What does the Bible say about spanking children? Is it wrong for a parent to spank a child (corporal punishment) in our modern, “educated” society? Should parents use “time-outs” instead? Is spanking outdated or even harmful to the child? Is it a sin to spank your child?
The resistance of spanking shows just how liberal our society has become. When I was in the second grade, I was spanked by my principle during school! I won’t get into that story, but it’s funny how even two decades later, parents are taught to abstain from spankings by all the liberals, and a principle spanking a child today would probably be sued for $10 million dollars.
Let’s see what the Bible has to say about disciplining our children. Remember, we are to believe God’s word over any study or statistic.
What the Bible Says About Discipline (or Spanking)
The Bible clearly says that we are to discipline our children, and spanking is clearly suggested as a recommended method of discipline. That doesn’t mean we should spank for every offense, nor does it mean we should beat the child black and blue. Sometimes a rebuke may be enough. Sometimes restrictions from toys or activities may be enough. Sometimes “time-outs” or grounding is appropriate.
However, the Bible clearly gives us an undeniable case for spanking as a form of discipline. In fact, God’s word says that you’re sinning if you don’t discipline your child, and you’re also sinning if you discipline them too harshly! Spanking, as a form of discipline, should be in every Christian’s arsenal of disciplinary actions.
Remember, discipline should be used to “correct” behavior, not to “punish” a person. Punishment is for adult criminals who did something wicked. Discipline is for correcting behavior.
Finally, although the Bible tells us that children should obey their parents (Colossians 3:20), the Bible also warns against disciplining your child too harshly, or destroying their self-esteem through harsh, unloving words. We should be cautious with our attitude when we spank:
Colossians 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Bible verses on the topic of discipline or spanking:
First, we should keep in mind that even our own Heavenly Father chastises us in many ways, only for our own good:
“My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction” (Proverbs 3:11).
Next, God tells us that if we neglect to discipline our child, we actually hate them. Why? Discipline is the only hope to correct bad behavior. It prevents the child from turning into a total rebel. God hates rebellion and compares it to witchcraft in First Samuel 15:23. Therefore, we show more love when we take the time to discipline a child, even if they become upset with us:
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (Proverbs 13:24).
Children, just like all of us, have a sin nature. Children will begin to exhibit this nature very quickly. As the child grows, the Bible says that discipline will help correct this foolish, rebellious behavior. The following passage hangs on the wall in our pediatrician’s office:
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).
Some people think that a spanking on the backside is some horrendous form of child abuse. God laughs at such a notion. He says that if you spank the child correctly, he won’t die. Although the King James Version translates it as “beatest,” the Hebrew term “nakah” really means just to strike someone, or as we would call it today, a whipping or spanking.
It’s clear that this passage isn’t referring to something harsh when it says, “he shall not die,” which would be possible if a true rod-beating occurred in the sense of how we define beatings today. Furthermore, “rod” just means a switch, not some iron bar with spikes, as the Bible-skeptics would have us believe:
“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die” (Proverbs 22:13).
By disciplining your child with a sincere heart, you will instill in him or her a sense of obedience. By neglecting to discipline your child, you’re setting yourself up for a little brat that will have absolutely ZERO respect for authority as they become adults, which is Satan’s desired effect. They’ll rebel, smart off, and who knows what. They’ll also run the risk of rebelling against God and going to hell. Again, the term “beat” here just simply means strike or whip, and rod just means a switch oror flimsy stick:
“Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell” (Proverbs 23:14).
Philosophers, sociologists, and psychologists today suggest that we should never whip a child. They claim it can hurt the child’s self-esteem or lead to violent or aggressive behavior. But God’s wisdom is above their corrupt wisdom. Here is God’s warning about your future child if you don’t discipline them, as well as what will happen if you do correctly discipline them:
“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15).
“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (Proverbs 29:17)
Finally, the book of Hebrews gives us an interesting illustration on discipline. Here, we learn that chastisement may be harsh for the moment, but it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness later on. Your children will actually respect you more as they grow up if you spank them correctly.
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:6-11).
