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To Spank or Not to Spank

“Time out, go sit in the corner. I warned you twice not to do that again!”

“Spanking does not work. I’ve tried it and it just does not work with my child!”

“Oh no, I would never spank children. That teaches them it’s O.K. to hit people. How can I tell my child it’s wrong to hit, if I hit him?”  “Spanking is child abuse. It will damage self-esteem. There are much better ways. Children are different and, you see, my child is unique.”

I may not have heard them all, but I’ve certainly heard many of the arguments against spanking. Again, what does the Scripture say about the subject. Not, how you and I feel about it. Not what the modern psychologist and so-called child rearing experts have to say. Does the Bible speak expressly? Do we have a final authority we can go to in trust for direction?

Deuteronomy 5:16 says, “Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

The Command

If Dad and Mom are walking contrary to the Lord’s commands, then that places the child in a precarious and vulnerable position. Ninety-nine percent of the problem is Dad and Mom. Almost (please note I say ALMOST) without exception, if Dad and Mom would do right, little Johnnie and little Susie would come in line. When parents behave contrary to God’s commands, what can we expect from the child? Could the parents’ disobedience to their heavenly Father in like manner yield disobedience in their children (offspring)? Dad, Mom, have you yielded your heart and life to the heavenly Father?

Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” This places an awesome responsibility with the parent.

Yes, parents are not perfect. When a couple becomes Mr. and Mrs. First-time parents, they are certainly the least experienced with very little on the job training unless their own parents demonstrated Scriptural obedience for them throughout their childhood. What a blessing when, as a child, one is reared in a home of love, forgiveness, and discipline. A home where body, soul, and spirit are nurtured by parents who love the heavenly Father and keep His commandments—Not an atmosphere of perfection, but a relationship where the child sees parents forgiven by the Lord when failure comes, growing in the Lord on a daily basis, and whose hope is in the Lord through times of weakness. The child’s success does not so much hinge on the parents’ perfect faith as it does on the parent’s practicing faith step-by-step, day-by-day.

Dear parents, that tiny, precious bundle of joy is waiting for you. You are commanded to “Train up” your child “in the way he should go….”  Your child’s obedience to you must emerge from your relationship and obedience to your heavenly Father. I cannot at this time deal with the parents’ walk with the Lord, but it is critical for each of us to immerse ourselves in The Word. You will have the answers as you study His Word and yield to the sweet leadership of His Holy Spirit. He has given us the instruction manual, and now we must choose to obey His commands. The question is, will you do it God’s way? Here is what the Lord has to say about our subject.

“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Proverbs 13:24
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15
“Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” Proverbs 19:18
“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” Proverbs 23: 13,14
“The rod and reproof give wisdom: But a child left to himself  bringeth his mother to shame.” Proverbs 29:15
“Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” Proverbs 29:17

For brevity’s sake, permit me to list for you the basics for spanking:

1.  The parent is instructed to use the rod, not your hand. Susannah Wesley spanked John and Charles before they were a year old. A lightweight paint stir-stick with progression to a heavier instrument such as a wooden dowel or wooden correction paddle could be used for the older child.

2.  The punishment must fit the disobedience not your disposition.

3.  Punish immediately. Do not warn repeatedly. Do not raise your voice, yell or scream at your child. Do not wait to punish when you are out of patience, angry or frustrated. Tell your child what is expected, and require immediate obedience. “I told you a thousand times, if you do that once more….” Do not confuse your child as to what is required and when. Obedience is required immediately and if not, immediate punishment will commence.

4.  Before spanking, tell the child what was expected, how they disobeyed, and this is why they are being punished. Do not jerk your child up in a fit of temper. If this is your disposition, you need a spanking more than your child. You must be under control. By the way, have you explained to your child beforehand what your expectations are? Make clear rules.

5.  Do not allow excessive screaming/crying resulting from the spanking. This may very well be a display of temper and rebellion toward the spanking.

6.  Following the spanking, sit down with your child. Allow him/her to regain composure. Explain why you spanked and then express your love verbally. Pray with your child. Do not tell the child “God loves you when you are good” leaving the impression that God does not love them when they fail to do good.

7. There is so much I would like to share at this point. However, you must not miss this. It is so critical that the parent develops a loving relationship with the child. If the parent/child relationship is where it should be, the worst part of spanking for the child will be broken fellowship with Dad and Mom. Yes, the spanking should be painful, and fit the crime. But the child should also feel the pain of disappointing Dad and Mom. This will be a deterrent if the love relationship of parent/child is strong. I cannot over emphasize the need for the child to know “Dad and Mom loves me.” Spanking, yes the whole of training your child, is not a power thing. The purpose is not to get what you want. The purpose is not to have control over your child’s life or get peace and quiet when you desire it. The Scriptures above clearly put forth the purpose of the rod. Always keep in mind Ephesians 6:4 “…bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Nurture carries with it the training, education, as well as correction and chastening. Admonition is obvious—warning and reproof are a must in each child’s development. All is to be “of the Lord.” Parents, you are God’s representative to your child. Should we not therefore implement His instruction for training our children so they can know HIM?


This preaches to us all. Is it ever difficult for us mortals to be consistent? Prayer and preparation will go a long way. Ask the Lord to help you to be consistent. Then make the necessary preparations.

Does your child know the boundaries and what the rules are? There should be praise and reward for good behavior, character, etc. Explain the consequences for disobedience. Immediate obedience is expected. Now, here is where the parent confuses the child. Sometimes our patience is endless, and then again, we lose it over the least little thing. One time it’s, “Go to your room” then it’s, “No privileges for a week.” We spank or maybe scold or even yell and scream. When guests are present the child is cute, but at another time the behavior “gets on our nerves” and BAM! The parent may even allow the child to throw temper tantrums while the parent leaves the house to get some fresh air. “I’m warning you, if you do that one more time you are going to get it…What did I tell you!” Have you ever heard that? Can you imagine taking away good things from the child as a means of punishment? We parents can be so inconsistent and confusing that we are a part of the problem, maybe even the problem. Be consistent:

1.  Lay out the rules clearly – start early.

2.  Explain the consequences for disobedience.

3.  Develop a positive and powerful relationship with your child.

4.  Obey immediately – disobedience will be punished immediately.

By the way, this timeout – take away things, etc. prolongs the punishments and allows the child to develop and harbor bad feelings toward Dad and Mom. The Lord is right. Punish disobedience immediately. Talk about the situation with your child, and restore the child to your fellowship.


Start with day one. Then when your child is old enough to understand, set forth the rules and expectations. Explain the consequences for disobedience. Develop a strong relationship of love and assurance. “Train up a child…” Proverbs 22:6.  Yes, that is the parents’ responsibility. Hebrews 12:11 says, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”  We cannot go wrong by following the Lord’s instruction – and if the parent is disobedient, my, what consequences! But Dad and Mom, if we obey, my, what rewards!

Note:  You can order “Under Loving Command” from:
A Beka Book, Inc.
PO Box 19100
Pensacola, FL 32523-9100
Phone: 1-800-877-5226
The Voice in the Wilderness does not stock or sell this item. You must order from this address. I am not endorsing all associated with this booklet, “Under Loving Command,” but it is well worth the read. RLW