Welcome message

Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Friday, May 25, 2012

Before you say “I Do”

Announcement: As of May 4, 2012, Samuel Martin's book "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy" is now available for free - For details, please see -  http://samuelmartin.blogspot.com/2012/05/pen-is-mightier-than-punch.html

Before you say “I Do”
I have been pretty active in the last five years or so concerning the issue of corporal punishment and the Bible and I am pleased to say that I am thankful for some of the results that have been and continue to be achieved through this activity.  I plan to continue right on in advocating for more accurate, studied theological positions on this issue. So much more work needs to be done. 

However, there are many other social issues which need attention because people are hurting and I really feel the pain that so many have. One area that has become particularly important to me of late is the issue of marriage, divorce and remarriage. This issue by the way is directly linked to the issue of corporal punishment of children in many Christian contexts and I will have more to say on that soon.

I have an online friend who has suffered greatly in a marriage where her husband did not treat her nicely for the last 25 years. For the last five years, she found herself suffering from really terrible mental abuse. Thankfully, she was not physically abused, but to be in a marriage to someone who does not act nicely, behave like a caring person or show even the common decency that one would expect from someone who is supposed to be in love with another person (which I think is fairly obvious that people who are married should actually love each other and that love should be growing stronger with time, not becoming weaker), this is certainly not a pleasant experience and for her is was a time of great personal suffering.

So, my online friend reached out to me with a couple of questions. To make a long story short, I would say over a time period of about one month, I was able to provide my online friend with some solid information from the Scriptures that (along with many other inputs) helped her a lot.

To any Christian who is facing hard situations in life, accurate information from the Word of God is often what is needed the most. We need accurate information about what the Bible is teaching and about what it means for us today.

Let me say though that I, of course, do not have a monopoly on the truth about this or any other issue, but I do have God’s book in front of me to study and as I have learned with my study of the issue of corporal punishment and what many Bible teachers are telling us and have told us in the past, many of the understandings that these dear people have may need a little modification.

I do not have all the answers and I am not alone. In fact, let’s refer to a book which I think shows very clearly the problem that many Bible believing God fearing Christians are facing over this issue of marriage and secondarily divorce and finally and very importantly, remarriage.

The book is titled: “Divorce and Remarriage:  Four Christian Views.” So just think about that title for a moment and what it means practically. Before we do that we need to know in summary what these four views are because let us not be confused with the fact that there is no unanimity in belief on what the Bible teaches on this issue and this is the case among major Scripture scholars teaching in seminaries or at the university level around the world. 

So what are the four views? They are that the Christian Scriptures teach that:

1.       There is no divorce and no remarriage
2.       Divorce is allowed, but after one has divorced, remarriage is not allowed
3.       Divorce and Remarriage are both allowed if one has been the victim of adultery or desertion
4.       Divorce and Remarriage allowed under a variety of different circumstances

Now concerning this book, which came out in 1990, which I absolutely urge any interested party to read, what we find therein are four essays by four Christian professors all teaching at the university or seminary level and each one is advocating for the truth of his (yes – they are all men in this book along with the editor) respective position. Then in each chapter each of the respective authors rebuts the position of the other professors. 

Let me tell you a fact. This book when I first read it got me so angry and annoyed that Christians could not find unanimity on such an important issue. Sadly, in the last 22 years, nothing has changed particularly in evangelical Christianity.

In 2006, this issue has been brought up again in another book called “Remarriage after Divorce in Today's Church: 3 Views.” Look at what Amazon tells us about this book.

 “A biblical and practical case for three main evangelical views on remarriage after divorce Among born-again Christians, 27 percent have experienced divorce as compared to 24 percent in the general population. Yet no consensus exists among evangelicals on their views of remarriage, leaving many Christians confused. This single volume summarizes and explores three main evangelical views:

1.      No remarriage
2.      Remarriage after adultery or desertion
3.      Remarriage for a variety of reasons.
Each of the three contributors offers his point of view succinctly with biblical support, and each interacts with the others to help readers come to their own conclusions. Contributors include: Gordon J. Wenham * No remarriage after divorce William A. Heth * Remarriage (two grounds) Craig S. Keener * Remarriage (variety of reasons)” - http://www.amazon.com/Remarriage-after-Divorce-Todays-Church/dp/0310255538/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1337957646&sr=8-2
Yes, many Christians are confused over this issue and it’s no wonder because even the scholars can’t agree on what the Bible teaches. All along this confusion over such an important issue of marriage and who you spend your life with is bearing fruit. If you do not have it right, imagine what kind of fruit your marriage is bearing?

Let us not be confused. All of the contributors to both of these books are evangelical Christian scholars who are teaching in a seminary or university environment. It is their teachings that defend or shape their own denominational perspectives and it is they who are holding up the status quo that they were taught and believe. It is also they who are training a future generation of pastors, Bible teachers and professors.

But there is one important point about this book and the previous book. All of the various positions taken cannot be right. In fact, in the first book, three out of four of them are totally wrong. This is not me judging them. It is a simple fact of arithmetic. 

