Sunday, October 16, 2011

corporal punishment may have shaped world religions

Cypresstimes | The academic journal Archive for the Psychology of Religion has published a provocative article which argues that some of the most basic teachings of major religions may have developed in response to the corporal punishment of children.

The article notes that the punishment of children was common and severe in the cultures where major religions developed. These harsh childrearing practices, the article asserts, may have skewed religious theologies towards themes of sin, obedience, and punishment. Childhood punishment may even be the source of the idea that salvation from divine punishment is needed, according to the article.

The article focuses on Christianity but also discusses traditions as diverse as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The author of the article, Dr. Benjamin Abelow, has studied links between childhood and religion for over a decade.

"Throughout history, children have been punished for disobedience and not punished when they are obedient," says Abelow. "In effect, children have been ‘saved' from punishment through their obedience." Abelow thinks this childhood situation may have laid a foundation for the idea that believers are saved from divine punishment through obedience to God, a teaching that lies at the heart of the New Testament, Hebrew Scriptures, and Koran.

The article raises basic questions about traditional religious teachings but does not automatically point to atheism. "One can accept my argument yet still believe in a God who created the world, intervenes for the good, and provides comfort to those in need," says Abelow.

The article is important for scholars to consider, Abelow says. He notes that portrayals of believers as children, of God as a father-like figure, and of divine punishment as a response to disobedience are common in religious teachings. But he says most scholars have not considered the possibility that these portrayals might reflect how children have been treated historically. "That approach is just not part of current mainstream models used by most scholars of Bible and religion."

Abelow thinks the article is also important for the culture at large because it sheds light on the emotional needs of children. "If the physical punishment of children was powerful enough, on a cultural level, to shape entire religious traditions, we need to be aware of this fact. It tells us how impressionable children are. It has implications for how we treat children today," he says.


nanakwame said...

Is there where we got: Lord knows this will hurt me more than it hurt you. LOL. Mine was basic: Fear me before you love me

Fredceely said...

I note with a smirk the false assertion that children are "punished for disobedience and not punished when they are obedient."  Many of us can only wish that that had been the case. 

mark patterson said...

GARBAGE,STINKING GARBAGE,""JESUS TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK,TO SPANK IT""",what trash,in hinduism,a person born with deformity,or without normal face,ect,'""IT IS BECAUSE THEY DID SOMETHING BAD IN A PAST LIFE",GARBAGE,CRAP.LET'S FACE IT FOLKS,PEOPLE HIT,SPANK KIDS SO THEY ARE VINDICATED,THEY FEEL GOOD,want to discipline,deprive them of what they love,friends,freedom,shit,i'd rather be swatted as a kid than be grounded,most guys would