Why Jesus Wants You To Stop Spanking Your Kids

Why Jesus Wants You To Stop Spanking Your Kids September 17, 2014

jesus_spankWhen NFL player Adrian Peterson was recently arrested and temporarily suspended for child abuse (after beating his child with a tree branch) it sparked a new public discussion on the practice of corporal punishment. Many have become abuse apologists, quickly rising to Peterson’s defense and citing their Christian right to strike their children. Others have insisted that spanking kids isn’t simply a right but is actually the “Christian” thing to do, and that one is not a faithful Christian if one doesn’t spank their children. In fact, I once met someone and during the introductions it came out that I was a Christian pastor. The gentleman then said he wanted to ask a few theological questions to see what kind of pastor I was, and the first question out of his mouth was, “do you spank your kids?”

I was shocked that this was his first “theological” question, but tried to respond gently even though I was admittedly put off with his query. I explained that my children are adopted and have trauma histories that would only be exacerbated and re-triggered by spanking, one of the many small areas where I try to educate people on issues surrounding adoption.

Let’s just say, he didn’t like my answer. He immediately proceeded to tell me that my refusal to spank kids was precisely why God didn’t bless me with biological kids and instead gave me the second-best of adopted children: it was because of my rebellion.

Very few moments in life beg me to leave Anabaptism behind so that I can rip someone’s head off and play soccer in the street with it, but that was one of them.

Christian culture often seems addicted to corporal punishment (something Matthew Paul Turner calls the “false gospel of spanking“), and like so many of the other Golden Calves, folks grow incredibly defensive when one tries to question or critique the practice. However, if we are to call ourselves Jesus followers, I believe we must continually question everything as we seek to further develop ourselves into the image and likeness of the one we are attempting to emulate: Jesus.

And so, would Jesus spank kids? The very thought of that seems absurd to me, and the image attached to this article certainly strikes me as a Jesus foreign to the Gospel accounts of the New Testament. I can’t fathom Jesus doing what Adrian Peterson did– taking a tree branch to a small child and beating them six ways from Sunday. I can’t imagine Jesus ever whipping off his belt, drilling holes in a paddle, or advocating that we actually hit people to teach them that hitting is wrong. I believe it is time for Christians to reject spanking, and here’s why:

Studies on spanking kids reveal that Jesus was right– the use of violence only creates a cycle of more violence.

A study conducted by Columbia and Princeton actually revealed a shocking fact: aggression and unwanted behaviors are directly linked to spanking. In the study, spanking only escalated the presence of unwanted behaviors at future ages, triggering what the researchers called an “arms race” requiring the parents to actually spank more, which in turn triggers more of the negative behaviors (including violent behavior), locking the parent and child into a hopeless cycle. The study states:

“Even though the study shows that spanking and misbehavior tend to feed each other, the investigators also found strong evidence that spanking a child within the first year of life likely is the catalyst that starts the cycle.

These findings put an end to the “chicken or the egg” debate over which comes first, the spanking or the childhood misbehavior, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental & behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“I see it starting with the egg, with the egg being the spanking, and then the spanking then leads to more aggressive behavior, and the aggressive behavior then leads to more spanking,” Adesman said.”

The key to having a well behaved child at the benchmark ages of 3, 5, and 9? The study shows the key is nonviolent parenting. This shouldn’t be a shock to us however, because Jesus taught 2,000 years ago that violence only creates a cycle that cannot be broken until one opts out of the violent system completely. This means that Jesus invites you to opt out of hitting your kids ever again.

Other studies have shown the link between childhood spanking and higher rates of mental illness as an adult (as well as lower IQ’s and decreased cognitive ability)and Jesus obviously wouldn’t want you to do anything that could knowingly trigger life-long hindering, and potentially fatal illnesses in your child. The study from the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reveals:

“Mood disorders, depression, alcohol abuse and anxiety disorders were associated with adults who were spanked or physically punished as children, at a higher rate than adults who were not.”

Finally, and this study is perhaps the most tragically ironic: spanking is shown to actually damage the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The damage caused to the brain is a reduction of gray matter, which is directly linked to depression, addiction, and other mental disorders. Furthermore, and this is where things get really ironic, we must ask the question: what is this importance of gray matter in the prefrontal cortex of the brain? According to a study in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, here is the sad correlation:

“The more gray matter you have in the decision-making, thought-processing part of your brain (the prefrontal cortex), the better your ability to evaluate rewards and consequences…”

Let that sink in: the more you spank your kids, the less gray matter they have in their prefrontal cortex. The less gray matter they have, the less they are able to evaluate how to make a wise and good decision. This means that spanking is getting you exactly what you do NOT want: a child who is less able to make good choices.

Combine that with other studies showing they’re less intelligent and more depressed, and you’ve got a pretty damning case.

Refraining from spanking kids doesn’t mean that a parent refrains from all the things required to teach and help a child develop– it just means that one has agreed to teach a child without the use of violence. Spanking, to be frank, is lazy parenting- it requires the least amount of thought and effort on the part of a parent when we should be willing to be more creative in order to teach our kids without damaging them. Furthermore, hitting our kids is inconsistent with the Jesus we find in the New Testament– the Jesus who declared that the gentle (meek, nonviolent) are the ones who will be blessed.

When one considers the fact that studies overwhelmingly show that spanking is seriously harmful to children, that it damages their brains, lowers their IQ’s, reduces their ability to make good choices, increases their aggression/violence, and leads to a pattern of negative behaviors that simply require more violence on the part of the parent, the scientific evidence against spanking should be clear. When a Christian couples that scientific evidence with the nonviolent teachings of Jesus from the New Testament, along with a warning from Jesus himself that it would be better to be thrown into the sea than to harm a child, there aren’t many arguments left to support the old way of doing things.

As uncomfortable as this might make you, the result is this: Jesus wants you to stop spanking your child.

(And before you try to make any arguments about the ‘rod’ please read this post.)

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  • “Very few moments in life beg me to leave Anabaptism behind so that I can rip someone’s head off and play soccer in the street with it, but that was one of them”

    Best. Paragraph. Ever.

    I mean, really?!?! Your conviction NOT to spank your adopted children BECAUSE it would exacerbate their already evidently traumatized lives is the reason, BEFORE the fact, that you can’t have biological children?!?!

    I’ll be goalie, BTW, so I can do one of those fabulous 3/4 pitch drop kicks…

  • DC Rambler

    One of Peterson’s comments was, ” It’s what my father did to me “..As Dr. Phil would say..” How’d that work out for you ? “

  • BTW… for a time, my wife and I did spank our children, especially our eldest… we struggled a lot with her to get her to be able to control her tendencies to act impulsively… but it slowly dawned on us that it wasn’t working… she simply tolerated it and acted in certain ways simply because it was expected… Removing privileges, things she enjoyed doing, putting her in time out until she got her temper under control…

    Meanwhile, our youngest…. you LOOK at her wrong and she bursts into tears… spanking her was WAY out of the question…

    Did we spank? Yes… for a time… but in retrospect, I’m not sure we would do things that way if we had to do it over… just didn’t seem to work… at all.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Wow. I’m a second-best kid. (That guy was a turd.)

    I don’t know. My partner and I don’t have kids (and he doesn’t want them so we never will), but I’m not sure where I stand on spanking itself. I was spanked once as a child, perhaps for my steadfast refusal to eat a vegetable, and it didn’t scar me. But it sure did scare me.

    Perhaps because it was so uncharacteristic of Mom, and I’d never once before been afraid of her. (Admittedly, I was a very obedient child, so there wasn’t ever much cause for punishment.)

    When I lean to the side of supporting spanking is when I see parents who seem to hold no sway over their (usually quite horribly-behaving) children, and part of me wonders if a few swats to the rump when they are acting out might not discourage them and “keep them in line.”

    But then part of me goes back to that sense of fear. As a child, should we really be afraid of our parents? Do we really want the driving factor to whether or not our children behave to be a fear of being injured?

    I’d be interested to see if there is any correlation between those who support more frightening punishment (switches, rods, paddles, etc.) and those who seem to espouse an actual FEAR of God. I think there might be a link between how we view our parents and how we view our Heavenly Father.

    (Because I have been accused of not having the proper fear of God, as if I am supposed to actually be afraid of him. And, I’m not.)

  • I have a couple of friends with psychology degrees, and in separate conversations, they both mimed nearly identical exchanges. It was roughly:
    [gruff voice]: My parents spanked me and I turned out fine.
    [normal voice]: No you didn’t! You think it’s ok to hit kids!

    It was especially eerie because these guys don’t even know each other.

  • I’ll never forget the time a family member looked at me, looked at my 18 month old child, and said, “If I’m ever alone with him, I have to spank him. He can’t go to Heaven unless he’s beaten with a rod, the Bible says it saves their souls from hell.”

    After I managed to pick my jaw off the floor, I asked the family member why their church had such a large missions budget, if all it took was a stick to save people ;-) And then, I took steps to make sure that family member was never alone with my child. Almost a decade later, they still never have been.

  • Kosmom

    Thank you for writing and publishing this. I expect the “spanking theology” from conservatives, but in my life I’ve been disheartened to find moderate progressive-minded Christians being cheerleaders of spanking (quoting “spare the rod” out of context.) Having your voice firmly proclaiming on this topic is so affirming and encouraging!! I hope it goes viral among our moderate/progressive circles. Thank you, again.

  • Mike

    I hope no one gives you a hard time for not spanking anymore. We spank our kids, and I get sick to death of holier-than-thou people telling me that Jesus wants me to stop, but I think that some people that don’t spank have to deal with other holy-than-thou people telling them that Jesus want them to spank, and I’m sure that is just as frustrating.

  • Tim

    We raised both our kids without spanking. According to corporal punishment proponents, we have done them a disservice. Yet our son and daughter are now in their 20 and have yet to give us a reason to think we raised them wrong. (And if someone wants me to prove it, I can give tons of examples. Proud parent of kids worth bragging about, here!)

  • This is what never fails to leave me mystified. In ANY other context, the idea of a bigger and stronger person hitting/striking/slapping a smaller and weaker person because that smaller person wouldn’t do what the bigger person wanted would be recognized as the worst kind of bullying abuse. Yet, when our own children are involved, somehow our ability to see physical violence for what it is becomes clouded over by our cultural conditioning. Thank you for writing this and contributing to the chipping away of that conditioning!

  • DP2010

    He thinks he turned out just fine. He turned into a guy who hits kids, but that’s normal to him so he thinks he turned out just fine, even great. He’d have to face that the person who hit him as a kid didn’t need to do that before he could see it is wrong. That’s a lot of childhood pain to put into a different context and not a leap some are ready to make. Spanking is passed on as a generational sin.

  • If it’s illegal to do to an adult, it should be illegal to do to a child. I find it mind-boggling how Christians can fight so hard to preserve a fetus in the womb, but after it pops out it’s no longer it’s own person. It’s a thing, an object that can be beaten and abused because it belongs to the parents. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling, and the actions themselves are sickening.

  • gimpi1

    “He immediately proceeded to tell me that my refusal to spank kids was precisely why God didn’t bless me with biological kids and instead gave me the second-best of adopted children: it was because of my rebellion. Very few moments in life beg me to leave Anabaptism behind so that I can rip someone’s head off and play soccer in the street with it, but that was one of them.”

    I have to congratulate you on your self-control. From the idea that your family is ‘second-best’ to the notion that your parenting choices are worthy of divine punishment, this fellow was asking for a quick game of soccer.

  • Phil Kallberg

    I appreciate the intention of this article and the author’s wishes to do right by his children, but he rather severally misrepresented what those studies he cited actually said. He only linked to news stories on those studies, not the published papers and news stories routinely misrepresent the findings of academic and scientific studies.

    The actual article that he claims says shows that spanking leads to mental illness says “Harsh physical punishment the in absence of child maltreatment is associated with mood disorders, anxiety, disorders, substance abuse/dependence and personality disorder in a general population sample.” However it defines harsh physical punishment as “pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, hitting” Frankly that sounds much more like physical child abuse than dad spanking my butt because I yelled at him. You can read the actual article here.

    The study which he claims shows that spanking children literally hurts their brains draws a distinction between harsh corporal punishment and corporal punishment. Not surprisingly harsh corporal punishment sounds much like child abuse and the study only drew conclusions about harsh corporal punishment.

    It seems that as the author thinks spanking is bad (as do a lot of other people) he did not make an effort to evaluate his sources critically. None of the studies he cited actually claimed that spanking a kid’s butt caused them mental harm or hurt their brains. They claimed that behavior that is essentially the equivalent of child abuse does that.
    I think we can all agree to stand against child abuse whatever we think of spanking.

    I suspect the author drew his conclusions about spanking from his theology (Anabaptists are pacifists) and rather than justifying it from scripture he tired to look to academia and scientific studies. I would be far more interested to see him justify his position from scripture as that should be our primary source as Christians.

  • Nathan Mills

    “spare the rod” means discipline, so it doesn’t mean to smack, spank, or hit them, but that if you don’t teach and discipline them, you are spoiling them. However, learning styles differ among people/children. If one way is not getting through to them, stop and try another technique. Yet, spanking is one technique. Time out another, and so on. But spanking needs defined: is hitting a child with a stick until he or she bleeds the same as a light slap on the hand of a 2-year who’s about to put her finger in an electrical socket, an age when “reason” and time outs cannot be understood? You’re saying it all falls under “violence”? I’m just not sure about that. The research seems to comment on the clear cases of abuse.

  • Caleb G

    What resources would you or other readers recommend for alternative methods of discipline for those of us who are new parents?

  • $120619225

    Good job! My dad spanked me and I grew up to be a queer atheist. I wish you the same success in your parenting!

  • Both studies are directly linked in the piece. Proving from scripture is cake, since hitting people is violent and Jesus teaches the children of God are nonviolent. The harder hill to climb would be for one to prove from the NT that hitting kids is acceptable for a Christian.

  • That’s legitimately terrifying, that this family member apparently felt that spanking was a requirement even if your child behaved perfectly. That’s before getting into all of the terrible theology in that short statement.

  • Love this.

  • Terry Firma

    No surprise to anyone, I’m sure, but evangelical Christians are considerably more likely to spank their kids. Another reason why I reject their faith and their culture. http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/americans-opinions-on-spanking-vary-by-party-race-region-and-religion/

  • otrotierra

    Thank you for writing, Ben. Putting Jesus above religious fundamentalist theologies of violence is terribly unpopular. When U.S. Evangelicals can no longer justify violence against their own children, or against black bodies in Ferguson, or against brown bodies in Baghdad, then perhaps they can start focusing their attention on Jesus.

