The topic of spanking is controversial in western society only because of the determined siege against the institution of the family by secular liberal progressives over the last 50 years. Parental authority is a major obstacle to the progressive social agenda. Active, involved parents resist when others attempt to influence their children’s beliefs and value systems without their knowledge and approval. Liberal progressives approve of weakened parental authority because it increases the influence of the state. No matter whether you call them liberals, or progressives, and if they are hard left or moderately left, the holders of liberal ideology all share some common core views that oppose parental authority. One the first and most basic tenets of liberalism is the belief that big government is a powerful force for good. Liberals believe any problem in society can be fixed by an active and influential government. For this reason, liberals want the state to have greater authority over both parents and children. It is not unfair to describe the majority of liberals as people who lean towards a “statist world view.” A “statist” supports government as the solution for every problem, even when those problems are caused by the state itself through immoral and unethical policies, such as the forced redistribution of wealth or liberal abortion policies. Since almost all liberals are statists, they tend to strongly resist any idea or religious practice that might undermine the government’s ability to influence the nature and character of future citizens of the state.
Because of their statist world views, liberals favor any legislation that gives government more influence and authority over individuals when offered as a solution for current issues highlighted in the news media. The most influential liberals, who have gained positions of power and influence in government, actively seek to neutralize parental authority because they don’t trust parents to make the right decisions in training their own children. They support policies which weaken parental authority under the guise of preventing such widespread problems as child abuse, (a frequent result of fatherless homes.) Weak parents are more easily molded and influenced by a strong statist government. Statists routinely institute policies that weaken the home and diminish parental authority, by using the excuse of solving pressing social problems. In many cases, the problems they seek to solve were originally created by misguided liberal policies, such as welfare programs, which financially incentivized mothers to have babies without being married, and discouraged the involvement of fathers in their children’s life.
Why Liberals Want Weak Parents and Dysfunctional Families
When parents are displaced from their God-ordained positions of influence and authority over their own children it provides the agents of the state greater freedom to teach and train children to conform to liberal ideas and goals. Statists have a fervent, almost religious belief, that a government that is run according to progressive ideology will ultimately produce a utopian paradise on earth. They believe this, despite the clear and unbroken historical record spanning hundreds of years, showing that strong and powerful statist governments have always turned into despotic and tyrannical institutions, repressing individual freedom. Statist governments are a breeding ground for ruthless dictators who in just the last century killed hundreds of millions. Centrally run statist governments are not only oppressive of human freedom, they are also inefficient. When statists gain control, they almost always produce economic stagnation through poor economic decisions, leading to rationing and shortages of goods and services. We need only look at the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and many other communist satellite nations that became failed states to see historical examples of authoritarian statist governments pursuing progressive liberal views to the detriment of their citizens. Without exception, statist countries have usurped parental authority and oppressed their own citizens in vain efforts to mold generations of children to become good servants of progressive ideology and their utopian dreams. Where liberal ideology takes hold, the results are always disastrous.
Liberals in all countries believe that spanking is an archaic practice that is not needed for effective parenting. Liberals have pursued a campaign to altogether eliminate corporal punishment by parents despite the terrible results in countries which have banned spanking. As Christians, how should we view this subject, given the intense resistance to spanking in the liberally dominated media? We believe the Bible clearly teaches that corporal punishment is mandated in the Bible as a tool for parental practice, so we should not be easily influenced by our liberal opponents to give it up. We need to closely examine the results and track records of the humanistic teachers who have rejected Biblical authority and evaluate their recommended extra-Biblical methods against the Word of God. It is always better to rely on the Word of God for wisdom and hold fast to Bible teachings on any topic, rather than to accept the teaching of so called “experts,” who openly pursue anti-parent ideological agendas.
Fortunately, research on the Bible teachings about spanking and child discipline is easily accomplished. There are approximately 47 verses in the Bible that directly or indirectly address the subject of discipline. They are split between both the Old and New Testament. The verses in the New Testament do not conflict, or replace the Old Testament verses. The New Testament clearly affirms Old Testament verses and upholds the value of discipline to children. The New Testament writer of Hebrews equates any lack of discipline as proof that a child is not loved by their parents (see Hebrews chapter 12.) Parents who fail to express their love for their children by careful and attentive discipline are called out in scripture as negligent parents. All parents should know what the Bible teaches about discipline. If you are new to this topic, you can start by following the link to Verses in the Bible on Child Discipline and read through them all. You should be encouraged that God adequately covered the topic in less than 50 verses, it did not take him 10,000 verses to cover the topic of discipline! There are more verses on money (100) and the topic of Hell (100) than there are on disciplining children. Being a successful parent is not as complicated as we might think. We are sure you will be more successful by reading and believing the Bible, and by spending time praying on your knees asking God for wisdom, than by following the advice of any “expert” who rejects the authority of the Bible!
