Beliefs Culture Ethics Institutions Jonathan Merritt: On Faith and Culture Opinion

5 myths of ‘Biblical spanking.’ Taking the text literally would land you in jail.

Pro-spanking Christians don’t actually read the Bible as literally as they think. If they did, they wouldn’t be defending their views on Twitter. They’d be complaining to the warden. - (Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1nTrXZM)

The national debate on the ethics of corporal punishment rages on, and pro-spanking Christians continue to claim the Bible encourages or even commands such behavior. I’ve argued that the withering findings of social science regarding spanking should be taken seriously and have warned that one shouldn’t build an entire ethic from Proverbs, a book of general wisdom rather than universal commands.

In the last week, however, I have dug deeper into the few Biblical texts that directly address corporal punishment. It turns out that much of what pro-spanking Christians teach has no Biblical basis and often directly contradicts what the text actually says. So spanking proponents don’t actually read these Biblical passages as literally as they say they do. If they did, they wouldn’t be defending their views on Twitter. They’d be complaining to the warden.

Let’s assume for a moment that those claiming to read these passages literally are correct. Here are five myths of “Biblical spanking” and what the Bible actually says:

1. Limit the age and number of swats when spanking – Evangelical leader James Dobson says parents shouldn’t spank kids younger than 15-to-18-months old and “most corporal punishment [should] be finished prior to the first grade.” He and others have also popularized the “two-smacks-max” approach to limiting the number of swats. These restrictions, however, are found nowhere in the Biblical text. Rather, these teachings are often drawn from social science, a field that is dismissed by the same individuals when convenient.

In the Bible, there is no upper or lower age limit found in the Biblical text. However, the Bible does speak about corporal punishment for adults at which point it imposes a “40 lashes, but no more” restriction (Deuteronomy 25:3).

2. Aim for the buttocks – Christian pastor and author John Piper says, “Children have little fat bottoms so that they can be whopped . . . It is not beating. It is not abuse. There is a clear difference.” But the Bible says that the rod of discipline is for “the backs of fools” (Proverbs 26:3; see also Proverbs 10:13 and Proverbs 14:3). If you read the Bible’s spanking texts as literal, timeless commands, aim for the back not the butt.

3. A belt, paddle, or hand will do – As Christian author Chip Ingram writes, Christians should “use a wooden spoon or some other appropriately sized paddle and flick your wrist” when spanking. But the Bible only instructs the use of two items for corporal punishment—the “rod” and “whip” (see various passages).

Some Christians promote a “rule of thumb,” which says that Christians should use a “switch” that is no bigger in diameter than one’s thumb. But this is not found in the Bible either. The “rod” in the Bible can refer to a range of items, including a shepherd’s staff or tree branch. No matter which definition you choose, there is no diameter restriction provided in the text itself.

4. Never leave a mark – Many Christian advocates for spanking talk about “swatting” a child so that it stings, but doesn’t leave a mark. But this is a modern American idea of spanking that has no root in the Scriptures. As Proverbs 20:30 says, “Blows and wounds (bruises­) scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.” The kind of discipline that cleanses the heart, according to the text, actually does leave a mark. The only restriction seems to be that punishing with the rod of discipline shouldn’t kill the person or cause dismemberment or permanent damage (see, for example, Proverbs 23:13).

5. Don’t hit out of anger – As Tom Frye, founder of Family First, wrote recently at Crosswalk.com, “A spanking (or any form of discipline) should never be delivered in anger. This may require a ‘time out’ for the parent to cool down so that loving discipline can take place.” But if the discipline of children by parents is a mirror of God’s discipline of God’s children, as pro-spanking Christians claim, then this is a farce. The discipline of God throughout the Scriptures isn’t absent of anger. It actually flows from God’s righteous anger.

As William Webb, professor at Tyndale Seminary and author of Corporal Punishment in the Bible says, “This sort of ‘love but no anger’ approach is a great plank within the platform of today’s spanking advocates. Unfortunately, it simply is not a biblical concept.”

Conservatives claim the Bible when they argue for corporal punishment, but what they are actually doing has little to do with the Biblical text. If you read the spanking texts literally, Webb says, you should respond to a person’s bad behavior by using a tree branch to beat them on the back until bruising occurs. This is irrespective of age, but in adulthood a whip can be used for up to 40 lashes.

Pro-spanking Christians speak of soft, swift swats and restrained wrist slaps. They talk of anger-less discipline with an explanation beforehand and perhaps a comforting prayer afterwards. This behavior is a modern invention and nothing at all like the Bible descriptions of corporal punishment. Even though some accuse anti-spanking Christians of “domesticating Scripture,” as Rachel Marie Stone writes, “contemporary American corporal punishment is already highly domesticated.”

The spanking restrictions that conservative Christians promote as Biblical would sound bizarre to those from the ancient Jewish cultures from which these passages arise. “Biblical spanking,” if one reads and applies these passages literally, is much more severe than the modern Western behaviors. Given that these practices derive almost from the book of Proverbs (selectively peppered with social science) and are out of synch with the Christian virtue of love, it seems Christians need fresh ways to read and understand these texts while remaining faithful to the Bible.

