God Have Mercy on Those Who Teach. And on Those Who Spank.

It is hard to write a retraction. But it is time.

I wrote about parents spanking their kids after Lydia Schatz’ gruesome death, and I might have been a bit too hysterical. And it makes me uneasy that there have been nearly 2000 views of  those pieces since they were posted, and there are things in there that I would like to publicly take back.

This is what I wish I’d said: I don’t think that the Bible teaches that parents shouldn’t spank their kids at all.  I think they should be very careful and thoughtful, and approach discipline in a graduated manner, the way this article by Paul Wegner, called Discipline in the Book of Proverbs: To Spank or Not to Spank details.   They should certainly never entrap their children in the manner of Michael Pearl.

Some will unfriend me, and not want to read my blog anymore.  But that is okay with me.  I just don’t want to get spanked by God for misleading others about what His book says.

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3 Comments on “God Have Mercy on Those Who Teach. And on Those Who Spank.”

  1. Lee Says:

    Though I respect your willingness to apologize, personally I don’t think you have anything to apologize for on this issue.

    The Pearls’ methods as taught in their book To Train Up A Child are not based on the Bible as they claim, but on the system of behaviorism developed by atheist scientists such as Ivan Pavlov and B. F. Skinner.

    The Pearls child-raising methods are neither Biblical nor Christian. Though they may be well-meaning, their advice has caused huge damage to countless children and parents. The more that can be done to point out the error and the evil of their destructive, anti-Biblical methods, the better.

    • Karen Butler Says:

      Thanks for commenting, Lee! I guess when I have time, I’ll have to edit this retraction — to make it clear I have no regrets for critiquing the Pearls methods of “child training”, but for going overboard to wholly denounce spanking a child, in any fashion. I think this attitude is clearer in the comments of the blogposts because I did edit some and remove some of the more questionable aspects of my position, to align more with the full counsel of God. I recognize as well there are some parents who can do this corporal punishment thingy right.

      With all the baggage I carry, I am not one of them.

      • Lee Says:

        Hi Karen,

        Thanks for your reply.

        I recognize that there are some parents who spank their children judiciously, and who are able to raise good children that way.

        However, I think of corporal punishment as a pre-Christian practice, not a Christian one. As such, although it is not technically wrong, and can be done properly, it is unnecessary for parents living in the Christian era. There are far better ways to discipline children that rely more on the faith and love taught in the New Testament than on the mere external obedience to law taught in the Old Testament.

        It is telling that nearly all of the Bible passages quoted to justify corporal punishment come from the Old Testament–most of them from Proverbs. Jesus pointedly superseded and replaced many of the behavioral and punitive laws of the Old Testament. This is one of the points I make in my own article about the Pearls’ methods, written in response to the death of Hana Williams:

        To Train Up A Child, or: Spare the Rod? What Rod?

        And I agree with the comments on your original post, in response to the death of Lydia Schatz, that “discipline” as used in the New Testament is not referring to literal use of the rod to beat children and adults, but to the discipline of hard and painful experiences in life. Although corporal punishment still persisted in New Testament times–as it does today in many parts of the world–and therefore figures in some of Jesus’ parables, in the New Testament, the “rod of discipline” became a metaphor rather than a prescription for the literal practice of corporal punishment.

        So while, like you, I do not wholly denounce spanking children, I do believe that even as used by the best parents who believe in it, it is still an inferior and outmoded form of discipline based on Old Testament methods that have been abrogated for Christians by Jesus Christ himself.


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