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QUESTION: What can I tell a friend who says they love their baby too much to spank her?



ANSWER:  My first thought is to tell her that she’s going to end up raising a little terrorist.  But I suppose I need to give some further explanation.  Before your child will decide to do good, you must train or condition them to do good.  Parents must take upon themselves that part of the child’s moral duty which is not yet fully developed.  In other words, parents are to train their child to behave and then enforce the training with discipline as needed.  Remember, spanking is not training.  Before you spank your child you must first train him.


God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the ‘midst’ of the Garden of Eden, and told man not to touch it (Gen 2:9; 3:3).  Why didn’t God put that tree a hundred miles away?  No, instead He placed that tree right smack dab in the middle of the garden where it would be seen every single day and then told Adam not to eat of its fruit.  Sit your child down, put something in front of them that can’t be hurt nor hurt them and train them not to touch it.  Only after they have been trained should discipline for disobedience be administered.


Listen mom, instead of toddler-proofing the house, you need to house-proof your toddler!  The Bible says to train up your child (Prov 22:6).  Notice it says ‘train up.’  It doesn’t say beat up or discipline up or educate up or “positive affirmation” up.  Your child will need more than training, but everything else will fail without training.  And you can’t train your child without spending time with them.


Another thought along these lines is that you can’t wait until your child’s behavior becomes unacceptable before you start training.  Discipline will never fix a lack of training – in fact, discipline where there has been no training will only frustrate your child.  And much of the frustration many parents experience is of their own making.  Our problem isn’t “bad” children so much as it is bad parenting.  And guess what mom and dad, that’s your job.  It’s not society’s job, the public school’s job or even the church’s job.  I know that there are exceptions, but most behavior problems don’t need to be medicated.  If pets can be trained, so can your child!


Training most certainly involves emotional sacrifice (not to mention a lot of hard work).  But what is love if it isn’t giving?  Once we have learned it will work for the good of the child it becomes a joy instead of a sacrifice.


A couple of things are certain.  First, every untrained child wants his own way (a stroll through Wal-Mart will prove that).  But secondly, if you are consistent, this test of authority will come less frequently as the child grows.  If the child “wins” against authority (gets his won way), he has actually lost big time and has taken the first steps to being a great burden on society.


“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”  (Proverbs 22:6).


So let’s review: spanking (discipline) is not training and long before we get to the spanking we are to be involved in the training.  Once trained, however, should spanking be a part of the discipline of a child?


The truth of the matter is that the Bible says, if you love your child you’ll spank them, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (Proverbs 13:24)  If you don’t use spanking as at least one method of discipline it is because you don’t understand the Bible definition of what it means to love.  Again, remember, discipline is not training.  You must train your child before any discipline will be effective.


There is a difference between love and sentiment.  The sentimental feeling that prevents you from spanking your child when he needs it is not love.  God chastens His children because He loves them (Heb 12:6-8).  Don’t you believe God wants what is best for your child?  Do you think you know more than God about how to raise your child?  God says if you do it right, love will overcome sentiment and you’ll spank your child when they need it.


We can easily look into the pitiful eyes of our children and decide it would hurt too much to obey God.  Sometimes images of abuse from the past cause a parent to neglect their duty.  Sometimes peer pressure (culture) can have the same effect. We are bombarded with propaganda based on “the latest psychological research” that villainizes Bible-based child rearing.  But right is right regardless how we feel about it.  I have never known a child to grow up hating a parent who administered correction God’s way (abuse is not Bible discipline).


God is certainly love (1 John 4:8, 16).  But God is also just, “In flaming fire taking vengeance…” (2 Thess 1:8).  God spanks His children (Heb 12:6-8) for their own good (Heb 12:10).  And they aren’t going to like it when He does (Heb 12:11).  In Deuteronomy 28:45-47, God gives us two reasons why He corrects His children: first, because they won’t listen to him (disobedience) and secondly, because they won’t obey with joy and gladness of heart (a bad attitude).  Those are the same two reasons why you should correct your children.


Contrary to what many want to believe, every child has a sin nature. (Psalm 51:5; 58:3).  This is obvious when you consider that no child must be trained to lie or be selfish.  Like it or not, that’s the Bible truth and to reject it is to reject the Bible itself.



The same God who said, “…Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not…” (Mark 10:14), also said:  “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” (Proverbs 19:18) “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (Proverbs 13:24) “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15) “Withhold not correction from the child…he shall not die. Thou shalt…deliver his soul from hell.” (Proverbs 23:13-14) “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” (Proverbs 29:15) “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” (Proverbs 29:17)