Pristine Grace

A Fresh Look at Spanking
by Brandan Kraft
A Fresh Look at Spanking

I wrote this article years ago shortly after my son was born.  He is now sixteen (16) years old and has never been spanked.  He is also a believer and confessed his love for the Gospel recently in water baptism.  I found this in my old notes and I thought I'd share.  Anyway, this is an issue for each parent to determine on their own.  This is not a rule for living.  I'm simply providing my insight into the subject, and now that my son is turning into a young adult, I'm glad I can look back on his life and I am grateful I never hit him. - BJK 6/16/2020.

    I hesitate to post this in my blog because many will see it as a matter of ethics. Our rule for living is the Gospel, and I will never depart from that.  But I believe our understanding of God's relationship with His children is to be the basis for our parenting. Our parenting should be a reflection of God's parenting, and oh what a wonderful Father He is!

    Here's my question: Does the Bible teach us to spank/beat our children? I'm only interested in the biblical teaching on this subject. Where are the principles for spanking taught in Scripture?

    I'm familiar with the following passages:

Prov 23:13-14, (KJV), Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. (14) Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. 

Prov 29:15, (KJV), The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

Prov 22:15, (KJV), Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him

Heb 12:6-7, (KJV), For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (7) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 

Prov 13:24, (KJV), He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. 

    Now who am I to question these passages? I have always believed these passages of Scripture taught that it was the biblically correct thing to spank your children. That's what I would think upon first look at these passages. But as sovereign grace thinkers we know that the word world (gr. kosmos) does not necessarily mean "all men universally". So does the "rod" necessarily mean "to spank?" I've heard preachers waste a whole Sunday morning talking about the virtues of spanking and spit out these passages as "absolute proof" for their dogma. Only until recently did I realize that these passages might have been misinterpreted.

    The word "rod" can have different meanings. For example, the word could represent a stick used for hitting. But since I believe parents are to look at their children as our Shepherd looks to His sheep, then would these passages not have a different meaning?

    Shepherds did not use their rod to beat their sheep into submission - no, it was more commonly used as an instrument for guiding and directing the paths of their sheep. How else are we to interpret Ps. 23?

Ps 23:4, (KJV), Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

    I can tell you right now that I've never been spanked by my Lord. I've been chastised or "censured" - but never spanked by my loving Father in Heaven. I am His sheep, and He has used His rod to guide me and correct me; but never to beat me.