"Spare the rod, spoil the child. That was written by a man in the 1800s this is not a biblical note," Pastor Phillip Copney of the United Missionary Baptist Church explained.
Reference to the rod is found mostly in the book of Proverbs and Pastor Steven Beverly described that book as a book of prose and poetry. He describes the book as "rubber meets the road." Pastor Beverly said it is important to note that the rod is only mentioned a handful of times in the Bible. In comparison there are thousands of other Biblical versus that discuss parenting, so for Beverly this is not the only Bible versus parents should latch onto.
And that is what Michael Pearl is doing with his book "To Train Up a Child" he is latching onto this one versus.
"Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child," this proverb is the root of a controversial parenting book written by Minister Michael Pearl. Local pastors like Beverly and Copney are challenging the Biblical backing of the book
Pearl's book can be found here in the Mountain State it is being taught in our churches and found in our neighbors' homes. The book encourages parents to use wooden spoons, plumbing tube and even spatulas to discipline their child.
Holding the rods Pastor Phillip Copney said, "these items here I would consider just as cruel punishment. No where in the Bible did they tell me to take a spoon and spank my child and I think that is cruel punishment."
Parenting book "to Train up a Child" encourages Moms and Dads to use corporal punishment to train their child in the ways of the Lord. Pearl says this military-style parenting should be implemented at birth and if you've got a toddler, you've started way too late.
"You've heard of the terrible twos. Why are they so terrible? Because parents have not taken any action to train until the child is 2-3 years old and that child is now a terrorists," Pearl exclaimed.
Reporter Lauren Hensley asked Pastor Copney if he would ever refer to a child as a terrorist even at their worst.
Pastor Copney responded, "No! No! No! I just can't picture in my mind an adult taking a two year old and labeling them in that category. That child isn't even at the age of accountability!"
Pastor Phillip Copney said children are far from the definition of a terrorist no matter how poorly they behave. He said when he looks at a child he sees innocence and unconditional love. He said children are loving creatures put into arms of parents to be loved and nurtured in the ways of God, not to live in a household of fear and terror.
"I cannot find anywhere, where I was told I can pick up a spoon or spatula and disciple my child that's causing fear and fear will become a generational issue because all that child will know is fear and that is what he will know inflict to his child," Copney said.
Pastor Steven Beverly at the Beckley Regular Baptist Church agreed. He said corporal punishment breeds fear. While this fear may change the behavior of a child it fails to reach the core and truly change the child in the ways of the Lord.
"The heart of a child is really where you want to get, that is where the Bible says behavior comes from," Pastor Beverly said. "It tells us it is really the heart of the person is where our actions, kind of attitude and actions. So really just forming behavior we can do that. We do that with criminals. We can make them do something in a jail or a prison. That really doesn't change their heart."
Father of four, Pastor Steven said it is what's inside of a child's heart that truly matters.
He said to exchange the rod for a shepherd's touch.
"As a shepherd loves the sheep he is not cruel to them, he loves them, he tends them, he protects them," Pastor Beverly said. "Sometimes that might be discipline so they might have to use that hook and bring them back so it is that aspect of shepherding and that's what we do to a child's heart. It's not about changing just behavior it is really just reaching their heart."