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Location: Allentown, PA

I'm a Christian wife and a mom to three daughters and two sons. I'm a member of the board of directors of EmPoWeReD Birth. In my "spare time" I'm a doula, and a certified childbirth instructor.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A Challenge to Proponents of "Biblical" Spanking...

Okay...I'm laying out a challenge here. Many folks believe that spanking is Biblically mandated, or at least Biblically reccommended.

Using commonly accepted rules of serious Bible study (a.k.a. "Hermenuetics"), I would like to see an explaination of how the Bible supports or condones spanking. Here is a brief primer on hermenuetics that you can use to get you started...please address each point in your explaination. If you learned a different form of Bible study, please explain that form and the references for Biblical scholars who endorse it (i.e. the particular format for hermenuetics in the linked site is what is taught at Bible colleges).

I'm waiting...I've posed this challenge to a couple of people from my church, and they all suddenly quit conversing with me when I do. I posed a similar challenge in the 5th comment in response to a previous blog I posted on this topic.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the reason nobody is taking you up on your challenge is because you are not seeking the truth; you're picking a fight. It's very obvious in your tone.

If people actually thought you were interested in studying what the Scripture says on this, I think a lot of us would be excited to join in. As it is, I think my time could better be spent elsewhere.

As your friends at church if this isn't the truth...

4:20 PM, February 03, 2005  
Blogger candleman said...

Well, there is one non-taker. I guess, "I am waiting" is offensive. I don't think your looking for a fight, your looking for sound Biblical explaination that spanking is mandated from God as a way to discipline children. Seems like a rather simple challenge to me.


7:51 PM, February 03, 2005  
Blogger Jenn said...

No, I'm not picking a fight. This request has always before been put out by me or my husband as a *request,* not a challenge. I do have to admit that I'll be pretty hard to sway (though 3 hours ago it might have been easier ;-) , but I seriously am interested in the truth.

Actually, my husband and I haven't even always been so direct. In a conversation we had with one of our church elders and his wife we asked how they justified an interpretation of the Proverb's rod verses as commanding corporal punishment of young children. Their response was "well it's been the accepted belief for a very long time." We replied that slavery had been "accepted belief" in the Christian community for a very long time too--that didn't make it right. "Well ministries A, B, and C support it..." We pointed out that as far as we knew, "Ministry A" supported spanking as one *possible* tool for parenting, not a mandated one. We weren't as familiar with the positions of the other ministries...but regardless, we were most interested in what the BIBLE had to say about it. They changed the course of the conversation.

It does concern me when an elder from my church meets with us specifically to discuss our concerns with the teaching that spanking is Biblically mandated, and he is not prepared to offer a Biblical argument to support said mandate.

7:58 PM, February 03, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems to be the topic du jour. . .



I have yet to see someone give a solid Biblical defense of spanking. A list of Bible verses, yes. How they support spanking, no.

8:33 PM, February 03, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pondered a while before throwing my two cents worth in, not because I have a problem with my position from a Biblical standpoint, but for several reasons which I shall detail below. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to write something because of my previous foray in this forum.

First, I don’t feel compelled because I don't agree with your starting point that "spanking" is anti-biblical and I don't agree with your antithesis that "spanking is Biblically mandated, or at least Biblically recommended." As I have said before, I am not of the opinion that spanking is Biblically mandated nor do I believe that it is even Biblically "recommended".

Second, I have no desire whatsoever to convince someone that they should spank their children. If you do not think that spanking is an appropriate form of discipline you should not do it. Let each of you be convinced in your own minds.

Third, based upon previous experience with this topic, I am not sure that such a conversation can be carried out in a productive way outside of a good relationship between the parties involved. The issue tends to be so emotionally charged that it creates unnecessary division and hostility when there is not a good relationship of mutual trust in place. Maybe I am wrong, and it can be done productively, but I am not optimistic.

Fourth, I think the burden of proof is on those who would bind consciences by stating that “spanking” is Biblically prohibited. You may be able to make a case that it is a bad idea, that it is often misapplied, or that people take spanking too far, but you cannot make a case that it is a sin.