As we can see, God clearly commands parents to discipline their children, and spanking is a recommended method when necessary. I didn’t have a father in my life growing up, but my mother would often have me go outside and pick a ‘switch’ from the tree. She’d then spank me with it. In hindsight, I could have probably used a few more spankings! I can honestly say that I should have been disciplined more often when I was young.
Tips for Spanking Your Child Biblically
- Appropriate Age Range: Most Christians suggest spanking no earlier than about age 2-3 and no later than about 10-15, depending on the child’s individual development and response.
- The Area: Aside from light hand smacks, the only appropriate area to spank is the backside.
- The “Rod” Used: You should use something that won’t harm the child, such as a small ping-pong paddle or your hand. Dr. Adrian Rogers suggested using something other than your hand so that the child will always associate your hand with a loving touch and the actual “rod” with the discipline.
- The Method: You should only discipline your child enough to illicit a “sting” response. They shouldn’t bleed, bruise, or suffer any kind of serious injury whatsoever.
- The Follow-Up: Always let your child know that you dislike spanking them but that you must discipline them to teach them right from wrong and to correct inappropriate behavior. Tell them that you love them, and then hug them. Let them know what they did wrong and how to prevent it in the future.
- Alternate Discipline Methods: Not every offense deserves a spanking. Sometimes a verbal warning is enough. Removing toys, grounding, and even “time-out” may be appropriate for some offenses. But spanking should clearly be administered when necessary.
- Women Discipline Women: Men should be cautious when disciplining a daughter. Some Christians have suggested that the mother spank the female child after a few years so that she never confuses physical discipline with abuse from a man later on.
The Wrong Way to Spank or Discipline
- Avoid name calling, insulting, or cursing during the discipline (“I hate you, you’re a brat, I wish you were never born, etc.”). Instead, warn the child of the offense, then tell them that you’re going to discipline them because they are misbehaving or acting disobediently.
- Avoid hitting with a fist, sharp object, large stick, or anything that can cause serious injury. Instead, use a hand or paddle that offers a sting, but no serious injury.
- Avoid hitting in inappropriate areas, such as slapping on the face, pulling hair, punching the body, etc.
- Don’t discipline them in your anger. If you feel very angry, take a few minutes or hours to collect yourself, or let a non-angry spouse discipline.
- Do not make your child hate or fear God inappropriately. While teaching Biblical principles is good, you probably want to avoid making a child write scriptures as a punish and so forth. Don’t allow them to associate negative emotions with the Bible or God.
Warnings Against Liberalism
Just like liberals hate guns, the Bible, and everything else, they also hate spanking. You’ll hear warnings against spanking a child in any psychology or sociology class at a secular university. They’ll tell you that “time-out’s” are all you need. They will even suggest that a smack on the rear-end is tantamount to horrendous child abuse, and your child will be forever scarred.
These “social science” classes are overrun with atheists and God-haters, so it’s no surprise that they’ll try to convince younger generations to avoid God’s word and instead yield to some flimsy study or statistic, which of course is manipulated by them to give the results they want. Plenty of studies have verified that spanking is perfectly fine, and can even make the child more successful, healthy, and happy in later life.
When I was in college, they tried to give us literature showing how spanking damages children, how it can affect their aggression and self-esteem, and so forth. It was absurd and manipulative. Show me a study that claims spanking is bad for a child, and I’ll show you two that says that children who are spanked are more respectful and successful in life.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that Satan doesn’t want parents spanking their children. Consider this scripture which speaks about the behavior of people in the last days:
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4; emphasis mine).
I know two surefire ways Satan will accomplish his great feat of encouraging the behavior listed in the scriptures above:
- Convince parents not to spank their children so that they’ll raise a generation of total brats.
- Put children in a public school that will indoctrinate them to death with evolution, godless philosophies, corrupt morality, and new ageism.
Conclusion: Spanking is Biblical
Spanking is not only Biblical, it is a form of discipline that will actually create a healthier, more obedient child. The Bible clearly encourages parents to spank when necessary. However, we must do it in the right spirit and in the right way.
Spanking should be done as a form of discipline, not punishment. It should be done with the intention of correction, not payback. It should sting their bottom, not cause serious injury.
When done right, spanking is a God-ordained method of creating obedient children and a happy home. The Bible also suggests that it can help your child be more receptive to salvation, since they’ll respect authority.