John Piper Wants to Go to Prison: An Argument For Hitting a Child

John Piper Wants to Go to Prison: An Argument For Hitting a Child November 12, 2015

JoeSandsby Joe Sands cross posted from his blog Incongruous Circumspection

Originally posted June 2011

John Piper is a very odd man. He is old and has many a follower that will stick up for him when there is even a tiny whisper of dissent. He tends to say some incendiary things, and then grandstands when the ridicule comes shooting in, waving it off as being persecuted for the truth. But in many cases, the truth for John
Piper is a relativistic sort of thing. He sees many things in life as being very dichotomous – black vs. white, having no color.
One of those areas is spanking. And the way he gets around to telling us why he believes in spanking is very odd indeed. He titles his chat, “Would Jesus Spank a Child?”

Watching Johnny talk in his multitudinous video collection online, this title does not surprise me in the least. He did it for the express reason of causing areaction. It worked. He got one out of me.

Let’s explore what drivel he has to say. You will notice that I have nothing but disdain for this man. He is a cancer on society in my opinion. A threat to freedom in Christ. Any good that he does in preaching what he deems as “the truth” is negated by his worldview as pertaining to simple things like “roles” for women (and men, of course…you have to be politically correct when you’re trying to put a woman in her place by pretending to care what role a man has, rather than just glorying in the fact that you were created to be superior to the “weaker sex”) and of course, spanking.
Piper Boy starts out with this:

“If Jesus were married and had children, I think he would have spanked the children.”

The fact is, Jesus wasn’t married and never had any children,. unless you believe in The Davinci Code, so we don’t really have to go there. But Johnny forced our hand, so we must.

Rather than, “If Jesus were married and had children, he would have loved his wife and children, gave the kids hugs and smoochies every night before bed, fed them three squares a day and lots and lots of sugar and Twinkies, taught them about God until he was blue in the face, and then left them all to fend for themselves when he died,” Johnny decided to go the route of the most important aspect of married life with kids – hitting your children.

In all fairness, this is Piper Boy, chatting about spanking so it kind of fits, but, we are working on conjecture here and it begs the question: “Why did Johnny have to go here?” Seriously. Why?

Let’s move on. Hopefully he’ll tell us.

“The place that I would go to help a person see that he would, when they can’t imagine that he would, is Matthew 5 where he said, “Not a jot nor a tittle will pass away from the Law until all is accomplished.” In other words, all the Law and the Prophets stand until they’re done. And the Law says, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” That’s a paraphrase. The book of Proverbs says, “If you withhold the rod, you hate your son.” Jesus believed the Bible, and he would have done it.”

Did he just say that? I can’t believe he just did. This paragraph is not fickle, by any means. It completely and utterly describes the underlying theology, whether he likes it or not, of how Johnny views Christianity. He is saying that Jesus told us that the law still applies to us today.

Jesus goes on for the rest of Chapter 5 and a few more chapters saying, “the law says this, but I say that you need to do this”. And the “this” that Jesus referred to was always much more difficult than the law contained. Don’t just not murder your brother, don’t hate him either. Don’t feel good about the fact that you haven’t
committed adultery, you better not even look at a woman to lust after her.

This was a message to people that were pretty high on themselves and their perfection. In contrast, which it really isn’t a contrast, but rather a good segue, Paul writes in Galatians 3 (reading the whole chapter gives excellent context) that the law, which was our guardian before Christ, who came to justify us by faith in Him, no longer applies. We don’t need a guardian anymore. We’re all sons of God.

Now, I don’t always agree with Paul, but I can say I am convinced he’s dead on with this point. Jesus wasn’t talking about all that schtuff we had to do in order to be perfect. He stated that perfection was needed to be accepted into the kingdom of heaven. Then he stated the perfection that was needed and notes that even one little piece being broken causes us to have broken the whole law, which he made harder than the law actually was written as. Thus, if we can’t do it anyway, what the heck is the law for?
A guardian prior to Christ. A schoolmaster to point us to Christ. A picture of our own sinfulness that points to the fact that we cannot DO anything close to following the law without Christ.

But, why argue that point. Piper Boy makes a very strange segue here. He says that Proverbs was the law. This is a consistent mistake that people like Piper make. I can assume that it may be inadvertent on Johnny’s part, but I don’t think so. I think he purposefully ignores the meaning of “the law” because it fits his own little
definition of what it means to be a “true Christian.”

