TO THE MODERN MIND any form of corporal punishment, i.e. spanking, is considered child abuse. This presents Christians with a problem. Who should they obey… the dictates of culture or the clear instruction of God’s word, for the Bible takes the opposite stance. Failure to practice loving, gospel-centered, corporal punishment on our small children is the real child abuse. Who will we listen to? Whose voice will we follow? Amazingly, most Americans agree. There is a time and place for corporal discipline.
The Bible is excruciatingly clear on this subject. First, it reminds us that loving corporal punishment will not hurt your child. “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol” (Proverbs 23:13–14).
Second, scripture informs us that spanking is the loving thing to do for our children. “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (Proverbs 13:24). And, “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death” (Proverbs 19:18). The implication is that the child raised without corporal punishment could be on the way to spiritual death.
Third, because sin destroys life and happiness, and each one of our children is born with indwelling, sin, the best remedy is spanking. “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts” (Proverbs 20:30). “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).
Fourth, the biblical wisdom books constantly contrast the wise with the foolish. Wisdom is the ultimate virtue, while foolishness is the one deadly vice you want to protect your children from. Appropriate corporal punishment is the key to avoiding foolishness and gaining wisdom. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15). Notice: this text warns moms that reluctance to spank has a cost…shame to the mother.
Stay dialed in. Future posts will address the subject of why and how appropriate spanking is not child abuse. Rather, it is the best way to really shape our children’s character. We will also discuss how to discipline in the context of God’s gospel love.