It’s Elmer Season
This will probably be the first of several posts talking about Elmer. In this case, we are not talking about Elmer Fudd, though he is a familiar character to us Americans, so, sorry Elmer, but on this blog I am opening Elmer Season as of now.
Elmer is in fact a real person and he believes 100% in spanking children.
I first learned of Elmer about 10 years ago.
Professor Randall Heskett, a former lecturer in Hebrew and Old Testament at the Toronto School of Theology published a paper in Interpretation Journal in the April 2001 issue – pages 181 – 184 – titled simply: “Proverbs 23;13,14.” You can sign up for Interpretation Journal and read this excellent article at the following link:
This article was for me in my work on the issue of corporal punishment one of the very first glimpses from a scholarly point of view of someone who was a serious Bible scholar, who was speaking out specifically against the teachings of the Christian establishment.
His views were quite similar in some ways to my own (and I am pleased today that I still remain in close touch with Dr. Heskett). His article was so important for me about 10 years ago and I’ve mentioned it in my book.
However, Dr. Heskett in his article pointed to a Christian couple, who were actual people he knew (and still knows) who, he did not choose to identify by name, but he called this couple Elmer and Connie.
Now, let me say that I do not mean any disrespect to anyone out there named Elmer or Connie, but I hope you’ll appreciate where I am going with all of this.
Dr. Heskett, in his article, says the following about Elmer and Connie.
“For years individuals have appealed to the biblical book of Proverbs as a warrant for spanking their children. They often say, “The Bible says, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child.’ Yet they are unaware that this specific adage does not appear in the Bible. A couple whom I will call ‘Elmer and Connie’ live by what I call a pre-critical or sub-modern understanding of scripture. Elmer, although he has a Ph.D. in education and serves as minister of education in a church, cites the true biblical proverbs as his warrant for spanking: ‘Do not withhold discipline from your son: if you beat him with a rod, he will not die’ (Proverbs 23:13). Elmer and Connie take this passage at face value. Using a half inch thick dowel that is three feet long, they ‘spank’ their children quite severely. In their desire to follow ‘the word of God,’ they ‘beat’ their children to prove their love to them according to their reading of another proverb: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes’ (Proverbs 23:14 KJV) [Note: The King James Version of the Bible is Elmer's Bible. Full stop.]
When one of their children disobeys them, the make the child lie face down on their bed with hands spread out wide. They then proceed to strike the child three to ten times (depending on the seriousness of the offense) with their rod of correction. After they punish the child, the ask, ‘Have you had enough?’ Then the parents make the youngster ‘pray to Jesus and ask him for forgiveness.’ Elmer and Connie apparently to do see repentance as a matter of the heart that beating cannot bring about.” (pg. 181)
So this was my introduction to Elmer. After being introduced to Elmer, I began to see that there are literally millions of Elmer's out there today. And what does Elmer believe? As Prof. Heskett said:
I’d like to say one thing though right at the outset. Dr. Heskett rightly referred both to Elmer and Connie, but I am going to focus on this post on Elmer. This is because often in the world where Elmer operates, he is in total 100% control and in supervision of Connie. This idea is so well known in our generally fundamentalist churches where men are in charge and women are subservient and unequal to men.
Michael Pearl, in true Elmer style, says it like this:
"I am the General. My wife is my aid and adviser [clearly his military adviser] - the first in command when I am absent.” (Pg. 68-69) To Train Up a Child – No Greater Joy Ministries – 1994 edition.
So, as I said, Connie is in the background here.
So on this blog, it is Elmer whose season is now open.