Corporal Punishment. Morally Problematic for Catholics?

Most readers know I certainly think so, but fellow Catholic Patheosi, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry has an outstanding piece laying out some points every Catholic parent should consider on his blog, Inebriate Me.

Here’s a sample:

The facts are in, and extrinsic motivation just does not work. Period. And Christians should know that, since we know that is not how God made us. God made us to be free, that is to say to do what is right because of our own intrinsic motivation. God did not make us to be lab rats who get a shock when they do this and a piece of cheese when they do that. Why do we see extrinsic motivation everywhere? Because of original sin. Original sin is man who wants to play God. And because we are “scheming swindlers,” in Kierkegaard’s words, when we want to play God we have a disordered notion of what God is like. We think God is a galactic CEO, micromanaging everything–because that’s what we would be like if we were God–instead of a God of Love. You, do this; you, do that. And because we want to play God, we de-humanize our fellow creatures made in the image of God, and treat them like lab rats who respond to crude stimuli, instead of actual real people with genuine wants and needs who need to be motivated to do the right thing–and who, if properly motivated, will surprise you with how great they are at it. Of course I am not a utopian. Yes, we do need rules, and punishments, and rewards. But much less than we usually think. Much, much less.Gentle correction and reparation works better than spanking, because it creates intrinsic motivation.    READ IT ALL HERE

And in case you were interested in what the saints have to say on the topic.  Here is a sampling from St John Chrysostum, St John Bosco, and St Jean Baptiste de la Salle.  If you’d like to learn more about being a gentle and effective Catholic parent, check out Parenting with Grace:  The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising (almost) Perfect Kids.

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About Dr. Greg

Dr. Gregory Popcak directs the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics find faith-filled solutions to marriage, family, and personal problems. Together with his wife, Lisa, he hosts More2Life Radio. He is the author of over a dozen books integrating psychological insights with our Catholic faith. For more info about books, tele-counseling and other resources, visit