To Spank or Not To Spank –Truth, Myths & Lies

Rarely is there a topic so heated, so passionate, so debated – especially among Christians – that it not only continues to grow, but actually thrusts beyond the topic itself into the realm of "Parental Rights." The topic, in case you haven't guessed, is spanking, or more accurately termed biblical training or discipline.

In Bible times, these topics of child rearing (along with a myriad of other biblical vs. secular issues) were actually non-issues. The biblical founders took the Word of God at face value that Scripture was Scripture and those that try to reinterpret Scriptures were also scripturally declared liars (Proverbs 30:5-6), or simply wrestling Scriptures to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)

But today, the topic of biblical spanking has reached such a peak in debate and conversation that it is time for Christians to make the case as to what biblical training is and is not. Approximately 95 percent of all liberal media outlets, the same media outlets that are driven to squash Christianity and our current conservative value system, is also "spinning" perspectives on physically disciplining and training our children. If we do not let our voices be heard and truth be told, this, along with basic religious freedoms, will be taken away from us as we are seeing at an alarming rate. (See

The Debate Is On – Myths and Lies

Recently, we were guests on Anderson Cooper's daytime talk show along with their main guest, the Rev. Michael Pearl, as well as a guest that they flew in from California.

We were very clearly and specifically told over the phone that they wanted us to come on the show live, and be guests to show support for principles and teachings by the Rev. Michael and Debbie Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries, especially those principles stemming from their controversial book, To Train Up a Child.

When we got into New York via Amtrak, we were well taken care of, without a doubt. However, when we got to the studio, it was an entirely different scene altogether.

We were specifically told over the phone that they wanted to talk about the Rev. Pearl and his book, but as we sat watching the show before preparing to take the stage, we saw in horror how the entire show was twisted, or "spun" as they say, to attack any position outside of the anti-spanking perspective.

While we were told it was going to be a fair and balanced discussion, we watched time and time again as Anderson Cooper and everyone else on the show habitually cut off the Rev. Pearl as he was trying to answer emotionally charged, biased questions.

In fact, one cameo from an outside sheriff went as far as to suggest that Michael and Debbie Pearl's book was a sole conduit of extreme abuse linking them and their book to brutal acts of murders simply because they read their book and misused practices.

What Spanking Is and Is Not

We must by all means necessary understand exactly what spanking is and is not. To not thoroughly learn is to go against the Word of God because it clearly states, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)

Biblical spanking, or as our Bible calls it, "chastisement," is not beating, hitting or slapping. According to Merriam-Webster, spanking is simply defined as: "to strike on the buttocks with the open hand
- spank noun."

Opposition to Spanking

Problem number one with many who "oppose" biblical training is simply that they "oppose" it. They oppose it for a number of reasons, but the majority of reasons are not based on biblical understanding but personal experiences, to which most have been a negative one.

And so they without thorough and proper "rightly dividing the truth" simply connect the two – proper biblical training and negative experiences.

It's the same when one comes to God and receives the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.  But when the church or the messenger of the "Good News" hurts them, they automatically equate the "messenger and the message" and fail to separate the two. This is absolutely true and we have seen this countless times, and this principle applies exactly the same to those who've had "bad experiences" with improper discipline as well as "bad experiences" with church or Christianity.

As the Rev. Michael Pearl accurately writes on his website No Greater Joy Ministries: "The people who condemn biblical chastisement do not believe the Bible. They judge others by their own experience. The only time they have 'hit' their children, or been tempted to, was when they were angry. They assume that when we spank it is with the same hostility they have felt."

As well, it is incredulous to believe something simply because a majority believes it. If we're Christians and we apply this same principle to evolution, then most Christians should believe in evolution and not Creationism, or that same-sex marriage is fine, or that the Virgin birth is a hoax, or on and on. Majority does not matter; only the Bible is our foundation and what it has to say.

If we try to align the Bible to our philosophy, we are in danger of "wrestling the Scriptures to our own destruction."

Also noteworthy is the fact that the majority of the opposition does not come from those duly learned in Scriptures, but from mostly secular psychologist, child advocates (which are rarely biblical advocates), and liberal Christians who oppose a lot more conservative points of view on Christianity in general – know your source and research its roots!

Is this the "crowd" you truly want to be in line with? If the enemy, the world, and secular humanistic followers are against it – chances are fairly high that it's the right place to be and the right principle to stand for.

False Research that Spanking Causes Harm

It was interesting to learn that a large number of psychologists, analysts and the majority of opposition to spanking love to quote a lot of other psychologists and analysts. Their supposed "research" usually falls into two categories: Meta-Research and Correlation-Based Research.

Meta-Research simply means that it is research based off of other's research, which is by no means an accurate reflection on direct results. In fact, in many cases, the research based on another's research often continues its origin until you find that it is highly plausible that the initial research was in fact not accurate or contingent upon other factors completely skewed and distant from the latest intended quote.

In other words, it may not amount to a hill of beans in true assessment.

The other is Correlation-Based research. This means that it is research based off of other's experiences that pertain to the same topic in question. However – and this is very important to understand – most of the experiences that the research is based on has a high number of contributing factors that have either nothing or very little to do with the actual content the research is based off of.

