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Sparing the Rod ... Reflection for September 22

posted Sep 22, 2014, 7:02 AM by Parish Administrator   [ updated Oct 8, 2014, 12:45 PM ]

"This goes across all racial lines, ethnicities, religious backgrounds. People in disciplining their children. People with any sort of Christian background, they really believe in disciplining their children. ... My mom did the best job she could do raising seven kids by herself. But there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong. This is the 21st century. My mom was wrong. She did the best she could, but she was wrong about some of that stuff she taught me. And I promised my kids that I won't teach that mess to them. You can't beat a kid to make him do what you want to do."                                                                                                

Cris Carter former NFL player for the Minnesota Vikings

 With this impassioned monologue this past Sunday, Cris Carter broke all kinds of rules, the biggest of which for many people may have been criticizing his mother in public (which, where I'm from, is a definite no-no).  Nonetheless, I was proud of him for having the courage to speak up when current Minnesota player Adrian Peterson was indicted for child injury. Peterson admitted to giving his 4 -year old son "a whooping" for pushing a sibling down; the marks left on the boy's buttocks and thighs prompted his physician to file a complaint.

 I found myself cringing at Peterson's own words.  For those who don't know, the term "whooping" or "whupping" is derived from whipping (with a whip), which is what owners did to slaves.  I find it appalling that anyone would use such an act of "disciplining" their child, and I find it especially appalling when the descendants of slaves use it.  Whether it be a belt or a switch, a whip is a whip, and to me it is among the most degrading, dehumanizing punishments ever.  

 It frustrates me when people say, "My parents gave me whoopings so bad I couldn't sit down the next day" followed by, "and I turned out Okay."  Because I want to know the definition of "okay" in terms of relationships, self-esteem and happiness; because for me "okay" is not enough. I want better for my kids: a better life and a better world.

 And as crazy as it makes me when Christians use the Scriptures as an excuse for any violence, it makes me especially crazy when they use our sacred text as an excuse to beat their children.  There is no faith mandate that includes beating a child bloody.  Not one.  

 That Cris Carter, a Black male and professed Christian challenged this notion on television, gives me hope that perhaps more Christians will challenge it in their lives.

 On most days, I consider myself a mediocre parent.  I'm impatient, and my expectations are always too high.  Hardly a day goes by without me saying to my spouse, "I need you to do something with YOUR child, because I'm about to lose it!"  I feel heavily the responsibility to launch (in so far as it is up to me) Kingdom citizens; to make disciples, who are generous, respectful, open-minded, and faithful.  It is an up-hill battle.  But I cannot beat them into this identity.  I can only teach and model and pray.