  • Max_T

    There’s a good exchange on this same topic over at SBC Voices: http://sbcvoices.com/spanking-abuse-and-modern-families/

  • Phil Kallberg

    I only noticed the links to the cnn and cbsnews articles at first. So my apologies for that oversight, that’s on me.
    But the point stands that the researchers you cite are drawing distinctions that you are overlooking and as such you are not accurately representing their findings. If I only read your article and did not refer to the original research I would be left with the impression that spanking my kids literally hurts their brains. But the researchers made no such claim. Rather they claimed that things a sane person would call child abuse have a correlation with such damage and certain mental problems. That is far from the claims you made here.

  • “physical punishment, even when not physically abusive, may generate acute or chronic stress through experience of anxiety, fear and shame, among others that are associated with psychological disregulation and characteristic of a range of Axis I and Axis II psychopathologic conditions… there is also evidence for an association between physical punishment and poor adult mental health outcomes.” p2

    So yes, when you hit your kids, even if you don’t *think* you’re being abusive, you hurt much more than their brains.

  • Tracy

    I think saying ” Jesus doesn’t want you to spank your kids” is the same as saying “thus saith the Lord”. An undisciplined child makes people not like the poor kid, and its not their fault, its the parents. A smack shd be kept for very rare occasions like running out in front of a car, or sticking fingers in light sockets. anytime their life is in danger and they are not old enough to understand. Once they get older – you can reason with them. Pain is a god given gift to stop us from hurting ourselves. And i would def smack ( NOT hit) so please don’t confuse the two – my child if they kept doing something that threatened their lives! We had better inform the animal kingdom that hitting is out – as they do it to protect their babes as well. I think we get silly over issues like this. In my country smacking was banned a few years back, and child abuse has gone up, not decreased. Normal parents who are trying to do a good job with their kids, are being prosecuted and its wasting lots of police hours that could be spent on something more helpful. I guess its up to the parents to bring up their kids the way they see fit. I do see a lot of out of control badly behaved kids around nowadays that wasn’t so prevalent in my childhood. Its prob a combination of several things, but teaching kids certain behaviours are not ok is hard at 2 years of age, and is hard if you have a strong willed child as i did for my first. Second one hardly got a spank at all as she was a compliant child. Over the age of 5 i don’t thinking spanking is necessary at all as deprivation works better of toys etc….. and i fully understand how you would not smack an abused child. That is just common sense and that person who said that to you is terrible for doing so. Such is the human race.

  • (a) there’s no difference between smacking a kid and hitting a kid. Would it be okay if your husband “smacked” you? I’m doubting that’s the case.

    (b) Just because one doesn’t spank doesn’t mean that one has an undisciplined kid. This is the false dichotomy with violence– if one rejects it, they’re accused of not being willing to take any action at all. Many of us who reject the use of violence against children have happy, healthy, respectful, and well adjusted children.

  • Nick

    While I agree with the general idea of your post, I think we need a stronger argument against spanking. We make children take a time out which we cannot force adults to do. This inconsistency was brought out in my sociology class by one of my students.

  • Phil Kallberg

    You took that quote quite out of context my friend. The full quote is
    “In addition,perhaps the experience of physical punishment even if not “physically abusive” may generate acute or chronic stress through experiences of anxiety, fear, and shame, among others, that are associated with psychological dysregulation and characteristic of a range of Axis I and Axis II psychopathologic conditions. As with maltreatment, genetic variability may account for some of the differences in specific impairment associated with exposure.”
    The point here is the authors are speculating that physical punishment that is not considered abusive “may” cause the these negative effects, not that they have demonstrated that it does.

    The second part of your quote comes for an entirely different paragraph and is not connected to the authors’ previous speculation.
    “there is also evidence for an association between physical punishment and poor adult mental health outcomes”
    The study they cite as evidence for this shows a correlation between using physical punishment on teenagers and things like “depression, suicidal thoughts, and alcohol abuse” Frankly I didn’t know anyone was trying to justify spanking their teenagers, and I don’t see how that connects to any points you were trying to make.


    Both of those studies you cited stated in the definitions and explanations of how they did the study that they were drawing a distinction between what most people would call spanking and things that most people will call physical abuse. It says so in plain English in the studies. I hoped this was simply an honest mistake on your part, but since you are sticking to your guns even when this has been shown I guess not.

    None the less, I do appreciate you taking the time to respond and wish you the best. God bless you sir.

  • That isn’t a good comparison. Of course we can put adults in ‘time out.’ It’s called prison, and it’s legal. However, beating a non-threatening individual isn’t legal in any circumstances. When a person does it it’s called ‘assault,’ when the government does it it’s called ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’

  • Tracy

    I understand what you are saying, but i didn’t say that not smacking is what makes kids undisciplined. I am against violence as well, but if someone broke into my home and attacked my family – I would try and stop them in any way possible, apart from trying to kill them. All I am saying is at times, it works to keep them safe, and by saying Jesus doesn’t want you to smack, just makes parents who feel that it is appropriate to stop a rebellious child from doing something that will hurt them, guilty. I respect your opinion on this. It just differs a bit from mine. Oh and i would hope my husband and i are old enough that we could discuss issues and reason with each other. You cannot do that with a 2 year old sorry.

  • I hear what you’re saying, but there seems to be the assumption that hitting is how you stop a child from doing something that might hurt themselves. There’s a host of other options.

  • Hooray! I’ve found something I disagree with you on! – grammatteus (The Alternative Ulsterman) ;-)

    I was wondering when it would happen! It’s just not possible to agree with every single point another Christian believes (when you discount indoctrination, of course!)

    I am one who used smacking but extremely sparingly, as a last resort, and only a light smack. Most often the threat was enough since my kids knew I meant it. It was really rarely used AND had I found I had to use it MORE, I would have STOPPED since it was not effective. Some children don’t respond to smacking so it shouldn’t be used. Some children need it as the only discipline that works.

    And we had kids with ADD so we had to be innovative too! I could take issue with those studies you reference since there may be corroborating factors that affect results e.g. Children that end up smacked more may be due to problems like ADD and THAT can exhibit in adulthood as frustration and anger. The link with smacking may be connected but not causal. Also, the study that says smacking affects the prefrontal cortex: there is a political agenda (similar to global warming denial) that seeks to prove that autistic conditions are caused by poor parenting and not genetics. Such studies need to be weighed against others.

    Though as ever, you’ve given food for thought. I liked the link to the blog about ‘the rod’ – very interesting. I’ve never been happy with smacking being dependent on one verse AND I would NEVER have condoned using A ROD (as WE understand it)!

    BUT… I stand with parents who DO administer a smack IF needed when all else is failing and DO NOT inflict beatings or escalate the smacking when it isn’t effective, as if smacking MORE would help!

    I DO concur with the nonviolent image of Jesus as the true picture but I don’t see a disciplinary smack as ‘violence’. My kids are not aggressive except when things upset their ADD/Autistic view of the world and then it’s only verbal or the only victim is a poor door! The blog you linked was careful not to judge such parents, and I think that is wise. We need to also distinguish between smacking and abuse (though that DOES produce a difficult debate about where the line lies).

    It DOES feel nice to disagree!

  • Michael Brian Woywood

    I was raised in the 1980s, in a James Dobson household. When I was a young child, I was spanked every day, even if I did nothing worthy of punishment. Something would be found that deserved a belt. I remember being so, so angry after a spanking, screaming at my stepfather, hitting and throwing things…. only to be spanked again. This happened until I was 11, when I moved in with my bio-Dad, who never saw much use for spanking. The worst part? 20 years later, I actually looked at my stepfather while discussing those days and said, “I probably deserved it.”

    No child EVER deserves to be hit. No adult has the right to impose their will on a child through violence.

    My stepfather and mother were not evil, they did not hate me, they did not want to hurt me. As far as they were concerned, they did nothing wrong. Because of that, because of the culture that says hitting your kids until they submit is normal, my parents will never understand why I find reconciliation so difficult. I refuse to teach my sons that it’s normal. I refuse to correct them by hitting them and making them angry or afraid.

  • You were spanked EVERY DAY!? Even if you did nothing wrong, something would be found to justify it!?

    That’s not spanking, that’s consistent devaluing of a child and an almost gleeful desire to be ABLE and justified to hit your child!

    I’d say you have major issues with your mum and stepdad!

  • Spanish Traci

    Fabulous piece! 2 thumbs up

  • Tracy

    That very extreme thinking. Parents who smack occasionally do it to warn the child that its actions are going to be detrimental to its health! Like running away from parents all the time at 2 years of age for example. No parent I know thinks of their child as a thing, or an object to be beaten. An occasional spank is not a beaten and abused child.

  • buricco

    Oy vey. And I thought the Pearls went to ridiculous extremes with that verse.

  • buricco

    Different methods for different kids… right?

  • Kris Thulin Wise

    I thought I’d heard every rude comment there was directed at adoptive parents (as I am one) – Now that one takes the cake!

  • Virginia Sowell

    That makes me so sad, Michael. I think the James Dobson approach to parenting is woefully out of touch, but was very popular at one time. Obviously your parents took his advice over the obvious pain it caused you. I’m so sorry you had to endure this part of your childhood.

  • I’m not a James Dobson fan (though years ago I was), but I don’t think even he would advocate spanking a child for no reason. If I recall correctly, he did not use spanking all that frequently with his own children.

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  • Russell King

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. And may God bless you more than he obviously already has.

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  • Ron

    Disagree. Evidence…. decades upon decades of spanking being done and decades upon decades of the greatest developments in all matters.

  • calurtz

    Or the penalty box in hockey. ..eh?

  • Christina Wester

    I’ve had three 2 year olds whom I’ve kept safe from danger WITHOUT spanking them. There are MANY ways to redirect and shepherd a child away from danger without using violence. When we use violence to communicate something to our children, then that’s the language they learn – and the language they use. Violence begets violence. Just as respect begets respect. Who would Jesus hit??? No one!!!

  • Christina Wester

    just because you use the word “smack” does NOT make it less violent.
    It IS violence any time you “smack,” spank, hit or assault a child (or anyone else for that matter.) If you “smacked” an adult you would be charged with assault. “Smacking” a much smaller, much weaker child is assault and Jesus would never condone such assault.

  • Interesting to see an article against spanking from a Christian perspective. We don’t spank our daughter, for many of the reasons you mentioned. And although she has done other things, many of which can be traced back to unwise ways in which we’ve handled her, others just her own sin, one thing she’s never done is hit anyone. And whenever friends at school or on play dates do it, she’s so confused that they think it’s ok to do that.

    But to be honest, It’s always seemed to me that the Bible, if it didn’t outright promote spanking, at least condoned it as an acceptable form of discipline. So I’ve just sort of been in this uncomfortable place where I (although I wouldn’t admit it to many people out loud) felt that “the world” had found a better way than Christians when it comes to child discipline.

    On a final note, because I don’t see the Bible coming down clearly against it, I can’t say that I’m comfortable telling other Christians they’re parenting wrong when they do spank.

  • SMFR

    Unfortunately the problem with Christian culture is that they often seek to inflict fear upon the masses in order to maintain control over them. Striking fear into a child through corporal punishment is done in an attempt to keep the child from ‘straying’.

  • I remember once my daughter, hyper thing she was, was running around the car, screaming ‘NO!’ as I was trying to get her into the car and strapped in to get somewhere. Each time I tried to grab her and put her in, she wrestled free and it was just impossible.

    She was and is a very stubborn person, though that’s a good part of her character when she needs to stand up for herself. I’d never change that part of her, but help her to channel it into what’s right and not just to allow herself the odd tantrum. She once also sat in the back of our car, saying “I don’t wanna go for a walk! I don’t wanna go for a walk! I don’t wanna go for a walk!………” so I decided to ignore her and she’d just eventually tire….. 28 MINUTES! I KID YOU NOT! I don’t know how she didn’t suffocate since there wasn’t a second for her to draw breath. I am NOT exaggerating. I slammed on the brakes and gave her a lashing of my tongue, which for once, actually shut her up. Her nature was to just defy anyone if she thought she was right, as her headmaster discovered once, and her friends who could not believe how ‘brave’ she was for standing up to him.

    But back to this incident at the car; I recalled the words of Claire Rayner, a UK TV agony aunt saying “Don’t smack them, lovies! Just talk to them, reason with them!” so I tried telling her how much we needed to get going and she was just delaying us. No effect, so I warned her clearly that she would get a smack if she didn’t get in the car. She said ‘NO!’ one last time before I grabbed her, gave her as light a smack as would be effective (as I always did on those RARE occasions) on her leg, and then was able to lift her without a fight into her seat and strap her in.

    As with all things in life, a straight black-and-white answer like “never do it” does not suffice. Had I NOT resorted to that smack, I know I would have been sitting there for maybe half an hour, maybe an hour, “trying to reason” with a four-year old who just DID NOT WANT to obey, and there was nowhere for a time out or anything like that. Needs must, and my conscience is clear. She’s still a stubborn lass, and right now is not talking to us over an argument with her husband, so her determination and resolve was never ‘beaten’ out of her.

    HOWEVER, I DO know of parents who never smack their kids but treat them with such utter emotional bullying that they have given them complexes and material for years of counselling! Bad parents also exist in the ‘non-smacking’ lobby since they are just very judgemental and conceited. Don’t fall into that trap of self-righteousness, please.

  • I also know of siblings who were never smacked but would physically fight with each other all the time, even drawing blood and pulling hair out! So much for a ‘nonviolent’ upbringing!

  • gimpi1

    Remember, the Bible also had rules for acceptable forms of slavery, including sexual slavery. For me, that’s one reason I don’t regard it as a “one-stop-shopping” place where all moral issues are settled. The Bible has some beautiful morality, and some true horror-shows of injustice and cruelty. So do many other moral structures. Cherry-picking gets a bad rap, in my view. I think it’s the only wise course of action, with any ideology.

  • paganheart

    Even better analogy. :) Actually a good friend of mine who grew up in Canada has said her that her parents, who were anti-spanking, used to discipline her and her three brothers by putting them in a “penalty box,” which was basically a stool set in the corner of the kitchen, for different lengths of time depending on the infraction. It must have worked; my friend and her siblings are all polite, well-mannered, highly educated, contributing members of society. (And yes, they all play hockey.)

  • Guest

    My father was a pastor and he used to spank me with his big leather belt. I remember putting toilet paper in my pants to try and soften the blows. It wasn’t even that often he would use the belt but I still have the memories. I told myself back then that I would never spank my kids. I have 3 children with two in High School. Never spanked them. When I asked my dad about it he said he never wanted to spank us but that was his understanding of scripture at the time. He thought it was the righteous thing to do even though it didn’t feel right at the time.

    I think the Old Testament scriptures can mess people up. Many believe that it details how we are suppose to live our lives. I look at it as the opposite. I see the collection of the OT as a long story of how a people totally misunderstood God yet God still worked with them. When God gave us the clearest understanding of who he is through Jesus they didn’t even recognize Him and killed him. I can learn a lot from OT scripture. It’s just on how not to live my life. I’ll follow the way of Christ on how to live it.