Grace and Peace


10:58 PM, February 03, 2005  
Blogger candleman said...

Hi Greg,

I am having trouble understanding your point when you say, "As I have said before, I am not of the opinion that spanking is Biblically mandated nor do I believe that it is even Biblically "recommended"." Which seems to me that you believe that spanking is not something you regularly do to your children.

But in other posts (Reasons for not Smacking) you have stated, " I'm not sure if I "spank" or "hit" or "smack" my children. It really doesn't matter to me what you call it - I call it training - and "spanking/hitting/smacking" is just one of the tools in my toolbox and not even the preferred tool of choice. Nevertheless, it is one that I have been given to use, on good Authority, and I hope that I pattern my use of the "Rod" after His.

It seems inconsistent to me, but maybe I am just misunderstanding your points, can you clarify please? Also through out your posts you mention the phrase "covenant children." Can you expand more on what this phrase means? Perhaps you have a blog, where you explain this term, if so can you leave a link?



7:38 AM, February 04, 2005  
Blogger Jenn said...

BTW, "Candleman98" is my dear sweet husband, who loves me graciously. He does not force me to submit to him, even when I struggle with submitting and probably should submit.

I love you sweetie!


9:40 AM, February 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's hardly any point in discussing it with you because of the way in which you've decided to interpret the Bible. I think your entire premise is flawed, so there's really no point in delving into particular verses when the over-all way you've chosen to look at the topic (your "hermeneutics") is something I find to be in error.

Personally, I've got better things to do than roll a large rock uphill, over and over again...

*wry grin*

(Now, maybe if you were seeking to UNDERSTAND why the "other side" feels the way they do, it would be different. But that's not obviously the case here).

1:49 PM, February 07, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, no blogs for me - I'm too wrapped up in other pursuits just now. Perhaps someday...

Anyway, my point in both posts was that “spanking” is a tool for training, not training itself, or the only tool for training. Do I spank regularly? What do you mean by regularly?

I prefer to focus on training to prepare my children for those times when they will face the temptation to sin and to teach them the appropriate way to respond to authority. When they learn to do that in a fun way (we make games of it) they will apply it (usually) when it is for real. It also helps to define clearly the boundaries and the consequences for crossing those boundaries. Spanking, when applied in our household, is applied because training broke down. This causes my wife and I to evaluate our training so that we can avoid the breakdown in the future.

When one of my children exhibits willful disregard for authority, they know there are consequences, and that will at times mean a spanking as appropriate. There is also abundant grace and forgiveness, which we also focus on in our discipline. Very much like the rest of life with our Heavenly Father.

As for your second question, the primary means that God uses to relate to us is His covenant. I am a child of the New Covenant in Christ’s blood. There are blessings that come along with being faithful to the covenant as there are curses which attend to unfaithfulness to the covenant. Scripture teaches that the blessings of the Covenant extend to the children in my household as well. As such, they are under the New Covenant and I assume them to be members of that New Covenant unless they prove themselves otherwise. They are, in short, covenant children.

Grace and Peace,


2:48 PM, February 07, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truly Anonymous wrote

"I think your entire premise is flawed, so there's really no point in delving into particular verses when the over-all way you've chosen to look at the topic (your "hermeneutics") is something I find to be in error."

Hah! If you disagree with her hermenetics then you've got more problems than just disagreeing about spanking. Whether they practice it or not, this is how most conservative seminaries teach their students how to interpret scriptures. But perhaps you have a better , more accurate way?


12:16 PM, February 08, 2005  
Blogger Jenn said...

Thank you Sozo, for posting what I was thinking. ;-)

I'm ASKING proponents of "Biblical spanking" to explain how they come to their premise using a proper hermenuetical approach. I'm not sure what more I can do to show that I really do want to hear what you have to say. I'm asking this because quite honestly, in all the reading I've done of "Biblical spanking" proponents (Tripp, Pearl, Ezzo, a few other misc. websites), I've never found one that really explains how a proper hermenuetical approach yeilds their position.