God has one view on the issue of marriage, divorce and remarriage. That is clear. So, it is clear that it is impossible for all of these dear brethren to be correct.

But what about those who are adhering to the teachings of those who are wrong? What fruit are they bearing? The experience of my online friend gives us a glimpse into such a situation. For those going through it, especially the person being victimized, it is literally a hell on earth with, for some, no escape or way out. 

Let’s not diminish the importance of this issue to the lives of people. To my online friend, I can see that she has basically been mentally tortured with being in an awful marriage to a “man” who basically was a total jerk to her and her kids. I put “man” in quotes because anyone who would treat his wife and children in the way that my online friend described to me concerning her relationship, this person, while indeed human, was anything but a real dignified honorable “man.”

I’ve been very interested as I said in the whole corporal punishment issue and I didn’t think it was the right time to really branch out and discuss other issues which I have not studied so much, but here I have to admit that while I have not personally studied this issue as well as I have the corporal punishment one, I do have specific authoritative Scripturally based resources which I trust 100% available to me which represent the highest level of scholarship on this issue. So I feel absolutely comfortable moving forward and writing about this issue. 

Judging from the reaction of my online friend to these resources, my belief and confidence in these materials has been 100% confirmed.

So, since this is the case, I will be silent no more on this issue and will be taking a specific position concerning it. But before I tell you what that position is, I think it best to give you the evidence for that position.

I would like to thank my dear online friend. I pray that through your reaching out that some other people might be blessed by a perspective which is closer to that which was communicated by Jesus and the Apostles and the one today which Jesus is still teaching us through the agency of His Holy Spirit.

ADDITIONAL NOTE:

Based upon on further researcher, I am delaying this series of posts due to new information I have learned. More coming on this soon.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One of the best messages one could ever get


Announcement: As of May 4, 2012, Samuel Martin's book "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy" is now available for free - For details, download it here -  http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/

One of the best messages one could ever get

 I've received some really great messages of late and wanted to share a few of them.

Some came from individuals like this one:

1. I'd like the PDF of your book. I really appreciate your work. I've seen firsthand the damage that the teachings of the Pearls and this like them can do.

Others came from individuals working in non-governmental organizations focused on child protection like these: 

 2. I would be delighted to receive your newsletter. I am currently outside the country training facilitators who will be training parents in their provinces the positive discipline programme. Both ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ and ‘children should be seen and not heard’ both came up. I was thrilled to be able to share your work.

3. We are presently involved in amending our Children’s Act – and motivating very strongly on the issue of corporal punishment. Religious arguments are constantly used to support the retention of Corporal Punishment. We would really value your book and use it in order to continue our work.

4. Please could you forward me a copy of the abovementioned book? As a Christian myself and also being involved in child protection in my work I am sure it would be a useful tool for both myself and my staff – and keep up the good work!

Others mentioned sites working toward child betterment like the following: 
 
5. Are you aware of the online message board Gentle Christian Mothers? http://www.gentlechristianmothers.com/community/archive/index.php It’s an excellent place to direct parents who are attempting to switch from punitive parenting to grace-based parenting.
 
Others came from mental health professionals like this one: 

6. As a counselor and therapist looking to add parenting classes to my offerings, I would love to see what your thoughts are on corporal punishment (very common in the South).

I've gotten many messages like this one over the years and spoken to many parents (mostly mothers) who echo what this message says: that is, they never felt right about spanking their child in their hearts, but were willing to do ahead and do it in the name of obedience to God.

7. I was spanked as a child and always thought that was what God wanted but THANK JESUS for the many revelations I have had recently about parenting! I just feel so genuinely excited about raising my daughter now...thinking God expected / wanted me to hit my kids to teach them right always felt wrong to me but I was prepared to do it because I really believed that to be what God wanted. I'm so grateful my eyes have been opened. And so looking forward to educating myself more on this issue. Thank you for what you do!!! You are a blessing. 

These previous messages really warmed my heart, but when people talk about finding my blog either with very small children or who are just becoming parents for the first time, these messages mean so much to me personally: 

8. I am a new mom to a beautiful baby girl and have recently found your blog! I was hoping to get a copy of your book, Thy rod and thy staff, They Comfort Me.

9. I came upon your book title, "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy," in a blog posted by The Hippie Housewife, where she mentions you are offering your book on corporal punishment and the Bible free of charge. As my husband and I are pregnant with our first child, and discussing discipline philosophy, I was wondering if your offer is still good?

I have to admit that this last one is especially moving for me. This is what this blog is all about. Helping people have accurate information to make informed decisions in benefit of themselves and their families starting even when the children are in the womb but even not yet conceived. 

Thank you to everyone who mentioned my book through their online presence. There are so many wonderful blogs, newsletters and websites and your support and friendship has meant so much the years. Finally, I have to mention The Hippie Housewife's blog - All her posts are awesome. Here is one that touched me of late talking about how motherhood changed her view of God.

http://hippiehousewife.blogspot.com/2012/05/how-motherhood-changed-my-view-of-god.html 

Thanks to everyone who shared these messages. 



