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The Bottom Line on Spanking
Proverbs 23:13-14


A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later.... "Da-ad...." "What?" "I’m thirsty. Can you bring drink of water?" "No. You had your chance. Lights out." Five minutes later: "Da-aaaad....." "WHAT?" "I’m THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water??" "I told you NO!" If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you!!" Five minutes later......"Daaaa-aaaad....." "WHAT!" "When you come in to spank me, can you bring a drink of water?"

Many of today’s kids don’t fear their parents.  I’m talking about a healthy respect.  We are so worried about abuse that we have gone headlong the opposite direction.

Do parents have the right to spank their child? This is a controversial issue today and many states have made laws against the practice.  Voting for such laws are some well meaning politicians trying to prevent child abuse as well as some who are philosophically opposed to any kind of physical discipline.  Also voting for this change is virtually 100% of children!


But physical discipline, according to the scripture, is not a violation to avoid, it is a principle to be practiced.

Parents are God’s representatives to their children. Therefore, they must reflect God’s characteristics and love to their children and train their children in God’s way. In other words, parents must provide an atmosphere of obeying God, love, forgiveness and godly training. And it is in this type of environment that we understand the importance of discipline of which spanking is not outlawed but directed in the training up of a child.  There are other ways to discipline, yes, and we use many methods. 

Ill.-- According to a news report, a certain private school in Victoria recently was faced with a unique problem. A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put an their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirror, leaving dozens of little lip prints. Every night, the maintenance man would remove them and the next day, the girls would put them back. Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night. To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required. He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror. There are teachers, and then there are educators...

But God is wise and we would be wiser than Dr. Spock if only we would recognize that pain is a primary motivator and some of the deepest and best lessons are learned thru it.

Needless to say there can obviously be an abuse of this form of discipline. No parent should ever strike a child in anger. If spanking is used to vent parental frustration; or conducted in anger or practiced to obtain some peace and quiet then it is wrong and should be avoided. Nowadays, the generally accepted view (successfully promoted by child training experts) is that all forms of parental spanking are "primitive and brutal" methods of disciplining a child used by uneducated, unenlightened people. In some countries and some of our United States, parental spanking is condemned as a criminal activity and is labeled as "child abuse."

Isn’t it also true that the world’s "experts" have managed to convince this generation that having more things makes us happier, having more education makes us wiser, having more training makes us more useful and having good looks makes us more confident and secure. However, is this generation happier, wiser, more useful and confident and secure? Shouldn’t we seek a better way - God’s way? What is God’s word regarding parental spanking?

Proverbs 22:15
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverbs 29:15
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.


Ill.—a school in NYC had a chain fence for years, until some said that boundary would stifle the kids in their imaginations.  They took it down, and noticed the kids no longer ventured out far, they huddled all the more in the center.  I believe kids want boundaries and recognize the safety and concern adults show to them when they give them limits.

The God of mercy and kindness would not advocate spanking if a less painful or more effective method should have been introduced. We must remember that the discipline of spanking is reserved for intentional rebellion. (ie, "I will not do") Spanking should not be used for childishness, forgetfulness, weakness or careless accidents.

Proverbs 13:24
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

True love desires the best for the one that is loved - however much the pain may be in life. Biblical spanking hurts the child much…but hurts the parent more! Spank with a “rod:” The “rod” is always mentioned as the instrument of spanking in the Bible. The word “rod” literally means: "a branch, cut off as a graft." In other words, parental spanking was meant to inflict intense pain upon the skin without damaging the internal organs!


“Hands” are not to be used for spanking because they are for guiding and comforting a child. The rear end seems specially designed for receiving pain without suffering internal damage. So apply the board of education to the seat of knowledge!


Parents who cannot control their temper should not spank their children, until they learn to control themselves. Children are not "punching bags."

One of the key principles of effective training is to start as early as possible. Even newborn babies can easily differentiate a disapproving tone from an encouraging one.  When should it end?  Some would say it’s not over until it works.  I think a more balanced answer recognizes it is different for each child, but most err on the side of stopping too early.  There are other disciplines that are effective as a child grows up, but some of them tend to bring out rebellion in kids more than a good old fashioned spanking.  Again, pain is the best teacher.  Even today, I learn best thru pain.  Now if you have something to teach me, I ask that you just try talking to me first, please!  But God is most effective at getting thru to us thru the school of hard knocks it seems.


Ill.—a mother giraffe kicks its young just as it is beginning to learn to walk, knocking it down.  It looks cruel, but eventually the youngin’ is quick enough to rise and scamper away untouched.  Only the strongest survive.  Like the mother bird that pushes the little one out of the nest, tough love is a favor our kids will come to appreciate.


How many here were spanked?  Keep your hand up if it was done properly.  Keep it up if you appreciate it!


Ill.—I thought it was cruel when my dad pulled up next to a dog chasing our car and hit him in the head by opening his car door…until I realized he actually probably just saved his life!

Consistency is not natural in humans. It only comes with discipline, maturity and much prayer. Consistency implies that there must first be clearly defined and understood standards. In other words, the child must first be clearly informed of the rules and the consequences - and the parents must also adhere to them. It also implies that the punishment must fit the crime - in other words, there must be a consistency in severity of punishment. Parents who cannot discipline themselves have lost the moral right to discipline their children.

Before spanking, the parent should explain to the child the reason for the spanking (how the rules were broken, and how the child refused to repent and rectify the situation). He must be told that he is loved but his rebellion is hateful to God and his parents. The actual act of spanking should be done with severity but not with violence - and there should be no excessive screaming or crying (which may be an act of rebellion against the chastening). But there should be crying, and pain.

Proverbs 19:18
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

Proverbs 20:30
The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.

I’m not saying for you to leave marks on your child, and today you are libel to get into trouble if you do.  I believe the above verse actually is not speaking about discipline, but my dad DID!  And I would have to testify that it worked!


After the spanking, the child should be asked to spend some time in quiet, reflecting on his deed - after which the parent should talk to him and re-explain his actions. In a healthy parent-child relationship, the greatest pain is that of disappointing the parents, and God.

It is neither pleasant nor easy to spank our children in a godly way but we have plenty of biblical evidence instructing us on the path we should take. THE BOTTOM LINE:

Proverbs 29:17
Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.

[portions from message by Dr. Larry L. Thompson]




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