An example research might go like this: Studies find that bananas are actually not good for you, but can be deadly and dangerous to eat. Recently, deaths have been linked to bananas and food critics argue that Americans need to be aware of this and throw all bananas away.

The reality – this research and study was based off of a study of 100 people who ate bananas. Out of these 100 people, 14 were allergic to fruit and 25 ate the banana peel with the banana, thereby causing a physical sickness that if not treated, could be fatal.

Do you see how this works? A very large number of Correlation-Based statistics finding that spanking was bad, harmful or causes negative internal emotional damage was constructed in this type of research environment. If you "go to the source," you'll easily find that the majority of cases where professionals cite instances where spanking supposedly caused harm were not administered properly and in most cases the administration of biblical discipline was abused, thereby making the spanking of none effect – or negative effect.

Misuse of Tool Does Not Invalidate It

The Rev. Pearl writes this, "Misuse of the rod does not invalidate its proper application."

Indeed, simply because one misuses a tool that is meant for a positive result, does not invalidate or discount the tool itself. Think of a power drill or hammer – a tool – but Crime Statistics show how these tools have been used for harm and endangerment. Do we throw away our power drills and hammers simply because of the misuse of a few? Absurd.

And again Pearl states, "Opponents of the biblical use of the rod support their position by pointing to its occasional misuse. It is our contention that all authority is misused from time to time, but that misuse does not negate the legitimacy of the office itself, rather of the ones who abuse their sacred authority. When the courts are unjust or dishonest, we do not abolish the office of judge or the administration of law. When a law enforcement agent is corrupted by money or a desire for power, we do not fire all the policemen. When a president of the United States is hedonistic and sells favors, enriching himself through crooked deals, we do not resort to a dictatorship. When state social workers molest children and abuse them, we do not stop all social work."

Wrongly Linked to Abuse

In his Q & A, Wendell E. Miller writes, "Rearing children in our materialistic and humanistic world
demands more than a strong human resolve on the part of parents. It requires knowing and applying basic biblical principles … Of course, negative incentives are biblical; and spanking is taught specifically in the Scriptures (Prov. 13:24); but there are at least two things to avoid – spanking out of frustration or anger, and the tendency to spank for every type of offense. God has not said that you must spank for every type of offense, nor has He specified which offenses require spanking." gives this instruction regarding the false accusations of abuse when administering biblical discipline, "Many secular 'experts,' including most pediatricians, psychiatrists and psychologists have come out strongly against the use of corporal discipline in homes and in schools. Unfortunately, many well-meaning parents have been deceived by the foolish advice of the 'don't spank' crowd. It has been my personal experience that people who consider all forms of corporal discipline to be 'abuse' or 'hitting' or 'violence' mislead others in the following ways:

1. They often quote studies where actual abuse is occurring, not ones where biblical corporal discipline was administered out of love for the child. In fact, I have never seen a study of the latter.
2. They always ignore what their Creator has to say on the matter, or are ignorant of it. If they claim to be Christians, they approach their Bible study on this matter doing eisegesis instead of exegesis. As a result they end up engaging in all kinds of flawed Bible interpretation in an attempt to try to force the Bible to support what they believe.
3. They place a higher value on secular studies and fallible doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists instead of obeying the advice of the infallible God who created all of them, and who demands of us that we do things His way.
4. They misrepresent what the Bible says on the topic, often because they don't really know what it actually says. When they do quote Christians in an effort to prove the Bible supports them, they will often quote misguided liberal Christians instead of quoting orthodox Christians who don't agree with them." 

Indeed, from the liberal courts that are practically anti-Christian in nature, to the secular worldview where denying every lust and desire from a child is almost considered hate-filled abuse, there is a viable war raging against those who spank and those who do not.

Playing the "Abuse" Card

It should be an obvious thing, but we are compelled to say this to avoid misrepresentation or accusation of such incredulous ignorance – We do not, nor should any Christian support, condone or allow any abuse, whether child, spousal or church/spiritual. We have held certifications for being Mandatory Abuse Reporters. That being said, let's proceed to the antithesis of abuse – the abuse of manipulating Christians using "abuse" and an "excuse."

Not too long ago we learned of a secret marketing strategy by Abercrombie & Fitch to increase sales, and how almost nobody that shops there even realizes what's going on behind the scenes.

They expressed how they purposefully create a "party atmosphere" to cater to the young and push out the older customers. The main reason is because they are trying to drive up sales by "impulsive shopping." And to do this, they pump up the volume, usually have some fragrance going, and have their lights and décor setup to attract the young buyers.

In doing this, with loud, bold pumping party music, they found that this actually desensitizes their reasoning factors, therefore lessening their ability to think. This in turn, allows the loud atmosphere to appeal to their emotions and senses. And, of course, they are in tune with it all and buy more and spend more.

This is how the secular, liberal crowd uses their strategy by loudly, boldly pumping their beats by using the "abuse card." It hits home with caring parents, especially mothers, and drives it deep to where they are desensitized to reason and biblical understanding.