One such path forward is understanding the “rod” verses as general exhortations for parental discipline rather than literal commands to physically strike children. This seems entirely possible to me. Other approaches, like William Webb’s, may be helpful. He posits that the Bible indeed allows for corporal punishment but should be read in light of the redemptive movement of the Bible.

More work needs to be done. This conversation needs our best thinking as part of an ongoing conversation. Our children deserve at least this. And our credibility requires nothing less.

About the author

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is senior columnist for Religion News Service and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He has published more than 2500 articles in outlets like USA Today, The Week, Buzzfeed and National Journal. Jonathan is author of "Jesus is Better Than You Imagined" and "A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars." He resides in Brooklyn, NY.

78 Comments

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  • Jonathan, after your last post and your fathers apology I was left wondering that you seem to have landed on your feet and have done pretty well for yourself regardless of the spankings by your father. How do you explain this?

  • Jonathan,

    I can see you are asking for ‘spanks’ by continuing this thread.

    Is good 😉

    One parent in my house had a wooden spoon for spanking. It was rarely used, and when used, it was not hard … however, one day, I took that wooden spoon and I wrote my name and my brother’s names on it. After that, never saw that spoon again.

    Peace and Love

  • I don’t place parenting skills and the resulting adult children in a 1 to 1 ratio. Some wonderful parents produce rotten children, some terrible parents produce lovely children, and most parents are a mixed bag of mistakes and wise choices that produce children who are likewise a mixed bag. My parents did a wonderful job raising us. They would be the first to admit that they made many good choices and also a handful of regrettable ones. And the result is me: a mixed bag who is as fallen as they are and likewise a product of God’s grace.

  • I love this story. One of the funniest stories from my upbringing was when I took my mom’s wooden spoons, snuck them out of the house, and buried them in the back yard. She had no idea where they went until years later when I confessed and we had a good laugh. 🙂

  • I’ve noticed the same thing about the arguments the spankers put forth. Their reasoning is based on pop sociology with a couple Bible verses tacked on to try to make it legit. It’s horrible exegesis and leads to bad parenting.

  • @Tim,

    “horrible exegesis”

    ‘exegesis’ is a cop out.

    If a work of literature is too dangerous to take literally why was it made into literature in the first place? If god had something to tell all of humanity, arranging for it all to be written down in conflicting texts and concepts in different languages by illiterates and superstitious cave dwellers hardly constitutes a moral attempt to reach us in modern times.

    A person would be completely entitled to laugh off these dangerous texts for what they are; primitive scribblings and guesses on cow skin.

  • Another insightful, honest, and bold article by Jonathan Merritt!

    Though we may have differences in some areas, I don’t think anyone can deny the truth you speak in this article. Congratulations fpr speaking from a position of integrity, with nothing to hide.

  • So the argument here is that Christians are reading the bible wrong… You should spank your kids with a rod on the back?
    So are Christians supposed to see that the bible intends harsher punishment, find the bible irrelevant in this matter and move on towards a more ‘timeout’ philosophy? Seems like a terrible way to discuss the issue with bible believing Christians

  • Actually, Christians are supposed to stop running to the Bible for answers it was never intended to give. As Merritt pointed out, the Bible hardly refers to corporal punishment, primarily because the Bible was neither written nor compiled to serve as a guide to parenting. Any instances in which the Bible does refer to corporal punishment should really be understood as people, from their own cultural lenses, writing to an immediate audience that shared that same lens. That’s how I discuss it with Bible-believing Christians.

    I certainly don’t see why considering the Bible “irrelevant” in this matter is a problem. The Bible also is a poor guide for folks learning how to change tires, balance a checkbook, practice medicine, etc. That doesn’t make the Bible inherently useless.

  • When we kids misbehaved, dad used to throw rocks at us as the Bible says in Deuteronomy. Actually, it says the elders are supposed to do it, but the city councilmen would always tell dad to go home and sleep it off. So he’d throw the rocks himself, but his aim was bad because he was drunk.

    At the time I hated it, but now I am older and see the wisdom of the ages that has been handed down to us in the Bible. Now I look back upon this discipline with gratitude, for it helped to put me on the right path!

  • Probably TMI

    We had a bush in the back corner of our property that had branches about the diameter of a cigar at the base tapering to the diameter of a pencil lead at the tip, about four feet long, all growing up from a central base in the ground. It was what my siblings and me called the “switch tree”. We were made to select and retrieve the switch that my father used to “discipline” us, just before we were made to read certain passages out the bible out loud to him, all the while trying to not cry. When we did, he would warned us that if we didn’t stop crying he would give us something to cry about. Once we finished, he would hug us and tell us he whipped us because he loved us.

    Once I had a family of my own, the first, and last, time I spanked my son I had to run to the bathroom to throw up. Never again did I hit my child. Years later after my parents past away I took great pleasure in digging up the switch tree and burning it, just before I sold the house to another family, with children.

    I truly believe my father felt he was doing what was right for us, that he felt it was right in the eyes of the god he believed in. That is what his paternal lineage had believed in, and had done for centuries.

    Like children of alcoholics have a predisposition to follow the path of their alcoholic parent, I felt compelled to follow as well. It was only through honest evaluation of my beliefs, and the book that they were based on that I was able to see the error of my ways, and come out of the fog faith belief put humans in.

