Monday, January 18, 2010



"Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him." Proverbs 22:15

This passage makes two bold assumptions: One, children have a spirit of folly (disobedience) and two, discipline, particularly spanking, discourages that disobedience.

I’m working on an exegesis of all the spanking verses in Proverbs. It is turning into a fairly lengthy paper. Proverbs certainly approves of spanking for disobedience. I am aware that many in our society today do not like it as a form of punishment. But, if we are Christians, we have to deal with the fact the Bible approves of spanking if it is done appropriately.

There are some things that should never characterize a spanking. For example:
One, spanking should never be a substitute for teaching.

Two, it should never be done to alleviate the frustration of parents.

Three, spanking should never be abusive. That is, it should never cause any kind of permanent damage to the child.

There are three things that a spanking should be or accomplish.
One, a spanking should be an act of love by the parent.

Two, it should shape the will or heart of a child.

Three, it should reinforce verbal instruction.

I’ll write more later. For now, think about the implications of Proverbs 22:15 and the role of spanking in the home. Fathers, we are responsible for the moral and ethical development of our children. Are we responsibly involved in the process?

Warren Baldwin


RCUBEs said...

You know that a spanking was given appropriately when someone is hurting more when it's all over...the parent who did it...because it was done in love.

Same thing when God disciplines us. It hurts but we know He does that because He wants the best for us. He loved us first. Blessings.

Stacy Wittkamp said...

Warren: You have tackled a controversial topic in our culture! In my opinion, it goes hand in hand with the "tolerance" movement we see in our culture as well as the church today. Personally, my antennae goes up when people want to disregard the old testament teaching and argue that we are under grace. Grace covers our sinful nature and recognizes our inability to reach perfection. It does not excuse us from being obedient. Grace allows us to be forgiven. It does not shield us from consequences. Warren, I thought your guidelines for when to use spanking were excellent. If I have a two year old who has just run out in front of a car in the street. I would want to instruct her as to why she should not do that and follow it up with a spanking,(not a beating!), Why? so that she can identify a negative logical consequence for that action. Otherwise if there is not a negative logical consequence, the reality is that the behavior WILL be repeated, and you may not be in control of the consequences, a moving car will!
I think abusive parenting has given "discipline" a bad taste in many parent's mouths-and rightly so. God uses instruction too, but that doesn't mean He doesn't also discipline to keep us safe and in relationship with Him.
I am reading Proverbs myself these days to "SEEK WISDOM!" Thanks Warren!

Sonya Lee Thompson said...

You are right about this topic being controversial! My husband and I are of the belief that the Bible tells total truth, so we have used this form of discipline when our children were young.

Being careful never to discipline out of anger has been a key component. Also, talking with them afterwords, to feed their moral conscience (as they began to mature).

Quite frankly, we have other people constantly telling us how well behaved our six children are. It's true, and we are able to enjoy them more ourselves because they mind what we say. Unruly children cause everyone stress.

Kudos for this post, and I look forward to future ones on the topic.

Kelly Combs said...

The Bible is clear that God hates disobedience, so much so that in Deuteronomy 21:18-21 it is suggested to stone disobedience children.

I think spanking is appropriate at times. But I think we need to look at 3 things.

1. Our own heart, to make sure we are disciplining in love, not anger.

2. The offense - spanking should be reserved for true disobedience. (exception, I do think a hand slap, or spanking is appropriate in small children who do not understand reason. Telling an 18 month old to stop poking an outlet because of electrocution danger is useless. A handslap usually solves the problem and involves less pain than electrocution!)

3. Finally, you have to know the heart of your child. My oldest has a strong conscience. A strong look is enough to change her behavior. To spank her would be to break her tender spirit. However, my youngest is very strong willed and requires a firmer hand (literally & figuratively) to maintain obedience.

Thanks for the post Warren! It's good to get folks thinking about how they parent and why.

Edie said...

Excellent post and discussion in the comments section too. There isn't much more I can add. You have all covered this so well.

The Deuteronomy passage that Kelly reference was actually more than a suggestion, it was a command. God does not wink at rebellion and the bible is clear that discipline is the means to prevent it.

I love Kelly's point about knowing your child's heart too. I can only remember ever receiving two spankings in my life. But what had the greatest impact on me (most often) was knowing that I had disappointed my dad or grandma. That is not so with all kids.

Great insights Warren and everyone!

Mom said...

I will follow this with interest! Many years ago after receiving a spanking I asked my daughter if she knew why she was spanked. She said "yes, to make me sweet." Good! She understood.

John said...

I have three children, and I do occasionally spank them. I never leave a mark, just a sting. It is a rare occurrence but when dad says 'enough,' they listen because they remember the consequences. We always talk about it later, and I allow them to express their feelings, even if it is mostly anger at the time. Then we pray together. For preachers' kids, I think my kids are amazing. :) It is a difficult subject these days. The amount of 'tolerance' in our society is past shameful. It's dangerous to the health of the family.