  • egirl

    This article is very well written. The part where you say spanking is “lazy parenting- it requires the least amount of thought and effort on the part of a parent” really rings true. I think that’s probably why it seems most often people with large families are the ones who spank – because they don’t have the time and energy to be “more creative in order to teach our kids without damaging them”.

  • My daughters are age 14 and 12 respectively… even spanking enthusiasts would probably balk now. :-)

    No… we haven’t gotten grief from folks for it… Most of the folks who know us and know our wonderful, well-behaved, well-adjusted, creative, dynamic, energetic, funny, quirky, intelligent, deep daughters have nothing to say against our parenting… only my wife and I are our worse critics as we constantly wonder “We must have done something right in the midst of all the mistakes we made to have such wonderful kids.”

  • egirl

    I think it is extremely important for children to respect their parents. They learn this from watching their parents respect other people (including themselves) and then they imitate. However I do not think a child should fear their parent. Because then when the child gets drunk at a friend’s house they will be too scared to call for a ride. Or when he gets bullied at school he won’t feel he can go to you for support and protection. Or when she has sex and thinks she might be pregnant she will be worried about you being angry. As a parent you have a choice. Be the aggressor. Or be the protector. I would always choose the second with my children. And this is not to say that I am all perfect, as I certainly have lost my temper and yelled or said unkind things.

  • egirl

    So you value your plans more than your child’s needs? Why were your desires more important than hers? As far as I know a parent is responsible for a child’s wellbeing, not the other way around.

  • Mike

    That’s good to hear.

    We stopped spanking the oldest around the time he entered his teens if not a little before. It just seemed to us there were better options by that point.

    I really appreciate the irresistablemess of spanking. I can’t image what it is like for these parents who try to forcibly put a resistive child into time-out. I used to see these partents trying to keep kids in time-out who would just get up on Super Nanny. I thought it was as much an ordeal for the child as for the parents. I prefer to just spank them and be done with it.

    And we didn’t like taking away privledges of the oldest when he was very little because it seemed like he couldn’t remember why he was being punished. You could ask him, “Now why can’t you watch TV today?” and he wouldn’t even remember it was for something he had done the day before. At that point I didn’t know what he could possiblly be learning, and it just felt vindictive.

    But as they get older groundings seem to make more sense to me.

    Honestly, I have no idea what the perfect way is. You just need good motives and then you do the best you can. It might be nice to get feedback from other parents, but most of the time they just want you to do exactly what they do and not do want they don’t do.

    –This comment was edited to reflect the fact that I somehow misread your comment intiially to be saying that in spite of the fact that your daughters are well behaved some people objected to you not spanking them.

  • $120619225

    How do you know that if there hadn’t been decades and decades of spanking there wouldn’t have been even greater developments in all matters?

  • Ron

    Mote point. No way to tell because no record of no spanking for anywhere near that length. But with cops in schools, etc. compared to my time in 60’s.. are pretty good indicators that todays discipline is not working. Mind you, I am making a difference between beatings and spankings. There is a difference. And every child is different in requirements if needed or not. But the tremendous growth in ideas the last 150 years… and the last 75… my God.

  • paganheart

    I had never thought about it that way, but what you’re saying makes a lot of sense. What if the stories in the Old Testament are there to illustrate the wrong ways to live our life, while the New Testament shows, in contrast, the way of Christ as a better example? Food for thought….

    Growing up my parents disciplined mostly through yelling, lectures, grounding, revoking privileges, etc. But they weren’t above the occasional swat on the behind either. But the most vivid discipline I remember is the one and only time my father hit me with a belt, when I was 5. It is so seared into my memory that I know exactly what led to it: jumping on my bed (after repeatedly being told not to) until the frame broke. My parents didn’t have the money to fix or replace it (a fact my father reminded me of several times before and after the belting) but that is still no excuse for what he did, and I told him so some years later. He apologized, but he also told me that I should consider myself “lucky” because when he was growing up, his parents dealt out “whuppins” with belts and switches on a daily basis.

    My husband and I are childless, and the reasons why are too complicated to discuss here, but part of it is no doubt the fact that both of us grew up in homes where corporal punishment was used (his father was downright abusive), and we fear turning into our parents.

  • Don Lowery

    Working with handicapped students for a living and seeing everyday the consequences of a parent who thought they could stop beating a child as punishment, you feel it is right; come spend a day with me. You will see the direct benefit of what spanking can do.

  • Kelly Hauenstein

    Considering Jesus cleansed the temple a few times chasing people out with a whip (Matt. 21:12-16, John 2: 13-15), I think it’s certainly possible for Jesus to have hit someone and behaved violently.

  • I have mixed thoughts. I think there must be a differentiation of excessive/aggressive forms of spanking (i.e., abuse) and non-excessive/non-aggressive forms of spanking (i.e., appropriate discipline). I do agree that a parent should not simply rely on spanking but be equipped with alternative forms of discipline to deal appropriately with a child expressing negative behaviors,

    Without actually reading the research that was conducted (links would be nice), I cannot conclude in the same way as the author of this post. There are variables that are not mentioned, such as the extent or type of spanking received? Or if other biological and social factors where included in the research in the persons development into adulthood that may also have contributed or correlated to some of these negative social and psychological issues?

    I think as a parent, we must be active in teaching, developing, and disciplining our children. This should be done in a safe and loving manner, providing clear instructions and reasons why if they do X (negative behavior) then Y (appropriate discipline) will happen.

    Or that if they do not what Y (appropriate discipline) to happen then they should not do X (negative behavior).

    I wonder if the research included the perceived manner of how spanking was administered. If the child perceived their parent as being angry or mad at them and simply providing a physical punishment without a clear understanding of why they are being spanked. Versus the child having it explained why they are being spanked and the child perceived the parent remaining calm and explanatory during the process.

  • Tracy

    Don – since when did i even suggest that? My third child was one of the most severely handicapped children in my city at the time she was alive – there is no WAY she would have comprehended being smacked – that is just crazy to even go there. And if parents smack children who cannot comprehend what it is they are being smacked for – then they need their heads read! My sister has downs syndrome. My mother smacked her when she was young as she used to run away. Mum found her on the train tracks with a train in sight on one occasion. She got a good smack for that one. She stopped doing it pretty quickly. As far as my mum was concerned, she wanted her child alive. She could not watch her every second and Ginny was a little houdini and escaped gates and the like. My parents used smacked as the only form of discipline in my childhood era, and it was ineffective on me, in my teens ( would be called child abuse now) and like i said, I think it shd only be when very young 2-5, when reasoning is not able to be done. Being taken to with a belt at 14 as i was, was ineffective and other ways would have been more effective. I look back and think my parents were trying the best they could, with the parenting they thought was best at the time. Each generation changes it thoughts on that one.

  • Spanking, to be frank, is lazy parenting- it requires the least amount of thought and effort on the part of a parent when we should be willing to be more creative in order to teach our kids without damaging them.

    This is actually a straw man that is being created. As there are many parents who discipline by spanking but not from this “lazy parenting” perspective. Parents who are very active in the lives of their children in teaching and developing them. Parents who expend a great amount of thought and effort in explaining to their child why they are being spanked.

  • $122388256


  • (a) Does the study show anything of a parent who relieves anxiety, fear, and shame by providing a clear explanation of why they’ve been disciplined, what the expectations are to avoid future discipline, and reaffirms the child with love and forgiveness?

    (b) The key word in the quote is “may” and “association” this is not a clear concise consensus on the matter. It means that there “may” be a correlation to psychological disregulation and/or poor adult mental health. I find it difficult to conclude as positively as you have that it does this in any and all circumstances.

  • It’s illegal to spank an adult?

    I think you are gravely mistaken if you think anyone here condones beating or abusing their children. You just seem to have a bent against Christians and this truly shows how naive you are.

  • Don Lowery

    A Focus on the Family family…what more needs to be said?

  • It is illegal to physically assault an adult, and violently raising a hand against a child is also physical assault. What consenting adults do in their own privacy is their own business, but the key word is ‘consent.’ If you don’t think that assaulting an adult is illegal, you shouldn’t be interacting with them, and if you think that there’s a different standard for children, you shouldn’t be raising them.

    As for your second claim, quite the contrary. I think many people here condone beating and abusing their children. I know because they, like you, are defending using violence against children, and therefore they, like you, are abuse apologists.

    And you can save your ‘bent against Christians’ whine for someone who cares. You’re not being persecuted when someone calls you out for hitting a child.

  • I see, you associate spanking as physical assault or “violently raising a hand…” Yes, like I stated, you are gravely mistaken if you believe anyone here is condoning that type of behavior. You are also extremely naive if you believe that ALL spanking is physical assault or violence.

    Beating and abusing children is quite different than an appropriate discipline form of spanking. You seem intent on trying to vilify me and others, which only reflects on your inability to form a valid argument.

    It’s hilarious that you think my commenting that you have a “bent against Christians” was implying that I feel like you are “persecuting me.” It was displaying your psychological state NOT mine. And you should also recognize that spanking and hitting a child also has a very different connotation to it, which again I doubt anyone here is suggesting that it’s okay to hit a child.

  • Kyle Pierce

    The comment is not in favour of our against spanking I have a different point to make:

    The pastor says he can’t see Jesus using corporal punishment. Umm, what about the whip – He hand made – to whip those money changing in the church? What about revelations? What about the man and woman who lied about what their house cost and so Holy Spirit killed them? I mean this is a triune God. Anything the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit do the others also do or would do.

    How is it responsible to come against a position which does have the word of God behind it (even if only a little) with no word and worse yet man’s wisdom. Umm what?

  • You vilify yourself with your defense of assaulting children. You don’t need my help.

    Because yes, spanking is a form of hitting and beating your child. It meets the standard Oxford Dictionary definition:

    hit: v. bring one’s hand or a tool or weapon into contact with (someone or something) quickly and forcefully.

    You don’t get to redefine verbs to make your abuse sound better. You don’t get to separate how you beat children with how other people do it. And you certainly don’t get to claim that you oppose beating, hitting, or abusing children when you are arguing for that very thing and trying to portray it as something acceptable.

    If you hit your children, on the buttocks or the face or the legs, or anywhere, you have assaulted them, you have abused them, and you are an unfit parent. And I truly fear for any children under your care.

  • No where have I defended assaulting children. You are free to keep relying on your straw man if you want, but I find it rather disingenuous on your part.

    Remember that I did not state that it has a different definition but a different CONNOTATION. Which according to the Oxford Dictionary is:

    connotation: n. An idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning.

    You can’t misrepresent a comment by blatantly changing the noun in trying to fit your argument.

    The difference in the connotation that you keep bring up: Is that spanking is always a form of assault, beating, or violent. This means the only person who is trying to redefine words is you with the word “spank.”

    It’s also rather deluded to say the following:

    You vilify yourself with your defense of assaulting children. You don’t need my help.

    Your accusations that you believe I am somehow an “unfit parent” or that you “truly fear for any children under my care;” shows that you actually believe that I do need your help to vilify me, otherwise you would not need to make them. Not to mention that your basis for your accusations is purely subjective and has no empirical evidence to support either of them.

  • I can certainly appreciate your point about contesting a biblically based belief with only “man’s wisdom” but with all due respect, I don’t think that’s what Corey is doing here.

    He doesn’t directly quote a verse, but he references many, and he’s trying to get us to take into account the big picture that the New Testament paints for us, coupled with empirical research (which isn’t the same as man’s wisdom), and to consider that maybe we’re misapplying
    the few verses that are used to justify, even promote spanking. We all do the same thing when you find yourself opposing the evils of slavery, genocide, or treating women like second-class citizens.

    That said, I am still learning about the whole pacifist tradition, and I would
    like to hear the pacifist answer to Jesus’ whipping of the people and animals
    in the temple.

  • Thanks.

    In the temple, Jesus was engaging in activism to speak up for the outsiders who were being excluded from the temple (I cover this passage more in depth in my book), but the Bible doesn’t say he hit or harmed people- just that he drove animals out, flipped over the tables, and caused a big scene. Since Jesus clearly teaches a nonviolent ethic in Matthew 5 and elsewhere, reading violence into the temple passage would be a mistake. Since scripture doesn’t say he hurt people, we can’t simply assume he hurt people, especially in light of what we know about his opinion on violence in many other passages.

  • (a) he didn’t whip people. That’s not in the passage.
    (b) in Revelation, he comes on the scene already covered in his own blood, and the “sword” comes out of his mouth– apocalyptic symbolism for his words. Revelation when understood in the 1st century context when the events occurred, is a very anti-violence book.

  • BT

    I will admit there were about six months of so where we used spanking. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to realize that there were more effective options available. We quit fairly soon and are quite thoroughly pleased with the results.

    Thanks for the reminder. Not that I need it since my kid is mostly grown and it would be kind of weird.

  • Nona

    Why can’t any pro-spankers come up with an actual argument to defend spanking? All you people do is try to minimize it. Instead of trying to convince YOURSELF that spanking your kids isn’t a big deal, why don’t you dig up some research and statistics that support corporal punishment as an effective way to raise children? Because there isn’t any. Study after study proves that spanking is useless at best and harmful at worst. Gee, you smack your child and then wonder why he or she runs away from you all the time …

  • Nona

    You’re advocating beating handicapped students? I don’t even believe you’re serious. You have to be trolling.

  • Tracy

    I think i just did. My mother spanked my sister to stop her behaviour that would have harmed her. She stopped. Its called a case study. And your comment about smacking children and they running away all the time – please. She got smacked cos she ran away, not the other way around. She has downs syndrome. She did not comprehend the fact she could be hurt/ kidnapped etc. Perhaps you might prefer that option. Don’t comment about something you appear to know nothing about.

  • Ron McPherson

    You explain what’s “simple for normal Christians to understand” but prior to that you call the author a “biased pacifist nutcase.” I’m curious how you think “normal Christians” are to understand Jesus’ warning in Matthew 5:22?

  • expat360

    I see you making a reference to why Jesus wants me to do something. However I see no scriptural reference to show that he wants me to do it, nor the reasons why he wants me to do it.

  • expat360

    so spanking = abuse? do you not know the difference? how does spanking a child cause them to be handicapped

  • Don Lowery

    Too bad you never read the article or have watched the news on adults who permanently hurt children. I see the results of this everyday…if you had happened to actually read the article before reading my comment. GEEZ!!!!!

  • Don Lowery

    It’s nice you haven’t ever watched the news where some parent beats a child so badly that they are scared for life.

  • Don Lowery

    Actually…I more fully understand that your mother and other “christians” practicing assault is part of the reason the churches are emptying more and more each year.

    Hitting is wrong…especially if you do it in love. There are no exceptions if you are following Christ.