    Now my child does not spank his children, nor does he believe in books written by man that claim to speak for a god.

    Evolution at its finest.

  • Kids are resilient. They can still do well for themselves in spite of a few, or even many, errors by loving and well-meaning parents. I was spanked and I think I came out fine. My kids were never spanked and they also came out fine. If kids can come out fine with our without corporal punishment, why resort to corporal punishment? Corporal punishment strikes me as lazy parenting, not taking the time and effort for more constructive training/disciplining that is usually better in the long run.

  • ronald,

    Your story of rocks reminds me of an incident involving an Orthodox priest. During a homily one Sunday, he told us that when he cleaned out his house to move, he found a rock that he had from when he was a boy. He did not remember why he had the rock, and so he decided to get rid of it.

    That same priest booted me out of his parish not long after his story about the rock. But some time before, when I was beginning to notice signs of fear on his part, and what I would call odd behavior (for a priest dealing with a catechumen), I wrote him and told him that he should not have thrown out the rock. I told him that the rock might not matter to him, but it mattered to me.

    Angry and frustrated at being treated so cruelly, without explanation as to WHY I was told to get out and find another church (yes, that’s what he said) … I wanted to rant in privacy. I was so angry and so hurt that I went for a walk on the dirt road leading to the river (the one where the tobacco fields are now corn, squash and potato). Upset, I picked up a large rock (bigger than the palm of my hand) and threw it wildly. Immediately after, I noticed the rock had landed in the farmer’s cornfield. I grew concerned. “What if the farmer’s plow hits the rock and it shoots out and hurts someone? What if the rock ruins the blade on the plow?” I quickly retrieved the rock, brought it home and have plans (when the time is ripe) to mail it to that Orthodox priest with a note saying: I am a priest, too.

    🙂

    Peace

  • Thanks for writing this much needed article, which will hopefully prompt some reflection in the pro-spanking camp.

    Writer Jeff Charles made a similar argument 20 years ago while decrying the practice of school paddling (still legal in 19 states) in a long essay entitled “Sin, Sex, and Spanking School-Aged Children.”

    It includes this challenge: “I will pay $1000 cash to the first person who can show me a single Bible verse, either in the Old or New Testament (translation-not paraphrase), that advocates teachers beat the buttocks of children with a board. In addition I’ll make a new offer here and pay $1000 cash to the first person who can show me a single verse in the Bible (translation, not paraphrase) that explicitly teaches that any adult should hit any child’s butt with their hand. All I ask in return is that we study God’s word, and if we determine that no such verse exists then we teach the truth on the matter.”

    You can read the entire essay at http://www.nospank.net/jchrls.htm

  • Lutherans once again have our own sources

    The Kretzmann Project. The Popular Commentary of the Bible by Paul E. Kretzmann, Ph. D., D. D.,

    go to volume 2 old testament click on

    Proverbs THEN GO TO chapter 13 verse 24 and see what HE SAYS about that verse..

    http://www.kretzmann.org

  • I don’t think you’d remember me, but I grew up in church with you, and it did my heart so much good to read this. I stopped spanking my kids years and years ago, and got so much grief at the church from it. Hearing someone agree with me that it’s not at all Biblical who grew up the way I did is super validating that I’m doing the right thing. I’m so glad that leaders like you are speaking out against this.

  • Another great article of one Christian mocking another Christian (Piper, Dobson, Ingram). There will always be theological, biblical, hermeneutical differences among us – and apparently there will always be someone in the press to sarcastically point out those differences. Thanks for eating your own Jonathan.

  • “There is nothing that develops character in a young boy like a pat on the back, provided it is given often enough, hard enough and low enough. . . . It takes much less time than reasoning and penetrates more quickly to the seat of wisdom.”-Fulton J Sheen.

    There’s much nonsense coming out of modern psychology which shuns spanking. And then they wonder why their bratty children are sexually active by the time they are twelve, dressing up like Dracula by the time they are fourteen, and are somehow involved with multiple abortions by the time they’re 21.

    The attack on the family is on all fronts. The same so-called experts who warn people against spanking are the same bunch who are trying to normalize gay adoptions and teach schoolchildren why some children having two daddies or two mommies is wonderfully normal.

  • Thus the reason why Jesus did not hand out Bibles, but instead founded a Church to teach in His name throughout the ages. Christianity is not founded upon the Bible, it is founded upon Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Church;l thus the Bible is a collection of books and letters which came to us through the Church, expressing not only the history of mankind but the way to perfection and salvation, which is knowing and serving God, Who is Truth, Goodness, and Love itself.

    Thus Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, with all our strength and with all our mind; and then to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. All the other commandments depend on these two.

  • @Gabriel,

    “so-called experts who warn people against spanking are the same bunch who are trying to normalize gay adoptions….that having two daddies or two mommies is wonderfully normal.”

    Shame on you.
    Your religious claims are as empty as the leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    Despicable nonsense.

  • Our children are placed in our care by a loving God who wants parents to form their thinking and behavioral choices. Spanking is a tool for training children “in the way they should go”. It is not the only tool, is fairly extreme, but in my experience, can be effective. Spanking is to be applied with specific critieria to adjust undesirable behavior, in our family it was for disobedience and disrespect to mom. Again spanking is not the only tool to train discipline and all of my children have come to my wife and I and said how much they appreciated ALL that we did in their formation and the life choices that they avoided because of what they received.

