17 May 2007

The sin of time-out

    But in the town it was well known
    When they got home at night, their fat
    And psychopathic wives would thrash them
    Within inches of their lives
      Pink Floyd

I heard about this from a friend of mine. It's a news story about a church California instructing parents that spanking is God's will. Here are the actual instructions on the church's web site.

Basically, spanking is the only child discipline method created God. Not just any spanking will do, either. You need to use the rod, "flexible stick like a switch." The instructions note that you should never use your hand, a belt, a brush, a cord, or 2x4 (yes, that's on the list of "don't spank with" items). If you "withhold the rod" by, say, putting your child in time-out or speaking to them, you've sinned.

This bothers me on so many levels that it's hard to decide what to say. Here are a few thoughts:

It tells me I'm wrong or sinful because I don't beat my kids, and that I'm ruining them by withholding this punishment. Quotes from the Churh's paster take the rhetoric one step further. "We disagree with time-outs as a family," he says. "That's an attack on spanking." Here he's taking a page from the same-sex marriage debate. Not only is time-out wrong, but it's an attack. By framing the discussion in these terms, he suggests that we are out to get him and the other true believers.

Then there's there's the all to familiar tenant that the bible is the literal and infallible word of God. That's a popular sentiment, and it works great in these instructions. But I'm left wondering how he handles some of the stuff in Leviticus. I'll wager he's on board with killing men who sleep together, but what about eating pork and shellfish? I'll bet those passages don't come up much in these little discussions. Much better to go with the crowd favorites like denying evolution and climate change. In essence, it's simply cherry-picking pasages with little context. It's not just what you think any more, now you can say it's the word of God.

One final thought: in the face of literal interpretation of the Bible, I Googled "bible contradictions" and got plenty of results. I only checked out the first few results, all similar lists of verses that contradict one another in varying degrees. These lists reinforce my opinion that the bible is a mixed bag of ideas with varying degrees of merit. It strikes me that one can find within its pages justification for all manner acts both good and evil.


Sharon GR said...

Oh. My. God.

(Well, not actually MY god. Maybe someone else's, but I don't really think so.)

Rob S. said...

Spanking is the only form of discipline God endorses? What about preparing to kill them, and then saying "Psych!" at the last minute? I'm willing to bet that Isaac never som much as sassed Abraham ever again. (Or slept a wink, for that matter.)