I can’t believe I actually found a picture of the infamous “Board of Correction”. I admit my recollection may be off. I must have been 7 or 8 years old and my family went on a summer vacation to Maine to visit my Uncle Mike and Aunt Carol and my cousins. Somewhere along the way they found this old school paddle. My parents were experts in Corporal Punishment, I think they had degrees. Not because they were abusive or anything, but because they knew just how to do it. After we got spanked with the paddle they actually made us sign our names on the back of it. They really did know how to get the most out of it! I’m proud to say that my two sisters had their names on the back of that paddle many more than I did! I was the epitome of a “good son” – - if you believe that I have a bridge in Brooklyn I could sell you.
Why do I bring this up? Because I have just begun reading Bill Webb’s new book Corporal Punishment in the Bible: A Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic for Troubling Texts. Karla and I are parents of two rambunctious 4 year old twins and we have used spanking on rare occasions when an infraction warrants it. But the truth is, I’ve never really thought critically about it. I think Webb’s book will spur biblical thinking on this topic.
Webb’s contention is that even the “pro-spankers”, the “Two smacks max” folks of the likes of Dobson, Grudem, Mohler, and Kostenberger go beyond the Bible in their application of the Bible’s affirmation of corporal punishment. So their claim that spanking is biblical is only half right because they don’t follow the Bible in the application. The first chapter gives seven ways they go beyond the Bible: (1) age limits, (2) number of strokes or lashes, (3) bodily location of beating, (4) the resultant bruising, welts and wounds, (5) the instrument of discipline, (6) the frequency of beatings and offenses punishable, and (7) the emotive disposition of the parent.
The central question he’s attempting to get at is “What does it mean to be biblical in our contemporary application of Scripture?”