Monday, September 6, 2010

Is Spanking Biblical? Part 4: Why We Have Chosen Not To

I want to begin by saying that my husband and I were both spanked as children. Most American children are spanked, in fact. I love and respect my parents. My husband's and my mutual decision not to spank is not based on any resentment on our part against our parents, and there are many things both of our parents did that we want to emulate as we raise our children.

My husband and I planned to spank our children until our son reached Dr. Dobson's magical 18 months. Yes, we read "Dare to Discipline." But at 18 months, I could not for the life of me spot any signs of rebellion in my son. And when I imagined raising my hand, or using a wooden spoon, to spank him, I could not bear to even imagine the look of betrayal and hurt and misunderstanding that would surely flood his eyes and enter his being. Furthermore, I could not imagine being able to spank my son unless I was very angry, at which point I had no business raising my hand towards him. I approached my husband with my concerns/thoughts. We embarked on a months-long study of Scripture. We prayed for wisdom and discernment. We prayed that God would clearly show us if we were wrong in our conclusions. After much study and prayer, we determined that the Bible most definitely does not mandate corporal punishment. We could not believe how much scripture has been twisted to fit into our cultural views of child-rearing (and, yes, statistically, many American parents, Christian and non-Christian, spank). The Bible does not recommend hitting young children (the age at which we are told to spank) with any implement; it does not recommend spanking children on the bottom. It is surprising that when Paul, divinely inspired, speaks to parents about child-rearing, he does not use the term "spank" anywhere...nor is it even hinted at. We were shocked to realize that the word discipline refers to training, correcting, guiding, exhorting, admonishing our children, but is by no means a synonym for "spank."

We realized that to spank or not to spank is a choice that each Christian parent must make before God. While the Bible does not advocate spanking, and God does not model it, we cannot make a case that spanking is wrong biblically...therefore we will not judge Christian parents who choose to spank...they must make their choices before God. Though I strongly recommend that these parents do not follow the Pearls (at least two children have died under the hands of parents using their methods), Dobson (he really just uses extra-biblical advice based on his own experiences),  Tripp, or Ezzo (two of his children are allegedly estranged from him, by the way; and though his baby sleep-training methods have been challenged because many babies have become depressed or failed to thrive under his methods, he refuses to listen).

Furthermore, I have a temper. I am terrified of what I could do in a fit of temper if spanking were an option. 

This concludes my posts on "Is Spanking Biblical?" I want to talk more about discipline and natural and logical consequences, about parents as authorities, etc. Will talk more about that as we experience the joy of training and guiding and correcting our sweet little boy.


  1. Excellent series. I linked to all 4 parts. I have one question. I only know of 2 children who were killed by the Pearl's advice (Sean Paddock and Lydia Schatz). Can you give me any information on the 3rd?

  2. Hermana Linda, I am going to check on my information. I thought that there was a Russian orphan with attachment disorder whose mother beat him with a wooden spoon in the bathroom...but I need to verify. For now, I will change my post to two deaths. Thanks for asking about this...don't want to have any inaccuracies. :-)

  3. That is so very similar to our journey, too. :)

  4. dulce de leche,

    I loved and heartily agreed with your post!!! The way God deals with us should be our model in dealing with our children! God never ever wants us to obey Him because of fear of punishment...

  5. ITA with you. I could not spank w/o anger. I am so glad that I never read Pearl, Ezzo or Tripp, during my child-rearing days. I do my best to follow authority...and I felt that anyone who had published a book was an authority person who knew what they were talking about. I blindly followed even when I knew in my heart that what the person said was wrong...I could not go against a person in authority.

    I praise God for people like you who have studied the scripture and then share with others what you have learned. I thank God that my dd has chosen gentle grace-filled discipline over yelling and spanking. I've still much to learn so keep up your good works.


  6. QuiltinGramma,

    Thank you so much for your support, especially your support of your daughter! I am sure that it means the world to her.

  7. I quit spanking because I felt that it was really straining my relationships with my children. I was spanked as a child, and I no longer see any way that it helped me relate to my parents.

  8. YoungMom, I agree that spanking in no way enhances parent/child relationships. And I think spanking hurts a child's view of God...often Christian children grow up to think that when they do wrong God is going to come down hard on them...when in reality, when we do wrong, God does everything He can to call us back into a close relationship with Him.