Strength, Wisdom, and Corporal Punishment

January 12, 2018

Proverbs 20:29 

The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.

After fifty to sixty years of life experiences, older men finally gain a little wisdom, but for some men this can be a bit of a let-down. For at the point when you have obtained that wisdom you need for life, now you lack the strength to get as much done. The solution to this conundrum is easy, of course. Old men need young men. This provides a huge incentive for wise mentorships (or apprenticeships). Sadly, this connection has broken down in modern society, where older men have little time to invest in younger men, and younger men have little interest in honoring older men! When the connection between generations is severed, we should certainly expect to see a sure and steady socio-economic breakdown. 

More often than not, impetuous young men assume they know better and refuse the mentorships of older and wiser men. But those that who the time to sit at the feet of these wiser old men will benefit greatly, both spiritually and materially. When the energies of the young men are expended on wise projects suggested by the older men, both will profit greatly from the endeavors. This is especially true in smaller, entrepreneurial, home-based economies. 

Proverbs 20:30 

The blueness of a wound cleanses away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly. 

Such verses as these come off as unsophisticated, primitive, and even cruel to a decadent and decaying society. But we must remember that the tender mercies of the wicked always turn out to be really cruel in the end. The Bible is realistic about the evil condition of the world around us, and we would be terribly irresponsible to simply ignore gross rebellion, drug addictions, and surly, violent thugs. 

Some organizations today charge as much as $80,000 per year to care for a severely out-of-control, rebellious youth. These children become a threat to their own safety, not to mention their own parents and the rest of society. About all the state governments are willing to do is to drug them or imprison them if the parents throw up their hands and completely abandon the children. But some parents will resort to “authoritarian-based” programs that force the young man or woman into hard labor under trying circumstances. As a last resort, they may even apply the rod and lay down stripes upon the back of the rebel. The Bible limits corporal punishment like this to no more than forty stripes. From this verse, we learn that these stripes are cleansing. While they may not produce a truly repentant heart, they may limit the potential depths of evil to which a young man or woman could descend. 

Needless to say, civil governments must be careful not to go beyond biblical limits in the jurisdiction of the family. Sometimes government agencies want to restrict families in this area of corporal punishment, but the Bible does not allow intervention until the perpetrators have violated the lex talionis, or the forty-stripe limit. The civil magistrate may interfere should there be instances of permanent burn scars or broken bones.

Family Discussion Questions:

1. Are there ways in which our sons might work with their fathers? What kind of commitment does our community or our church have toward older men mentoring younger men in businesses? 

2. To what extent are spankings helpful in our family? Do spankings change the heart or just the external behavior of the children?