Summary: With the new law being introduced in California to ban spanking this message takes a biblical view of what many say is discipline from the "dark ages."

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THE BOTTOM LINE: “To Spank or Not To Spank”

Proverbs 23:13-14 - ©Dr. Larry L. Thompson (2007)

“Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones; a spanking won’t kill them. 14 A good spanking, in fact, might save them from something worse than death.” Proverbs 23:13-14 (Message)


Do parents have the right to spank their child? This is the controversial issue that has been brought to light nationally this past week when a democratic lawmaker from the San Francisco Bay area proposed legislation to outlaw spanking your children in California. In California it is against the law for anyone but a parent to spank their children and now they want to remove the right from the parent saying that no spanking, by even a parent, can take place to any child under four years of age. Assemblywoman Sally Leiber has introduced a bill to outlaw spanking a child under 4 years of age in California. A CBS survey found 57% of Californians oppose this legislation; 23% favor and 11% are undecided. However, discipline, according to the scripture is not only not a violation to avoid it is a principle to be practiced.

Over the years as I have preached the family series annually I have emphasized that parents are God’s representatives to their children. Therefore, they must reflect God’s characteristics and love to their children and train their children in God’s way. In other words, parents must provide an atmosphere of obeying God, love, forgiveness and godly training. And it is in this type of environment that we understand the importance of discipline of which spanking is not outlawed but directed in the training up of a child.

Parental spanking has been an accepted means of disciplining from the beginning of human history until Dr. Spock in the 1960’s. Needless to say there can obviously be an abuse of this form of discipline. No parent should ever strike a child in anger. If spanking is used to vent parental frustration; or conducted in anger or practiced to obtain some peace and quiet then it is wrong and should be avoided. Nowadays, the generally accepted view (successfully promoted by child training experts) is that all forms of parental spanking are "primitive and brutal" methods of disciplining a child used by uneducated, unenlightened people. In some countries, parental spanking is condemned as a criminal activity and is labeled as "child abuse."

Isn’t it also true that the world’s "experts" have managed to convince this generation that having more things makes us happier, having more education makes us wiser, having more training makes us more useful and having good looks makes us more confident and secure, killing unborn children is tolerated. However, is this generation happier, wiser, more useful and confident and secure? Shouldn’t we seek a better way - God’s way? What is God’s word regarding parental spanking?


“Young people are prone to foolishness and fads; the cure comes through tough-minded discipline.” Proverbs 22:15 (MSG)

“Scolding and spanking a child helps him to learn. Left to himself, he brings shame to his mother.” Proverbs 29:15 (TLB)

The God of mercy and kindness would not advocate spanking if less painful or more effective method should have been introduced. We must remember that the discipline of spanking is reserved for intentional rebellion. (ie, "I will not do") Spanking should not be used for childishness, forgetfulness, weakness or careless accidents.


“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24 (NIV)

True love desires the best for the one that is loved - however much the pain may be in life. Biblical spanking hurts the child much…but hurts the parent more! Spank with a “rod:” The "rod’ is always mentioned as the instrument of spanking in the Bible. The word "rod’ literally means: "a branch, cut off as a graft." In other words, parental spanking was meant to inflict intense pain upon the skin without damaging the internal organs! “Discipline your children while you still have the chance.” “Hands” are not to be used for spanking because they are for guiding and comforting a child. The butt seems specially designed for receiving pain without suffering internal damage. Parents who cannot control their temper should not spank their children, until they learn to control themselves. Children are not "punching bags."


One of the key principles of effective training is to start as early as possible. “If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.” Proverbs 13:24 (NLT) Even a newborn babies can easily differentiate a disapproving tone from an encouraging one. This verse also teaches us that chastening should not be delayed but should take place as soon, as is reasonably possible after the rebellious act. Unnecessary delay leads to yelling and screaming and unnecessary, hurtful words and frustration which leads to anger and violent rather than corrective action. It also gives time for the child to develop bad feelings towards his parents.

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Michael Canavan

commented on Dec 23, 2016

Excellent teaching. Thank you for it.

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