While real abuse does happen, unfortunately all too often, even in Christian homes, the opponents of spanking almost always try to somehow link any form of discipline to the actual crime.

This grabs the emotions of the audience, reels them in, and plays off their sympathy while shredding their God-given reasoning ability. And they do this loudly, boldly and with emotion and passion. And unfortunately, it works – a lot.

Columnists Ned and Maria of has this to say about our emotions being manipulated by the world and it's perspectives, "We need to renew our minds first by reading and understanding the Bible and turning away from a nonchristian culture. Until our mind is renewed, we cannot trust our emotions 100% since they ARE at times wrong. Some people will be lost forever because believing in Jesus did not 'feel' right. Christians sometimes do blatant evil because it 'felt' like it was ok. Be careful!"

When it comes to the abuse factor,'s author and columnist Betty Miller has this to say, "Some people say that all spanking is child abuse, but this is totally wrong. The real abuse to the child is not to spank them when they need correction."

Dr. Bill Maier, vice president and psychologist in residence with Focus on the Family, reports on OneNewsNow, "Appropriate disciplinary spanking, done in the context of a loving parent-child relationship, is not abusive." He goes on to say, "If it's done in a loving context, if it's followed up by an explanation, there is no evidence that it would harm their self-esteem," he explains. "In fact, we have some evidence that kids who grow up in an extremely permissive environment, in which there are no boundaries, no limits, and no guidelines, ... have a great deal of difficulty with their self-esteem – and particularly later on in life, because they have such a sense of entitlement that basically the world owes them everything on a silver platter."

Dr. Maier actually reports that the American College of Pediatricians agrees that disciplinary spanking of young children is actually an effective tool for parents.

What Does the Bible Really Say About Spanking?

A lot, actually. We recommend reading "8 Misconceptions about Biblical Spanking" on by Author David Reagan.

The following are Scriptures that absolutely clear any question if biblical training and discipline is scriptural. And while there are those who oppose, argue or wrongly divide the Word, it is what it is. The only time to "reinterpret" scripture is when it is not literal, but figurative – and Scripture will give its own interpretation, not man.

Proverbs 13:24
Whoever refuses to spank his son hates him, but whoever loves his son disciplines him from early on.
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)

Proverbs 23:13
Don't fail to discipline your children. They won't die if you spank them.
New Living Translation (©2007)

Proverbs 23:14
Spank him yourself, and you will save his soul from hell.
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)

Proverbs 19:18
Chasten (spank) thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)

Proverbs 29:17
Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.
New International Version (©1984)

Deuteronomy 8:5
Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good.
New Living Translation (©2007)

Proverbs 29:15
A spanking and a warning produce wisdom, but an undisciplined child disgraces his mother.
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)

Proverbs 22:15
Foolishness is firmly attached to a child's heart. Spanking will remove it far from him.
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)

Hebrews 12:6
The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child."
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)

Hebrews 12:8
But if you are without discipline, of which all have been made partakers, then are you illegitimate, and not children.
World English Bible

The Big Picture

One of the big pictures that is often left out may actually be one of the most important factors in this entire debate – the rights of the parents.

In one recent decision by the liberal courts, Corpus Christi Judge Jose Longoria during the sentencing phase of Rosalina Gonzales, said: "You don't spank children." This biased, liberal judge then ordered the mother to serve a five-year probation for a spanking that prosecutors admitted did not involve a belt or leave bruises on the child.

Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute explains that the decision is a clear abuse of the law and the Constitution. Kelly on record states, "In this country, children are not children of the state. They're children of the parents and the parents do have a right to reasonable discipline including spanking," says the attorney. "So this is a pretty clear abuse of authority and is something that people need to be aware of – that government officials don't have the right to this kind of bullying of parents and families."

Why so many Christians, especially parents, do not see what's going on is beyond us.

There is an emerging, growing threat that plausibly can take away the God given (and State given) rights from parents, and these anti-Christian liberals are using any hot-topic they can to congregate those falling prey to emotional manipulation, and one such topic is of course, spanking.


Yes, there will always be those who desperately seek to twist and turn, and forcibly try to reshape the Scriptures to fit their personal opinions and lifestyle, but we are confident that you as a reader are clearly wanting to not only please God the way He has lovingly instructed us to – but also teach and bring up your children to love God and you as parents.

When you see it from God's point of view – and we should always strive to do so although it's not always easy or convenient – you will be able to see God's ultimate plan and destiny in your life, but more importantly in your children's lives.

The Scriptures provided are not relegated to a particular time period or era, they still hold true to this day. There has been no Scripture to nullify or cancel these out – they are active and alive to use and implement in your home.

The only real issue is whether or not you agree with the biblical precepts that are given to us in the Book.

This book is not a coupon book, here to take only the things that we like and that makes us "feel good," but if we believe the Bible "at all," we must believe the Bible "for all."

Be encouraged, stand for the Lord and together we will proclaim victory for the Lord and for us – and for our children!

Mike and Trisha Fox are Christian marriage coaches and authors of Marriage For Today: A Practical Guide for Couples. To find out more visit: