The Bible in a Changing World
Good News Magazine
February 1976
Volume: Vol XXV, No. 2
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The Bible in a Changing World


   The U.S. Supreme Court recently approved of use of corporal punishment in public schools, but only as a last resort after teachers have exhausted other milder forms of punishment.
   Psychologists and other experts disagree as to whether there is ever a need or justification for giving several mild swats in a particularly difficult situation where a child seemingly will not respond to other forms of discipline. But where does the Bible stand on this issue?
   The Bible does not condone cruelty, either physical or mental. Ephesians 6:4 states: "Fathers, do not Provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." The biblical emphasis is on teaching or educating children, not spanking (see Deut. 6:7; Prov. 22:6, etc.). But they are to be brought up with discipline.
   The book of Proverbs states that "He who spares the rod [Hebrew, switch or stick] hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him" (13:24). And: "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him" (22:15). (See also Proverbs 23:13-14; 29:15, 17; 19:18.)
   But the Bible shows that the key to spanking (or any kind of punishment) is instruction — unless it is preceded and accompanied by loving instruction and guidance, it probably doesn't do much good in the long run.


   Hot theological debate still continues among many clerics over biblical authority for ordination of women to the ministry. Those opposed to such ordinations quote the apostle Paul's edict in I Timothy 2:12: "I permit no woman to teach or to have [exercise] authority over men; she is to keep silent." Here Paul referred to administrative ecclesiastical authority over men within the local church organization. In other words, women were not to become church elders and should not give sermons. (Based on Paul's teachings, the Worldwide Church of God does not ordain women speakers.) The New Testament does, however, give a precedent for the ordination of deaconesses (see I Timothy 3:8-11 and Romans 16:1, RSV).
   Apparently Priscilla and Aquila, Jews who served under Paul's administration, were deacon and deaconess. In the Church at that time was a very powerful and effective teacher named Apollos. Apollos' knowledge was imperfect, though, and "... when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately" (Acts 18:26). Here we find a woman and her husband together teaching a man the way of God more perfectly.
   So there are biblical examples of women teaching outside a formal church situation, and there is also no injunction against women writing on scriptural topics. After all, parts of the Bible were contributed by women — for example, Hannah's prayer, Miriam's song, the teachings of Lemuel's mother, and Mary's "magnificat." These were included in the canon to be read by men and women alike.


   In citing a long history of injustice and male bias toward the crime of rape, one feminist went so far as to say that "Hebrews routinely executed married rape victims along with those who attacked them."
   This erroneous inference was drawn from Deuteronomy 22. Verse 22 of this chapter reads: "If a man is found lying [a euphemism for sexual intercourse] with the wife of another man [by mutual consent], both of them shall die...." But this was plainly referring to adultery.
   Verse 23 continues: "If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her... you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife...." Again, this was describing a case of sexual promiscuity — not rape.
   The fundamental rape law follows in the next verse: "But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But to the young woman you shall do nothing; in the young woman there is no offence punishable by death...."
   Verse 26 continues: "For this case [of rape] is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor ... though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her."
   Under the civil laws of ancient Israel rape and murder were on the same par — both serious capital crimes warranting the death penalty.

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Good News MagazineFebruary 1976Vol XXV, No. 2