Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Church weighs in on discipline versus abuse of children

Published:Saturday | October 14, 2017 | 12:06 AM
Students of Wolmers High having a peaceful protest against Child abuse at Heroes Circle last year.

The Holy Book used by Christians as a guideline to spirituality and righteous living makes the bold declaration in one of its scriptures that “He that spareth the rod hateth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes”.

The Bible further states, in Proverbs 22 vs 15 that ‘Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

These scriptures have been interpreted by many to mean that parents and caregivers were given the permission by God to physically punish children into subjection.

According to Pastor Wendel McKoy, who heads three churches in St. Mary, ‘beating’ can be administered but with care not to brutalise the child.

“The Bible is clear on corrections and instructions and how children are supposed to be brought up. It is our parental and Christian responsibility to grow them up in fear and admonition of the Lord.

“The rod in the Hebrew language speaks to authority which should be used to bring balance and direction. The shepherd operated with a rod or staff that they would use to strike the sheep whenever they went astray but not to beat them into submission as the shepherd cares for his flock,” he said noting that the same principle applies to a parent-child relationship.

Talks of ‘sparing the rod and spoiling the child’ resurfaced after a video recently made the rounds on social media showed a partially naked woman beating a child with a machete.

The actions of the woman immediately sparked an upset in society with many condemning while others approved.

National Director of Jamaica Youth for Christ (JYFC), Reverend Dexter Johnson, in an interview with Family & Religion, quickly dismissed any claims that would use the Bible to justify the ‘machete beating’.

“You cannot carry out justice in that manner. There is nothing biblically that could have supported that justice was served with a cutlass and a woman that is inappropriately attired, and I don’t care what the crime was. There must be a way to deal with our children in a decent way that God himself would approve. Nothing about that would have been God-given,” he said.

Johnson believes that the ‘rod’ which the Bible speaks about is the tongue and not necessarily a ‘beating stick’.

“What’s more important is to find out why the wrong was done and to see how we could have helped them to prevent that and when we can’t manage then we seek help.

“Somebody must understand that words are powerful and sometimes if you stop long enough to tell somebody how important and precious they are, and how valuable their life is instead of beat them up then, they will reflect on that.

“For me the rod is not left to just a beating stick, but more so the principle that we ought to discipline those who we have charge over, and that discipline certainly doesn’t mean beating up on them physically!

Head of the JYFC linked this mentality to the high divorce rate among young couples.

According to him: “Somebody isn’t stopping long enough to talk through issues. They rather ‘box’ or slap. We must find a more subtle way to offer discipline.”