Corporal Punishment—Right or Wrong?

In Update #427, dated January 15, 2010, we made reference in our Preaching the Gospel section to a StandingWatch program, which was posted on YouTube, titled, “Never Spank Your Child?” In the program, a British paper, The Telegraph, was quoted, stating in its article of January 3, 2010, that occasional proper spanking of children up to the age of eleven has positive results. This, of course, angered children’s right campaigners.

Recently, a graphic video from 2004 was posted on the Internet, showing a Texas judge beating his 16-year old daughter with a belt for illegally downloading music from the Internet. This sad video was used by many as welcome support for their position that corporal punishment of children is wrong under any circumstance. One “expert” was quoted by Time Magazine (in its November 4, 2011, edition) as saying that spanking is “absolutely not” a good way to deal with misbehavior. He continued: “It does not contribute to positive behavior or development of self-control [in children]. It contributes to aggression — kids spanked are more likely to hit others, both peers and adults. It’s very confusing for kids to be hit by their parents because they think that they’re loved by their parents, yet they’re being hurt by those parents. It’s emotionally conflicting and can result in depression and emotional anxiety.”

This sweeping allegation may only be true, to an extent, if at all, if the spanking of a child is administered wrongfully, without proper motivation, or excessively. However, to say that it is always wrong to spank a child is not only unsupported by the scientific evidence—it also shows how far our Western society has moved away from the clear instructions of God in His inspired Word, the Holy Bible.

In our free booklet, “The Keys to Happy Marriages and Families,” we state the following about spanking and corporal punishment:

“There is nothing biblically wrong with punishing a child if the child behaves wrongly and deserves punishment. The punishment must never be excessive, however, but it must be administered in a consequent fashion, as corresponding to, and fitting the infraction. We read that Christ ‘rebukes and chastens’ (Greek, ‘paideuo,’ i.e. educates, trains, disciplines) everyone whom He loves (Revelation 3:19). He does it because He loves us. So we, as parents, must do it because we love our children. But even then, we must never forget to be merciful and forgiving.

“…we have to make it clear to our children what they did wrong. It’s not good to punish them for wrongdoing, without explaining to them what they did and WHY it was wrong… There is never a justification for physical abuse. On the other hand, to totally ban spanking and define it as physical abuse only shows how liberal and anti-biblical our Western society has become… As parents, we must be aware, though, that in certain countries, spanking is illegal, and could result in the authorities coming in and taking away our children. And even in countries where spanking is not illegal, many governmental officials look at such practice with great disfavor…

“Note what the Bible clearly teaches in regard to corporal punishment in Proverbs 13:24, ‘He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who LOVES him disciplines him promptly [or early].’ Since using the rod is compared with prompt or early discipline, it is clear that this passage includes the concept of spanking, where and when appropriate. Of course, we don’t spank a teenager or an adult, so the spanking needs to be done early in the life of the child. But note, again, we discipline our children, because we LOVE them. If we discipline our children for any other reason, or because of any other motive, we do NOT follow God’s instructions. Spanking should never cause physical injury to a child…

“Proverbs 19:18 says, ‘Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction.’… The Ryrie Study Bible comments, ‘[D]o not neglect child discipline and thereby bring on your son’s death.’… What is the connection between lack of child discipline and the death of the child? Let’s note Proverbs 22:15, ‘Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.’

“Foolishness, if not overcome, can have terrible consequences. The discipline of a child must be administered by the parents with the desire and motivation to HELP the CHILD to get rid of foolishness. If we get angry with our kids and lock them up in their rooms because we ‘can’t’ deal with them right now, then we have missed the entire point of child rearing. Rather, as concerned parents, we must try to do whatever we can do to see to it that the foolishness in the child disappears…”

The New Testament confirms the principles stated in the book of Proverbs. Christ warned that those who sin knowingly will be punished with many stripes, while those who sin and commit things “worthy of stripes,” without fully understanding what they are doing, will be punished with just a few stripes (compare Luke 12:47-48). And Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:5-8 that God chastens and scourges us when we deserve His punishment, and he asks this question: “…what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” (verse 7). In Paul’s mind, appropriate corporal punishment of children was a self-evident, proper way of dealing with unacceptable conduct.

Whom do we want to believe? Do we trust God’s inspired and timeless Word—the Bible—or do we place our confidence in the teachings of self-proclaimed “experts” who are being trained in the ignorant and far-too-often agnostic or atheistic philosophies of this God-defying, Satanically-inspired world? You must answer this for yourself, but remember that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (compare 1 Corinthians 3:19).

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