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What Does the Bible Say About..Spanking?

Does the bible tell us how to discipline our children? I have heard the saying "Spare the rod spoil the child". Is this in the Bible? If so does this mean that we should spank our children for doing wrong?


The saying you have heard is a variation of Proverbs 13:24, which says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” I don’t think this necessarily says you should spank, but rather that you should discipline in some way.

A similar passage in the Proverbs says, “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)

Even if these verses are specifically advocating spanking (being proverbs, they are really generalizations and not specific rules) and not just discipline in general, the point he makes in that second passage is still valid. Properly applied discipline, even if it includes spanking, is good for a child. Although the emphasis in recent years is against spanking, many generations have grown up quite well, thank you, having been spanked.

If it is used, spanking should never be done in anger (for you are not in control if you are angry), nor should it be administered in a place where serious injury might result (like the back, head, or limbs). Some children do not respond to spankings. When I was a teacher I had some students laugh at me when I spanked them. Some respond more to a lecture, or just telling them how disappointed you are in what they did. The discipline should be appropriate to the person and the action being corrected.

I have no objection to using a “time out” in place of spanking, for those that it would work on. However, if my parents gave me a “time out” it didn’t bother me at all. I could use the time doing enjoyable things in my head, like writing or math problems. I could have been given a “time out” all day and would have been perfectly happy. In fact, I might have acted up just to get one, if I didn’t know that my parents also had spanking or (even worse) a lecture as an option. It’s like those kids I knew who would do something to get expelled from school for three days, knowing that it would not affect their grades or their chance of graduating.