Is Spanking Children OK?

Child Is spanking children OK for Christians? I believe so, under certain circumstances. But, I'd like to hear what you have to say.

From the San Francisco Chronicle "Mommy Files" blog:

A Texas woman was sentenced to five years probation after pleading guilty to the charge of Injury of a Child. What did this Corpus Christi mother of three do? She spanked her then nearly 2-year-old daughter.

"You don't spank children today," said Judge Jose Longoria. "In the old days, maybe we got spanked, but there was a different quarrel. You don't spank children."

Prosecutors are requiring Rosalina Gonzales to take parenting classes, follow Child Protection Services (CPS) guidelines, and pay $50 to the Children's Advocacy Center in addition to being on probation.

Gonzales spanked her daughter in December 2010. Her daughter's paternal grandmother noticed red marks on the child's bottom and took her to a hospital to be checkied out, according to KZTV-10, Corpus Christi.

The state has put Gonzales's three children in the hands of the grandmother. The mother is working with CPS to regain custody.

Now, I've read a proposal for an anti-spanking law for California. What do you think? Is spanking OK for Christians? If so, under what circumstances? I know godly people on both sides of this one.

By the way, I'm going to go out on a limb and say Thanksgiving is going to be awkward between the mom and grandmother.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “Is Spanking Children OK?

  1. Thanks, Tim, I didn’t intend to suggest that scripture teaches those three things as necessary to be approved by God, but rather that those things are necessary for any punishment to be effective as a training tool or deterrent. EFFECTIVE is the key word, not “must.” And … the scriptures are supported by behavioral studies like those of BF Skinner and others.
    On the other hand, it would be hard to argue that the writer of Hebrews & Proverbs use Father-God as an example, but we’re not being at least encouraged to learn from that and attempt to follow Father’s example [hebrews 12.3-13]
    PS: thanks for accepting the anonymous comments of a new guy. I just found your blog and I’m enjoying it.

  2. I appreciate all of the comments for different reasons. To anonguy, I paused at, “Scriptures teach three elements of effective punishment: It must be swift, severe, and certain.” I don’t know that any of those is taught in the Bible as a “must.” Having said that, I agree that cultural norms are far inferior to biblical norms. In addition, the use of the term “okay” in asking the question of the post’s title is simply slang for saying, “all right with God.”
    Great comments, Rex and April… especially Rex. Thanks to all for commenting. Interesting thoughts.

  3. On a few occasions my children have been spanked. My wife and I reserve that punishment as the most severe consequence, choosing to take away privileges and/or sending them to their room to lay on their bed for most misbehavior. Two things that will warrant a spanking as punishment is 1) any use of physical violence (pushing, kicking, etc…) when angry or to get their way and 2) not telling the truth.
    I don’t believe spankings should be a frustrated response of the parent but a purposeful act that loves the child enough to discipline even though such discipline will cause some temporary hurt. I also am convinced that spanking loses it’s good intention if it’s the only or primary form of punishment. Further, I believe we parents need to remember that while there is a time and need for negative discipline, positive discipline (teaching) must be prevalent and that our best teaching/training of our children comes from setting examples for them and taking the time to explain the purpose of good behaviors and values.
    Grace and Peace,

  4. Great response above! Very thorough. And yes, I think spanking is absolutely ok… long as we are speaking of the kind I grew up with= hand, spoon or belt; none of which leaving permanent damage and was the proper consequence for disobedience or backtalking during a certain age range. I spank my kids when it’s called for, even in public. But it is the more seldom disciplinary action I use these days. Their age and personalities call for other consequences that are more fitting. 🙂

  5. This is a great question, and I believe people would be wise to frame a response somewhat differently than whether it’s “okay” or not. The main issue is about effectiveness for training the child.
    Spanking is simply one form of punishment. ANY punishment is unpleasant – or it’s ineffective. It seems to be the modern approach to believe that only psychological punishment is okay, but physical punishment is not. Why? do we really believe that striking a child is more damaging than psychological torment?
    The real issue is about training children. If the intent of the parent is to TRAIN the child, then one selects a punishment from a large menu of options … and does so for the purpose of being effective.
    No matter the punishment – if it’s delivered simply because a parent is angry or frustrated, it’s wrong whether it’s spanking or not.
    Each child is different. Some will not respond to a spanking, and so they shouldn’t be spanked. Others won’t respond to anything BUT a spanking, and so they MUST be spanked.
    Scriptures teach three elements of effective punishment: It must be swift, severe, and certain. If you have all three of those things, then whatever punishment one chooses will be effective as a tool for training/deterance (unless the child has unusual emotional issues, or mental illness).
    The main thing is getting kids to understand over time that bad behavior is hurtful to others – always. If they feel a bit of that pain themselves, and learn to associate it with their own selfish behaviors, they’ll learn to stop and think of others eventually.
    The most important thing in a Christian home is teaching the children that we are different than the world, and don’t abide by its standards. We don’t punish for the same reasons they do (mindless obedience – to be ‘good’ kids) … and we don’t feel obligated to adapt to a temporary cultural blip where after zillions of years and many cultures, the common practice of smacking a child is suddenly taboo. We (as Christians) ought to be wise and loving enough to differentiate between brutality & effective punishments.