I'd assume that they have done such a study, they just aren't putting it in their books because the typical reader isn't interested in it. Well I'm not the typical reader.

Greg, apparently you aren't justifying spanking using scripture, so the "challenge" would not apply to you. Though this notion that you aren't justifying spanking with the Bible doesn't really square with some of your comments, particularly this one:

Nevertheless, [spanking] is one [tool] that I have been given to use, on good Authority, and I hope that I pattern my use of the "Rod" after His. ... http://knittedinthewomb.blogspot.com/2005/01/reasons-for-not-smacking.html#comments

Also, I posted a question to you in a previous comment (http://knittedinthewomb.blogspot.com/2005/01/latest-spiritual-gobblydeegook.html#comments last comment) that I am curious to hear an answer to:

You also say a few times that you think parents should not spank unless they do it correctly. But you also say that you do not believe the Bible prohibits beating. Now I've got to agree with you on that, I don't think the Bible ever directly prohibits beating (though the Golden Rule might be called into question on this as *indirectly* prohibiting it). However, I wonder if you are saying that beating children is in line with a definition of "correct" spanking of children? How exactly do you define "correct" spanking?

10:02 PM, February 08, 2005  
Blogger TulipGirl said...

If you disagree with her hermenetics then you've got more problems than just disagreeing about spanking. Whether they practice it or not, this is how most conservative seminaries teach their students how to interpret scriptures. But perhaps you have a better , more accurate way?I've got to chime in here. . . The article on basic hermeneutics that Jenn linked to is very sound. However, if you (Anon, et al) want other resources, I recommend starting here, Hermeneutics Articles at Monergism.

4:13 AM, February 09, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps Anonymous was objecting to your hermeneutic not your principles of hermeneutics?

I appreciate your questions and I will take the time to answer when I have a little more time.

Grace and Peace,


12:07 PM, February 09, 2005  
Blogger TulipGirl said...

Btw, I think the following essay should be mandatory reading for any parenting author/teacher to read before teaching parents the hows and whys of spanking:


10:29 AM, February 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I said I would get back to you – and here I am, almost a month later.

You wrote, “this notion that you aren't justifying spanking with the Bible doesn't really square with some of your comments, particularly this one: ‘Nevertheless, [spanking] is one [tool] that I have been given to use, on good Authority, and I hope that I pattern my use of the "Rod" after His.’”

Actually, what I said was, “I am not of the opinion that spanking is Biblically mandated nor do I believe that it is even Biblically ‘recommended.’” That is not the same as saying that it is not Biblically justified.

I do not believe that the Bible recommends spanking for all parents all the time. Nor do I believe that the Bible forbids spanking. Actually, the Bible has comparatively little to say, directly, about parenting at all. What the Bible does command is discipline (same root as discipleship). The question is what does that look like, particularly in the context of the parent-child relationship? For that I have to look to the perfect model for parenting – God the Father.

What do I see in Him? I see Him striking a child dead as a consequence for a father’s adultery. I see Him nearly drowning a ship full of people and sending His prophet to the depths of the sea because of the prophet’s rebellion. I see Him killing an entire family, destroying all of a man’s possessions, turning all of his friends away, and afflicting the man with horrible physical pain – and this not even as a result of specific sin in the man’s life – but rather to teach him (and us) some important things about Himself. I see a threat to kill the father of all who have faith in Jesus because of his disobedience to the covenant. I see God buffeting His choice apostle with a messenger from Satan to combat the apostle’s pride. I see Him striking two members of a fledgling church dead on the spot for a little lie about money. I see Him bringing sickness and even death on His children who continue to abuse the Lord’s New Covenant meal (to keep them from ultimately falling away due to their sin, perhaps?).

You see, it’s just not as simple as proof texting the “rod” passages of Scripture in support of or against “spanking”, because that is faulty hermeneutics whatever steps you apply. The problem is that it fails to consider the whole counsel of God on the matter.