Because the Bible Says So Is Reason Enough:
Now, to really answer the question, “Should parents spank children?” we should all defer to the Word of God without reservation or apology. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:15 ESV “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” Until the last century, no parent would even give a second thought about whether they should spank their children. Nearly all of the children that grew up in the 20th century were spanked by their parents as a routine part of discipline. We had much less problem with disrespect and contempt for authority when corporal punishment by parents was common. Nearly all our parents believed that spanking was a God ordained method of discipline for children and the opposition to it only really began in earnest in the 1960s with the now discredited ideas of Dr. Benjamin Spock. Why should parents spank their children? The Biblical view towards disciplining children clearly identifies the main reason parents need to train their children while young and tender: They are born with hearts that are prone to sinful folly and selfishness and must be trained to learn self-control or they will wander from the faith.
If you are really convinced your sweet little child has a heart free from folly and sin, then the rod of discipline is of no concern to you. The rest of us, who recognize that we are parents of “little sinners,” will need to use the rod to keep from raising “big sinners.” Check out the articles on spanking to your left to help guide and instruct you on the why, when, where, and the how of disciplining your loved child. Don’t love them? Then you won’t need to discipline them. Proverbs 13:24 states: “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Or as the writer of Hebrews puts it in Hebrews 12:5-11 ESV: “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?”
How Progressive Liberal Intellectual Elites Contributed to the Decline of Our Society
Spanking fell out of favor among the intellectual elites who were products of our modern educational system. The intellectual elites are almost always ideologically aligned with the tenets of liberalism. Many young American parents have been intimidated into avoiding spanking their children through the fear of being accused of child abuse. Liberals have steadily sought to criminalize any use of corporal punishment by parents. This has created a generation of spoiled, self-centered designer brats. For a fuller discussion of liberalism, we encourage you to review the accompanying article on Liberal Christian Theology. In contrast to liberalism, the Bible provides clear endorsement for both the rights and obligation parents have to discipline their own children. The Bible specifically encourages parents to wield the “rod” of correction. For generations parents have understood what this meant, and it is only recently that parents have been strongly discouraged from disciplining their children using the Biblically recommended methods. These have worked well for many generations. The elimination of Biblical discipline in favor of popular teachings centered around self-esteem has produced a crop of young adults with plenty of self-esteem but with little reason for such high self-regard. These pampered children lack self-control and the ability to delay immediate self-gratification. They rarely achieve anything significant in life.
Parents who mistakenly try to build up their children’s self esteem rather than tackle their child’s inborn tendency to sin and disobey by applying Biblical methods of discipline often discover later in life that their children resent that they were raised permissively. Many children of permissive parents grow up to be unsuccessful adults and later blame their parents for their inability to succeed in life. Eventually, children make the connection between their failure to learn self-discipline and their parent’s permissiveness. Often they grow to resent their parents for their own character flaws. On the contrary, children who are loved and disciplined almost always grow up with a sense of gratitude and appreciation towards their parents for the discipline they received as children. I’ve never heard of permissive parents who had their children come and thank them for not disciplining them when they were young. Permissive parents are more likely to find that their children blame them for their undisciplined lives and inability to be successful in the real world. Children discover that holding a high opinion of their own talent won’t get them a meaningful job with a significant paycheck. The real world demands results, not good opinions of your own capabilities.
It is hard to ignore the adverse effects on our culture from the continuing shift away from Biblical discipline. It’s not unreasonable to conclude that elimination of spanking has made society more dangerous. Uncivilized children produce disorder in our schools and institutions through a lack of self-control and contempt for authority. We know intuitively it is the lack of childhood discipline that is contributing to this chaos. Parental authority has steadily been in decline and standards of conduct for children have reached new lows. Liberal ideology has been woven into the curriculum of most school systems and is producing a growing disrespect for teachers, parents, and other authority figures such as police and judges.
Are you personally ready to swim against the current of modern parenting? The articles in this section provide instructions for parents on disciplining children in accordance with Bible teachings. A proper world view and an understanding of God’s redemptive grace is the most essential element for success as a Christian parent and as a Christian child. We hope you will be diligent in studying the Word of God to see what it teaches about parenting. If you do, we are confident you will be successful!
How to tell What Right Looks Like
We always encourage parents to look around for families that are happy, with children who are polite and attentive to adults, where there is a sense of order and affection between all the members of the family. If you see a family like this you will almost always discover that they are Spirit filled, and walking in obedience to God’s word and follow Biblical principles in their family life. Look for these kind of families and watch carefully to see how they interact. You will almost always find that these parents are able to balance both the discipline and nurture of the Lord in their homes. There is a Spirit led balance needed between strictness and tenderness in any family. Without the discipline of the Lord there can be chaos and disorder. Without the tenderness and affection produced by the Holy Spirit there can be easily be legalism and the tendency to be overly strict. You can lead your family to success by modeling the love of God and demonstrating his care and love in your family and we encourage you to set your sights on success!