  • If I may, Andy, I believe that the author turned out the way he did IN SPITE OF not BECAUSE OF being spanked as a child. Just because someone “turns out all right” doesn’t mean that what happened to them was right. There are many people in the world who have overcome HORRIBLE situations of abuse, rape, loss of children, friends, family, etc. and have chosen to have a positive attitude.

    Do not let circumstances determine your joy.

  • An excellent point, Nancy! I was abused in several different ways as a child, and I still turned out ok. But that does not condone the abuse that happened to me.

  • I’m not really sure what you are getting at. Jesus existed outside the Bible in human form, and he was on this Earth decades before any part of the New Testament was written and at least a century or two before the Bible was compiled together and canonized. So Jesus actually predates the modern concept of the “Bible.”

  • I do not think it was Jonathan’s intent to attack anyone. Just because he expresses a different point of view than some Christians does not mean he is attacking them. This seems to be his attempt to speak the truth in love and his concern for what God’s children are being taught and how they are being treated, and I fail to see why either of those things should be labeled as an attack. I also did not notice anything sarcastic in what Jonathan wrote.

  • This is a false and grossly exaggerated stereotype. There are many people who are pro-lgbt rights and are also pro-spanking (I know some of them). There are also many people who are anti-spanking but are also anti-lgbt (I know some of them). There are some, like you said, who are both anti-spanking and pro-lgbt rights, but the two groups are in no way the same thing. And neither point of view is an attack on family. Just because someone else’s family might be different, I fail to see how that is an attack or threat to your own. What is an attack is telling that other person that their family structure is illegitimate because it goes against your own “religious beliefs.”

    Also, there are many Christians who also fit in the lgbt category, so it is not an anti-religious thing, but that is another conversation for another forum.

  • And Jonathan’s ideas here about biblical “discipline” are also not an attack on family. They are an attempt to encourage families to reevaluate how they are treating each other and learn how to relate to each other in a more healthful way. It is intended to help families, not attack them.

  • Also, in many other passages, the word translated as “rod” (original Hebrew is “shebet”) is taken to be a metaphor for power and authority, such as in David’s psalms “Thy rod and staff, they comfort me” (speaking of God’s authority and guidance in his life). But pro-spanking Christians interpret that exact same word literally when it is convenient as an attempt to support their belief in corporal punishment. As Christians, we need to be careful about twisting the Bible’s to fit our own beliefs and prejudices.

    And remember, Psalms and Proverbs are poetic books by nature. Why is anyone interpreting them literally?

  • @Atheist Max
    I’m not big on debate. However, many non-Christian historians agree upon Jesus of Nazareth existing. Many Biblical events match up to other historical documents. If you start researching you will be amazed at how much truth and exactness exists in the Bible. It’s super interesting if you just start looking into it and be more open.

  • @Gabriel
    While I agree for sure with some things you are saying I disagree on one point. Hopefully I haven’t misunderstood what you were saying. My apologies, if so. Yes, the Bible came in the physical world from the church. Scripture says it was “God-breathed” and that the men who wrote the books were inspired by the Holy Spirit. My view and what I think the Bible makes clear is that it is actually from God. It’s amazing to me that Jesus came to us from the Spiritual/unseen/heavenly realm in physical form. I have always seen it truly as a miracle that God speaks to us directly through the Bible which is in physical form.

  • I think that one can allegorize the Scriptures into useless, un-applicable nonsense.

    Exactly how is one supposed to take those Scriptures, which so clearly talk of spanking? Why on earth, if they were meant to be symbolic or non-literal, were they even written– or written in the form that they were?

    And if we’re to make these “controversial” texts symbolically, then what are we to do with the other Scriptures which also command us to walk a certain way, or advise us to do wisely (e.g. saving money, working hard, not hanging out with bad company, not getting drunk, not stealing, etc.)?

  • If you read proverbs, Solomon was the only one who referenced physical punishment of children, and he did but if we look at the results and how his kids turned out, it may be the message God is trying to show us here. My opinion….:)

  • Can’t read the article without logging in? Way to be meek and spread the word.

  • The ‘Rod ofCorrection’ could just mean a figurative rod like ‘Hammer of Justice’. Most of the Bible isn’t literal. Revelations proves that.

  • Actually no, the Hebrew is very specific. It IS a rod…of correction. In other words, the way English speakers understand, it’s a “rod” (not a real rod), of *correction* (verbal instruction/rebuke).

    The gestalt of the rod, the material of which the rod is to be constructed, is being categorized and limited by the construct of the sentence.

    In *other* verses, which apply to adults, the rod being used is specifically described as a physical device….

  • Thank you for writing this thoughtful piece. If the Kingdom of Heaven is made up of those who are like children, then why do we reserve blows that are illegal to inflict on our spouses, to children?

  • And when you stop correcting children when they need it, Don’t make excuses for their actions when they grow to be unrepentant sinners. It’s all about accountability and the state knows that. But they hate you and your children that’s why they use them as human shields when campaigning or championing some new legislation to help “protect” them. How do you create an evil culture? Let’s try removing parents and teachers ability to correct their behavior and desolve the family unit. A spanking now could stop a lifetime of bad choices. It teaches responsibility at its very core. To be held accountable for your actions. Just remember this is the real purpose and not to relieve your own anger or stress. Love your children.

