“If favor is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness…”~~Is. 26:10a NRSV
“What is love, anyway? Does anyone love anybody anyway?” Howard Jones (Not the hotel magnet, you people born after 1980.)
I’ve had a few discussions with my kids lately about things I used to believe without questioning. One of them was this notion that when our young children misbehave, we need to beat them. I began to question this before I was saved, because the same people who were preaching, “spare the rod, spoil the child” were the same people who were preaching compassion to the evil people, up to, and including abusers, adulterers, rapists, and murderers.
We have to have compassion on adults who sin. Don’t punish them. Love them and embrace them, because you are no better. But beat your kids, who are new around here and don’t really understand the things of life, nor do they have the same level of cognition that adults are capable of. Beat them. Punish them. Those small people who have no way of standing up to you, and, often, don’t even know why they did what they did.
Consider the following made up (kind of, maybe, no, OK, these really both happened) situations:
1) Your son knows he’s not supposed to have candy without asking. You discover he’s been having candy without asking. You ask him why. He shrugs and says “I don’t know.” Traditional Christian parenting says, beat him, punish him.
2) A man knows he’s not supposed to cheat on his wife, but she discovers he has. When she asks him why, he shrugs and says, “I don’t know.” Traditional Christianity says, “forgive him, love him.”
When I ask people why I’m supposed to let my ex back into my life, they say “Because that’s what the Bible says.”
I reply, “The Bible says to stone him, and not in the drugged since of the word.”
Other people, “Oh, but we live under grace now. Christ changed all that. That was in the old covenant. We are under the new.”
So, let me get this straight: It’s perfectly OK to use the old testament as a defense to why you should beat and punish your children for every wrong they do, but you have to use the new testament when dealing with adults?
I’d like to swear here…in question form.
Ok, I feel better now. No, actually I don’t. I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall.
Let me ask just one more question, which is the wicked one, the child who couldn’t fight the temptation to eat a few pieces of candy, or the man who soul raped his wife?
“…but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Matt 19:14 NRSV
“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolators, adulterers…(etc)…none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you USED TO BE. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor. 6:9-11NRSV (Emphasis mine.)
In the former verse, well, I’m pretty sure those kids were sneaking candy behind their parents’ backs. That’s a “crime” as old as man. Cain and Abel probably sneaked candy behind their parents’ backs (hey, I’m sure there was licorice in the old days). Yet, Christ says that the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
In the latter verse, well…
The repentant WERE but now they are not. The unrepentant were and they STILL ARE. It doesn’t say here that the repentant are no better than the unrepentant, it simply reminds the Corinthians what they are NOT supposed to be doing now that they are saved. It proves that there is such a thing as Christian behavior and that adulterers and murderers are not engaging in it. In the context of the whole letter (I know, how weird, take Scripture in context? Nuts.) Paul is saying, “Knock it off idiots. You’re so far out of line that you are acting like the unsaved. Straighten up or maybe you actually are one of the unsaved.”
Don’t ask me why it got to this point, the point where the faithful spouse, the abuse victim, the rape victim, etc, are told to forgive and embrace the criminal, and the person who committed the crime, the adultery, are given a free pass. I don’t know why the victim is admonished, “Well, what would Jesus do?” And the perpetrator is told, “Jesus loves you.” I don’t know any of that.
I do know that there are many people in the church, and even more who have left the church, who are wounded and beat down by the immorality of this false teaching, and I do know, most of all, that this isn’t what Jesus would have done, because this isn’t love.