Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What does the Bible say about spanking your children? Is it a sin? When would it be wrong? Is spanking the same as abuse? What type of discipline does the Bible support?

As has been mentioned in another post, abuse of any kind would be against God’s will. What about a controlled spanking of a child? There are a few verses that seem to speak to this topic.

Spanking in Scripture:
  • (Proverbs 22:15) Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
  • (Proverbs 23:13-14) 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.

From the aforementioned verses it would appear that corporal punishment of child is authorized by Scripture. I do NOT think these passages nor others support maliciously harming a child, abusing or mistreating a child, or acting compulsively out of anger. Instead, most parents would attest that there is a time and a place for a controlled spanking in order to enforce the severity of an infraction. Good parenting, however, does not just start nor begin with a spanking.

True Discipline is Coupled with Instruction

Often times a parent may just choose to spank out of connivence or laziness. It is easier to swat a child and tell him or her to “go away” as opposed to taking the time and energy to discipline (possibly through spanking) and to also teach.

In (Ephesians 6:1-4) the text reads:
  •  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Concerning this passage Dr. Paul Dean at Crosswalk.com writes:
  •  “If we spank the way most people do, that is, out of anger, frustration, or a lack of patience ... then we do what the Bible tells us not to do; we provoke our children to short-term anger and long-term bitterness (Eph. 6:4). We're told in that same verse to bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Dean). 

Dr. Dean goes on to give a powerful answer to the question of “Should we spank our children?” He writes:
  • Now, we come to the opening question: should we ever spank our children? In contrast to what the world says, with the preceding understanding of course, there is a time to spank our children. The Bible is clear on this point. "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly" (Prov. 13:24). It's a loving thing to spank our children in appropriate circumstances. If we don't, they're in danger of continuing down a path that becomes more dangerous over time and leads to destruction. That's why we actually hate our children if we don't discipline them appropriately. Discipline is not pleasant but it produces the "peaceable fruit of righteousness" (Heb. 12:11). Of course, even when we spank, we must do so in love and not out of anger (ibid).


There is a time and a place for spanking a child. Parents need to make sure that they are consistent and fair disciplinarians, that their discipline is age appropriate and coupled with teaching and Biblical instruction. 

(Note: If you were abused as a child, you might struggle with the temptation to abuse too. Please make sure that you do not spank or punish solely out of anger or while enraged. Always keep your head, spend time in prayer and study and be sure to discipline the way God wants and not the way your emotions compel you. If you need help, please seek it out. Children are a blessing from God and need to be treated as such).

Post By Cliff Sabroe. Scripture quotations from the English Standard Version Bible. Work Cited: Should We Ever Spank our Children, Dr. Paul J. Dean. http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-paul-j-dean/should-we-ever-spank-our-children-11629037.html