Wednesday, May 11, 2011

To spank or not to spank?

As parents we want to do what is best for our child, to raise them in the way of the Lord. Unfortunately popular Christian authorities (including Dobson) preaches that in order to do that, we need to spank our children. After all, spare the rod and spoil the child, right?

However, I find it hard to believe that such a loving, gracious God would expect us to beat our precious trusting child into submission?

Lets look at this from a few perspectives:

1. Grace and gentleness (taken from Pearl in Oyster).
2 Timothy 2:24-25
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

If false teachers are to be treated kindly and patiently and instructed gently, how much more should I be kind, patient and gentle with my child?  If it's God's job to change the hearts of false teachers, then it stands to reason that it is God's job to change my child's heart.

Ephesians 6:4 (New International Version)
Fathers,[a] do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21 (New International Version)
 21 Fathers,[a] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged

1 Thessalonians 2:7 (New International Version)
7 Instead, we were like young children[a] among you.
   Just as a nursing mother cares for her children

1 Corinthians 4:21 (New International Version)
21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?

2. Looking at the fruit of our teachers
Unfortunately authors like Dobson portray the child as a manipulator, selfish, mastered by their ‘sin nature’. That's not at all how I perceive Ethan and it makes me quite sad. I have personally read one of his books (Parenting isn't for cowards) and was saddened but how he perceived some children. He points out that us parents must “win at all costs”. Discipline is after all a battle, lol, really? His teachings on spanking for “attitude” could easily lead to “marathon” spankings since he advocates spanking the child again if they are “crying for too long” or “crying to punish the parent”, since the parent has to "win", this could develop into the parent spanking over and over until he child has managed to pull together a docile enough demeanor. And this for an 18 month old? How horrible! He also advices hitting with an implement. To view some more quotes from some of his books, have a look here.

These are our precious children. Like I said previously, nobody enjoys a meltdown. And I find it VERY hard to believe that a small child has the mental capacity to manipulate his parents for his own personal gain.

Other christian parenting authors who seem off base are Tedd Tripp and Michael Pearl.

3. Submission by fear
Parents who advocate spanking as a form of discipline comment on how effectively and quickly it works. They just have to threaten being spanked and immediately the child falls in line. That sounds like fear to me.

When we were in school, did we listen to our teacher out of honour or respect or because we feared the consequences of detention? And when she turned her back, what did we do?

I want Ethan to obey me out of honour and trust, not fear. In the same way that God wants us to obey him because we honour, love and trust him – not fear that he’s going to zap us with a lightening bolt!

4. Using the scripture in context

Is God contradicting Himself? How can something that hurts us comfort us? That makes me think that maybe we have been taking the word rod out of context.

If we look back into scripture, we see that the rod wasn't used to beat the sheep. It was a stick with a curved end to hook around the sheep and guide them into the right direction. A shepherd would never beat his sheep - they were too precious a commodity. And it was common knowledge at the time that a sudden scare or stress would decrease their fertility. Shouldn't then the rod be an analogy for guidance rather than punishment? This sounds to me more in line with God's nature.

Besides, in the few scriptures in proverbs that refer to beating with a rod, refer to a 'na'ar' which in Hebrews means young man - not small child!

And in Deuteronomy 21:18-21
18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

Here he is talking about his son being a drunkard and a glutton. Surely this is an adult and not a toddler!

5. Jesus and Grace
OK, so we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. We and our children deserve death. But Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[aChrist Jesus our Lord." That's what Christianity is all about. Jesus came and died for us on the cross and took away all our sin. And it is a gift from God, by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

When the parent sins, we repent and know that our sins are forgiven. But when our child sins they are judged, tried, condemned and punished. ?? What?

Why is it that we are parenting our children according to the Law of the old testament, where they need to atone for their sins? Is it that Jesus' sacrifice wasn't enough for our children?

Spanking our children is Old testament parenting. Period.

To have a look at some further resources have a look here, here and here (she addresses this topic in detail). Dr Sears also has a few points as to why it doesn't work.


  1. Thanks for the quote! I'll be following you. :)

  2. Hi Raqual, i found you on Not Just Cute
    I'm posting your link to Show and Tell - a Facebook group of teachers and Christian homeschool Moms :)

  3. Hi

    Really enjoyed this.

    Best wishes from Jerusalem.

    Samuel Martin