Spanking children is really not an optional extra

I don’t remember which of my sons did this years ago, but I had to laugh when he arrived in the laundry room with a sudden growth on his posterior. The laundry room was where I would administer corporal punishment. The two books my son had stuffed into his pants served as an illustration of this fact: Spankings are meant to be painful. The books would have absorbed the blows that were intended to drive foolishness from his heart. The Bible says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.”
I write about this controversial topic today because of an article that was sent out across The Associated Press wire last week that contained this grave pronouncement: “The American Academy of Pediatrics and many child development experts warn against spanking children of any age.” They warn that spanking is likely to lead to child abuse or to create aggression in our children.
I would humbly argue that those who fail to spank also fail to take God’s Word seriously, because the Bible clearly teaches that the rod is to be used in the home for correction. Here is the age-old question: Do we believe what the Bible clearly says, or do we believe that the experts of our day have a better understanding of how to raise children? I can offer anecdotal evidence that spanking works, based on more than 26 years of child rearing, and can point to seven children who are all fully clothed and in their right minds most of the time. None of them has been arrested for “aggression.” Not one of them has suffered child abuse, nor do they have tendencies toward child abuse themselves. Each of them was spanked from the time that they were old enough to understand that a clear command had been given to them by their parents and which they willfully chose to disobey. They were never spanked for knocking over their milk at the table or other accidents that children are prone to, just for willful disobedience. They survived; more than that, they thrived.
Why use the rod? First, because the Bible commands it. Second, because there is something wrong in the heart of a child that must be removed for the sake of that child: Read the Bible and see what happens to those who are given over to their own foolishness. Third, the Bible says, “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” The child who is disobedient is not just rejecting his parents’ authority, but God’s authority. He is choosing to go his own way, which ultimately, if not corrected, will lead to a life of misery.
Many today ask, “Can I use time-out instead of spanking?” My answer to those who believe the Bible is simply this: We do not have the right to substitute the popular ideas of the culture for what God clearly commands. The rod is a blessing, then, when used for the purposes that God has ordained. It is not a license to unleash your temper, nor is it a right to “hit your children.” If we are a bully to our children, we will provoke them to anger and lose their hearts. Spanking is never to be used to get even but always to restore and correct.
I recommend “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Ted Tripp. This excellent book will help any parent navigate the waters of child training, including this issue of to spank or not to spank.