  • Please. You’re liberal Christians and don’t understand that the ‘anger’ of the “blessed G-d” (ho makarios Th-s I Tim. 1:11) is a metaphor for His just right to exercise judgement on things He finds displeasing? It a tool that helps US understand justice (after all we get heated at injustice), not a literal rage after man’s hatred. The Christian G-d is not Allah. He is not taken aback by offenses, does not need to seethe over wrongdoings — as if he had not foreseen them from before the creation of time.

    Children need to learn about consequences early– and better a swatty butt than a burned hand on the stove!

    That said, people should exercise common sense. There are classes of things for which one spanks and most things don’t fall into those categories. And if a person hasn’t the common sense to know which, they shouldn’t be spanking at all.

  • The Rod of Correction is a symbol of authority that was used as the person in authority deemed necessary and they had the authority to do so. Although the law of the land was different back then, and God does command us to obey the Law of the Land as well. A rod can be used to gently guide when necessary or smack or even kill. The problem with contemporary society is not SHOULD people discipline their child but HOW. Reasoning with a 2-year-old is silly when they are first defiant/rebellious and learning to listen and follow boundaries. Follow through is more important. Keep your word with your kids about everything, tell them the truth and follow through with discipline you warn about. I would tell my kids NO. then if they kept doing it, I would say…Do you want a smack? Then if they kept it up–one smack. If you follow through every time…EVERY single TIME. Very soon you only have to say NO and they listen. You may have to give a smack once in awhile when they test you, or because they really like doing the naughty thing. The bible also says Spare the rod and spoil the child (Proverbs-13-24) which unfortunately we have seen for generations in the world. The unfortunate result of no discipline/ respect is kids cannot learn to be obedient to God if they do not first yield their will/pride to their parent. The wages of sin is eternal damnation. This is far worse than a slap on the wrist or even a beating; the people in Jesus’ Day knew this. That is why they stoned kids who disrespected/disobeyed their parents repeatedly–they didn’t want the evil plague to grip all the town’s teens–it had a devastating eternal result. Being a brat is now called oppositional disorder. evil=good, good=evil.

  • Yes. You are right Mark. Unfortunately, common sense about spanking isn’t so common anymore. I have never met a Liberal Christian. Spanking should be reserved for insubordination and safety issues IMHO; those are the only issues first. It is also important for parents to realize kids cannot understand until they are developed enough to process the difference between right and wrong then follow directions. People should only discipline their kids to the level of the child’s understanding.

  • I was beaten as a child and it shattered me. All I felt as a result of it was murderous anger. It may have stopped me being “bad” for that day, but it instilled an ongoing inner rage and a sense of helplessness, weakness and a total lack of self-confidence. I can never accept the beating of children – I will not ever.
    Here’s actual wisdom: (Solomon was not so wise, for he abandoned God for foreign wives)
    – Is your child old enough to reason? yes/no
    – If yes – use reason, if no – they won’t understand why you’re beating them.
    – Thus, don’t beat your children.
    Child beating seems to be the stupidest method of child-rearing, as it “solves” the problem on the spot at the expense of the emotional well being of the child in the long run.
    Again, I think it best to remember that the proverbs are Solomon’s – not God’s. And if they were still “inspired” – then they were “inspired” for ancient times, and for those under the old covenant of Moses, which was a curse. Just as things were different in the times of Noah, Moses, David and Daniel – so they are for us, post-Crucifixion, post-Pentecost in the light of Ephesians 2:8-9.

  • We teach men that it is WRONG to hit a woman.. That should include fathers when it comes to disciplining their daughters…..I was abused by my Father for 15 years…he whipped me with a belt on a regular basis. There were a lot of times where he would take his anger out on me after a hard day at work, slapping me in my face, pounding my skull against walls and whipping me so hard that it would leave black and blue marks all over my body…and depending on how mad he was..he would whip me on my back, sometimes with the belt buckle….Its NOT OK, there is a fine line between discipline and abuse. My sister was beat so bad that today she suffers from Severe Brain Damage. So I disagree with this post that says it ok to whip your kids with a belt…That kind of discipline only leaves deep eternal scars that never heal. Now in my 50’s my father, in his golden years, tries to reach out to me and wonders why I dont ever reach out to him…. I can forgive because that is what God expects us to do….Love is earned and I believe you get out of LIFE what you give…..I never felt my fathers love and he never showed me his love , ever, only his anger…I have a hard time trusting men because of this and choose to remain single and pure for my Father in Heaven….So to all you men out there who are raising little girls…..Girls are different from men inside , they are so delicate like a fine piece of porcelain that can chip so easily….treat them with respect , dont ever use a belt on them….there are so many other ways to discipline without physically harming them.

  • With respect –

    I do not know what you mean by “beaten”. There is a difference between an appropriate spanking and a beating. EVERYONE knows what the difference is, too. If your parents abused you, I am sorry for that. I myself was the recipient of abuse from some who were supposed to care for me, but I also received loving correction in the form of a spanking (that I can look back and see that I RICHLY deserved) in others. By the grace of God, I am who I am.