  • $120619225

    Sorry, but you are a biased violent goon in the Jesus Nazi tradition.

  • Lloyd Runyon

    I invite you to read this article, the author explains it so more eloquently than I ever could http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/09/18/spanking/ Being a minister myself and a “shade tree counselor” as it were I was having trouble understanding where Mr. Corey was coming from in his article, as a matter of fact his ideology on this issue was so different from mine that I was really beginning to question his sanity. But about 1/3 of the way threw his article it hit me that we were fundamentally on two totally separate topics. Spanking takes place when a parent sees undesirable or potentially harmful behavior in their child and uses limited force in the form of a hand or possibly a belt or a switch (in an older child) to spank the buttock area only in an effort to stop that type of behavior. It is NOT done using excessive force, it is NOT done to a child who is not capable of understanding right from wrong, it is NOT done out of anger, and it NOT done without the parent explaining to the child that this punishment is being administered as a direct result of such and such bad behavior on their part. What Mr. Corey is describing in his article is not spanking, it is in fact violence. Somewhere along the road the line has become blurred and many have lost the distinction between spanking (as condoned in the Bible) and abuse.

  • BT

    Beating is worse, but that’s different than saying swats are good.
    Simply put, and speaking from experience, there are more effective tools available.
    If all you want is conformity and obedience, swats work fine. If you’re after a kid who grasps WHY we do things a certain way and can deal with moral choices later in a complex world, then not so much.

  • BT

    I don’t think anyone is saying “don’t be angry”.

  • Nona

    Think again. You didn’t even make an effort. Didn’t you ever have to write a research paper in school? You need credible sources to support your claim. The author of this article cited several different scientific and academic studies. You, on the other hand, failed to find even one to support your argument. Would it help motivate you if I smacked you?

  • Nona

    To those who believe it’s right for a parent to hit a child: Do you also believe it’s right for a husband to hit his wife? If not, why?

  • Nona

    By the way, it’s very revealing how you use “their child” when referring to the parent, but you use “its actions” when referring to the child. Apparently, you’re the one who thinks of a child as a thing. A child is not an “it”; they’re a human being.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Cheers for this post Ben , , .many lack the courage to call out bad behavior that is culturally acceptable.

  • Andrew Dowling

    “and you believe liberal studies of course that have a bias against spanking to begin with”

    And I’m sure you took the time to look over the (numerous) studies which refute spanking’s methodology and can cite where these biases are, right?

    No . . .

    OK, then concede you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Agree with Ben . .surely if he’d been whipping people (and the whips back then were no joke, they could cause serious lacerations) that would have been one of the charges against him upon arrest.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Kyle, spanking across the spectrum has been shown to have negative effects: http://www.vox.com/2014/9/17/6336209/adrian-peterson-son-physical-punishment

  • Nona

    I wouldn’t bet my eternal soul on it if I were you.

  • Andrew Dowling

    The conservative fundamentalists cherry-pick too . . everyone does.

  • Andrew Dowling

    You do realize the wide majority of children are still spanked, right? The decline over the last 40 years has been extremely small. And where you have the most violence (the poor South, for example) is where spanking is ingrained the most

  • Nona

    What is your point, that if the Holy Spirit can kill, so can you?

  • Andrew Dowling

    If you gave a “small swat” to an adult (who had the mental faculties of a child) you could be arrested.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Did you just defend spanking by describing an instance in which your mother hit your sister who has Down Syndrome? I think I need a drink . . . .

  • Nona

    I just have to point out that calling spanking lazy parenting is not a straw man. It’s not even close to the definition. One of my pet peeves is when someone incorrectly accuses their opponent of committing a logical fallacy. That’s lazy debating.

  • No shite. Anyone who physically harms a special needs child like that woman apparently did is an abusive and unfit parent.

  • So calling all parents who use spanking as one of many forms of appropriate discipline “lazy parents” does not misrepresent those parents?

  • Andrew, have you read the actual research on it? It does not show that “across the spanking spectrum” there are negative effects.

    I do want state that the Adrian Peterson issue is one of child abuse NOT spanking. And in no way am I saying that I think Peterson’s behavior is an acceptable form of discipline, if you can’t understand this, please read through my additional comments on this article?

    Most of the research Ben (and the link you gave) cited has been summarized to get the gist of what is stated and then applies it across the spectrum. Which is a bit misleading.

    I could use all of the same research and defend what I am calling spanking and show that it has not addressed by the links. I might even be able to show that the type of spanking I am referring to does not apply to the research and links that have been provided. I’d find that rather tedious and would hope thinking adults could find out for themselves.

  • Nona

    Ironically, you’re bordering on a straw man yourself by taking the author’s words out of context. You’re completely missing his point, which is that there are many better ways to discipline children if only those parents would take the time to try them. If those parents won’t even bother to try a new approach then yeah, that’s called laziness in my book. Would you at least agree that spanking should be a last resort if a less severe form of appropriate discipline can be just as, if not more effective?

  • Perhaps you should read through my comment again:

    As there are many parents who discipline by spanking but not from this “lazy parenting” perspective. Parents who are very active in the lives of their children in teaching and developing them. Parents who expend a great amount of thought and effort in explaining to their child why they are being spanked.

    Here are a few other comments I’ve made that you might have overlooked do to lazy research and debating on your part:

    (a) Does the study show anything of a parent who relieves anxiety, fear, and shame by providing a clear explanation of why they’ve been disciplined, what the expectations are to avoid future discipline, and reaffirms the child with love and forgiveness?

    I have mixed thoughts. I think there must be a differentiation of excessive/aggressive forms of spanking (i.e., abuse) and non-excessive/non-aggressive forms of spanking (i.e., appropriate discipline). I do agree that a parent should not simply rely on spanking but be equipped with alternative forms of discipline to deal appropriately with a child expressing negative behaviors,

    I think as a parent, we must be active in teaching, developing, and disciplining our children. This should be done in a safe and loving manner, providing clear instructions and reasons why if they do X (negative behavior) then Y (appropriate discipline) will happen.

    Or that if they do not what Y (appropriate discipline) to happen then they should not do X (negative behavior).

    The author does not differentiate between parents who use a variety of discipline including spanking and those who simply rely on an inappropriate “lazy” form of spanking. He simply asserts that: “Spanking, to be frank, IS lazy parenting…” If after reading my aforementioned quotes you still believe I have failed to grasp the author’s article or his stance that spanking IS lazy parenting, please show me where I’ve made a misstep?

    Unlike you assert I am not offended by being called lazy, as that does not represent reality and you have merely made a personal attack. Not to mention that my response was to egirl and not the author of the post, so your perceived irony is ironic in and of itself!

  • Nona

    First of all, calm down. Nobody is personally attacking you. You quoted the author, not egirl, so it would appear that it’s his argument you’re rebutting, not hers. You clearly disagree with the author that spanking is “lazy parenting.” That’s fine. It still isn’t a straw man, though. That’s all I was saying in the first place.

    Just because you disagree with an opinion doesn’t make it a fallacy. Basically, a straw man is when you put words in your opponent’s mouth. If anything, that’s what YOU’RE doing because there’s a difference between “lazy parenting” and a lazy parent, especially when we’re talking about one specific situation (i.e., spanking). The issue here isn’t how active the parents are in their children’s lives.

    You of all people should realize this if you’re so good at explaining discipline to your child. After all, are you spanking your child for being a bad person or for doing a certain bad behavior?

  • I’m perfectly calm. You must realize that you are creating a fictionalized character of me to suit your desires.

    I wonder if you think by re-writing your comment it changes what you said? I guess the public is non-the-wiser, but you and I know better don’t we ;) !

    Yes and my point, which you clearly missed, was that the author does not say that “Spanking CAN be lazy parenting” but that he says “Spanking IS lazy parenting.” Which makes what the author wrote a misrepresentation, correct?

    Good news, I found the email archive of your original comment which stated:

    If you don’t like being called a lazy parent then maybe you should take his advice. Don’t just sit there and be offended; get up and take action.

    Which you changed above to:

    Would you at least agree that spanking should be a last resort if a less severe form of appropriate discipline can be just as, if not more effective?

    To answer your question: I feel parents should use a variety of appropriate discipline as there may be forms that are effective one day and ineffective the next. The point of discipline is not to punish or harm a child but to correct their behavior. That is why it is NECESSARY to explain to the child what behavior was wrong, what the child should do or not do in the future to avoid discipline, and be reaffirmed with love and forgiveness from their parent.

    I could begin to raise an argument that some parents do not properly discipline the children with the “time out” method. They could be using “time out” as a form of child neglect which I would also consider lazy parenting and detrimental to the child’s well-being.

    Oh, and if you look at the thread my response was to egirl’s comment not the article.

  • Nona

    You already asked me before if I thought it was a misrepresentation, and I said no because I agree with the author. Spanking IS lazy parenting. I’ll repeat myself: Just because you disagree with an opinion doesn’t make it a fallacy.

    Yes, I edited my post an hour before you replied. I figured my original comment would only offend you, and apparently, I was right. I still wouldn’t call that attacking you. I was simply direct with you. You might say it’s like the difference between spanking and abuse. Anyway, I deleted it, so let it go.

  • You already asked me before if I thought it was a misrepresentation, and I said no because I agree with the author. Spanking IS lazy parenting. I’ll repeat myself: Just because you disagree with an opinion doesn’t make it a fallacy.

    Just because you agree with with an opinion does not mean that it is not a fallacy. You realize it’s a two way street right?

    You don’t seem to understand what a misrepresentation is. When you say, “Spanking IS lazy parenting” you have implied that “parents are lazy if the use spanking as a method of discipline.” This misrepresents a great deal of parents who ARE NOT lazy in disciplining their children and use spanking as one of many methods. You can disagree with my comment but it doesn’t change that a misrepresentation HAS occurred.

    Yes, I edited my post an hour before you replied. I figured my original comment would only offend you, and apparently, I was right. I still wouldn’t call that attacking you. I was simply direct with you. You might say it’s like the difference between spanking and abuse. Anyway, I deleted it, so let it go.

    I’ve already addressed that I was not offended by your original comment, so it’s quite alarming you keep believing that I was. Remember not long ago I said,

    Unlike you assert I am not offended by being called lazy, as that does not represent reality […]

    I’m glad you had an epiphany in your judgment to realize your accusation had no grounds and so you changed it. But that doesn’t change the comment itself. You are now trying to minimize calling someone a “lazy parent” as not attacking but simply “being direct.”

    I mean, if I called you an idiot and then backtracked and said, “I’m sorry I didn’t intend to offend as I was just being direct with you.” Would that change that I called you an idiot?

    Note: I did have to edit as the second part had the wrong quote attached.

  • Nona

    I understand what a misrepresentation is. You asked me if I thought the author’s quote was a misrepresentation twice, and I answered no twice. If you don’t like my answer, I don’t know what to tell you. Getting back on topic, the problem is that you still don’t understand what a straw man is. Here’s a perfect example:

    “I’m glad you had an epiphany in your judgment to realize your accusation had no grounds and so you changed it.”

    I most certainly did not have an “epiphany” nor “realize [my] accusation had no grounds.” That only happened in your own imagination. I stand by everything I wrote. I didn’t edit my post because I didn’t mean it. I just wanted to spare myself this exact temper tantrum from you. If you’re not offended then why can’t you seem to get over it?

    I’m so over it.

  • Tracy

    Think again. My parents were not Christians, so you can’t blame their behaviour on that one.

  • Tracy

    Nona, fact. Children fail at 2 to understand things like hot stoves, cars that kill, and other harmful things. I, on the other hand prob don’t need a smack to tell me to stay away from them. I am NOT advocating beating up kids of all ages. If i had my time over again, i would only use it for life threatening behaviours probably. i have learnt given I how have teenagers, that other things work just as well once they are able to reason. But at 2-3 you cannot do that. That is my whole point. Pain works. Sorry if that offends you. Tell that to the mother lion who smacks her kids across their faces to keep them from danger. Even they understand that principle. Loving parents don’t beat their kids. And in my generation most were smacked and we are all normal functioning adults that contribute well to society.

  • Tracy

    For goodness sakes, stop being so picky. You know what i mean, and I certainly think all humans have value. Having had a seriously handicapped child myself, I see the value in ALL life. Don’t let my bad grammar distract from that.

  • Tracy

    i think you do need a drink. My mother sacrificed her life to that girl so don’t get all self righteous with me. My mum was a great mum who was a giving, loving mother. Please, don’t attack people who you don’t know from a bar of soap. And for all others who think they can raise handicapped kids better – stop aborting them and go for it. They are a blessing to society, not a curse. You all sound like self righteous prats who don’t have any experience of parenting someone like that. But if you do, then i am more than willing to listen to how you did it better.

  • Tracy

    says you who has no idea as to the type of person my mother was. Gosh – do i go insulting your mother because you are an atheist? Cumon. You can do better than that.

  • WOW, you keep changing the content of your original comments. Yet, you have the gall to say I am misrepresenting ideas and creating a straw man?

    The irrationality is remarkable.

    Two questions:

    1) Rather than holding to your opinion: Show that spanking in all circumstances IS lazy parenting?

    2) Since you stand by your original comments that you believe I’m a lazy parent: Please provide the grounds for your accusation?

    As far as imagining things, you’ve imagined me as offended, needing to calm down, and now that I’m throwing a temper tantrum. The irony is truly befuddling as NONE are even remotely true!

    I can’t seem to “get over it,” because unlike you making baseless accusations; I’M BEING DIRECT WITH YOU!

    Apparently you care more about how your comments appear to others than honest dialogue.

  • Nona

    Oh well, I’m sorry you feel that way. Take care and God bless.

  • Tracy

    Also Don – I prob agree with you that if we are following Christ we shd not smack, hit, or beat anyone. But balance that with revelation and upbringing, how we have been taught, and how loving God has been right throughout history as we have slowly learnt his ways as opposed to ours. So yes, in a perfect world you are probably right. I don’t have an issue with it when its in context of life preservation. It’s prob not the best choice, but what would you do if your 2 year old kept disobeying you and running away out in front of cars… love to hear your thoughts on this. i am always open to learning and growing. Just becuase I do things one way, does not mean I am not open to my ways being challenged. Hopefully you are too.

  • Tracy

    Kyle – I can tell that you are debating well and sticking to topic. Well done. Unfortunately some here just revert to insults and how we need to ‘calm down’ when we just are challenging their beliefs. i am so over people name calling when they don’t agree with what i have to say. the term ‘let us reason’ seems to have been lost in translation!

  • Tracy

    argh! Its that sort of thinking egirl, that has bred the self entitlement attitude that we are seeing now in people. they are her PARENTS, and as that, need to train her. If left to your thinking i would hate to see how this child would have turned out. Do you even have any strong willed kids of your own?

