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  Parenting Advice Column
  Subject: mom responds to spanker

Letter:

I was shocked to read the letter from the person advocating "biblical spanking." While certainly I respect the variety of religious faiths of the people of this world, no doubt there have been many instances in which the overzealous enforcement of a poor interpretation has caused harm to individuals, and has turned many people against religion altogether. Such is the case of committing violence -- of any kind -- in the name of God.

The single passage to which spankers refer is "spare the rod and spoil the child," which is taken to mean that God advocates spanking (and would therefor imply that we parents should use a good-sized stick to do so).

But think for a moment of the multiple references made to Jesus Christ being the Good Shepherd, and we, his people, are his flock of sheep. Now, anybody who knows anything about sheep knows that they are incredibly stupid animals. So, too, are we, when compared to the infinite wisdom of God. Without the careful guidance of a shepherd, the sheep would be at risk of being attacked by predators, or simply getting lost.

And what tool does a shepherd use to guide these sheep to cool waters and green pastures? The shepherd's crook, also known as a rod. This he would use to poke and prod his sheep in the appropriate direction, gently enforcing his will. And beating the sheep with his rod would have no place in the process, because it would have caused the poor animals to panic.

Perhaps we can allow ourselves to consider a new interpretation of "spare the rod and spoil the child," for in biblical terms, our charge as parents is to respectfully direct our children and to keep them safe from harm. Without this tender guidance, our children surely shall be lost to us.

Debbie McCallister

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