Is Spanking Biblical?: The Truth About Biblical Discipline
(This post might contain affiliate links, which means if you happen to buy a product I love then I may get a commission - at no extra cost to you! For all the Ts and Cs go here.)
You might be surprised to hear this (or flat out disagree with me), or you might be starting to feel relieved that your gut instinct has been right all along.
This article probably isn’t for the reader who has a firm belief in spanking, honestly, this whole website might not be for you, unless you are willing to challenge what you have believed for a long time with an open mind and willingness to learn. You are more than welcome here, but just be aware that we do not advocate for spanking on this website.
I believe that the entire Bible is the Word of God, there is no mistake in the Bible at all, and yet I still come to the conclusion that spanking is not Biblically or morally right. I have collected these insightful articles that I would like you to explore. The key quotes are provided to give you a little teaser of what’s inside the article, and I would encourage you to click through to read the entire piece.
I spent a lot of time reading these articles, as well as others, and the biggest take away I got was that it is better to correct and protect a child than to punish them. Discipline means to teach, and it is better to teach a child how they should behave and how to handle big emotions than to punish them when they don’t meet our expectations. As my husband likes to say, “Prevention is better than cure.”
I hope you will enjoy these articles and they will help you to see the big picture concerning spanking and what the Bible really says. If you want to get started with Gentle Parenting then I would suggest you check out the Gentle Parenting part of The Moving Mama, or download our 2 weeks to Gentle Parenting challenge.
The first two articles will look specifically at science and research behind spanking, and the next links will look into Scriptures and spanking.
**February 2019 update – unfortunately some of these websites have now gone offline so I have removed the links but kept the quotes for us.
Is spanking Biblical? You’re about to find out.
Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research
Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor tested for some long-term effects among adults who were spanked as children. The more they were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and to experience mental health problems. They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation.
Is Being Pro-Spanking a Sign of Brain Damage?
“The brain scans of corporally punished young adults showed nearly 20 percent reduction in the volume of gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex of their brains, compared with those who were not hit. Gray matter is associated with intelligence and intellect, Dr. Teicher said, and harm to that region is linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders.”
12 Biblical Reasons to Reconsider Spanking Your Kids
“If we’ll be honest, we can admit that He does not respond to our every mistake by sending pain so we will “learn” and stop repeating the mistake. Pain is indeed a consequence at times, but He allows us much room, much grace. He also gently guides us, comparing Himself to a Shepherd, a Mother, a mother Hen, and many other very tender images. He is also patient with us, slow to anger. He reasons with us, invites us to the throne of Grace to receive Mercy. In fact, God is anything BUT “consistent” in His discipline, at least in the way so many “Child Training” books advocate consistency, for instance recommending a swift spanking as many times a day as an infringement occurs.”
Why Jesus Wants You to Stop Spanking Your Kids
“Refraining from spanking kids doesn’t mean that a parent refrains from all the things required to teach and help a child develop– it just means that one has agreed to teach a child without the use of violence. Spanking, to be frank, is lazy parenting- it requires the least amount of thought and effort on the part of a parent when we should be willing to be more creative in order to teach our kids without damaging them.”
Spare the Rod: The Heart of the Matter
“The word muwcar is translated ‘discipline’ and means, literally, ‘verbal instruction and teaching.’ In Hebrew culture muwcar was vernacular for ‘let us reason with one another’ implying a mutual discussion for learning purposes. And towkechah is translated ‘reprove’ or ‘rebuke’ but also means ‘reason with, convince, prove, persuade.’ Neither of these words means to physically punish in any way, shape, or form.”
When Violence Hits Home: “sparing the rod,” spanking, & peaceful parenting
Throughout the Bible, a shepherd is used analogously for God and his relationship with us, his sheep. But the shepherd never strikes his sheep; when they stray from the fold he gently, yet firmly, uses the rod to guide them back. The rod is symbolic of God’s parental authority and guidance over our lives.
The History of Spanking
The OT was first the Jewish book of instruction and I find it very telling that the Jewish history of the teachings of spanking do not include the strong insistence on corporal punishment that is found in many Christian circles. In fact, Jewish Law forbids parents from causing injury to their children. There is also very clear instruction in Leviticus 19:14 “do not put a stumbling block before the blind” which is applied to avoiding spanking an older child who might be tempted to strike back and lack the self control to not do so, which would cause him to violate the commandment to honor his father and mother. Beause the spanking might result in the child violating a commandment, the parent is forbidden from administering the spanking.
Not only does corporal punishment present a false picture of Jesus to the world, but also to our children. Many children parented with spankings report as adults that they struggle with many misconceptions of God. They see Him as one who is waiting to catch them in sin and punish them; they have difficulty accepting Grace and fear losing their salvation due to some act (often one they aren’t even able to identify if asked).
An Answer to Proverbs 23 and ‘beatest
Nothing else in the OT is to be understood as a command from God except what appears in Torah. The Proverbs are most assuredly wisdom sayings and there is wisdom in them, but a Hebrew person would never confuse the Proverbs with Torah as instruction commanded by the Lord. It’s also important to realize that the word “spanking” does not appear in Scripture and was not a concept in the Hebraic world.
The Answer is Clear
It is my hope and prayer that you have taken the time to examine these articles carefully and thoughtfully. I know not everyone is going to agree with these principals and that is understandable. I’m not one to confront or to judge, but for the mama who was already feeling a little uneasy about spanking, to the mama who just couldn’t justify spanking her child but thought it was Biblical to spank, I hope you have found something useful in these articles that will help you to confidently discipline your child without spanking or even yelling, punishments, time outs, etc. To get started with Gentle Parenting explore more of this website and I would love to help you out. Best of luck to you on your Gentle Parenting journey <3
The Moving Mama
Lizzy Mash is an experienced early childhood educator now living in Africa as a missionary working with children and families.
She teaches Christian moms how to take a more respectful and Christ-like approach to motherhood by using Gentle Parenting strategies.
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