Can Christians tell God from Samuel Butler?

Apparently lots don't care, they just take someone else's word
for the what the literal word of God is.

The greatest researcher in our unschooling discussions came up with this little list:

By Jfetteroll (Jfetteroll) on Monday, June 9, 2003 - 01:22 pm:

**I assume you're talking about "spare the rod, spoil the child"**

And that line isn't even from the Bible.

Not that the Biblical stuff is all that pretty:


13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

Bartlett's says spare the rod is from a Samuel Butler poem, Hudibras:
Love is a boy by poets styl'd;
Then spare the rod, and spoil the child.


originally posted on the message board at

Later addition by Joyce, on discussion list, 9/04:
I don't know what the context of the quote is but the ironic thing is that his poem is, one webpage said, "a burlesque satire on Puritanism." Wikipedia says "The closest analogy in the present day to the meaning of "Puritan" in the 17th century would be 'fundamentalist'"

Earlier, similar quotes, from a phrase-origins site in the U.K.

In Reply to: Re: Samuel Butler posted by Bruce Kahl on March 28, 2001 at 19:34:18:

: : : I have read that the first time the exact phrase "spare the rod and spoil the child" was used was in a poem where the lines were:

: : : "Love is a boy, by poets styl'd,
: : : Then spare the rod and spoil the child"
: : : The problem is I can't place the poem either to title or author. Samuel Butler
(1612-1680) born on Feb 14 English poet, satirist, painter, philosopher. He was famous for his mock epic "Hudibras," ridiculing the Puritans.

: Your segment can be found in Part 2, Canto One of Hudibras.

SPARE THE ROD AND SPOIL THE CHILD – “…‘Piers Plowman’(1377) by William Langland warned, ‘Who-so spareth the sprynge (switch), spilleth his children.’ The exact wording of the modern version was quoted two centuries later in John Clarke’s ‘Paroemiologia Anglo-Latina’ (1639)…” From “Wise Words and Wives’ Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New” by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).

Theology Today said...

Below is a link to a long but really good anti-spanking article from Theology Today. The "today" was early 1981, so the article is twenty five years old, and if only people had REALLY read it when it came out, a lot of lives (millions of lives) would have been better.

John sent this from England:

You and others may find this link useful. It's also of general interest, too, in addition to what it says about "Hudibras":

This gives the notorious quotation in context:
[That link is gone but here is an alternative:]
See, especially, lines 811-924. It's perfectly obvious that this is about - or making fun of, something that should never have anything to do with child-rearing at all.

NOTE FROM SANDRA: There is evidence that the saying existed outside that poem, and that makes sense if Butler was writing something to shame Puritans. Still, it's fascinating to see it in context and to see that it had nothing to do with children or parenting whatsoever.

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