I decided to re-publish this post that was originally published last February since it’s an issue that has come up recently.
When I first trusted in Jesus as my savior way back in 1982 I was a young single mother to Jimmy then four years old and Brian who was two. I had always been vehemently opposed to any kind of violence being inflicted upon a child including spankings. As I began hanging around other young Christian mothers, I was shocked to discover that they hit their children as a form of discipline. In fact, they encouraged me to spank my children also. When I made it known that I didn’t believe in spanking, the other mothers were quick to enlighten me on the subject of Biblical discipline.
My new Christian friends proceeded to inform me that If I loved my children and wanted to be a good Christian mom that I HAD to spank them. Indeed, I was told if I did not spank my children that I would be sinning. My new friends taught me that the Bible was the inspired and infallible Holy Word Of God, the only true and ultimate authority over all things, and that it was always to be interpreted literally.
I adopted all these new beliefs. It was my greatest desire to obey God and be the best mom that I could be. I convinced myself that to be a good Christian and a good mother I needed to discipline my children with spankings. Yet still, the thought of hitting or spanking my children literally sickened me. Thank God my children rarely ever behaved in a manner in which I felt deserved a spanking. When they did I more often than not chose an alternative non-violent method of discipline instead.
I have rarely been more conflicted over anything the way I was about spanking. Hitting my children seemed and felt wrong to me. However, it did seem as if the Bible taught that not spanking them was wrong. Thank God that sickening feeling finally won out and I came to my senses. I still believe that the Bible is God’s infallible, inspired Holy Word. I still believe that the Bible is the Christian’s ultimate authority over all things and our instruction book for life. However, I am not so sure that every word in the Bible is meant to be interpreted literally. Some passages in the Bible use imagery, metaphors, similes, allegories, symbolism, and parables as a way of instructing us. Are such passages meant to be taken literally or figuratively? I do believe that the Bible instructs parents to discipline their children, but does He really expect us to beat, batter, or strike them in any way. I think not! I no longer believe in spanking my children. In fact, I never really did.
The verses most often quoted when attempting to prove that the Bible promotes corporal punishment are:
“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24)
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child. But the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15)
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” (Proverbs 23:13-14)
“The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to itself disgraces his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15)
In the above verses the Hebrew word for ROD, is SHEBET which can mean a shepherd’s rod, a walking staff, or a King’s scepter. Since it was King Solomon who wrote the Book of Proverbs I think we can safely assume that the rod being referred to in these verses is a king’s scepter. This type of rod would not have been used to beat someone with. In fact, when the King’s scepter was held out to someone it meant life for them. When the scepter was withheld it meant death. The Hebrew word for correction in these verses is MUCWAR which means discipline, chastening, and correction. This type of correction implies verbal correction, not physical.
Did Jesus, in the New Testament teach that children should be beaten or battered? I think not! Except for the one time with the money changers in the Temple, Jesus always conducted himself in a calm, loving, gentle, and peaceful, manner. His ability to forgive an offense was God like!
I just cannot for the life of me imagine my Jesus smacking around defenseless little children, beating them with sticks or encouraging their parents to do so! And what about children like Bethany? Children with disabilities such a hers cannot even comprehend why they are being spanked! Bethany does not have the ability to connect the discipline (spank) to her crime (disobedience). She would learn nothing from a spanking other than someone who is supposed to love her and protect her is hurting her!
I realize that there exists more than one interpretation of the scriptures and that scriptures are often twisted to promote their interpreter’s own agendas. I am in no way implying that I am the ultimate expert in Bible interpretation, nor am I claiming to be a great Bible Scholar. I certainly have not spent years and years studying this topic. Yet despite that, God is capable of imparting to me through His Holy Spirit the same wisdom, knowledge, and spiritual discernment that He gives to everyone.
I believe that God does command Christian parents through His Holy word the Bible to teach, correct, and discipline their children and then to hold them accountable for their behavior. However, it is my opinion there are more effective less violent methods than spanking to utilize when correcting or disciplining our children.
I am sorry my fellow Christ followers who believe in spanking your children. Think what you may about me, but I do not believe that my God wants me to spank my children.
I retrieved information for this post from the following articles: