What Does the Bible Say?
By Rev. Dr. Thomas E. Sagendorf
As a pastor, I'm often asked about what the Bible says about
the way we
should live our daily lives. For example, how should we discipline our
children? What about spanking? My answer is clear. I can find no
sanction in the teaching of Jesus or the witness of the New Testament
to encourage the practice of corporal punishment... at home, at school,
or anywhere else.
Some take an opposite view, often quoting Old Testament
to prove their point. Those who employ this method frequently
misunderstand and misuse scripture. A similar method of selective
reading could just as easily be used to justify slavery, suppression of
women, polygamy, incest and infanticide. Much of what poses as biblical
grounding for corporal punishment is really secular thinking wrapped in
religious language. It does not stand the test of what Jesus said and
taught. Consider the following:
For these reasons, I am convinced that corporal punishment is
opposed to biblical teaching. People of faith are encouraged to
find different methods to provide structure and direction for their
children's lives. Discipline is important!
Children must learn how to be accountable. But when parents hit
children, no matter what the pretext, the opposite often happens.
Instead of learning values, children simply observe the capacity to be
mean and harmful. Fear and resentment follow.
- Jesus was overwhelmingly committed to non-violent
even in situations of high stress and conflict. Corporal punishment is
a violent act against a child's body. It is not a response which is
consistent with what Jesus demonstrated.
- Jesus was committed to the beauty, sanctity, innocence
and life-giving character of children.
"Unless you become like a child," he said, "you will never enter the
kingdom of heaven." It is hard to imagine that Jesus would sanction the
practice of hitting those in whose very presence the kingdom is made
- Jesus was committed to love and forgiveness as both the
means and the end of all human relationships.
These two qualities form the very foundation of his ministry. An action
such as spanking which is clearly intended to cause pain hardly
qualifies for what Jesus would call an "act of love."
Parents who work to establish a gentle and non-violent
will find good results. Nurtured in an atmosphere free from fear and
threat, children will be able to better learn and embody the values
which are most important.
Reprinted by permission from the author.