The dialogue no one seemingly wants to have
Since 2006, since I first published my book “Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking (or Smacking) Controversy, I have been fairly active in sharing my views and research on this issue. [Today, I give my book mentioned above away freely as an ebook - download it here - http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/] I have been especially interested in seeking dialogue with Christian advocates of Corporal Punishment/Spanking/Smacking of children.
But I have to make an admission here. In this regard, I’ve failed. I’ve been unable in large part to engage many advocates of Corporal Punishment/Spanking/Smacking in the religious community. This is, I believe, not for lack of trying. Let me give just a couple of examples of how I’ve tried to reach out over the years.
Last year, I was invited to participate in a discussion that one of my friends on Facebook was having with a pastor from Arizona. I joined the thread and started to share some of my views. I was making a number of statements which the pastor was disagreeing with and at the conclusion of the discussion, I proposed a solution: I would send my book directly to the pastor and we would continue the “dialogue” we opened up. I sent the book and never heard a word from that pastor again.
A similar circumstance happened to me about three months ago. I expressed an interest in engaging and opening a dialogue with interested parties who wanted to discuss the issue with the view to coming to a greater understanding of the truth. I was approached by another individual who expressed the willingness to read my book to critique it and to “dialogue” and with the view to the development of a better mutual understanding. I was really hoping for some constructive feedback or to show me where my manuscript could be improved. I sent the book and so far no “dialogue.”
This has not been the case with just pastors of churches or laypersons. I have experienced the exact same thing with theological scholars. In one case, I learned of a theological scholar who is a member of one of the USA’s largest Christian denominations. Knowing of his view due to seeing a book review done by him of another scholars book (which dealt with the subject of Corporal Punishment in fact), I wrote that scholar asking for “dialogue”. This was especially the case in light of the fact that Christianity Today recently came out with a very courageous article and they embraced a position which is much closer to what I believe. See their January 2012 issue.
This particular scholar answered my query which sounded “very interesting”, but the scholar had no time to engage in any discussion or “dialogue” with me concerning my assertions in my book.
I wrote the scholar back in a way appealing to the need to “dialogue” on this issue with those who held different views due to the seriousness that is these days surrounding this issue. I appealed to the fact that a number of children that we do know about have died at the hands of their parents and have been judged guilty in courts of law. These points once again did not to open up the “dialogue” I have been seeking.
I have also engaged in a very short “dialogue” with a leading figure in the Christian psychological community. But that “dialogue” also went nowhere when the psychologist wanted to continue the discussion with me on terms I was simply unable to engage. I was unable to engage in a discussion about psychological studies and evidence undertaken by university professors showing that corporal punishment was not so bad after all.
On this note, I had to bow out of the discussion because if I have any gifts or know anything about this issue, it certainly is not in the area of what psychologists or sociologists think or believe.
I’ve been approached again of late by an online friend urging me in a friendly way to enter into a “dialogue” with Michael Pearl hoping I might be able to engage him and at least get him to read my book. I was and still am very willing to do the same.
Were Michael Pearl or anyone advocate of corporal punishment be willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue concerning what the Bible may mean when is speaks about corporal punishment, I would definitely welcome that.
I, in fact, am willing to go to great lengths on my blog and in my newsletters to see that take place. I am stretching out my hand in “dialogue” over and over, but so far hardly anyone that I know has been willing to meet me half way.
I am praying that the LORD will open some doors to those who are concerned with what the Scriptures mean above all other considerations.
If any of you have any ideas about how I might get better results, I would love to enter into a “dialogue” with you concerning that issue. Write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on www.facebook.com/byblechyld.