“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.