It may not exactly take a village to raise a child, but what happens in the village certainly contributes to and can influence the raising of children. - Final
When we look at the case of the Prodigal Son and the reconstruction proposed by Bailey, we can see how important what is taking place in the “village” is to what is going on around and connected to the life of all of the villagers. This is where doing something shameful not only reflects badly back on the individual, but it can reflect back poorly on the whole family, and even the whole extended family. This is a very powerful deterrent to bad behavior when you realize that if you behave badly, then your family may be perceived to have something fundamentally wrong with it and then your brother and sisters become unmarriageable and your father may no longer be able to be accepted to undertake commerce in any real substantive way. It just goes to show how "make" or "break" these kind of cultural systems in ancient times were. They could be very unforgiving.
A good example of this is found in Judges 20. Look at how the acts of just a few people escalated into a civil war! Lines had been crossed and the targets of the wrath were deemed to be so unacceptable to anyone that the only solution was to just wipe them off the face of the earth. This is an extreme example, but let us understand that the Bible in ancient times had elements of tribal culture and this must be taken into account in attempting to inject ideas from the book of Proverbs into our modern world with little or no serious reflection. (which unfortunately, is what many are today doing with no reflection or attempting to consider what Scripture may mean rather than just want Scripture says)
This is why in ancient time’s shame and honor exhibited strong control over the actions of the individual and if we hope to understand ancient Bible texts, we better take this into consideration.
Let’s look at a more modern example of this in operation.
At one time, I lived in the great state of Texas, a place that I have such fond memories of family and friends. In Texas today, there exists an interesting example of how what is taking place in the village and the issues of shame versus honor still today are very much in operation.
I can remember in some of my travels in Texas with my relatives, we would sometimes go into some locales which were religiously very conservative areas. One manifestation of this conservatism of the local people was that in some counties, it was not possible to purchase alcohol.
It has been decided collectively by the governing authorities in those counties that they were going to pass local ordinances banning the sale of alcoholic beverages. In those communities, it had been determined that they were not going to have alcohol present in their communities.
Now, imagine the looks one might get in such a place if one walked down the street openly carrying a bottle of wine, even one unopened. Certainly, it might be the object of raised eyebrows at a minimum and doing that could lead to a run in with the law. This collective idea in that area that it is shameful and even illegal to drink alcohol gave to those people an ascribed honor by refraining from drinking alcohol.
I think it is perfectly fine for the people living in those areas to make such legislations if the majority of the people agree to the same.
Let us be sure that this issue affects how children are raised in those communities. When a child passes into another county in a car and sees all the liquor stores lined up on the border of the next county, he or she will certainly know that there is something different about where he lives. People are living differently due to collectively accepted rules and norms. We can apply this idea when looking at Scriptures in the Old Testament in particular and trying to better understand them.
I believe we need to take this principle into consideration when we are looking at Scripture and realize that there are layers in existence on top of the culture and the society and we must take a multidimensional view of society incorporating the Biblical texts into their proper place in that society and seek to better understand how they interacted with the society and how people implemented them in their daily lives. I believe that if we take this idea into consideration, we are going to be on the road to having a better understanding of what was taking place in the Biblical villages, towns and cities in ancient times and how people may have implemented Scriptural teachings in their lives.
I would imagine that if one thought about it, they could think of other ways in which collective cultural ideas influence how whole societal segments look at specific practices and ways of life and how these ideas dramatically influence individual and collective behavior.
So, how can we better understand what may have been taking place in the ancient cultures here in the Holy Land and how this may have affected how people raised their children?
I have pointed out in my book “Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy” (get it free here - http://parentingfreedom.com/samuelmartin.pdf) that it could very well be that corporal punishment in ancient times did not at all represent the first resort of parents when it came to wayward children. And why? We have to understand that especially in rural areas, there was a very strong cultural system of control of behavior that was overarching and contributing to all aspects of controlling the individual and collective behavior.
I have pointed out that it could be that corporal punishment may have been considered a last resort for the wayward youth who if he (mainly it concerned boys also) continued to pursue inappropriate activities, this corporal punishment was what he was certain to expect, but this time not at the hand of his father, but rather at the hand of legal judicial authorities who would, if they had to, to keep public order, administer corporal punishment on boys who had done something contrary to the law of the country. Such beating could have been quite severe and as many as 39 lashes could have been administered at any one time.
This is how the idea of the village and its influence on the individual and the whole collective society can help us to perhaps have a better understanding of God’s Word and perhaps also to look at Scripture in a more comprehensive and holistic way. Certainly, if we do this, we may have a better chance to understand the role of corporal punishment in the Bible and we are meant to understand this issue today in light of the revelation of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.