  • Tracy

    What??? So now if you smack you are endangering your eternal security? Perhaps check your theology before saying things like that in order to frighten people.

  • Tracy

    I would disagree Andrew. in my country it has become illegal to spank/smack children. Most of my friends children now do not believe in spanking. Big change to my generation who mostly do. Interesting to note also that child abuse has gone up since they passed the law not to smack. Somethings not working.

  • Tracy

    N T Wright has quite a different take on that passage. i don’t know if his take on it is non violent – but a different reason for why Jesus did what he did.

  • Basically, a straw man is when you put words in your opponent’s mouth.

    I’m sorry but a straw man is not putting words in your opponents mouth. A straw man is http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/straw-man.html :

    1. Person A has position X.
    2. Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).
    3. Person B attacks position Y.
    4. Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

    In the context of the post:

    1. Position X is spanking as a form of appropriate discipline. (This is never stated in the article but it should be implied as a Position X as he is arguing against it)
    2. Position Y is a distorted version of X in that spanking is lazy parenting.
    3. The attack on Position Y is that lazy parenting is wrong.
    4. Therefore Position X spanking as a form of discipline is wrong.

    My disagreement was not from opinion, but from logic. So I hope this helps you see how it is a straw man.

    If anything, that’s what YOU’RE doing because there’s a difference between “lazy parenting” and a lazy parent, especially when we’re talking about one specific situation (i.e., spanking). The issue here isn’t how active the parents are in their children’s lives.

    Your comment was that “if I was offended for being called a lazy parent…” so your defense that “lazy parenting is different” is like holding onto a branch over a hole, letting go, and thinking you will land on solid ground.

    You of all people should realize this if you’re so good at explaining discipline to your child. After all, are you spanking your child for being a bad person or for doing a certain bad behavior?

    Aside from the snide remark “…if you’re so good…,” I discipline in an appropriate manner by various methodologies to correct inappropriate behavior that my children exhibit. I don’t see why you can’t comprehend this.

    Do I do this perfectly? No, I do it to the best of my abilities and continually work to improve at it.

    I never argued that it mattered how active a parent was in their child’s life, rather I argued that it matters how active they are at explaining to the child why they were being disciplined. That is; what behavior from the child was inappropriate, how the child can correct the behavior/avoid future discipline, and reaffirming the child with love and forgiveness. I believe that without these NO discipline is appropriate or effective. Do you disagree with me on this point?

  • Tracy, thanks for the support. I never knew spanking made parents such monstrosities.

  • Nona

    Well, that IS the whole point of this article. The fundamental question here is whether smacking children for any reason is Christian behavior or not. All I’m saying is don’t be too smugly confident that you have the moral high ground, especially when it’s your side that’s under scrutiny.

  • David Coleman

    Here’s my question to those who do not believe in spanking….is what the Bible says true or false? If you believe parts are right and parts are wrong then the Bible is a joke. And I’m not interested in any New Age Church theology…the last verses of Revelations tells you about that nonsense….ok then, what is the rod in these scriptures?

    The following quotations come from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible:Prov 13:24: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (diligently).”

    Prov 19:18: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”

    Prov 22:15: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

    Prov 23:13: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”

    Prov 23:14: “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Shoel).”

    Prov 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”

    An additional verse from the New Testament is occasionally cited as justification for physical punishment of children:Hebrews 12:6-7: “…the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?”

  • Nona

    So you prefer the KJV to the original Catholic Bible that has 73 books instead of only 66. Do you believe that those seven whole books are wrong then? I mean, why stop there when Protestants are apparently free to pick and choose parts of Scripture to just toss out?

  • Tracy

    questioning our eternal security is not the whole point of this article. I would say no one has the moral high ground here as its not dogma we are discussing, but opinion. There is no clear indication in scripture that either side is right. You can be a bad parent and not smack, or you can be a good parent and smack and vice versa. Thing that really gets me is these points should not divide us as brothers and sisters. You are my SISTER – therefore we have more in common than not. I do not judge you for not smacking, that is your choice governed by your free will, culture, upbringing etc. When my kids were little I hardly ever smacked them, but if i did – I didn’t want some smack police breathing down my neck telling me i am going to hell for it. I did what felt was right at the time. Would i do it differently again? Probably. But i would do lots of things differently also. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I have yet to meet a perfect parent. :)

  • Nona

    That site’s definition is correct, but I’m afraid your interpretation is off. Positions X and Y both represent the opponent. In a true straw man, position Y cannot be his own position. It would only be a straw man if he claimed that YOU think spanking is lazy parenting. He simply stated his own opinion. Take it or leave it.

  • Nona

    It isn’t my place to judge people’s souls. That is God’s prerogative alone. Your eternal security is between you and him. I just want to remind everybody to take that under careful consideration. We should constantly ask ourselves, “Does God approve of what I’m doing?” Sometimes the answer isn’t always in the Bible. Sometimes you just have to turn to your own conscience that God gave you for a reason. Let the Holy Spirit guide you to make the right decisions.

  • It is “lazy” because it’s the option of least resistance, the option that takes the least effort and creativity. I stand by the comment– it’s lazy. Finding nonviolent solutions in any situation takes the greater effort.

  • Point of historical clarification: the books of the Apocrypha were added into the Bible at the council of trent during the reformation (1500’s) in a response to Luther, so they weren’t the “original” but were added as a political move to push back on the reformers who rejected purgatory.

  • Do you also believe in giving depressed people free alcohol so they can get drunk and forget their troubles? Cause that’s in the book of Proverbs too.

  • Tracy

    well… if you were a parent ( i don’t know if you are) would you want your child to constantly be asking him/herself if you approve of what they are doing? I think God is crazy about us just because he loves us. Sure , he wants us to be holy and godly, but we now have his spirit living in us, so we are hardwired NOT to sin. Also the Holy Spirit is in us to remind us of who we are. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of their sin ( sinners) but he convicts US ( those who are saved) of their righteousness. Big difference. So whatever i do, God’s love for me never changes. If i am constantly asking myself if God approves of everything I am doing – I am not going to feel loved and accepted by him. lol… we have got off topic here big time. :)

  • Tracy

    something else i thought of ( on topic) is that so many have been quick to judge me for being pro smacking. If you can call the odd one when my kids were little, pro smacking. I wonder how many of those people find it easy to abort a child? Or kill animals? I struggle to kill spiders… that is how much of a anti violence/ pro life person i am. Does your anti violence extend to other areas of your life…. I would be interested to hear from those who where quick to jump on me…….

  • Nona

    I, for one, see no point in judging. I’d rather convince you to change your mind. Both sides of the debate need to stick to arguing the issue without making it personal. It seems to me that the pro-smacking side has a weak argument with insufficient evidence to support it, and that’s what I jumped on you for.

  • I’ve clearly defined the argument. I’ll try and elaborate.

    Position X is or is not.

    1. Person A states Position X: That “spanking can be used an an appropriate form of discipline.”

    (This is implied as the article is arguing against using spanking as a form of discipline)

    2. Person B presents Position Y that “spanking is lazy parenting.”

    (Position Y distorts X by asserting “spanking is lazy parenting.” You could say it’s kind of like being “guilty by association.”)

    3. Person B then attacks Position Y: In that “lazy parenting” has a negative connotation and thus the wrong way to discipline (i.e., parent).
    4. Therefore Position X is false (or wrong).

    This is a straw man because it causes the reader to associate X with Y and when Y is shown wrong therefore X is also false (wrong). But this is simply not logically true. Y being wrong does not imply X is also wrong.

    In the situation that they are both just opinions then Person B would need to show “Y is TRUE for ALL of X.” Position X would simply have to show “X is not always Y.” Person B would have a much heavier burden to carry if it went that route.

  • All I know about your mother is the information you provided. If it’s true that she struck a Down’s Syndrome child, it doesn’t matter what type of person she was. She was still physically abusive. And no, I’m not calling her that because she was a Christian, I’m calling her that because she bleeding hit a Down Syndrome child.

  • Thank you for elaborating why you believe it is “lazy,” I don’t know if you’ve had much of an opportunity to read through the mounds of my contentions.

    The issue is that you are not arguing against “spanking” but against “lazy parenting.”

    I could assert that “time-out, to be frank, is lazy parenting…” This is a non-violent form of discipline that could also be detrimental to a child’s well-being, namely psychologically, as a form of child neglect.

    The point is that a person could use any form of discipline and still be guilty of “lazy parenting.” But what you have done is assert any parent that uses spanking is lazy. This is utterly false and rather offensive, to be frank. And I hope you can begin to see that.

    As for the association that spanking is violent discipline vs. non-violent that is a whole issue itself. Imagine that you are a teenager hanging out with a friend who doesn’t always think before they say things. The girl you have a crush on walks by and your friend shouts: “Hey, Ben thinks you’re hot!”

    Without thinking you firmly backhand him on the shoulder to show him what he said was not cool. Is this inappropriate to hit your friend in such a way? Should this even be considered violence in the way the word invokes?

  • David Coleman

    So basically, what you are saying is we should interpret the Bible to support our beliefs of how we should handle things as a secular society? And what you are saying about Proverbs 31 is another highly mis-interpreted passage, do a little research on this Ben. it’s like the Thou shalt not judge” passage every non-Christian tries to use in their defense….a Concordance will help understand what is being said in Proverbs 31. Deterring to other passages about unrelated subjects while not addressing my question is not the answer here.

  • Nona

    I’m sorry, but you’re incorrect. Position Y is the part that’s confusing you. Take a look at the examples on that site to get a better understanding. Notice how they all say “Person A wants … .” In a true straw man, Position Y is allegedly Person A’s position, according to Person B. That is not the case in your example; therefore, not a straw man.

    I hope this helps. If not, maybe somebody else on here can do a better job of explaining it than I can.

  • Kyle Pierce

    Madam, i clearly stated in the first line that my comment wasnt about whether or not spanking is ok. My point was that Jesus does use corporal punishment, because the author said that wasn’t like Jesus. Yet, it clearly is

  • Th

    Let’s say we take your advice and stop beating children-
    What is your little satanist side show going to trot out next… VOTES FOR WOMEN????

  • Ron McPherson

    Just want to provide a bit of friendly clarification. A believer’s eternal destiny does not sway to and fro, or hang in the balance so to speak, based upon one’s actions, but rather is secured based on Christ’s reconciling work on the cross.

  • Cat lover

    Do shepherds use their rods to beat the sheep? Or do they use the rods for herding? Maybe the rod simply means strong leadership.

  • Ron McPherson

    “So basically, what you are saying is we should interpret the Bible to support our beliefs of how we should handle things as a secular society?”

    No. We should interpret the Bible as led by the Holy Spirit. For example, Leviticus 20:9 says, “Anyone who curses
    their father or mother is to be put to death…” Hopefully no Bible believer (of which I am one) would advocate this.

    If one is rigidly dogmatic about how they discipline their children based on the Proverbs passages, why wouldn’t they be just as rigidly dogmatic about this passage in Leviticus? I’m not suggesting one is a bad parent who spanks. My point is that one who does advocate this type of discipline, based solely from the Proverbs passages, must also grapple with other passages like Leviticus.


  • Von Runkle

    Point of historical clarification, Ben: The seven deuterocanonical books of the OT, known by Protestants as the Apocrypha, come from the Septuagint version of the OT (written in Greek), dating back to the Third and Second Century B.C. – about 1700 years before you posit their inclusion into the canon of sacred scripture. It was the first translation of the OT from Hebrew into a vernacular language and widely used among Diaspora Jews, even at the time of Christ. It’s a fascinating history which you should read up on.

    The Greek version of the Christian Bible (The Septuagint OT plus the NT, which was written all in Greek) was considered the standard version centuries before the Reformation. It’s what St Jerome used to cross-check his translation of the Bible into Latin in the late 300’s A.D. That’s why to this day, all the Eastern Orthodox churches still maintain its use – having split from Rome almost 500 years before the Reformation, and 500 years before you claim it was “added” to the canon.

    What did happen at the Council of Trent is that for the first time the Catholic Church solemnly declared it to be the official and authoritative version of the Bible, after Martin Luther had challenged its validity.

    While there are many academic descriptions of the Septuagint available in print and online, I’ll offer you this brief study of it as found in the Lutheran (Missouri Synod) encyclopedia.


    The bottom line is, the seven deuterocanonical books of the OT (the Apocrypha) were not added to the Bible by the Church at the Reformation, they were removed from the Bible by Martin Luther at the Reformation.

  • Guthrum

    Look, I got a few as a child and I turned out ok. I have never bern in trouble, don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. I have a college degree and have worked since I was fifteen. I am a Christian. So I guess all of those spankings ruined me and gave me some psychosis. If my parents were around today they would be arrested. Their generation was such a failure, having lived through the Great Depression and World War II.

  • Um…no. I’ll simplify:

    Position X is talking about “SPANKING”
    Person B introduces Position Y and talks about “LAZY PARENTING”
    Then attacks “LAZY PARENTING” as being wrong.
    Therefore “SPANKING” is wrong.

  • cleos_mom

    There’s no defending beating a child but my mom did spank me with the back of a clothesbrush (big sound, little sting) when I’d repeatedly ignored her and crossed the line. I was a generally well-behaved kid but I would have laughed at “time out” as a punishment. And much of this rhetoric is little more or less than projecting adult thoughts and POVs into a six-year-old’s head.

  • cleos_mom

    Lots of Praise Jesus personal attacks here; not surprising.

  • David Coleman

    Since no one is going to directly comment on the matter at hand and try to defuse the question with scripture that has nothing to due with the subject at hand, I can see I am wasting my time here. What you Ron, and Ben are doing is usually what atheists due in conversations which switch the subject instead of staying with the subject at hand….mainly because they have no argument. I due understand where Ben is coming from with his situation, but that is not what the rule should be. Want to know how I know? Look at the youth of today, is their actions acceptable? Timeout evidently doesn’t work. And if spanking is unacceptable, what is the option, other than letting children keep turning out like they are. Look at how pathetic the youth of today are, have you done them a favor by not disciplining them?

    No! What you have done is handicapped your children. Made them unacceptable for adulthood. I can say this for sure, I am an employer, I go through employees like water…..their personal life is more important than being a responsible employee. Most look so ridiculous with the tattoos and piercings I can hardly keep a straight face when talking to them. One kid stuck his finger up as to say just a minute during an interview to text his buddy back.

    I spanked my children, as I was spanked. My son did 5 years in college and on the day he graduated from college, he made the final payment on his education. He never asked me for a dime, worked sometimes 2-3 jobs while in college, and is now, at age 28 a senior engineer for a power company in Oklahoma with a new house and a $120K a year job, and my daughter works for the prison system in Texas. Both pay their own way, are respectful, and are community minded individuals.

    My children have never cursed me, I have never cursed them and I’ve never given them alcohol for depression, because they are not depressed….of course that may have to do with my method of raising them and being a responsible father who put their lifelong well being over being the good liberal minded buddy friend to them that today’s political correctness says we should be.

