“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24).
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” (Proverbs 23:13-14).
Spanking is viewed by secularists and Christian secularists1 as anachronistic at best and labeled by many as abuse.
However, the Bible is clear that spanking is actually an act of love.
To equate biblical spanking with abuse is to misrepresent spanking for emotive conditioning, and denotes the change of a culture’s view of child rearing to a non-biblical approach. Those who present spanking as abusive do so by comparing the event to someone beating or hitting another person or some such nonsensical comparison. However, equating the two is like equating muggers and football players because they both make physical contact with another human being; or comparing a police officer shooting an assassin with a thief killing his mark because in both instances a gun was used.
Similarities do not make two events morally the same if there are essential dissimilarities, e.g. suicide and martyrdom. To devalue spanking because someone takes it too far and thereby transforms it into abuse is as misguided as devaluing the automobile because of a hit and run driver. The problem is not the automobile but the abuse of it, and in like manner the problem is not spanking but the abuse of it either by flippantly labeling it abuse or calling genuine abuse spanking.
What sets biblical spanking apart is that it is commanded by God as a form of discipline for children, which God would never do if it were abuse. It is commanded in the book of Proverbs, which is a book devoted in large part to a father—parents—instructing their children and rearing them out of a devoted love and concern for the child’s well-being, which is the very antithesis of the motivation for abuse.
Particularly when children are young, they need to be taught right from wrong through feeling discomfort to their behind because pain is a part of the built-in warning system that humans have. Small children are not able to understand rational discourse well enough to protect them from harm; for example, a child needs to learn to associate NO from the parent with pain on their behind so that they will not injure themselves by touching hot stoves, running in front of cars, etc., because they will be able to immediately associate a parent’s NO with pain. Moreover, when the parent tells them that a certain behavior will hurt them so they should not do it, they have an immediate understanding of hurt, which they do not have if you merely give them a paper on the subject or interact with them through some democratic lecture.
As Christians, we do not believe that spanking is the only form of discipline, or even the best in every situation, but it is a loving part of child rearing when done in the loving spirit of the whole book of Proverbs. Opponents who extricate the teaching on spanking from its full biblical context expose themselves as shamefully unfamiliar with what they are talking about or so repulsively dishonest for political gain that their ramblings should be summarily dismissed. Spanking is from a loving parent for the benefit of the child’s full development and well-being, whereas abuse is a hurtful dispensing of adult anger or frustration upon a child for the narcissistic benefit of the parent.
My two daughters were spanked on a number many occasions. I suspect that at the time, they would have voted to outlaw spankings, and deemed them tantamount to being made to lay on a bed of nails while riding a camel in a rocky desert; however, today as grown women, they would extol the loving benefit of it and have every intention of carrying on the great tradition with my grandchildren. Why? Because they know we love them, they are better for it, and they want to love their children in a godly way.
My challenge to every secularist is simply this. I defy any one of them to find any, no matter how minute, damage to one of my daughters because of spanking them when they were little or to detect even the slightest lack of love between us because of such discipline. I would even say that those who think spanking is abusive or passé should meet my daughters and think again.
To wit, I have no regrets about spanking my daughters and if I had it to do all over again, I would not “spare the rod” because I love what both of my daughters have become.
- by which I mean a person who claims to be a Christian, but thinks like a secularist thereby disregarding the clear teaching of Scripture [↩]