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Corporal and Eternal Punishment: Time to disconnect these two ideas once and for all – Part Three - Final


Corporal and Eternal Punishment: 
Time to disconnect these two ideas once and for all – 
Part Three - Final

We can see that the summary from Edersheim paints a drastically different picture about our Judeo-Christian heritage when it comes to child rearing than many of our Christian teachers tell us today.

Let’s be clear. This verse in Proverbs 23:13,14 is really a very key passage which I look at as a springboard to much greater violence. It is so easy to see how Bible teachers by comparison can justify things like withholding food, putting children out in the cold or dousing then with cold water for training purposes, putting hot sauce in children’s mouths (another hell fire approach), making children drink buttermilk, letting them get burned on stoves and many others we could rehearse here, but I think we are getting the idea. [Note: Thanks to those who wrote me or left comments on FB about this]

It is such an easy step from Proverbs 23:13,14 to all of the abovementioned violence. However, is this step really justified in Scripture? I say absolutely not.

To better understand my arguments concerning this issue, I urge you to write me and get a free copy of my book “Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy” because I have a whole chapter and an appendix dedicated to this verse of Proverbs 23:13,14. 


Download the book for free here:
http://parentingfreedom.com/samuelmartin.pdf
 http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/
 
I can be reached at: info@biblechild.com.

Thanks so much,

Samuel Martin

Friday, May 18, 2012

Corporal and Eternal Punishment: Time to disconnect these two ideas once and for all – Part Two


Such ideas of excessive beatings, parents being urged to punch their own kids or especially discussing thoughts which were frightening and beyond the intellect of a young child were quite foreign to ancient Jewish culture. One of the early authors who I learned a great deal from and who dramatically influenced my own work was Alfred Edersheim. He had some very interesting comments about the approaches to education which ancient Jewish texts promote. Note the following:

“But indeed, to the Jew, child-life was something peculiarly holy, and the duty of filling it with thoughts of God specially sacred. It almost seems as if the people generally had retained among them the echo of our Lord's saying, that their angels continually behold the face of our Father which is in heaven. Hence the religious care connected with education. The grand object of the teacher was moral as well as intellectual training. To keep children from all intercourse with the vicious; to suppress all feelings of bitterness, even though wrong had been done to one's parents; to punish all real wrong-doing; not to prefer one child to another; rather to show sin in its repulsiveness than to predict what punishment would follow, either in this or the next world, so as not to "discourage" the child--such are some of the rules laid down. A teacher was not even to promise a child anything which he did not mean to perform, lest its mind be familiarised with falsehood. Everything that might call up disagreeable or indelicate thoughts was to be carefully avoided.” (Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, Ch. 8 - http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edersheim/sketches.txt - Note the whole book is available for free on this site)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Corporal and Eternal Punishment: Time to disconnect these two ideas once and for all – Part One

Announcement: As of May 4, 2012, Samuel Martin's book "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy" is now available for free - For details, please see -  http://samuelmartin.blogspot.com/2012/05/pen-is-mightier-than-punch.html 

Corporal and Eternal Punishment: Time to disconnect these two ideas once and for all – Part One
Very early on in my studies into this issue (early 1990’s), I remember watching a video (or perhaps it was an audio cassette tape) of a talk given by John Bradshaw and he was speaking about Hell. He was giving recollections about his upbringing in a Roman Catholic educational environment and this talk he gave included two things which really impacted me greatly early on in my interest concerning this issue of corporal punishment.

Bradshaw was talking about nuns in his school who showed him pictures of Hell as a deterrent to bad behavior. He even joked about it saying that he had no idea where the nuns got these pictures of Hell from, but he does remember them showing him the pictures and threatening him with Hell fire if he did not behave well.

The other thing he mentioned in the talk was his personal experience of being burned with a candle as a type of taste what was coming to him in the future by his religious teachers in the school environment. 

I don’t remember the precise quote or the exact context of the discussion, but I do remember at that time, I was deeply influenced by that issue. (I myself have never been burned with a candle.) 

But what John said next after sharing his own experience of being burned was that he had shared this information in a workshop and just by chance he asked if anyone else had ever experienced something similar and a full one third of the attendees in the event raised their hands! Burning children with candles to give them a little taste of their eternal destiny is not some isolated one off thing. It used to be very common behavior in some religious circles.

This for me was and still is an awful example of some child discipline gone very, very wrong, but let us not play down this issue as not important. It is very important because in our day when well-intentioned fundamentalist Christian ministers continue to trumpet corporal punishment as God’s chosen method for disciplining children, when ‘pastors’ urge parents to ‘punch’ their children to eliminate behavior they believe is undesirable and when eternal punishment is brought into the whole equation of child rearing with the intention of literally attempting to scare children into behaving better, we really need a wakeup call on what kinds of awful messages we are communicating to our kids. It is a very common phrase that we find in many well-intentioned but seriously misguided Protestant circles who think we need to “beat the devil out of children” and to this we can seemingly add “burn children to give them a little taste of hell fire.” This is really monstrous because it is largely based on an incorrect understanding of the verse from Proverbs 23:13, 14 which says the following in the King James Version:
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.