- Post 20 February 2013
- Last Updated on 21 February 2013
- By Donald Chalmers
Biblical passages in the Old Testament from which this understanding springs seem to stem from Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 19:18, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 23:13, Proverbs 29:15, 17.
I have had both my grown sons recently remind me that I did (for each of them) wash their mouths out with soap for what they had “said”. I asked them if they remembered what they had said, but neither of them thought my action was justified – even though I had merely given them the same treatment I had received from my own grandmother, at around the same age. I remember feeling hurt and outraged as a child myself, at the time. I admitted that I had done wrong, but warned them that “your turn will come” as you become parents: parenting is not all fun and games, but “hard work”. The “hard work” of parenting is in “respectful communication”, not in unjust or unequal punishment.
Two wrongs never make a “right” ! In fact, the second wrong compounds the first. Hopefully, our respectful discussion about this as adults will ensure that my grandchildren will not be so affected, and that the society in which they live will allow them to grow into mature and responsible adults, loving all.
With regard to the saying attributed to Solomon, we must remember that the Book of Proverbs was a collection from the sayings of King Solomon (about 3000 years ago) to demonstrate the (good) power of “wisdom”, which was praised above all other things. A good look at the whole of “Proverbs”, and its sequel “Ecclesiastes” (which are practically slap bang in the middle of the Bible) should be compulsory reading for all people, religious or not, I believe. Mostly, it is “common-sense”. But it is hardly ever discussed among the “religious” today, though referred to in the teaching of Jesus (see Matthew 6.29 and Luke 11:29).
These days, it is easy for all people to “google-search” to find references for almost any problem, or any malady; we don’t especially need to follow the words and deeds of the latest religious or political “heroes”, who have the “gift of the gab”, and want us to follow “them”, like sheep. We can do our own homework, and reach our own conclusions, especially if we have read from the “left” to the “right” of practical and unbiased opinion. If we have read and “understand” the “rights” and the “wrongs” of the recorded sayings of Solomon (and his conclusions in Ecclesiastes), then we cannot fail to be “blessed”.
Luckily for us, we have evolved, and for the better. It has taken us thousands of years to do so. The ownership of wives and concubines (as sexual slaves) along with slavery is seen for what it is – abuse and worse – an abomination (not right in any respect, and definitely not fair to all concerned). The usurping of the rights of others is an abomination ! Leaders these days who do not also assume responsibility for the care of the people who elected them, are promptly “thrown out”, unless they can establish themselves as “dictators” (another “dirty” word !), to the detriment of all except “themselves”.
We are also fortunate that most of us are not blind to scientific research, which details the damage “religion run amuk” (idolatrous and skewed authoritarian fundamentalism) still wreaks in our lives, even today. Concepts of love, nurture, and care, freedom, respect, and kindness are the only fundamentals which need “inculcation”. We do this for those we love by our own demonstration of “Good-God” living (Kind living !). And where we cannot love, then our (only and every) duty is to “respect” and “do no harm”.
Parenting involves the constant work of supervision as well as nurture (providing the things which sustain life, which includes love), and encouragement to do what is good (loving and respecting others). And then, when they have grown, to "let them go", confident that they have been taught how to live well, kindly - and so to "progress".
Living any sort of good life is "coming from a place of light and love, and it doesn't involve causing anyone else (unnecessary) pain". I agree that "inflicting (unnecessary) pain on a child 'for their own good' is (often) a feeble excuse for abusers to get away with their abuse". But abuse comes in many forms - and even in parental neglect.
We don't have to be any sort of Christian or other religious person or atheist or agnostic to know that. All that is required is for all of us to be "kind" and open for "discussion" rather than "argument". We have to let our chiildren know what is acceptable and what is not, and let them know when they have "crossed the line" - as they will - often - for this is part and parcel of "growing up".
All of us need to be "told" when we do something wrong.
Modern parents, alas, have swung "too far", and quite often smother their children with neglect. How else can we explain the exponential defacing of other people's property by "graffiti", and the disrespect people have when they litter our streets ? Are all graffiti-ists "artists" gone horribly wrong ? Are all “litterbugs” just creating work for the otherwise unemployed ? I would think not.
We parents fail in our duty to love and care for our children when they do these things.
We fail in our duty of care for our society when we have children we have no interest in loving, caring for, and respecting, and demonstrating by our own good living how life is meant to be lived - loving.
When we are in doubt about what we are doing, we must follow what "Love" says, not man's opinion.
Jesus identified the very heart of his “Good News Gospel” thus: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (see Matt 22:37-40, Mark 12.28-34, and Luke 10.25-37). The Golden Rule of Love made its appearance a number of times in the Old as well as the New Testaments, as far back as Genesis 21.23-4, Leviticus 19.17-18 and 19.33-4,, and Deuteronomy 6.4-9.
The Golden Rule is also supported in Micah 6.8 etc, but is not given as the “crux” of all teaching; the thing on which all else must rest. And we have to ask ourselves why ? Once we have this understanding repeated “while we are at home, when we are away, when we are resting, and when we are working”, we cannot go “astray”, and we (all) will make “wise” parents.
As to myself, I don’t know for sure, because I once “smacked” a pre-school child (a very slight tap on the hand) who was being very “naughty” and “loudly disruptive” and was beginning to draw with a biro upon the bank counter, while her mother took absolutely no notice of the glares of all the people around. Luckily for me, the mother took absolutely no notice (but the child was shocked into silence and stopped her doodling, as she glared back at me). And all of the people, including the “tellers” – smiled to thank me. But then, I have never claimed to be “perfect” ! No-one of us is (all of us have our limits). We can but try, kindly….
In the meantime, I wonder if the child will remember me as she matures, more for what it taught her in the face of her own mother's patent neglect ?