    But you’re wrong about a few things.

    A young child will not understand reason, and attempting to reason with a child who does not understand reason is like attempting to reason with a dog – literally, because at a young age, children and dogs have about the same level of understanding. Nevertheless, a young child who won’t understand when you tell him WHY he shouldn’t do a certain thing, DOES understand that you have forbidden him to do it. And he WILL understand, when he defies you and does it anyway, and receives a slap on the hand or a swat on the butt. He will understand that he has done what he was told not to do, and that the result was not something he liked very much. And he will remember it next time.

    When a child is a bit older, and can understand things a bit better (and has things like toys and games and activities that he likes), then yes, you can tell him not to do something and why (although you are NOT required to explain yourself to a child). And the good thing is that, at this age, you can explain to him what the consequences of his actions will be, should he choose to disobey you. If he does choose to disobey you, you can enforce those consequences, and he will understand exactly what’s going on, even if he doesn’t like it. Very often, those consequences will be something like standing in the corner, or having a toy or something taken away for a while. But even then, there are still times when a spanking is appropriate, and a good parent will have made it clear to the child long before exactly what behaviors will result in a spanking. Spanking is a tool in the parents’ arsenal; it is not the be all and end all of discipline, much of which should be positive discipline, anyway.

    One last thing:

    You are ENTIRELY wrong about the inspiration of Scripture.

    “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

    2 Timothy 3:16-17

    ALL SCRIPTURE. All means ALL. That includes the Proverbs. And just as God does not change, neither does His word. Please explain to me how the wisdom of the Omniscient God has an expiration date.

    What God has said abides for ALL time. It was valid when it was spoken, it is valid today, and it will be valid until the day God Himself cracks the sky and brings an end to all of history. If God tells us in inspired scripture that we are to spank our children, then we are to spank our children, irrespective of how long ago He said it. AND, irrespective of changes in our culture or laws. GOD is God, WE are NOT. To deny scripture, or subordinate its wisdom to the “wisdom” of man is the heart of rebellion against God. And it is an expression of THE SAME rebellion that we are to train out of our children, with spanking, as necessary.

  • You should NEVER beat your children. If you beat your children, you are guilty of sin. If you use the Word of God as an excuse to beat your children, you are guilty not only of sin, but of trying to make God an accomplice in your sin.

    However

    You MUST appropriately discipline your children, and that includes by spanking them when necessary. If you refuse to spank your children, you are guilty of sin, because you are disobeying God, and behaving as though you know better than He does. If you twist the Word of God to try to get out of appropriately spanking your children, you are not only guilty of sin, but of trying to make God an accomplice in your sin.

    “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

    Matthew 7:14

    The dividing line between appropriate corporal punishment and abuse is narrow, but very, VERY clearly defined. We are called, in ALL circumstances, to walk the narrow path. To step off either to the right or to the left is sin.

  • I’m sorry but you’re wrong. Most of the Bible means EXACTLY what it says. The fact that certain places in the Bible speak in metaphor does not negate the literalness of the other places. Your statement is what’s called “prejudicial conjecture”. In other words, you are making an assertion based on your own opinion, with NO grounds for said assertion.

    When the Bible speaks of the rod of correction, it means EXACTLY what it says. That doesn’t give a parent an excuse to abuse a child, but neither are parents allowed to shirk the responsibility of appropriate corporal punishment when appropriate.

  • NO. I’m sorry, but you are twisting the word of God, and you’re wrong. It is a literal implement – a “stick” for example, or a switch, or a hand, etc – used to administer corporal punishment when the situation calls for it. To twist the scripture to mean something that it does not is to be guilty of the same kind of thing Satan does when twisting scripture.

  • True that God is impassive, but His anger is NOT a metaphor. It is REAL. God does NOT tolerate unrighteousness. It is as repulsive to Him as a room covered in cockroaches and feces would be to you. And He will NOT abide it. God HATES wickedness. It is an abomination to Him, and an affront to His very character. If this were not so, God would not be Good, and then where would WE be?

  • I am so very sorry that you were treated that way by your father. He did NOT exemplify God’s loving authority to you, and you are absolutely right that behaving in that way toward your children can leave scars that it can take a lifetime to heal. No one should EVER abuse a child, and anyone who does WILL answer to Almighty God for what they’ve done.

    But I want to point out a couple of important things you said:

    You spoke about your father taking his anger out on you. THAT is not proper discipline/corporal punishment. Ideally, you will NEVER strike a child in anger. When administering a spanking, it should be a known consequence of a defined infraction – for example, a direct defiance of a parental dictate would earn a spanking, precisely because it is defiance. But you DO NOT simply start swinging on your child because she’s annoying you, or you’ve had a bad day. What your father did was ABUSE, not discipline.

    You also said that you never felt your father’s love. THAT was part of the problem. ALL discipline MUST be tempered with MUCH love, whether it’s corporal punishment or simply standing in a corner. A CHILD HAS to know that you love him. In fact, the entire point of disciplining a child is that you love him and are trying to correct behaviors that, if left unchecked, could result in his destruction, both temporal and eternal. You discipline (including an appropriate spanking) BECAUSE you love the child, and the child HAS to know that. This means that, for every moment of discipline, there must be ten or a hundred moments of love and tenderness. To deprive a child of that is cruelty, and when you then beat him on top of it…it is no wonder you never felt loved by your father.

