Proverbs 23.13 — Discipline

“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.” The teaching of the text is that it is OK to hit your child as a disciplinary method. There is NO notion here of it being OK to beat your child. James Dobson advises that spanking is acceptable, but limits it to one or two swats, and on the buttocks, not the back or legs or other places. Dobson also says that spanking is only for children 5 and younger.

Many Christian experts argue that spanking is still wise and biblical. Albert Mohler has argued, “Modern advocates of ‘time-outs’ and similar forms of discipline miss the essential point that God intends spanking to underline the cause-and-effect relationship of disobedience and punishment.” But Mohler also seems to miss the point that the consequences of human behavior are legion, and that God’s first and ultimate response to his children’s rebellion is not to treat them violently.

The Bible never forbids spanking, but it doesn’t require it either. If spanking is used, it should be employed miles short of abuse and without anger. Parents should be encouraged to explore as many creative and effective ways as possible to discipline children.

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