Is spanking Biblical? Let me cut to the chase – no, it is not.
You might be surprised to hear this (or flat out disagree with me), or you might be starting to feel relieved that your gut instinct has been right all along.
This article probably isn’t for the reader who has a firm belief in spanking, honestly, this whole website might not be for you, unless you are willing to challenge what you have believed for a long time with an open mind and willingness to learn. You are more than welcome here, but just be aware that we do not advocate for spanking on this website.
I believe that the entire Bible is the Word of God, there is no mistake in the Bible at all, and yet I still come to the conclusion that spanking is not Biblically or morally right. I have collected these insightful articles that I would like you to explore. The key quotes are provided to give you a little teaser of what’s inside the article, and I would encourage you to click through to read the entire piece.
I spent a lot of time reading these articles, as well as others, and the biggest take away I got was that it is better to correct and protect a child than to punish them. Discipline means to teach, and it is better to teach a child how they should behave and how to handle big emotions than to punish them when they don’t meet our expectations. As my husband likes to say, “Prevention is better than cure.”
I hope you will enjoy these articles and they will help you to see the big picture concerning spanking and what the Bible really says. If you want to get started with Gentle Parenting then I would suggest you check out the Gentle Parenting section here, or sign up for my free Gentle Parenting course below.
The first two articles will look specifically at science and research behind spanking, and the next links will look into Scriptures and spanking.
**February 2019 update – unfortunately some of these websites have now gone offline so I have removed the links but kept the quotes for us.
Is spanking Biblical? You’re about to find out.
(This post might contain affiliate links, which means if you happen to buy a product I love then I may get a commission – at no extra cost to you! For all the Ts and Cs go here.)
Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research
Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor tested for some long-term effects among adults who were spanked as children. The more they were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and to experience mental health problems. They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation.
Is Being Pro-Spanking a Sign of Brain Damage?
“The brain scans of corporally punished young adults showed nearly 20 percent reduction in the volume of gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex of their brains, compared with those who were not hit. Gray matter is associated with intelligence and intellect, Dr. Teicher said, and harm to that region is linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders.”
12 Biblical Reasons to Reconsider Spanking Your Kids
“If we’ll be honest, we can admit that He does not respond to our every mistake by sending pain so we will “learn” and stop repeating the mistake. Pain is indeed a consequence at times, but He allows us much room, much grace. He also gently guides us, comparing Himself to a Shepherd, a Mother, a mother Hen, and many other very tender images. He is also patient with us, slow to anger. He reasons with us, invites us to the throne of Grace to receive Mercy. In fact, God is anything BUT “consistent” in His discipline, at least in the way so many “Child Training” books advocate consistency, for instance recommending a swift spanking as many times a day as an infringement occurs.”
Why Jesus Wants You to Stop Spanking Your Kids
“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.”
Spare the Rod: The Heart of the Matter
“The word muwcar is translated ‘discipline’ and means, literally, ‘verbal instruction and teaching.’ In Hebrew culture muwcar was vernacular for ‘let us reason with one another’ implying a mutual discussion for learning purposes. And towkechah is translated ‘reprove’ or ‘rebuke’ but also means ‘reason with, convince, prove, persuade.’ Neither of these words means to physically punish in any way, shape, or form.”
When Violence Hits Home: “sparing the rod,” spanking, & peaceful parenting
Throughout the Bible, a shepherd is used analogously for God and his relationship with us, his sheep. But the shepherd never strikes his sheep; when they stray from the fold he gently, yet firmly, uses the rod to guide them back. The rod is symbolic of God’s parental authority and guidance over our lives.
The History of Spanking
The OT was first the Jewish book of instruction and I find it very telling that the Jewish history of the teachings of spanking do not include the strong insistence on corporal punishment that is found in many Christian circles. In fact, Jewish Law forbids parents from causing injury to their children. There is also very clear instruction in Leviticus 19:14 “do not put a stumbling block before the blind” which is applied to avoiding spanking an older child who might be tempted to strike back and lack the self control to not do so, which would cause him to violate the commandment to honor his father and mother. Beause the spanking might result in the child violating a commandment, the parent is forbidden from administering the spanking.
Not only does corporal punishment present a false picture of Jesus to the world, but also to our children. Many children parented with spankings report as adults that they struggle with many misconceptions of God. They see Him as one who is waiting to catch them in sin and punish them; they have difficulty accepting Grace and fear losing their salvation due to some act (often one they aren’t even able to identify if asked).
An Answer to Proverbs 23 and ‘beatest
Nothing else in the OT is to be understood as a command from God except what appears in Torah. The Proverbs are most assuredly wisdom sayings and there is wisdom in them, but a Hebrew person would never confuse the Proverbs with Torah as instruction commanded by the Lord. It’s also important to realize that the word “spanking” does not appear in Scripture and was not a concept in the Hebraic world.
The Answer is Clear
It is my hope and prayer that you have taken the time to examine these articles carefully and thoughtfully. I know not everyone is going to agree with these principles and that is understandable. I’m not one to confront or to judge, but for the mama who was already feeling a little uneasy about spanking, to the mama who just couldn’t justify spanking her child but thought it was Biblical to spank, I hope you have found something useful in these articles that will help you to confidently discipline your child without spanking or even yelling, punishments, time outs, etc. To get started with Gentle Parenting explore more of this website and I would love to help you out.
Best of luck to you on your Gentle Parenting journey.
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6 thoughts on “Is Spanking Biblical?: The Truth About Biblical Discipline”
I really appreciate this and how thought out it is. My husband and I decided not to spank after reading the whole brain child, and in most instances I feel I am doing things right. The only verse that makes me question is Proverbs 23:13-14…just wondering your thoughts on that. I do think that parenting with the fruit of the Spirit is something that was just spoken over me this morning in my devotional, and one of those is gentleness. I don’t see how I could physically spank and be gentle….I also know that I most likely would not be able to spank without being angry, so for me personally, it shows more self control (another fruit of the Spirit) when I patiently guide my children and give other consequences instead of spanking them.
The fruit of the Spirit is such a great example for parents! I completely agree.
As for that Proverbs verse, I think the important thing to take from it is that we absolutely should discipline (guide, teach) our children because it’s good for them. There are SO many things in the book of Proverbs we don’t take literally, they’re not commands but it’s a book of wisdom, and I believe God gives us space to apply that to our own lives. You might be able to find some articles that talk about this specific verse to give you more peace about it 🙂
I’ve been doing quite a bit of personal study on ‘spanking’ in the Bible. One of the things about proverbs is to remember they are not promises (unlike how most pro-spanking parents view them).
In fact, the OT gives us proof of that in itself.
Proverbs 23:13-14 was written by King Solomon. These proverbs were written to either guide his own son, Rehoboam, or to also guide other young men as they came of age. One assumes that Solomon is likely taking his own advice when he writes these. A short walk through Chronicles will show us how Rehoboam turned out:
And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’” 2Ch 10:11
When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him 2Ch 12:1
And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the LORD. 2Ch 12:14
This is such a great point! Thanks so much for sharing
Anything for dads? Thanks for all you’ve posted!
Soon hopefully! Anything in particular you’d like to see?