If you spank your children – even occasionally – you’re increasing chances they’ll abuse alcohol and suffer from lifelong emotional and mental disorders. At least, that’s the conclusion of a new study in the journal Pediatrics.
However, like most studies on the topic, this study is seriously flawed. For example, researchers didn’t ask respondents if they had spanked their children, but rather if they had “hit, grabbed, pushed, shoved or slapped” them. So, really – it’s not children who are spanked who suffer problems, but those who are physically assaulted. Even so, this study and others like it are providing fuel for a growing movement to outlaw spanking – or at the very least, make it socially unacceptable.
Worldwide, 32 countries ban any type of corporal punishment of children. This began with Sweden in 1979 – and then spread to countries spanning four continents. Now, it’s infiltrating the church. Earlier this year, Christianity Today urged parents to explore “more creative and effective ways to train up (their) children . . .” And, just this month, the Presbyterian Church USA, passed a resolution calling for the end of spanking.
Christianity Today based its advice on the work of William Webb, which is troubling because Webb advocates a way of interpreting the Bible that nullifies some of its ethical teaching. He says we can discover a “ better ethic” by following a so-called redemption trajectory. Similarly, some in the Presbyterian Church argue that Scriptures supporting corporal punishment are simply outdated. Now we follow a better way.
Christians should resist this kind of thinking. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” And, Proverbs says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child . . . punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.”
Certainly, Christians shouldn’t use these passages as an excuse for abuse. Spankings should be reserved for clear disobedience and should be limited to a few swats on the behind. But, because children are born with a sin nature, spankings don’t doom children to lifelong problems; they actually save them from their own willful destruction.
(We talked about this on a recent Up For Debate program. To hear the broadcast, click HERE)
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