    So what’s your testimony?

  • Nona

    In your scenario, Person B does not claim that Position Y is Person A’s position, so it does not fit the formula of a straw man. It’s really that simple. I don’t see why this is such a hard concept for you to grasp. I can try to teach you, but I can’t make you learn. If you absolutely refuse to listen to reason from me then by all means go get a second opinion from a professor of logic and debate at a local school. I guarantee he or she will tell you the same thing.

  • Guthrum

    It is just so ridiculous. I got a few spankings along the way, never in anger or without a reason. I turned out ok: college degree, went to work at 15, faithful church member, no arrests, no alcohol or illegal drugs. My parents were not child “abusers”. They had lived during the Great Depression, and served this country in WWII. They handed our generation the greatest nation in history. What is going on now? A moral crisis, attacks on the traditional family, scorn for traditional values, schools that have to have police officers, and corruption in high places.
    We have seen church pastors talking psuedo-psychology instead of preaching and teaching the Bible. Our church had some workshops over the years on raising children. We used the excellent books and materials of Dr. James Dobson, whom I highly recommend to any parent. His principles are based on the Bible, not some talk show host. Our workshops were so crowded that we had to offer repeat sessions. Parents today are tired of the mumbo jumbo talk of modern psychology. They want to hear what the Bible has to say. Our entire nation needs to turn to God.
    See 2 Chronicles 7:14.

  • Ron McPherson

    David, you wrote, “Since no one is going to directly comment on the matter at hand and try to defuse the question with scripture that has nothing to due with the subject at hand, I can see I am wasting my time here.”

    I AM directly commenting on the matter at hand. The Scripture reference in Leviticus has everything to do with the subject, because you stated in your original post: “Here’s my question to those who do not believe in spanking….is what the Bible says true or false? If you believe parts are right and parts are wrong then the Bible is a joke.”

    Your comments suggest that anyone who does not believe in spanking does not believe the Bible. I am not speaking against spanking. I am hoping that you see how such a generalized statement comes across to fellow Bible believers as argumentative and does not further the discussion. If you believe in spanking, that’s your decision. I’m not saying its wrong. I am merely suggesting that trying to convince others that THEY are wrong for NOT spanking, and dogmatically tying it back to Scripture is a slippery slope.

    You wrote, “What you Ron, and Ben are doing is usually what atheists due in conversations which switch the subject instead of staying with the subject at hand….mainly because they have no argument.”

    Jesus is my Lord and Savior and I desire to follow Him as such. I know Ben takes the words of Jesus as seriously as any author I’ve ever read. To resort to comparing brothers in Christ to atheists, merely because we might make a point that you disagree with or maybe cannot refute, is very unfortunate. And to say we “have no argument” pretty much says it all. I’m not interested in arguing. I thought I was pretty clear that I didn’t consider someone a bad parent because they spanked.

    You wrote, “I due understand where Ben is coming from with his situation, but that is not what the rule should be. Want to know how I know? Look at the youth of today, is their actions acceptable?”

    Which youth are you talking about? Some actions of youth are acceptable and some are not. Same with adults. Are you suggesting that inappropriate actions of youth are always attributable to a lack of spanking?

    You wrote, “Look at how pathetic the youth of today are, have you done them a favor by not disciplining them?”

    To make a blanket statement that the “youth of today” are “pathetic” says a lot. Plus, who has suggested that we should not discipline our kids? Are you suggesting that the only acceptable form of discipline is spanking?

    You wrote, “Most look so ridiculous with the tattoos and piercings I can hardly keep a straight face when talking to them.”

    Can we as adults not try to just love the youth without casting judgment based on their looks, regardless of whether they have a tattoo or not? What on earth does this have to do with spanking our kids? And how does such an attitude reflect Jesus in any way to them? Aren’t we to be Christ’s ambassadors? I sure hope you’re not equating them having a tattoo to them being “unacceptable for adulthood (your words).”

    You wrote, “My children have never cursed me, I have never cursed them and I’ve never given them alcohol for depression, because they are not depressed….of course that may have to do with my method of raising them and being a responsible father who put their lifelong well being over being the good liberal minded buddy friend to them that today’s political correctness says we should be.”

    You are blessed that your kids have turned out well and have a good life. I see where you offer the possibility that their lack of depression may have to do with your “method of raising them.” I take strong exception, however, to any insinuation that a LACK of depression may be tied to parental spanking. Depression is an illness, not just a state of mind. Want to know something? I have a kid who suffers from this illness? Want to know something else? I spanked him as a kid. It certainly didn’t ward off his depression.

  • In your scenario, Person B does not claim that Position Y is Person A’s position,

    Of course not!

    Person B doesn’t even address Position X but represents it as Position Y and attacks Position Y.

    I’ll try and make this as clear as possible to you.

    Person A states Position X: “Spanking can be an appropriate form of discipline.
    Person B presents Position Y: “Spanking [can not an appropriate form of discipline because it] is simply “lazy parenting.”
    Person B attacks position Y: “Lazy parenting is wrong”
    Therefore, Spanking is wrong.

    We can also remove it from being a straw man as it also commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent.

    [P] Spanking implies [Q] lazy parenting
    [Q] Lazy parenting is wrong.
    Therefore [P] spanking is wrong.

    Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirming_the_consequent

    I am ever so curious what your qualifications are to assert a guarantee that a professor would agree with you? (This is simply an appeal to authority on your part).

  • What needs? A need to be the centre of attention and never learn that there are other people to consider? There’s nothing in my behaviour that neglected the needs of my child. I actually think that what she DID need was to grasp that sometimes she has to do what she’s told AND that other people have important things to do (in that actual situation, we were going somewhere as a family, if I recall correctly – but that’s not the point!). With no place for any proper time-out or able to sit down and ‘reason’ with her I had one option. I’d really like to know exactly WHAT anyone who never smacks would have done.

    And as I warned, don’t fall into the trap of self-righteousness. We often accuse ‘conservatives’ of being judgemental of anyone who doesn’t agree with them. What’s happening here? Judging is a natural trait we all share, and we should be aware of it within ourselves, and not rise to it. So I disagree that one should NEVER smack a child, but I fully agree that doing it continually, or when it’s unnecessary, or taking a belt to a child for ‘six of the best’ is wrong. There are certain grounds upon which a majority would agree.

    To lay down a black-and-white ultimatum that it’s all just abuse serves only to polarise opinions further, and if you try to address real abuse, you’ll be ignored as a self-righteous anti-smacking lobbyist and not taken seriously, so pull back on your own judging for the sake of your soul AND the campaign against child abuse that needs to recognise the difference from a smack!

  • egirl

    Children learn through imitation – so my children are as strong willed as I am. I stand up for what I believe, but not to the extent where I walk over others. Of course children need guidance and teaching. But that is very different from doing an act which you would not condone your child then repeating on someone else. How would you feel if your child hit you (or their younger sibling) because you weren’t doing what they wanted? Children are designed to learn primarily through imitation – so if you hit them (or only look out for your own interests) then guess what your child will do . . . imitate that behaviour – which you will then punish them for. Sort of unfair – don’t you think? Parents are a heck of a lot bigger/stronger than a small child, so there is no excuse for them to behave toward a child in an aggressive way. If my child is in a dangerous situation I will pick her up gently and remove her to a safe space. I won’t smack her or yell at her for “not knowing better” because I don’t want her behaving that way toward me. And I continually receive compliments on both my children’s behaviour. Mine is not “the self entitlement attitude”. It is the “respect for self and others” attitude.

  • egirl

    Smacking for life preservation? So does that mean that if I’m friends with an alcoholic I should just smack him and then he won’t die from alcohol poisoning because he’ll have “learned his lesson”? My 2 year old never ran into the street because I was either carrying him or had her in a stroller. Prevention is always better than punishment. For parent and child.

  • Eric-Elise Harden

    Rev 3:19 All those I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent !(NET Bible) I’m glad God is a faithful Parent :-)

  • egirl

    I agree. I think there is an issue with all “punishment” because once I child moved out of home there is no accountability. For example if a child only behaves “well” because otherwise he will be spanked or sent for a time out, then when he enters the world as an adult he will not be in the habit of considering the effect of his actions on others, as there is no one to spank him, so he will just do what he “feels like” instead of what may be the most positive choice for all involved. And yes, there is jail – but people don’t get put in jail for being mean and disrespectful. The key, in my opinion, is setting a good example. If the parents are polite and respectful (to the child, others, and themselves) then likely the child will follow suit.

  • egirl

    In sincerity, I would consider what you would want her husband to do in 20 year when she does something that undermines his plans. Would you like him to smack her. Or would you prefer he have a calm conversation with her, ensuring her that she is more important than his plans. Your daughter will likely choose a man who treats her the way you do.

  • Ymoore

    I’ll tell you, “Jesus” and any other child “expert” you have that if my child doesn’t listen to me at 8, he or she won’t listen to anyone else at 12, 13, 14, 16….and at that time the police in all 50 states have the legal right to kill my child in the street for as small an offense as “talking back” or not “obeying” fast enough–and there’s not a jury in the nation,including ones that have some of these parenting experts as jurors, that would say anything other than OK, justifiable use of force. Look, if you don’t believe in spanking, by all means don’t do it. But don’t legally impose your views on everyone else. I know of few parents who have all day and night long to talk their children into complying, and I know of no teachers or schools systems w/that kind of time either. Ironically, school systems now call police to deal w/unruly students as young a 7. Children as young a 7 have been arrested and hand-cuffed and taken away by police for throwing tantrums in school. To me, that’s not just insane, it’s child abuse. The spankings I received as a child taught me that everything that went through my mind didn’t need to come out of my mouth. That’s very important if you want to earn a living and go home after police traffic stops. I spanked, but I wasn’t a big spanker. So, when my teen son told me he knew his Constitutional rights when stopped by police, I had to tell him that he didn’t have ANY rights, Constitutional, civil, human, or anything else, IN THE STREET, but rather, he has rights in a COURT ROOM — BUT HE HAS TO LIVE TO GET THERE. Spanking a child can teach the kind of self control that can later save his life.

  • Tracy

    Well you had to be there and be in her position. Downs kids are quite intelligent and know right from wrong, unlike someone who is severely mentally challenged. Perhaps you would have rather my mother just left to to it to get hit my the train instead? You cannot lump all special needs people in the one basket. I know my sister. She is very stubborn. And she used to climb a high fence to get out and nothing else stopped her. so… what would you have done…. perhaps chained her to the clothes line?

  • Tracy

    so you are saying your kids could not understand the meaning of no? Of course they knew better. They just wanted to do it their way and not yours. Kids have to learn that their parents are in charge of them. Studies have shown that strong willed children whos parents are not in charge, become teens with low self esteem and insecurity issues. If they are the ones in charge, who is in charge of them? makes them very insecure. I am not ( for the 50th time) advocating smacking as a first resort. Only a last resort when they are in danger and nothing else has worked. My kids are great kids too btw… so it proves nothing apart from the fact we are prob both loving parents who try our best.

  • Tracy

    Last time i checked most alcoholics are adults – and good for you having perfect kids.

  • David Coleman

    I tell ya what Ron, you win. I have neither the time or desire to banter back and forth with you and we will never convince either one of our way of thinking or how we perceive scripture as to what is right or wrong or whatever. The thing I didn’t see until just now is what is written at the top pf the page “Progressive Christian Channel” Rick Warren says he is a progressive Christian and I will not debate in that platform. Peace, God Bless, and Goodbye.

  • Ron McPherson

    David, I’m not trying to “win” anything. Just trying to address your comments and to show how words matter. Not quite sure what Rick Warren has to do with this discussion, but oh well. Peace brother.

  • egirl

    My children know that the words “stop” and “no” are extremely important, as they mean that you have (or are about to) cross a line that the other person is not comfortable with.

    “Do as I say, not as I do” has never worked.

  • egirl

    The habits and values we are taught as children are very challenging to change as adults.

    By the way I am intending to have an intelligent conversation, debating over a topic we both feel strongly about. I hardly think personal remarks are necessary.

  • egirl

    Honestly one of the reasons we see more “badly behaved kids around nowadays” is because of their exposure to television and videogames, which not only feed aggression, but also use time that previously would have been spent either helping with house chores or socializing outdoors.

  • Herro

    >Revelation when understood in the 1st century context when the events occurred, is a very anti-violence book.

    So Revelation is *against* all the violent divine acts described in the book?

  • jillybean

    Hi Tracy, I think that when a child runs out in front of a car, you grab the child, hang on tight, and say NO. The terror in your voice and manner will communicate itself to the child just as well as a smack. But I think a more important question is, if your 2 year old can run into the traffic, are you close enough to the child to protect him from danger? When I couldn’t trust my daughter to obey me, I knew she wasn’t ready yet for being on the street without a stroller or holding my hand.

  • I respect that that is important Protestant teaching, for many denominations, but Greg is correct that it’s not exactly historically real.

    There might not have been a solid declaration of canonicity before Trent, although statements of less solidity go back to the 4th century as the deuterocanonicals are part of the oldest Christian Bibles we have. The Codex Sinaiticus looks to contain Judith, Tobit, Maccabees, and Sirach. The deuterocanonical work are also in Eastern Orthodoxy. (Eastern Orthodoxy also has the Prayer of Manessah and some other thing I forget)

    Many of the early Reformers, I believe, felt that skepticism by St. Jerome and their lack of being in the Jewish Tanakh invalidated them. You could also argue that early New Testaments sometimes contain the Shepherd of Hermas or The Epistle of Barnabas, which we do not include. However you can’t really argue that they were “added into the Bible” when it can easily be shown they were in Christian Bibles, West and East, in the fourth and fifth century AD or probably earlier. (I’m not sure we have any Christian Bibles from before the fourth century. The Dead Sea Scrolls apparently contain Tobit and Sirach, but there’s lots of complications with them and they are more Essene or Jewish I guess. Greg covered much of this better than I, so partly this is a concurrence)

    As for spanking I don’t personally think Christians have to do it or that they are forbidden from it. I remain unconvinced occasional spanking is all that harmful, but I’m equally unconvinced parents who don’t spank are bad parents or end up with bad kids. It depends on the parent, the situation, etc. I do think when spanking is commonplace there’s a good chance it will make the kid hard, angry, or emotionally cold. (I’m skeptical it makes them psycho or anything, but emotionally cold or unforgiving is not good as a Christian)

  • Tracy

    And I understand that. But I was quoting a situation when my sister was a child ( with downs syndrome) and she would run away at every chance including climbing high fences to do so, and nothing could get thru to her that she was endangering herself. So my mum smacked her. It put an end to her running away. And according to some on here, my mother was an abuser and should have had her child taken of her. It just makes me sick that people can be so self righteous about their beliefs to the point of condemning others who are trying their best for their kids. All I am saying is in some cases, its needed. But that is my personal opinion

  • Tracy

    ok. It is the frustrating talking when people cannot seem to see anothers point of view and say ok… i might not agree, but I can understand you/ or your mother were doing their level best at the time with the knowledge they were given. People are very quick to condemn without the experience themselves to lean on. And like I said somewhere else – smacking to me is the final thing ( when nothing else works) and only when the child is not old enough to understand reasoning or other forms of discipline.

