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Sparing the Literal Rod

As you know, I'm not pro-spanking.  At all.  And I have previously talked about the science that suggests that there is more harm done than good, when we use physical punishment to deter undesired behaviour.

If you Google, you will see all of the research out there, mostly against spanking and for alternative methods of discipline.

But until recently, I hadn't considered the Biblical rationale not to spank.  I know, I know.  Everyone quotes from Proverbs and Hebrews 12 about God disciplining the ones He loves, and how if you spare the rod, you spoil the kid.  Yes, I've read these verses too...in English.  Have you read the original Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic texts? Or done an inductive, key word study of the "rod" and the "child"? Or examined the context of Hebrews, to whom it was written, and why? No? Neither have I.

But thankfully, there are some wiser than I who have.  And here's that word study on Proverbs.  And the exegesis of Hebrews 12.  And as it turns out, the Bible in context as suggested by these sites does not support spanking as a form of discipline.  Huh.

I know that there are a bazillion other sites out there, written by respected Christian theologians, who insist that there is Biblical merit for corporal punishment. You can Google it; there are many. However, the ones I've read (and I've read quite a few of late) all seem to base their opinions and arguments on the English translations of the Scriptures.  I have yet to come across a compelling argument for spanking that comes with a word study and exegesis of the original context of the Bible's verses on discipline.  Many of the arguments for spanking also seem to be based on the fear that to not spank would result in a wayward child.  And there are a lot of anecdotal, experiential arguments made, like, "My kid was spanked and (s)he turned out to love Jesus and is okay," or "My kid remembered the lesson and behaved so well after just one spanking for that infraction - it works!"

But isn't spanking a fearful action, in that it elicits great fear from our children? And isn't there no fear in love (1 John 4:18)? I tried to read the "other side" with an open mind.  I was prayerfully open to God revealing that my position is wrong, or that there could be validity to spanking, even if it isn't for me.  Honestly, I tried.  But I cannot see from Scripture how this is an acceptable practice, and I cannot reconcile the completed, atoning work of Christ on the cross and our life "under grace" with man's attempt to use spanking as a means of retributive justice or discipline or "love."  I just can't.

So, that's my five cents.  I recognize that my perspective is not popular among most evangelicals, and in fact, the family pastor at my church very much disagrees with my position.  Obviously, there are spanked kids that turn out okay by the grace of God, and unspanked ones that turn out rotten.  And vice versa.  However, my conviction, which I believe is from God, is to find more creative, positive ways to help "discipline" (train, shape, teach, direct) Little L to become a Jesus-loving person.  And as God has revealed who she is to me, and who He is to me, I cannot in good conscience use any kind of physical force to correct or train my little girl.

What is your understanding of the Scriptures when it comes to spanking?



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