It seems to me, based on what I have read, that anti-spanking folks often misstate the purpose of spanking, when properly applied (this begins to touch on your second question). Spanking is not punishment as payment for trespass. Spanking, properly used, is a consequence. Yes, my sins are all paid for in Christ, to that we can agree. Nevertheless, I hope we can also agree that all sin has consequence of varying degrees. Grace frees me from paying my own way, but it does not free me from the consequence of my sins. You have to grasp that concept or you will never understand my application of corporal punishment with my children.

All of what I have said folds into what I mean when I talk about properly applying spanking. However, expanding on that would take a whole lot more room than I should here. I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel and I think that Molly is doing a fine job on her blog expanding on some of what I would say anyway. If you want to know what it looks like, go check out her series on the matter.

If you don’t spank, perhaps you are a more creative, or smarter, spend more time with your kids, or are “perfect,” or God has taken you to some deeper understanding, as some have implied and stated explicitly in posts on this matter that I have read recently. Perhaps, but I am inclined to think not necessarily.

Bottom line, if it is not a tool that fits properly, don’t use it. If you do not spank your children, I am sure you have very good reasons not to, but one of them cannot be that it is contrary to Scripture.

Grace and Peace,


9:48 PM, March 01, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greg, (sorry I was given this link in another discussion which is why I'm jumping in so late) if the Bible says little about spanking and you admit (and I agree) that the Bible neither commands nor forbids spanking then why spank?

If the Bible is neutral (as it seems to be on this subject) there is a wealth of scientific information that spanking is ineffective at best and harmful at worst.

Teaching that parents *must* spank in order to parent Biblically or parents *must* spank to relieve a child of guilt conflicts with *real* and established Biblical principles. It is adding to scripture (a big no-no) and it diminishes the real power of salvation through the finish work of Jesus on the cross.

How many parents have gone against their hearts to spank their children because some man told them the Bible says so......I will listen to my heart.

Debra Baker

6:31 AM, June 09, 2005  
Anonymous Reformed said...

Hello all,
I was browsing the internet due to a discussion with my wife, and well I need to work on my typing so I wanted to chime in! I am an advocate of corporal punishment because I believe it to be clearly taght in the Scriptures. However, my intention is to post my thoughts to the Glory of the tri-une God, in hope that we might all be edified.
Where to begin? I take a Historical-Grammatical hermenuetic that is pretty simply straight forward, at face-value. I also consider diagramming and arcing invaluable tools to tracing the logic of a writer. Without getting into the minutia of hermenuetics and the genre of poetry let me just start simply by saying that when Proverbs 13:24 says if I spare the rod, I hate my son. And since I am commanded to love my children by Yahweh. I could conclude that He commands me to use the rod under the Mosaic covenant. Without getting (to) far into the Law and Gospel debate, I am under the opinion that the same form of correction is affirmed in the New covenant(Hebrews 12:11). I must be honest and say that I am surprised so many reject the rod. Is the real problem the mis-use of it? I don't have much time to work on my typing so I will have to go. I am very interested in any loving correction to this position. I am a broken father trying to instruct, play with, laugh with, reprove, and when necessary apply the rod to my children. In these things I fail. What a Savior!

6:19 PM, November 11, 2006  
Blogger Jenn said...

Hi Reformed!

I wish there was a link to your blog so that I could let you know I'm replying here...

I'd encourage you to read some of my other posts that look at the Proverbs "rod" verses. But in the meantime...I have a question for you...do you use a literal rod on your child's back? If not, how can you say that *you* are obeying the supposed Biblical directive to apply corporal punishment?

9:51 PM, January 11, 2007  
Blogger Revka said...

Hi, I stumbled across this post and was intrigued. I have already published two posts on this topic. If you take the time to read them, I would advise reading both instead of just one. Each post addresses its own topic related to spanking.

The Scriptural case for spanking and "The rod" defined

Polite discussion is welcome.

12:25 PM, March 14, 2007  

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