A few days ago i posted a link to an article titled, ‘Why Jesus wants you to stop spanking your kids’ followed by a link to this article, ‘When Violence hits home: “Sparing the rod”, spanking and peaceful parenting,’ which seemed to give a more cultural explanation of what the rod might be referring to [in the bible passage all the ‘hit your kids’ people rush to use in their defence].
My friend Leanne shared them on her page and the whole thing exploded with a variety of people jumping on with a diversity of strongly-held approaches to the topic of disciplining your child [with half of them advocating why that was okay to do with a stick, belt, spoon…]
Another friend, John Eliastam, agreed to take some time to share some of his thoughts which his did on his greatly named blog, The Dead Pastor’s Society, under the title, ‘More on “the rod”‘, which you can and should read over here, because it was great and super helpful. Not simply on the topic of hitting your kids [although it deals with that] but more largely on the topic of reading and understanding and knowing the bible in a way that is helpful and more true. i am hoping John will write a piece for my blog on that.
But that is not what really sparked for me in that conversation. Rather it was the amount of people responding and the time put into the responses which included a whole bunch of ‘read more’ tabs to click if you wanted to see all the many paragraphs of conversation people had for that topic. This was a topic people really were invested in.
I shared this quote as my status around the same time: ‘The poor don’t need soup or shoes. They need a place at your table for the next 20 years.’ [from my friend Portal Pete]
Two shares, couple of likes and a few comments. Did not need to ‘Read More’ on any of the comments.
In fact, if i was a being from another planet and observing the life and beliefs and attentions of people who call themselves christians, there is a huge chance i would be able to reach the conclusion that being a part of the church was mostly about defending the sanctity of spanking and hating “the gays”, or at least stopping them from committing “their agenda” or taking us over and making us all like them [or something].
And bigger and better church buildings and more expensive music equipment of course.
Is a conversation on how best to discipline your children important and worth having? Absolutely.
Is engagement with the LGBT community and seeking both God’s response [which above all, is ALWAYS going to first and foremost be love by the way] and ours an important and necessary thing? Of course.
But with a bible and christian handbook with less than ten references to disciplining your children and homosexuality and OVER TWO THOUSAND references to how we should be relating to THE POOR, is it possible that we have perhaps missed the point a little by spending so much attention and focus and strong opinion on the things that God seems to be spending less time on? And refusing to absolutely embrace and incorporate into our lifestyles the very things He seems to indicate are the most important.
i remember when i was in Americaland following some of the story of a local pastor here in Cape Town, who launched a whole campaign trying to unite the local church congregations across Cape Town to rally together against ‘the evil of the government’ trying to make it illegal for parents to hit their children. That really made me very sad. Not because it is necessarily a bad thing to get behind your beliefs and do what you can to defend them where necessary.
i’m not sure i have seen the same kind of passion and drive in action when it comes to the poor living among us, to the lines and lines of shacks you drive past on a trip to or from the airport, the homelessness issues we have in and around our city, the huge problem with children who are growing up without families.
Imagine that pastor took all his time and energy and resources and instead of campaigning for the right to hit his children, convinced his congregation to consider adoption as valid a form of parenting as raising a child who is biologically yours? Do those really seem like equal-of-importance things?
“Jesus, what is the greatest commandment?” – Love God [with all your heart, soul, strength, mind] and Love your neighbour as yourself.
“Jesus, who is my neighbour” – responds with the story of the Good Samaritan which is about a man on a journey who comes across a man in great need and helps him to the point of it being of great cost to himself [time, money, resources]
‘If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be that person?’ [1 John 3:17]
‘Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?’ James 2:15-16
‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’ [Isaiah 1:17]
’41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”’ [Matthew 25]
… and about 1996 more or so…
Church, it is long overdue for us to stop majoring in the minors [that doesn’t mean the minor things are not important and should not be focused on – it does mean they might be less important and require less of our time, money and engagement] and to start giving more emphasis to the things Jesus [and the whole bible] seemed to indicate were a bigger deal. Being known by the love we have for one another for starters. Looking after the least of these. Engaging with those who are not like us and who the rest of the world might not be super amped to spend time with.
Discuss. [but first GYHOOYA].