    I have a daughter, and she can be very difficult sometimes (she’s very much like her Aunt). But for every time I have to spank her or put her to bed early, or whatever, there are many more times when she crawls up into my lap for a snuggle, or leans against me or lays her head on me when we’re watching TV. Or plays with me, or helps me around the house, or gets treats, or whatever. In short, it is my goal to make sure that my daughter (and my sons) understand that I LOVE THEM MORE THAN MYSELF. And THAT is what you lacked. Your father loved himself more than you (and he probably didn’t love himself very much), and he treated you that way. That is unacceptable, and I cannot express how sorry I am that you had to live through that. That is NOT how your Heavenly Father is. He loved you so much that He gave everything to save you. Your father ought to have understood that and modeled it for you, so that you would understand who God is. That he did not do that is his failure, and he will answer for it, now, and when he stands before God.

  • Glenn — No where in the Bible does Jesus instruct parents to hit children. NO where. Solomon says to use a rod, yet this is a man who had 300 wives and 700 concubines. Are you going to follow him in that choice as well? Following Solomon’s advice to hit children with a rod will land you in jail.

    You are conflating what you think is God’s will with your own predilections, you own desires to hit. Get therapy please.

  • I see. So you want to throw out the ENTIRE book of Proverbs (and anything else written by Solomon), simply because he sinned. Would you also like to throw out the Psalms, since Solomon’s father David was an adulterer and a murderer? Or how about the rest of the Old Testament, because Abraham was an idolater and an adulterer, Jacob was a bigamist and a lying trickster, Moses was a murderer, etc., etc., etc.?

    Please. You don’t get to pick and choose what the Bible teaches, and the clear teaching of the Bible is to lovingly discipline your children – including through the use of the “rod” (by which it means giving them a spanking) when necessary.

    I think it’s YOU who needs therapy: Hermaneutical Therapy.

  • Nope. You’re WRONG, and a judgmental jerk to boot. You don’t know me, and you don’t know WHAT my “predilections” are. You don’t know how I discipline my children, or what my operating philosophy is behind the disciplining of my children. So climb off your damn moral high horse. The mere fact that someone sees things differently than you do doesn’t make them evil, or mean they need to “get therapy”. You need to look within and ask yourself what is motivating YOU.

    Furthermore, it isn’t Jesus who tells us to administer corporal discipline to our children, but Jesus DOES validate the ENTIRE Bible as the Word of God. If it is the Word of God, it CANNOT change, and it is NOT up for debate. Nor is it subject to YOUR re-interpretation. The Bible CLEARLY teaches that spanking your children is a good and appropriate parenting tactic in some situations, and YOU are the one who is wrong by contradicting what GOD has said. If I have to choose between obeying God and obeying YOU? I choose GOD, every time. And if society doesn’t like that, TOO BAD.

    You don’t get to redefine what God has said, so I suggest that you check yourself and step off.

  • Glenn Mayo, Jesus not not “validate” all of what is in the Blble. He says, “”You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” That is invalidating previous passages from Leviticus. If you think that a man like Solomon, who likely had thousands of children and hardly could have had a decent parental relationship with any of them, is capable of giving good parenting advice, then you are deluded. Lots of things are condoned in the Bible that we would never condone today. .

    People who use the Bible to justify hitting children are trying to justify their own desires to hit, or else trying to exonerate their own parents, who made the same mistake. Don’t use your religion to take the place of your brain. God gave you your brain. ALL of the research shows that spanking is harmful. Pay attention to it. Your beliefs in spankinig will carry a generational wound if you don’t change.

  • Hey Glenn, try hitting a kid with a stick and find out where it lands you – in jail! We don’t subscribe to barbaric practices anymore. How about someone hits you with a stick if you develop dementia and revert to a child-like state of mind?

  • Read the research, Catherine. Use the brain that God gave you. Spanking is not helpful but most certainly harmful.

  • A) Your biblical hermeneutic is…horrifically flawed AT BEST. You clearly do not understand the Bible or the teachings of Jesus, and it’s actually doubtful if you’ve ever read it. Regardless, your ideas are THOROUGHLY non-orthodox. Don’t attempt to tell me, a completely orthodox, bible-believing Christian who has ACTUALLY read the Bible cover to cover multiple times and studies it regularly, what the Bible teaches and what Jesus meant. If you want to practice your own beliefs, whatever they are, go do it. You’re free to do so. But don’t try to tell me what MY religion teaches. You’re only embarrassing yourself.

    B) I don’t give a steaming pile WHAT “all” of your liberal, secular “research” says. They’re WRONG. They didn’t create man, God did. They do NOT know better than God how to raise and train a child. If I’m going to take advice on child rearing, I’ll take it from the One who created children, not from “grown up” children who don’t know their sphincter from a hole in the ground, and are wrong FAR more often than they’re right.

    So, kindly take your opinions on what the Bible says, and on how I should discipline and/or punish my children, and shove them DEEP in a very dark, very smelly place. Do you get me, sweetheart?

