Should Parents Spank Their Children?

By Michael Garrison

Whether or not parents should discipline their children by spanking is of concern to many. Some actually teach it is wrong for parents to use any physical action as discipline. Others think if they “love” their children, they should not ever strike them in any way as punishment. God’s word provides directions in this matter.

In the pamphlet, For Kids Sake (by an unidentified author and available at some health clinics), the author quotes the Bible at Proverbs 13:24: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (RVS). The author then tries to prove that a rod was not used for punishment. The author defines the word “rod” as only a shepherd’s rod, staff, or scepter and then states, “it was not used as a weapon or to hurt people” (his emphasis, mg). But when one checks the lexicons, he finds the truth. Strong’s Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary defines “rod” as being “from an unused root prob. mean. to branch off; a scion, i.e. (lit). a stick (for punishing [my emphasis, mg], writing, fighting [my emphasis, mg], ruling, walking, etc.” So, the word was used as a weapon and to hurt people! Then, in Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, “rod” is defined as “a staff, stick, rod . . . specifically (1) used for beating or striking . . . and chastening . . . Prov. 13:24. . . ” Gesenius also shows the word to be used as “a shepherd’s rod, a crook . . . the sceptor of a king. . . ” etc. To ignore all the meanings of a word is not honest.

In “Dear Abbey’s” column for May 22, 1990, Joy Byers of the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, equates spanking of children with child abuse. Certainly, we all oppose child abuse, but proper spanking, as discipline, given in love, is not abuse!

In Proverbs 19:18 we learn, “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” Also, in Proverbs 22:15, we read, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

The word “chasten” above is defined by Strong’s dictionary as a “prim. root; to chasten, lit. (with blows), correct, instruct, punish, reform, reprove, sore, teach.” So, one can be chastened with blows. That is not the only way, but it is a way and to equate spanking with abuse misses the mark of truth!

We learn in Hebrews 12:9-11, “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much more be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure (note: they are not condemned for this); but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby.” Those of us who were spanked when we disobeyed our parents as children, now look back and realize it was for our own good that we were disciplined. Parents who love their children will discipline them in appropriate ways. Too, each child is different and needs to be disciplined fairly but firmly.

Dr. Max Rafferty (formerly of Troy State University, Troy, Alabama) wrote an article in the Birmingham (Al.) News (June 15, 1980), in which, after he gives examples of teenage delinquency, murder, etc., writes:

Okay, now what . . . is going on? Have we as a people become so permissive, so craven, so downright chicken, that we are unable and unwilling to defend ourselves against our own young? Where are the paddles, the switches, the hair bushes?

And don’t tell me I’m advocating brutality and “negative motivations.” During the centuries when we laid the wood to potential delinquents, we had the merest fraction of the juvenile crime and terrorism which we see around us today. And you’d better believe it.

I agree with Dr. Rafferty and he gives some good words for all to consider.

Let parents properly discipline their own children in accord with God’s instructions revealed in his Holy Word.

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 16, p. 493
August 16, 1990