  • Rick Warren isn’t a progressive, but it would be silly to discount a discussion on a broad channel that has progressive evangelicals, mainline progressives, and Anabaptists (this particular blog being the latter), simply because you don’t like the broad term used to encompass those very different groups.

  • Personally, I think the Jews have the right to be the arbiter of their own cannon, and these apocryphal books have not historically been viewed as inspired– we even see Jesus quoting from all over the Hebrew scriptures, but not these disputed books. Even when included in some bibles, as others have pointed out is the case, they’ve often been included in the back, being seen as “useful” but not inspired.


  • Have you studied apocalyptic texts? It is a very symbolic genre of ancient literature, and Revelation is one such written to seven churches as a note of encouragement. This is the genre that has seven headed beasts and the like. You can’t read them the way evangelicals want you to read them.

  • egirl

    I agree, it is frustrating talking when peole cannot seem to see anothers point of view.

    My husband was spanked as a child, and it took him almost 10 years of our relationship to learn empathy. That now makes sense to me since “spanking is shown to actually damage the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The damage caused to the brain is a reduction of gray matter, which is directly linked to depression, addiction, and other mental disorders.” (quote from above article).

    I have also done a lot or reading and research on child discipline, both from Christian and secular sources. And I have experience working with children with disabilities.

    Obviously I’m not perfect – who is? But that doesn’t give me the right to hit (even if I call it swatting, spanking or any other euphamism).

    If you spank a young child because they’re “not old enough to understand reasoning or other forms of discipline” then you’re setting them up for further trouble (including the inability to make decisions). According to a new study published in “Pediatrics”, researchers at Tulane University showed that “The odds of a child being more aggressive at age 5 increased by 50% if he had been spanked more than twice in the month before the study began”.

    So what will your answer be when the child who couldn’t understand as a 3-year-old is now an agressive 5-year-old? You will have a lot more of those “last resort” moments when you will feel the need to spank. It is an unending cycle.

  • jillybean

    I’m not judging your mum at all, Tracy, and I don’t think for a second that she was abusive. When I was growing up, there were very few parents who absolutely never smacked their kids, and I’m not willing to say that every adult I knew was abusive or cruel. And especially not those coping with challenging situations that I was lucky enough never to have to face. Peace to you.

  • Von Runkle

    Actually, Benjamin, the Church isn’t deciding for the Jews what books are in their canon of scripture. The Church is deciding for itself which books will be in her own canon of scripture. To wit, we don’t seek Jewish approval about which letters of Paul, or which gospels to accept. They don’t accept any of them!

    The same Church that determined which books to accept and not accept in the NT, also decided which books of the OT to accept and reject. If they had no right (authority) to accept the pre-Christian Greek OT, then it follows that they had no right to settle on the NT either. But if they had the right (authority) to whittle down the NT to the final 27 canonical books (among many more extant at the time), then they also had the right to determine which OT to use (the latter Greek, or older Hebrew) for the Church, too. Right?

  • Thanks for the response.

    I may just have to get myself a copy of your book!

  • But ironically, spanking them is shown to make them more aggressive (violent) thus more likely to end up in a court room. There’s a 3rd way; I’d encourage you to not see this as an either/or situation.

  • Prime example of lazy parenting. The fact that you can’t see an alternative to beating your children shows that you’re not even trying. My child is happy, healthy, well adjusted, and respects authority… and I got there without beating her even once.

    It’s lazy, because it is a supreme lack of effort to find an alternative.

  • Th

    Each and every time adults spank children, they announce to themselves and the World “I have failed in my responsibilities as a parent and teacher.”

  • Jen

    I read a lot on what not to do or how you shouldn’t raise your kid and not a lot on what I can do or what works and what’s healthy. I just keep reading about positive discipline but don’t have any actual tools to implement that in a tangible way. Could you post a link or article that could help with that? My kids are still very young and I’d like to start off on the right foot. Thanks!

  • Tracy

    Thank you Jillybean – that was a very grace filled response. :)

  • Dear fellow believer; 2 Chron. 7:14 isn’t really about them, it’s about US! It was only this month I blogged on it myself:


  • Oh my goodness! You have NO idea just how apt that reply is right now. My daughter grew to be a loving and caring person, who makes friends for life and shares, and cannot comprehend ‘friends’ who just use her. She would never use anybody for her own ends. Then she left home, due to a witch who led her astray (her autism leaves her vulnerable to anyone who can manipulate her since she is just so trusting). Along came a new boyfriend, a knight in shining armour who rescued her and actually helped her to reconcile with us. He seemed to be like me in many ways, and I grew to like him. They had a daughter unplanned before they married. I worked on the wedding with him as she handed that over to us. I walked her down the aisle and gave her away. BIGGEST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE!

    This guy masquerades as anything to anyone to get them on his side. He actually has forbidden any smacking of his child, so he just MUST be a good parent, right? Only this weekend an incident occurred with our granddaughter (just turned 3) that has me inches from calling social services on him. He is a psychotic bully and a misogynist who lies, twists and coerces our daughter into staying with him in the misguided hope that he’ll change… someday! Nothing would please me more than to see him vanish. I fear for the upbringing of my granddaughter, truly, yet she will never be spanked. While judging is a trait we should avoid and abstain from, there are times when we are entitled to make reasoned judgements about people, which is wisdom and discernment. This ‘smacking=bad/lazy parenting’ is far too simplistic a view of the complex issue of how to raise kids. FACT: I am a thousand times better as a person and a parent than HIM!

    Reconcile that!

  • Where does this ‘unending cycle’ thing come from? Sounds like a soundbite from Fox news! It is absolutely UNTRUE! I recall my mother threatening me with a smack, though I have NO recollection of her doing it, BUT she did! She confirms it – it was when I was very young, and then I knew that it WOULD happen again if I misbehaved. I was a good child, so it worked. Same with my kids: I have no recollection of having smacked them as they got older. It was only used on a rare occasion and then they learnt.

    If I came across a parent who was continually having to smack their child in an ‘unending cycle’ I’d just tell them “IT’S NOT WORKING!”

  • I have actually uncovered an inherent flaw in your blog, due to the posting here. You have blogged before about the original sin in Eden being that we aspire to be like God and judge people. I concur that passing judgements on people is fraught with difficulty and Christians should do their best to avoid it, and try to understand those we disagree with or find a meeting point. Once I posted that I believe in the use of spanking, no matter how I couched that with ‘sparingly, ‘as a last resort’, ‘NOT continually’… I was met with outright judgement and condemnation that I could even consider such a crime against the human race! You even did it yourself when you called it ‘lazy parenting’ – that in itself is a blanket judgement upon all parents who have ever spanked their children, and in itself I think is unbecoming of a Christian. I know many parents who have spanked to be models of parenthood, and others who have never spanked to be pathetic parents or have turned out very bad children who can even be violent.

  • Herro

    This has nothing to do with what evangelicals want.

    Sure, I’ve read a book or two on apocalyptic texts. And they almost always (I want to say “always”) deal with the end of the world and/or the punishment of “bad people” that goes along with it.

    You have plenty of that in Revelation. There are angels of god unleashing all sorts of nasty things as punishment on the Earth. It’s divine violence.

    (And it’s exactly the sort of violence that Jesus seems to be OK with in the gospels)

  • egirl

    I feel for your difficult situation and for the position your daughter and granddaughter are in. While we don’t agree on the spanking issue, I have great empathy for you and your family. I sincerely hope that the best will come and that your grandchild will have care in which you feel secure about her safety and wellbeing. No matter how much we adults always think our own way is right, the important thing is to keep in mind always that it is the innocent child who is most in need of consideration and love. I’m sure we agree on that.
    All the best . . .

  • Agree! Thank you!

  • Starloa

    I like your thoughts, coming from a Christian with two kids who are NOT spanked. It takes creativity, patience and consistency.

  • Realist1234

    I dont think it is relevant that your single child’s behaviour is good without the occassional ‘spanking’. Numerous adults who were ‘spanked’ as a child could say the same thing about themselves so of itself it does not really mean anything. It seems more to rely on the child’s own reaction to the punishment rather than the punishment itself. And you seem to be using the word ‘beating’ to summarise any sort of corporal punishment such as a slap on the bottom. Having said that, perhaps as I am not a parent I should not be taking part in this debate. So Ill shut up…(ps the guy that mentioned your adopting is clearly one of the stupidest and nastiest idiots around, and he needs a good slap lol)

  • Sergio

    Fundies love the “Moneychanger” story to justify their abusive and abrasive behaviors.

    First, you and I are not Jesus Christ. What the Lord chooses to do is His business, not ours.
    Second, it is the “ONLY” example where the Lord used physical chastisement to correct a problem. He was dealing with O.T. Jews before the crucifixion. After Calvary N.T. doctrine begins and you will not find any scripture in Pauline Doctrine referencing physical chastisement.
    Third, you will find manifold more N.T. scripture expressing “LOVE” than chastisement
    Fourth, you can be “angry” but sin not. But you cannot translate anger into physical chastisement.

    You will only find two uses of the word “angry” in Pauline Doctrine (That being doctrine for N.T. believers):

    Eph_4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

    Tit_1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

  • Terri

    There’s never a good reason to spank a child. Dobson and his ilk should be banned. I have talked to other foster parents who can’t wait to adopt so they can institute Dobson’s way of raising a child. He teaches to break the child’s will…..never a good idea if you actually want a functioning adult. JUST STOP THE HITTING, IT IS ABUSE!

  • Jonathan Bernier

    But what if they’re really naughty and I’m losing my patience? J/K, of course, but it raises an important point: my suspicion is that parents who spank do so more to vent their own frustrations than to institute effective discipline.

  • Um, not sure how this comment applies to anything I’ve stated. And I’m not even familiar with “Dobson’s way of raising a child,” you’ve simply made an assumption.

  • vector_ray

    I think the problem with spanking is a cultural problem, not a biblical one. Framing it around whether it’s Christian or not, was wrong, since the Bible doesn’t reference it either way.

  • vector_ray

    I think we need a poll of how many adults here were spanked as children. I was.

  • Maria

    This whole “spare the rod, spoil the child thing” meaning only spanking… could we please make up our minds as to what parts of scripture we take literally and what parts figuratively? Because as it is there is no rhyme or reason as to what is taken literally (especially in the OT) and what is not taken literally. If we take “spare the rod” literally, then there is a WHOLE lot more we should be taking literally.

  • CaptainRex

    As a member of a family that is strongly involved in adoption and foster-parenting, I find the idea that adopted children are somehow “second best” to biological children harmful and repulsive! God bless you and your beautiful children.

    I was spanked as a child, and I don’t think it harmed me too much, but I’m sure it didn’t start until I was at least 2, and it was fairly infrequent. It may have exacerbated my anxiety disorder a bit, but it’s hard to tell since I don’t exactly have a “control me” to compare with. I do think that if I ever have kids, I would not feel right spanking them. I’m not entirely sure how I would discipline them, as any discipline I got as a kid bred rebellion (time-outs) or aversion (extra chores), and actually changing my behavior didn’t really kick in until I was old enough to develop my empathy and reasoning skills (meaning: I don’t feel like doing this, but it won’t really hurt me, and it will be less unpleasant for everybody if I help out for a little bit). Perhaps ironically, that bit didn’t come until the spankings were well in the past.

  • Late to this comment thread, so I don’t know what’s been said. What needs to be said, though, is that Scripture does not teach physical discipline of young children. It’s just bad exegesis of Proverbs that has become entrenched over two generations of fundamentalists and evangelicals latching onto a misreading of four passages in Proverbs in reaction to the permissiveness of the 1950s. There are no little children in Proverbs; only young men (naar). It’s time for thinking Christian parents to abandon and challenge the false “divine mandate” dogma of spanking, and practice the “love and a spirit of gentleness” model suggested by Paul in contrast to the rod (1 Cor 4:21). If you want the full picture of this view, you can get it in my book Heartfelt Discipline. If you’re still holding onto a “rod” of any kind, it’s time to let it go and go back to Scripture. Spanking is not God’s idea; it’s man’s.

  • expat360

    i read the article. i am fully aware that there are adults who hurt and abuse children, i did not grow up in a bubble. A smack on the bum does still not equate to abuse, are you aware of that?

  • Don Lowery

    Actually…it can be classified as assault or sexual abuse when you do it to an adult. But according to you…you do it to a child it’s okay. Sounds like you never learned that “NO” actually does mean “NO”…no matter if you feel obligated to follow either the law or Jesus.

  • I’m not sure what’s worse, that you’ve stated that “it can be classified…” or that others might agree with you.

    Simply because something “can” be classified as something doesn’t mean that it ALWAYS is or should be classified as such. It’s embarrassing to see how many people use this type of argument and think that it effective.

    I guess according to you any athlete or coach who slaps a teammate or player on the rear end for a good play has assaulted or sexually abused that person.

  • Don Lowery

    It has to do with control and power. Chances are if that person(s) has more control and/or power over you…you would/should be able to control yourself. The secretary/waitress/child has little or no power…so you have no problem showing them you do have the power/control over them and are more than willing to use it. Try again!

  • From my example a coach would have this control/power over a player. You apparently neglected this fact.

    You do realize just how sexist it sounds to say that a secretary/waitress has little or no power, right? Not to mention the proper term for secretary is administrative assistant..

    Anyways, your defense still fails. Because in the case of disciplining a child any type of discipline displays power/control from the parent over the child to correct negative behavior. To apply your argument would mean that parents should not discipline their children at all.

    Rather than trying to keep with your poor argument/defense you should listen and learn.

  • Not to mention, I don’t see how a parent disciplining a child is anything like an adult making an unwanted sexual advance towards another adult. These are two completely different things so trying to equate them is rather naive.

  • No one is advocating parents don’t discipline (train) their children. They’re simply saying that it should be done without the use of violence.

    And you’re wrong about the sexual connection: if you slapped a woman on the butt in the grocery store, you’d be arrested for sexual assault.

  • Yes, the connotation people are making in their advocating against spanking is quite clear. The issue is that most of what has been said by their advocating is either naive or judgmental. Things like associating any form of discipline involving spanking as “violence.”

    I apologize if you are unable to see the difference between disciplining/training a child by spanking and slapping a woman on the butt in the grocery store?

