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Surely some parents are guilty of child abuse. Such parents are not concerned enough about the good of the child. So in a fit of uncontrolled rage, they beat the child, often resulting in serious or lasting damage. Such acts are surely unloving (Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 7:12). But is it unloving to give corporal punishment - pain that causes no serious or lasting damage - to motivate a child to act as it should?
Proverbs 13:24 says: "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly." God says that spanking is an act of love, and the person who fails to spank when the child needs it is unloving! Hebrews 12:6-10 tells us that, just as earthly fathers chasten their children, so our heavenly Father chastens us. Verse 6 says, "For whom the Lord loves He chastens..." So God Himself uses chastening as an act of love. Are we wiser than God?
But why is spanking an act of love? Because love gives people what they need, and spanking is often what a child needs! Children need to learn that, if they do not submit to authority, they will suffer. If the child grows up rebelling against authority, he may be fired from his job, he may be imprisoned by the government, or he may be eternally punished by God. But if as a child he is spanked when he disobeys his parents, he will learn to submit to authority, so he will avoid much more serious problems later in life. An example of this principle is seen in some current young people, who have been raised by the permissive, don't-spank philosophy, and who as a result have no respect for God or man!
So spanking is like fire: we must use it wisely, but if we do it will produce great benefits.
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2/5/2005
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