Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More Thoughts on Biblical Parenting

In a Facebook discussion of my Stand for Truth post, some common responses to the arguments I made in support of nonviolent Biblical parenting I presented came up, including:
  1. Doesn't God punish sin?
  2. If I don't spank, how will my child understand the seriousness of the consequences of disobedience, especially in dangerous situations?
  3. What evidence is there that the rod verses should be treated metaphorically?
Divine Punishment vs. Grace
The wages of sin is death.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and rightly deserve death and eternal separation from God as our just punishment.

The amazing Good News of the Gospel is this: Christ took that punishment for us when he died on the cross and rose again.  His sacrifice completely satisfied God's justice, so that Grace can be freely offered to all who believe on His name.

Through Christ's death and resurrection, God turned away His wrath and took upon Himself my sentence of punishment.  

As the song goes, we are saved by "nothing but the blood of Jesus."  I believe that his death and resurrection were completely sufficient, effective and powerful to not only redeem us, but to conquer death and propitiate the need for further punishment.  Therefore, I do not feel it is necessary or right to inflict physical punishment on my child.

I believe children can be taught the severity of the problem of sin as they are cognitively capable of grasping such a concept without me striking their bodies with my hand or any other object.  And, hopefully when they grow up with parents who live in grace toward them, they will be in a position to better understand the awesome Gospel message.

Another way to look at it: Like the parable of the unforgiving servant, it's as though I've been forgiven a debt of zillions of dollars.  What right do I then have to extract a few pennies worth of justice from my child in the form of physical punishment?

Spanking for Danger Situations
The problem is that a child young enough to run into the street or touch a light socket, by virtue of where they are in terms of brain development, lacks impulse control ... and spanking doesn't give it to them. It may make them afraid to act, but it also might make them afraid of you so they run into danger. I believe that close supervision and preventative measures such as babyproofing until they gain the skills and reasoning necessary not to do those dangerous things is more effective than spanking and kinder too. In short, a child will outgrow certain behaviors whether we consistently spank or consistently respond in a gentler way, so why not choose the more peaceful way to respond?

For more on this, see Dare to Disciple "The Danger Dilemma"

Can We Take the Rod Verses Literally?
Let's say for arguments' sake that the six rod verses in Proverbs are meant to be taken literally. Even so, it must be taken into consideration that the original language, Hebrew, uses different words for different ages of child. Most importantly, the word for child used in the rod verses is "na'ar", the word for older child, teen or young man.  Even if the verses mean to use a literal stick to literally beat a child, the verse is definitely not talking about disciplining a baby, toddler or young child. 

More on this at Dare to Disciple's series "Spanking and Proverbs", in particular, Part 2.  Another in- depth study can be found here.


  1. Very, very good points. :) Thanks for sharing!

    Also wanted to say - as a lifelong Christian I never even really questioned the acceptance of spanking as mandated by the Bible; it wasn't anything I thought about in depth until I became a parent.

    Now that I've done research into it (and it did not take long to change my mind) I am astounded at how those verses are used and disseminated so broadly as THE Christian parenting philosophy.

    All that to say - thank you to you and people like you who are putting the truth out there. :)

  2. Thanks for the supportive words, Kelly. :)

  3. Thanks from me to ... As a Christian I have NEVER believed that hitting a child or anyone else is right. Never.

    I have never believed that the Bible actually instructs us to hit a child. All my readings of Jesus I never found one mention of him telling us to hit a child, in fact .. he told us to love. I don't believe love and hitting belong in the same sentence... let alone life... and more especially a defenceless child.


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