Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Spare the rod
Our goddess friend Echidne seems to be operating on the same wavelength as I am this week. She has discovered the ugly sub-culture of American fundamentalism that believes beating children is a religious duty. If I said that about Dobson and Welchel, you might be justified in taking me to task for hyperbole. Unfortunately, it's a dead-on accurate description of the philosophy of Ronald E. Williams, the pastor of Believers Baptist Church in Winona Lake, IN.

Pastor Williams provides us with an exegesis on Proverbs 23:13,14: "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell." Williams is a separatist fundamentalist and allows no wiggle room in his interpretation. When Solomon says rod, he does not mean a switch or the flat of your hand, he means a stick. When Solomon admonishes us to spare not the rod, and to beat him, he means just that. Beat the child till you break his will. Beat him for hours if necessary. Lest we be confused by the male pronoun, Pastor Williams assures us that he means beat the girls, too. As the father of daughters and director of a rehabilitation ministry for troubled teenage girls, he assures us that girls can benefit from a a good beating just like boys do.
Many parents in using the rod of correction on their child do so with an obvious lack of vigor and often stop short of the child's will being completely broken. Manifestation of this error is illustrated in countless homes as a child gets up from his session of correction still spouting rebellious words and giving willful looks at his discouraged parent. The parent has no one to blame but himself for this problem since he did not completely break the will of the child during the session of correction. A child who is still willing to resist the authority of his parent after having received the rod of correction is still in need of more of that same rod.


Do not be discouraged, dear parent, when it appears that your Godly efforts to chastise your child with the rod of correction meet with total resistance towards your authority. This simply means that you have started on the right course and you must now pursue your objective of a broken will with great vigor until your mission is finally accomplished. This may require a great deal of self-discipline on your part but you can do it, since God requires you to do so.


Again, these concepts cause horrible thoughts and evoke dramatic reaction in those not accustomed to principles of God. Such folks may say at the top of their lungs, "That is child abuse"! My response to their cries of horror is that their methods of correction in never using the rod and never trying to bring a child to repentance for his personal sin is a horrible, hateful, and unloving method of correction. They are the ones who really are the child abusers, the parents who neglect and leave their child to his own devices. These are the parents who allow their children to express their natural depravity and become increasingly wicked and more sophisticated in their rebellion toward their authority and toward God in their advancing age.


A child very quickly demonstrates his fallen, depraved nature and reveals himself to be a selfish little beast in manifold ways. As soon as the child begins to express his own self-will (and this occurs early in life) that child needs to receive correction. My wife and I have a general goal of making sure that each of our children has his will broken by the time he reaches the age of one year. To do this, a child must receive correction when he is a small infant. Every parent recognizes that this self-will begins early as he has witnessed his child stiffen his back and boldly demonstrate his rebellion and self-will even though he has been fed, diapered, and cared for in every other physical way.

On what occasions should a child be corrected? Whenever a child directly disobeys authority or shows disrespect and rebellion toward authority, that child should receive correction.


Every father and mother must recognize this all-important fact, that the very soul of their child is at stake in this matter of Godly correction with the rod. The immortal, undying portion of that child is in very real jeopardy if his will is not broken and he is not trained to respond to God's authority in his life.

Williams goes on to recommend that you conduct beatings in the privacy of your home to avoid interference and persecution at the hands of ungodly child welfare agents. As a final warning, Williams lets us know that failure to obey God's will will turn America into "a nation of perverts" just like Sweden.

Williams' essay reads like a left-wing parody of a sociopathic, nutcase fundie. His other writings confirm that image: teenagers should be segregated by gender at all times, girls should not engage in sports, dating is with a no-touch policy and is always chaperoned, marriages should be arranged by the parents, Christian coupes should have as many children as possible, and, of course, women should stay home and take care of the kids. If it's a joke, it's a scary one in that it has been taken seriously as good advice by a number of churches. A quick Google search gets 23 hits for the title of the essay, " The Correction and Salvation of Children." Some offer to sell it as a pamphlet. One has it in video starring Pastor Williams himself.

The site Echidne found it on belongs to the Heritage Baptist Church of Friedens, PA. They also have a daycare center.

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