  • I have a stick which sees regular use, and I’m walking free and enjoying life just fine. The state does NOT get to tell me how to raise and discipline/punish my kids. That’s MY decision and my wife’s decision, NO ONE ELSE’S. And to put it MORE bluntly, my daughter got a spanking IN PUBLIC, the other day. Did ANYONE say ANYTHING to me? Nope. Why? Because she earned it, and I’m raising my children properly, to be decent, law-abiding citizens. If anyone HAD said anything to me, I would’ve told them in no uncertain terms where they could go and how to get there. The only time the state has ANY business sticking its nose into parental affairs is in cases of abuse which, contrary to YOUR moronic ideas, does NOT include giving a kid a spanking. If anyone wants to try to come interfere with my family and my parenting, they will find out VERY quickly why we have our beloved 2nd amendment. How do you like therm apples, slappy?

    You can THINK whatever you like, but YOUR opinion carries literally NO weight. If YOU want to raise YOUR children to be unruly, disrespectful, disobedient little hooligans, that’s YOUR business. It’ll be YOUR little brats that end up in prison or in the welfare lines expecting their “entitlement” checks, NOT mine!

    Now, pass the Heineken and mind your business.

  • I said inspired for different times. Will you kill your kid for not observing the Sabbath? That’s in the Bible. Will you lie and cheat like Jacob? Will you murder like David? Will you genocide Amelekites? Wiping out an ethnic group was God’s will at a certain time, this does not make genocide correct behavior. The Proverbs reflect correct behavior for Iron Age people, but many do not apply now. A Christian has no need to be circumcised, as that part of “inspired Scripture” only applied to Jews – and so I believe a Christian has no need to follow the rules of a degenerate King who didn’t even listen to God, so some good his proverbs did him.

  • You ought to read your Bible. “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever”. God does NOT change. And, if you actually DID read your Bible (and understood it) you would know that the mere fact that the Bible reports an event doesn’t mean that the Bible condones that event. The Bible tells us about David’s infidelity and murder. Does that mean it condones it? No. Obviously not. Same thing with Jacob and Solomon’s misbehavior. That said, it doesn’t invalidate the wisdom of the proverbs or the inspired nature of the Bible in the least. What’s amusing is that you’d put YOUR “wisdom” ahead of God’s, demonstrating that you think you are wiser and know better than God. I’d LOVE to take a look at YOUR life and see just how “wise” you really are (hint: not that wise). Yeah, I’ll stick with taking parenting advice from the One who invented the concept of parenting.

    It’s funny: for people who think they’re SO smart, you liberals are awfully stupid.

  • What your father did to you and your sister is inexcusable on every level, I commend and respect you for NOT reaching out to him, too often kids when they get older “forgive” the actions from long ago. Continue to be strong both physically and emotionally as you seem to have done. There is no need to deprive yourself of the pleasures derived from an intimate loving relationship, in doing that it seems in a way your father “wins” as his actions continue to punish you. Just one man’s objective opinion. Be Well

  • Says the person (not man) who will find when his daughters are 18 will want nothing at all to do with you, and rightfully so. You can just as easily discipline your kids by talking to them in a clear, concise, direct tone why what they did was wrong and not to do it again. My wife and I raised a daughter who has never been and will never be hit for any reason, she also went from kindergarten thru college with NO disciplinary issues as she understood right from wrong at an early age, so go sit on your porch and polish your stick, Skippy!!

  • No, a MAN is someone who follows GOD (not man) and does what GOD (not man) says is right. YOU are a BOY, who is more worried about what people will think of him than whether or not God is pleased with his actions. Again, I’ll take my parenting advice from The One who invented parenting, NOT from someone who was (and is) a child himself.

  • I must disagree with several of your points. First, the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, is divided into three parts: the law, the prophets, and the writings. The law and the prophets have theological heft that is not ascribed to the writings, of which both Psalms and Proverbs are a part. When Jesus issued his two commandments (love of God and love of neighbor), he specifically stated that on those two hang all of the law and the prophets; note his failure to mention the writings. The writings serve several purposes, but there is no expectation that the words found therein are to be strictly obeyed. Second, while scripture is inspired by God, we are to operate under the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. Is your church still taking up an offering for the church at Jerusalem as Paul commanded the Christians? If not, then why not? If every word of the Bible is applicable to all people for all time in all circumstances, then how is your church not sinning for its failure to take up such an offering as commanded by Paul? Finally, we have obviously increased our understanding of medicine and psychology over the course of modern history. If we had not, then when someone has a seizure or palsy, or Parkinson’s tremors, then we would still be attempting to drive out the demons causing the problem as Jesus did. However, we know better. If we accept such changes in one area of our lives, then why do we not accept that we have a new understanding now, that children are not just small adults. We know that many parents raise fine children without ever hitting them. This is true in many families, including my own for three generations, now. My parents, myself and my siblings and now our children have all raised Godly, Christian children without ever hitting them. We are all well-disciplined people raised in the admonition of the Lord, but spanking was not, and did not have to be part of that.

  • You need a better understanding of what the word discipline means. It means to teach. It’s the same root as the word disciple. When I discipline my employees, do you suppose I pull out a rod and hit them? Discipline does not imply physical hitting or beating. My heart goes out to your children and your wife.

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