by Pastor Art Kohl

The Bible Speaks On Corporal Correction

In February of 1999, a councilman in the government of the city of Oakland, California, proposed that Oakland became the first “spank-free” city in the country. This was almost unanimously rejected by the city council. This idea is what is called a “floater.” It is put out to see what public perception is currently and also to introduce a notion to society. Subjects like abortion and euthanasia started this way. They are floated, gain momentum and become law.

Although it is legal everywhere to spank a child, there is already a spirit of fear in the air that frightens many parents from corporally correcting their children. Most have heard a horror story or two of Child Protective Services persecuting or prosecuting a good family. Most of their work is not an abuse of their power but sometimes they cross the line and intrude into good homes that are trying to rear their children well.

It seems every human being needs discipline. Some need much, some need little, but all need some. Prison population is growing faster than population statistics. Why are so many going to jail? For punishment, for discipline. Common sense would tell us it is easier to discipline a child who is one year old than incarcerate a man who is twenty-one. It is much less expensive also. A one-half inch wood dowel can be used for a rod and purchased for less than a dollar at a hardware store. That is usually all it takes to straighten out a one year old child when administered properly and consistently. To incarcerate a twenty-one year old man costs a state around $40,000 per year. The prison population of America has doubled in the last 12 years to 1.8 million adults in jail today. If everyone needs discipline, why not aim to correct the child as early in life as possible?

Enough of my opinions, these booklets are about what the Scriptures say. Does God in His Word promote the issue of corporal correction? What does the Bible say?

1. It is the example of the Heavenly Father to chastise His children.

Deuteronomy 8:5, “Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.” The Lord actually uses the presumption that a man chastens his son as an illustration of how God works with His children.

Psalms 94:12, “Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;”

Proverbs 3:11-12, “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”

I Corinthians 11:31-32, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

Hebrews 12:5-11, “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

What a question! “What son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” As a result of our fathers correcting us, we give them reverence. Revelation 3:19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

2. It is very grievous to have an undisciplined child.

Proverbs 17:21, “He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.” Proverbs 17:25, “A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.” Proverbs 19:13, “A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.” Proverbs 28:7, “Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.”

3. The Lord specifically instructs parents to use corporal correction of a child.

Proverbs 13:24, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Proverbs 23:13-14, “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 29:15, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” Proverbs 29:17, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.”

4. Corporal correction should not make a child angry but sorry.

Ephesians 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”

Child abuse and child discipline are opposites. Discipline is an act of love and concern for the long run of a child’s life. Abuse is an act of anger, aggression, disdain or hate.

A parent should never spank a child when the parent is angry. Make sure the child knows and understands what they did that was wrong and why they are being corrected. Do not surprise the child. Make it a planned event and something that you do as a parent that is intentional, consistent and well thought out. Be calm and in control of yourself and emotions.

Never spank a child anywhere but on the glutemus maximus muscles, (buttocks, rear end). A parent should never hit a child on the face, neck, head, back, stomach, chest, front or back of legs. A parent should never shake a child or grab him by the throat. Do not jerk him around.

Proper discipline trains the mind of the child that the crime is not worth the correction. You have not correctly disciplined the child if they keep committing the crime. When a child begins to make right decisions based on the principle: “The crime is not worth the correction,” that is called character. Discipline has been successful. It is not corporal punishment but corporal correction we are aiming for.

As we have seen, the Bible is full of instruction on this subject. In the light of that fact, it would be an infringement on the freedom of religion to legislate in any way against parents being able to chasten their children corporally. It is part of the expression of their faith. To not spank they would have to disobey God’s Word.

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