Culture,  Theology/Bible

To Spank or Not To Spank?

What do you do when the Bible conflicts with expert sociologists? Especially when the sociologists are warning against spanking your children as a means of discipline?

U. S. News & World Report recently interviewed spanking “expert” Murray Straus, professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire. Among other things, Straus argues that children who are spanked are more likely to grow up to be violent and sexually deviant. Pretty scary, right? Well, I think that’s was the point. The spirit of the age is virulently opposed to spanking of any sort and is unable to distinguish between abuse and corrective discipline.

At the end of the day, I think Solomon is more compelling than the sociologists. The biblical teaching is unambiguous:

Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently. (NASB)

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. (NASB)

Proverbs 23:13-14 Don’t fail to discipline your children. They won’t die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death. (NLT)

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. (NASB)


  • Kris

    I totally agree Denny.

    I ‘got’ my butt spanked and I am better for it.

    Would you say that Prv 22:15 is bascially a promise or a fact?

  • MatthewS

    One the one hand, it seems that worst behavior problems I have seen come from kids who never faced the possibility of being spanked.

    On the other, my own son seems to respond to words and being grounded more than to being spanked. He has always made it a point to react as little as possible to the spanking and has never had a reflex to want a hug after the spanking. This is particularly disappointing to me because I have gone out of my way not to spank in anger and also to explain to him that I am spanking in love. Perhaps I haven’t done it right or enough or whatever.

    Perhaps this point is so obvious it does not need to be made, but spanking alone guarantees nothing. My childhood involved a lot of being spanked in anger. My brothers rebelled; I did not.

    I wonder if a parent’s discipline is the main point, regardless of whether spanking is the exact action in view. Still, I see parents who yell at their kids and threaten “time out” and wonder if spanking wouldn’t be kinder. At least it would end more quickly and with less verbal attack. Even so, I am left with the feeling that spanking has never worked very well for my son. I don’t know: maybe different kids are different and respond differently to different kinds of discipline.

  • bprjam

    Not that I think anyone is saying this, but corporal punishment (even done lovingly) is by no means a golden path to good children.

    You might say I am listening to the research a little more closely, but the research I have read (I’m a work right now and can’t give a reference) indicates that spanking is no more effective than other means of discipline, even when the criteria for evaluation are well in line with Christian values.

    Further, spanking with an object (e.g., a belt) is illegal in Minnesota – it is consider assault. Spanking with a hand is OK. With that in mind, those who wish to use a “rod” we have to face the issue of obeying “authorities” vs spanking.

    From my standpoint (and I have kids), it is more helpful to view the “rod” metaphorically than not. Not only because of issues with the state, but also because some kids respond better to punishment other than spanking.

  • Brian (Another)

    I agree with Adam’s comment about loving parents. My daughter responded to it (she is mature enough to understand real reason), though it’s not something to continue past a certain age (in my very humble opinion). Given the precedence in Quebec, though, maybe our decisions as parents will be out of our hands:

  • Brian (Another)

    Correction, my daughter is now mature enough to understand real reason. At younger ages, I don’t think she fully grasped discussion/other forms of punishment. Again, in my opnion.

  • Brent

    How many of us spank with rods, anyway? Most of us are already lightening (and liberalizing) all of the commands involving “rods,” I would guess.

    Not that I have anything against corporal punishment. I was spanked as a child.

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