The law was the law. The law of Moses. The one that was written down. You know. The Ten Commandments and bunches of other Levitical laws in between. Yes, laws. Proverbs is not part of the law. Psalms is not part of the law. Huge parts of every book of the Old Testmant was not part of the law. That means that “spare the rod, spoil the child” (which isn’t in the Bible) was not part of the law. Nor was it part of the Prophets.

Then, after ignoring the true definition of “law” Piper makes a smooth transition to calling it the “Bible”. But there is a problem here. Jesus didn’t believe in the Bible. Jesus couldn’t care less about the Bible. Jesus was God. He had God’s true word in his back pocket. The Bible didn’t even exist. It had yet to be formulated
and gathered together and canonized by counsels of men. Yes, men. Jesus knew the LAW, John Piper. Not the Bible. He knew what the law was and what it was meant for.

Finally, if we take John Piper at his word, why would Jesus change the law? Why would he say the creed of divorce handed down by Moses was because of the hardness of the hearts of the Jewish people. Could it be possible that the rod is one of those “rules” that fit into the category of “not applicable”? We don’t need to conjecture there anyway because there is a very simple point to be made here. The Old Testament tells us to stone rebellious children, accusing him to the elders, not only as a rebel, but also a drunkard and a glutton – Deut. 21: 18 – 21. It tells us to kill a child if he hits his mommy or daddy – Exodus 21:15, 17. Even the most holy of holy books, Proverbs, states that even if a child so much as looks at his father in mockery and disobeys his mother, must be held down and have his eye plucked out by wild birds – Proverbs 30:17. That Proverbs one leads us to possibly see, just maybe, that many parts of the Bible could potentially, likelyishly be allegorical. You think? Or take Psalm 137:9 where the writer is speaking of revenge against the enemy and glories in the possibility of children be dashed against rocks, most likely killing them.
Would Piper say Jesus condones that because, after all, he believes in the Bible!?

Let’s move on. Hopefully Piper says some good stuff so we don’t have to hit these super softballs out of the park.

I won’t quote him directly but Piper goes on to say that there is a problem in our culture. The “heart of the issue” is simply that the person accepts the sign, that isn’t there anymore, along I-35W in Minneapolis, Minnesota, imploring people to not hurt children. To that, Johnny says, “That’s all it said! And spanking is equated with hurting children.” So, I assume he doesn’t believe that hitting children actually hurts.
It gets better:

“Well, I will go to jail over that issue!”

Really, John Piper? You would actually go to jail over hitting your children? Seriously? So, you would risk leaving your wife without a husband for a time while you sat in prison for your righteous endeavors? You would leave your children with the only option of seeing your face through a window and hearing your voice over a phone just because spanking was right? You would rather spank and go to jail than compromise by doing other forms of discipline, just to prove a point? You would rather go to jail than make sure your kids had three squares a day? You would rather withhold sex from your wife except for state-approved conjugal visits beacuse you felt spanking was right? Maybe you missed Roman 13:1-7. If you do read that John, skip Verse 8. Its inapplicable to our life today because of what Jesus says in Matthew 5.

Then Piper goes on to make a weird attempt at connecting how we parent our children to how the author of Hebrews referenced how God treats His sons. He calls Hebrews 12:6, the “direct connection”. All that verse says is that God disciplines us and chastises us because he loves us. I’m not sure why Johnny didn’t go further because Verses 9 – 11 actually would serve to prove his point a tad better. But, the fact is, discipline may not be the same as hitting. Unfortunately, when Piper sees “discipline” he sees “beating a child”. I don’t see that. I learn discipline by motivation, hard work, staying at it, verbal and emotional chastisement, people coming
alongside me and walking me through the process, mentors, and even through my own mistakes. Nobody whoops my behind and yet I learn just fine.

Piper then makes a funny statement. He excitedly declares (he’s always excited when he’s making a great point – I know – I’m the same way) that saying don’t hurt a child is a wrong view of God and that, since God uses suffering to discipline his children, so should we. This is very dangerous. John Piper is not talking to students in a classroom where they can follow-up with questions on actual application of his teachings so as to do it right and not hurt someone. He is talking to everyone who will listen. And for everyone who would only rub their children’s behinds or even tap them to stay on the good graces of the law, there are ten more that will beat the living hell out of their children because Piper Boy told them it was our job as parents to make the kids suffer.
In Piper’s defense, he does follow that one up with his extra-biblical application of not breaking an arm or giving them a black eye. Then he floats a whopper:

“Children have little fat bottoms so that they can be whopped.”

