinity. The parent that spares their child the teaching of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit hates him, but he that teaches them before their death, or before the return of Jesus, loves them.
  2. “He that hateth his son spares him from the masses; but he that loveth him improves him before the expected time.”
    1. This refers to sugarcoating childhood. The Bible teaches us that “We are in the world, but are not of it.” Nowhere in there are we taught to shield ourselves from the world. We must look at the world plainly, judging it for ourselves according to the Bible’s teachings. It is only in doing this that we can grow. The parent that spares their child of that reality, hates them, but the parent that does not spare them, and instead teaches them diligently, loves them.
      1. Of course, in order to teach your child diligently, you must hold them accountable, and in order to do this, you must not be hypocritical.

Thanks for reading.


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