Friday, March 5, 2010

Spanking and The Bible

“Recognize that your children are miniature versions of yourself. Learn to think in terms of Adam and Christ, sin and grace. That itself will help you realize why God has given you the command not to exasperate your children.” --Sinclair Ferguson

So, my husband and I came out of the closet about our decision not to spank. Many factors contributed to our decision. And the first consideration was the Bible.

Spanking. Is it biblical? This is the big question, because for many in the spanking camp, the issue does not come down to practical results or passion for spanking for spanking's sake, it becomes an issue of being faithful to the Bible. If the Bible taught parents never to take their kids to the circus, parents would comply, not because they found any obvious dangers/evils present in the circus itself, but because the Bible forbids it. With spanking, there are indeed some who say, it works best practically and others who say it's one of those "God's ways are higher than our ways" concepts.

But what does the Bible actually say on the subject? (Of course, there are a myriad of interpretations of the Bible, some in conflict with each other, so I am not claiming that I am just so smart that I've figured it all out, but based on my studying, praying, and conviction, I am settled on how to proceed for our family on this issue.)

So, there are six verses in Proverbs that appear to support corporal punishment for children.

Proverbs 13:24: He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

Proverbs 19:18: Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.

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

Proverbs 23:13: Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.

Proverbs 23:14: You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell.(Sheol)."

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

These six verses alone make up the pro-spanking position. No where else, and especially no where in the New Testament, are we told to spank children.

Proverbs should be read through a couple of lenses. One, it's original relationship to The Law Moses, the reigning law of the time and then through the higher teachings of Jesus found in the New Testament.

There are two main views among the non-spanking christian crowds and they often overlap:

1.Proverbs, a book of wisdom written in correlation to the law of Moses that contains poetry, metaphors, similes, and hyperbole, renders the infamous "rod" verses as symbolic imagery, not meant to be taken literally. The "rod" is not meant to advocate corporal punishment, but represents a symbol of authority, guidance, training, protection and teaching. Thus, a parent is not required to dish out physical retribution for bad behavior in order to be faithful to meaning of rod imagery portrayed in Proverbs.

2. Proverbs, though inspired by God, is still part of the Old Testament which has been fulfilled and Christians are now called to a higher standard reflected in the Way of Jesus Christ. Thus, physical retribution is now superseded much like the "eye for an eye" mentality and stoning prescriptions for sinful behavior were superseded by the higher standards of Christ.

Both of these camps like to point out that so-called "literalists" do not even apply these verses literally (more on that later.).

Those are the alternate understandings of these scriptures. The next posts will examine the evidence for these views.


keithandjennifer said...

I have some really good books on this topic (Child training) if you are interested:
If Jesus Were a Parent - Hal Perkins
Loving Our Kids On Purpose - Danny Silk

Christy Fritz said...

josh and i just finished a parenting series at church using the loving our kids on purpose dvds... would highly reccomend it too. the first parenting approach either of us has really felt we could affirm wholeheartedly. "culture of honor" by danny silk is a fascinating read as well.

we are working through "families where grace is in place" now.

glad to see you taking the time to address the topic! will be following and blessings to your family. :)

Anonymous said...

My parents also follow the Bible but in the opposite way: they give me (still at 13) very often spankings. Instead of a rod they use a belt or a cane on bare bottom and thighs. It's painful but after the punishments I feel that it helps me to become a better person.

Barb said...

I like that you are looking into Scripture ass your source for truth. In it we are given everything we need to live a Godly life. It is all there. With regards to spanking, I recommend you read, Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Tripp. It addresses the key to everything -- the heart! Yours, and your child's. Spanking is not an "evangelical stand". It is discipline, correction. And God does discipline those He loves. He sets the standard - we obey. With our first child we applied the "rod". He turned out better than we have ever imagined - by God's grace alone! But we were obedient to Scripture. With our second, we have decided NOT to apply corporal punishment. We adopted her from another country at 10 years of age and since she was beaten for so many years, the idea of physical punishment would not produce in her a heart of repentance, but rather enbitter her towards us and God. Again, I recommend you study the Bible and seek counsel very carefully. You are a steward of God's children. They are primarily His and only given to you for a short time. Please be careful with all the "interpretations" out there. There is only one that matters --God's. Seek that one. Because that is the one He will honor and the one He will hold you accountable to.

Tia Lynn said...

Thanks Barb. I have read Shepherding a Child's Heart and gleaned what I could from it. Interpreting the Bible is not always easy, but I find searching through the myriad of interpretations very helpful and challenging. I don't always know "God's interpretation," so we have to search, examine, hope and pray for the spirit to lead us.