Really?!!! So, let’s explore that a weeny bit. Has Piper Boy ever met my kids? Their butt cheeks couldn’t hold up a pair of underwear if the cloth was glued to it. They eat like horses and can’t gain an ounce. But, they have a little fat on their heels so maybe that’s the place to spank. Or, they’re pretty large around the mid section when they’re younger, so, maybe a good kick in the belly would work. Also, with that philosophy, adults have fat bottoms too. Maybe they need a good whoop arseing every so often to keep them in line. Piper is too skinny, so he gets a pass, but I think his wife might have a few extra pounds. She may be a great candidate for his lil’ bop theory.

What a stupid line. A real good whopper to base your theology on.

Then Pipes tells us a sweet story about a kid, during the discovery period of a child’s life, colors some orange crayon on the wall. Now, in the Piper household, coloring on the wall is akin to stealing maney from a bank. It’s evil. Pure evil. Doing that little act of curiosity deserves a whoopin’. So Piper takes the guy in a room, gives him a good thwacking and then makes it ok by hugging him and saying he loves him. Don’t be shocked. Piper says it was just fine. The kid was bouncing off the walls “happy, happy, happy”! Glad he didn’t put a hole in the wall because Johnny Boy might have thrown him through a second story window and then went and hugged him on the concrete below. Of course, Piper would have no consequences for breaking the window.

Hey John. Who whoops your arse when you fart in an elevator? You should know better! What a completely asinine idea. Here, a kid is learning to explore and discover new things in life and the parent comes over and hits him, putting an end to his creativity.
Why couldn’t John Piper just go and take his hand, walk him over to a coloring book, and have him color on the proper places? Maybe because he might have to do that stunt many many times. Maybe because spanking is much more efficient because the child equates fear of dad when he wants to write on the wall. Maybe because John Piper doesn’t gives a rat’s rear end whether or not his child maintains a penchant for discovering knew things. Did John Piper, in that one orgasmic moment of his brilliant pa
renting career, singlehandedly change the direction of his son’s life from a nuclear physicist who would discover cold fusion?
But, no. John makes the only alternate conclusion available to all mankind in the area of child discipline by saying:

“Now if I had said to him, “You go into your room and you sit there and you stay there until you feel appropriately guilty, and then we’ll see if you come out and do the right thing,” what a wicked way to punish a child!

Very typical of those who want to prove an unproveable point. they make the alternate seem, not only evil beyond measure, but also, the ONLY way. He never goes on to explain why that form of discipline is evil. It has worked very very well for us in many cases, including staying on the good side of the law when we were not allowed to do anything else while running a daycare.
And he finishes with:

“Spanking is so clean! It’s so quick! It’s so relieving! A kid feels like he has done atonement and he is out of there and happy.

To these modern ideas of timeout, or sitting in the corner, I say, “Bologna! Give me a spanking! I want to go play!”

I just think spanking is really healthy for children. It is a measured deliverance of a non-damaging act of mild pain that makes the child feel the seriousness of what he’s done. It is not beating. It is not abuse. There is a clear difference. The very word “spank” exists because there is such a thing as a loving way to whop a child on his behind or his chunky thigh.”

John Piper would never be trusted with my children – EVER! Hitting them on a chunky thigh? Are you kidding me? I’ve been slapped on my thigh and it’s not cake walk. Also, he acts like hitting a child has some magical pixie dust qualities that, when administered on the fly, gives a child the necessary training they need to be a perfect human being. “…

give me a spanking!  I want to go out to play!!!!!!!!”

But then again, I don’t take my children to prison for daycare.  Being in a cell with Big John would be a scary thing indeed.


Editor’s note: Coincidentally I wrote about being spanked and the memory of the complete injustice of that I am still carrying with me over forty years later – Crimson (Butt) and Clover. Kids do remember, it does hurt them inside as much as the physical pain. It creates distrust for adults in children. Piper is wrong.


I am a 30 something husband of one and father of 6 dynamic and loud children. My wife and I are still madly in love – at least in my view. My world is exciting, tense, and full of life. I love to write and hope to one day, do it full time. – Incongruous Circumspection


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