    However, if the woman in the grocery store was your spouse/girlfriend, I highly doubt you’d get arrested.

  • Ok, so slapping an adult to make them cry would be violence, but slapping a child to make them cry would just be “discipline”. Got it. Seems to make sense.

  • THANK YOU!!!

    But you’re wrong, a parent doesn’t slap their child to make them cry. This type of thinking is exactly what I mean by naive and judgmental. It’s not much different than a person telling their pastor they were not blessed with biological children because of not spanking.

    I’ve made my children cry for putting them in time out or for taking a toy away because they were throwing it at each other. I guess this was an inappropriate method of discipline to use with my children because I made them cry, I’ll never do that again!

    I hope you would define appropriate discipline for a child as using a negative stimulus to decrease inappropriate behavior. And that a parent should also train a child using a positive stimulus to reinforce appropriate behaviors. But when we focus on the negative stimulus, whether it’s spanking or time-out, the goal of the parent is to teach their child that inappropriate behavior has a consequence and if you want to avoid the negative stimulus then you avoid the inappropriate behavior. If done properly the parent will have to “discipline using the negative stimulus” less and less as the child grows and learns which behaviors are inappropriate.

  • Except that the negative stimuli you are using is harming your children. That’s not judgmental, that’s just science.

  • Sorry, but you haven’t accounted for possible misinterpretations made or the numerous questions left unanswered by the research. Or additional factors that were not included in the research that could affect the data.

    What you have done is an attempt to justify your judgment of parents who spank their children. Your “just science” is only one of many justifications you’ve included in your post.

    I also wish I could believe you when you say it’s “not judgmental.” Can you honestly look in the mirror and say that if a parent told you they spank their child as a form of discipline you would look at them the same way as you would a parent who doesn’t spank?

    Do you think that non-violent forms of discipline alleviate all potential harm done to children?

  • Michael Brian Woywood

    I appreciate the sentiment, but you can’t convince me that hitting a child is ever the appropriate way to teach or discipline, no matter how measured it is.

  • Reality

    Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”
    Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
    Ephesians 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord”
    John 2:15 “And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;”
    Hebrews 12:5 “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:”
    Hebrews 12:11 “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

    Titus 2:
    1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
    2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
    3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
    4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
    5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

    We do not teach the young sufficiently to create any gray matter in the prefrontal cortex. Then we blame the lack of gray matter and behavior as adults on discipline; as justification for our failures and then teaching others to hate their children? Then try to straw model GOD’s Perfect Plan into our limited mentality and concepts of reality? Is HE here for us or are we here because of HIM?

    Then maybe we can figure out our jobs and teach the young the difference between love and abuse; to stop blasphemes of the Word. Then maybe we can rate more than spoilt children playing in the sandbox ourselves, at least sufficient of understanding to not hear; Matthew 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ “

    Maybe we can stop listening to those trying to sell books and actually read the BOOK! Then maybe we can also figure out why the world is so screwed up.

  • Proverbs is talking about beating young adult men, not children, so if you’re going to follow “the book” at least be technically accurate with it: it would be for males only, and only young adult males.

  • Reality

    In Proverbs 13:24, the Hebrew word used for son is ben (Strong’s #1121); means son, grandson, children male and female….. and used 4924 times in the Bible. It is used to describe from the womb forward in actuality. Where do you derive this stuff from?

    The message was not for you nor do I have time to teach you. If you have something to say; then say something. Why not figure out what your job is and go do it.

  • damon

    You won’t always be there to prevent your children from running into danger. if you discipline your children to know what’s dangerous they won’t even think about it cause their first thought will be , “my dads gonna beat my ass if i do that.” That’s going to improve the odds of success more than them thinking,”my dads gonna have a long talk with me.” Its called discipline for a reason. there is a large margin between that and abuse. the only reason people call it abuse these days is because they got raised with discipline and still are too childish to admit ,”i deserved that and i waswrong to do it.” Instead people would rather put their short comings off on their parents for “abusing them”. Every kid is individual to the other but odds are if you don’t discipline your kids they will grow up being spoiled brats.

  • Ridiculous. To “discipline” means to “train” and not a single person is advocating that kids shouldn’t be trained- they’re advocating that we do it without the use of violence. Your argument that “beating” (your words) is the only and primary way to train children shows ignorance and a lack of concern for children.

  • Alex Cobb

    There’s too much bad science here! It hurts!

  • Alex Cobb


  • Alex Cobb

    You can’t say, “yeah, I realize science says something, but I don’t want to believe it, so here’s some rhetoric.” and expect us all to change our minds.

  • Alex Cobb

    “The children of today” aren’t any worse than the children of yesterday or before that. Every generation has lamented at how its children act, you just weren’t around in the 1500s to complain about the next generation and their “explorations” or in the 1920s to complain about the youth’s “women’s voting rights” or whatever else was happening around those times. If you knew your history, you would know that every generations has been derided as disrespectful and lazy by their elders. It’s just what older people tend to do. So no, parents haven’t failed their kids by not spanking them, and your anecdotal evidence falls in the face of scientific inquiry.

  • Alex Cobb

    This is a fallacy of epic proportions!

  • Alex Cobb

    There is absolutely no evidence for that whatsoever. There is actually evidence that that is completely false.

  • Alex Cobb

    She wants statistics, so you give her an anecdote? A+.

  • Ymoore

    I don’t expect you to change your mind. But I do want you to keep your mind via laws out of my house–my house and the homes of other parents charged with keeping their children whom they love–not study subjects–alive through adolescence to responsible adulthood. That’s all.

  • Ymoore

    One more thing, for parents who spank, spanking is not the only thing they’re doing. We’re talking, we’re loving, we’re laughing, we’re guiding, we’re having a relationship with our children and that matters. Again, if you don’t do it, God bless you and heaven shine upon you. But leave your laws off of my family.

  • Alex Cobb

    The problem is, if you are causing objective harm to your children, that is a serious problem. What you do in your home is your own business, as long as it only affects you. Hitting your children affects them as well, and that’s where the problem starts. But there’s no way I’ll advocate another law. It’s not the governments job to raise your kids!

  • Ymoore

    Then we’re straight. One more thing: a 2013 Harris poll show 86 % of Americans were spanked as children. 86% of Americans are not violent or criminals.

  • Alex Cobb

    Harmful effects of hitting your children won’t always manifest themselves in criminal behavior.

  • Ymoore

    OK, I’m listening. Give me an example.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    I have been bothered a lot lately by the opinions on parenting expressed at my family’s church. (I have not been comfortable at this Southern Baptist institution in over a decade, but until I’m gainfully employed and can afford to move out on my own I’m also uncomfortable explaining to my parents all the reasons why I do not want to go back there with them.) People are usually too subtle to explicitly advocate corporal punishment, but it does happen on occasion.

    An egregious example was when one mother in my Sunday School class talked about a time she took her toddler to Chick-fil-A and was forced to take him to the bathroom to spank him at least a dozen times in the span of a single hour. I don’t see how anyone could possible consider that a good idea. At that point it should be clear even to those who know nothing about raising children that the tactic is not working. Continuing in such a situation is insanity. Despite this, she kept complaining about how her son was abusing her by telling those around them what was about to happen. She showed zero empathy for her child, instead just worrying about how he could be ruining her reputation as a good mother. She admitted that his initial crime had not been that serious, but opined that all disobedience must be crushed in order to instill a proper respect for authority. She clearly expressed that children must be forced to accept parental authority so that they will also respect the authority imposed on them by the police, government officials, and ultimately God. She very much seemed to think that giving birth means her son must treat her like a god, rather than that she has a duty to treat the little child like she would treat Jesus himself. I don’t think anyone with her view of authority should ever be trusted with any. Her defense only made the crime look worse in my eyes. She might as well have requested to have a millstone tied to her neck and be thrown into the sea.

    Everyone else in the class, however, seemed to be empathizing with her and agreeing that she was in the right. My sister was sort of an exception. She remained silent. I had convinced her to choose corporal punishment as the topic for a research paper during college, so she had plenty of definitive research showing how bad it is. I don’t blame her for not having the courage to speak up to that group any more than I blame myself (I don’t expect these people would trust any parenting advice from any non-parent, so it would be pearls before swine), but it did bother me that she did not seem bothered enough. When mom asked us that day how Sunday School went, she answered that it went really well and that she liked the class.

    (I remember being strongly reminded at that time of when the pastors elder son taught in an earlier Sunday school class, and spoke specifically about old argument in favor of eternal punishment based on any offense against a being of infinite dignity being an infinite offense. He gave the example that it you would face greater legal punishment for assaulting the president than assaulting a random civilian. I remember thinking that this is obviously completely backwards. That a legal system gives greater protection to the powerful only demonstrates how corrupt the system is, and is of no use in moral analogies. Morally, assaulting the president would be if not equal then a lesser crime than assaulting a random citizen (who probably has never ordered drone strikes that killed innocent bystanders), and certainly a far lesser crime than assaulting a small child. Basing theology on the medieval Weregild or similar human customs rather than the teaching of Christ is dangerous. Spanking children to teach obedience to the dominant authority can only reinforce such a unChristian worldly worldview. Jesus taught that the greatest offense is committed against the least of these, against those below us in the social hierarchy rather than above. In a moral calculus we should if anything divide by the honor of the offended party, never multiply. A finite offense against an infinite being could thus never be infinite, but infinitesimal. This line of reasoning not only does not demand eternal damnation, but entirely rules out the possibility of punishment for divine satisfaction. It of course rules out neither temporary chastisement with redemptive intent nor euthanasia for the firmly unrepentant. I still think Conditional Immortality is the most biblical alternative, but there is a stronger case for Universal Reconciliation than Eternal Damnation.)

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    I only distinctly recall being spanked in only one incident as a child. I’m not quite sure how old I was, but I know that the doorknob on the closet door in the hall where it happened was a couple inches above the level of my head. The incident began as a disagreement with my mother (I don’t remember what it was about), which got more intense when my father entered the room and started arguing too. He kept repeating the same point just in a louder voice, whereas I kept approaching the situation with rational arguments from different directions. I remained fairly calm as he got increasingly upset and then threatened a spanking. (My mother said he was overreacting, but he seemed to think that my disrespecting her was more important than him listening to her about how to deal with the situation.)

    I remember thinking at the time that a spanking was just a embarrassing rather than painful. (My mom says that I was spanked a couple times a week from age 2 to 3, but only once or twice at a time very lightly with a bare hand. Dropping the pants was a bigger deal than the actual physical impact.)

    My dad got a belt out of the closet and whipped me with it 5 times. It hurt a lot, but did nothing to change my resolve. If anything it make me more defiant, more convinced that I had defeated him in rational discourse and that his resort to violence was merely the action of a sore looser. I came right out and told him as much, through my tears. He then sent me to my room for one hour of time out. I refused to come down for the rest of the day, and in the morning reminded my parents that I was still in the right.

    They never tried corporal punishment again.

  • egirl

    Really?!? There’s no evidence that when children are watching tv or playing video games that they are therefore not instead doing chores, socializing or playing outdoors. Amazing!

    In terms of there being no evidence that children are worse behaved because of screen time, there actually IS evidence. Here is just one of the many, many, many examples:

    “Taken together, [studies show] internet addiction is associated with structural and functional changes in brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attention, decision making, and cognitive control.”
    –research authors summarizing neuro-imaging findings in internet and gaming addiction (Lin & Zhou et al, 2012)


  • John Jordan

    So you’re advocating the beating of young adult men then? Is foolishness only bound in the hearts of young adult men, and with them alone will the rod of correction drive it far away? Or is it young adult men only whose souls will be delivered from hell ? Obviously the Bible often uses masculine pronouns for things that apply to all of mankind, and as Reality mentioned, the words can often encompass everyone. I couldn’t care less what “the experts” say.. I know that the Bible teaches discipline as a complex issue, that does not begin or end with spanking.. though that is a part of it. Of course abuse is wrong, of course timing is important, of course love and discretion is needed.. but to say that the Bible is AGAINST spanking… oh boy. Would Jesus spank His kids.. well He didn’t have biological children.. so no.. but if He had, He may have had so much wisdom and understanding that He would know how to raise children in a way that doesn’t require it. I don’t know. I do know this though, the Bible has plainly instructed the rest of us fallible fathers in how to raise our children properly, there’s a lot involved, but spanking is certainly not excluded.

  • John Jordan

    I wish I’d have been spanked more.. I think it would’ve saved me a lot of pain.

  • Alex Cobb

    There’s no evidence that television and video games CAUSE aggression. Occasionally, you can find a correlation, but not a causation. If that were the case, why did violent crime drop dramatically as kids played more video games and watched more TV?

  • Alex Cobb

    It may foster disrespect to authority, a lowered ability to connect to other people, and an a hesitation to love, all of which are things we see plenty of today.

  • Richard Lambert

    …for me, it wasint so much the belting/spankings…it was the threats, the sudden and unexpected bursts of anger that left me confused and in fear. The all around stupid, worthless, thoughtless, horrible s***y word he didint mind laying into my psyche. He didint care about me, he made it perfectly clear when mom broke up with him and told me he wasint my dad anymore, just to hurt her…he was more concerned about her than me. Of course he ended up coming back…more than once…always with more anger, and more ways to prove he just wasint REALLY there for me. He once told me he loved me….i wanted to vomit.

  • Richard Lambert

    Yes, because women can teach and lead just as well as any man…and even if that were not true, how i wish men would step up and love their wives and sister as Christ did….there’s nothing satanic about that.

  • Read my satire for free online. It exposes the crass cruelty and hypocrisy BEHIND this destructive doctrine promoted by Solomon, a cruel OT despot who whipped his slaves and worshipped idols https://www.scribd.com/document/276509884/The-Punitive-Paternal-Priesthood

  • Not all kids need to be punished physically. It’s a last resort for a child who is defying his/her parents openly.

  • Please elaborate: which Scripture(s) forbid the use of corporal punishment?

  • Raymond Nolan Scott

    mental health problems like anxiety, depression

  • Tia Brown

    Hello, so very late in responding, but if I may answer your question:
    To be frank, you’ve never actually read the Word of God. The scripture is based largely in Jewish culture. Much of the original Old Testament is written in ancient Hebrew. When interpreting scripture, it is imperative that you understand that translations are not infallible. Hebrew has so much depth of meaning to it that makes our English seem shallow. So to answer your specific question, the “rod” is indeed litteral. But in hebrew it rather means “guidance” “teaching” “instruction”, as with a shepherd’s rod or a king’s scepter. Both of those things in the jewish culture are not used for hitting except on their enemies. Also, if I may add, Proverbs was written very specifically in the original Hebrew to refer to young adult men. So even if one may still draw the conclusion to use hitting, they must hit adults and not children. You will never find anything in Scripture that specifically advocates hitting children. In fact, hitting adults as punishment was pretty common in Jewish culture.