Would Jesus have Spanked His Kids?

I recently read a comment on a video I was in that went something like this, “Minister: ‘I try to raise my children according to the Bible.’ Also Minister: ‘I spank my kids.'” In other words, this commenter seemed to think it quite the contradiction that a person who claims to follow the teachings of the Bible would spank their children. But is it?

I don’t think it’s a contradiction at all. In fact, I’m persuaded that an honest reader of the scriptures could in no wise come away with the idea that spanking children is a bad idea. I think it would be easy to show by scripture that abuse is sinful, yes; but moderate spanking, done in love and respect, is most definitely prescribed in the pages of scripture. I intend to prove that in this post.

Spare not the Rod

We have often heard, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” I agree with this saying, but it is often mistaken as scripture. It isn’t scripture. The Bible actually says this: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” This is found in Proverbs 13:24. The Bible seems to make the matter even more serious than the idea of ‘spare the rod, spoil the child.’ It seems to imply that a man who fails to spank his son is equivalent with the man that hates his son. In other words, just as a man who hates his son would seek to jeopardize his son’s future, so a man who fails to discipline his son with the rod jeopardizes his future. 

It wasn’t long ago that a man appeared on the show ‘Dr. Phil’ with concerns over his teenage son, who was out of control. The son was so out of control that the father literally feared for his life. As the father described the situation, you could tell that he cared about his son and that he wanted to help him, but he feared that a confrontation would ultimately end in a fist fight. And then he self-righteously proclaimed, “And I will never hit my son.”

The sad thing about this situation is that the father’s self-righteous misunderstanding of love had turned his son into a monster. If he had obeyed the scripture and loved his son enough to use the rod, he would have spared his son, and his family (and society!), from the mess that had been created. 

This is an extreme case, of course, but I don’t think that similar cases are uncommon. The amount of disrespect that I’ve seen from so many teens towards their parents is heartbreaking. 

What is ‘The Rod’?

An objection that I have heard from well-meaning (but dangerously mistaken) people is that the ‘rod’ referred to in the Bible is not a rod for hitting, but for guiding. “It’s a shepherds rod,” they say, “not for beating, but for guiding.”

However, this interpretation is not an honest examination of scripture, but an attempt to conform the Bible to their own worldview. Even in the verse afore quoted, the word ‘spares’ denotes the idea of refraining from inflicting pain, which would imply spankings. But the Bible is even more clear than that, for another verses says this: “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod and deliver his soul from hell.” This is Proverbs 23:13-14. It could hardly be more clear what this rod is and its purpose.

Now before you get into all a hissy over this, I hope you’ll recognize that in Bible times, children were extremely valued. All throughout the Bible, people rejoiced greatly over their children and were extremely distraught when they thought they couldn’t have children. A person was considered ‘rich’ and ‘blessed’ when they had a big family. And a sign of God’s blessing was a fruitful womb. So the idea of a man getting angry with his kids and beating them up was anathema to them. In no way would any person, in those days, look at these verses of scripture and think that it was license to beat up their kids. Instead, they understood it (as all reasonable people do) as it was intended: correction with the intent of securing the ultimate well-being of the child.

I am vehemently opposed to abuse, whether it be physical, emotional, or any kind of abuse. But let us keep abuse, abuse. When we mistaken things for abuse that is not abuse, we cheapen abuse and, as a result, people suffer. I hope you realize, that if you are a person that is championing the idea that all spanking is abuse, that you, and not parents that lovingly spank their kids, are ultimately causing harm. You are hurting children, parents, and, ultimately, society at large. You are not only fighting against good, but against God.

Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You

The golden rule of scripture is that ‘whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them.” This, Jesus said, is the ‘law and the prophets.’ Does this rule apply to spanking? Yes!

This the exact rule that I apply when spanking my children. I quite literally think to myself before I discipline my child: “If my son were the parent, and I were the child, would I desire him to discipline me in the way I am disciplining him?” If the answer is not ‘yes,’ I will not spank. The fact is that I look back at my childhood and I’m grateful for the discipline that my dad gave me. I want my son to do the same. 

If parents would follow the golden rule in disciplining their children, abuse would never be an issue. Those who abuse their children are in direct violation of God’s command, and will be judged accordingly. 

Be warned. If you hit your children out of anger or selfishness or in a way that causes emotional or physical damage, you will face an angry God on Judgment Day. It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and were cast into midst of the sea. (See Matthew 18:6) 

Would Jesus have Spanked His Children?

What about Jesus? Would Jesus have spanked His children? Of course, we know that Jesus was never married nor had any children, but, theoretically, if He did, would He have spanked His kids?

“Surely not!,” many would say. “Jesus is gentle and kind and would never lift His finger against anyone!”

Jesus was most definitely gentle and kind, but those weren’t the only attributes He espoused. If you remember, He made a whip and drove out the lenders and the money changers out of the temple…twice! If your idea of Jesus can’t imagine Him doing that, then you have a made-up Jesus, not the Jesus of the Bible. Jesus wasn’t a hippie peace activist, nor was he a vegan soy-boy. He had a tender heart, yes, but his skin was thick and He struck fear into even His disciples, who sometimes were too intimidated to even ask Him questions. 

In other words, Jesus was an authoritative figure. Did He love His disciples? Yes, to the point of dying for them. If He had children, would He have spanked them? Most definitely yes, because He would have loved them more than any of us could ever love our own children. And since Jesus perfectly followed the law in every way, He most definitely would have followed the advice of proverbs when it says, “He who spares the rod hates His son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

In Conclusion

Do you desire to parent your children according to the Bible? If so, you can’t escape from the fact that the Word of God teaches us that spankings are an essential part of properly raising a child. Not only does the Bible teach this, but common sense affirms it. In America, we have taken spanking out of households and out of schools. As a result, we have children who are not only out of control, but who are hurting and literally killing each other. Our country’s misguided attempt to stop abuse has only promoted greater amounts of emotional pain and violence. However, your children need not be a part of it. You can have children who are trained in the practice of self-control, who respect authority, who embrace discipline. Indeed, if you correct your son with the rod, not only will he be praised by all around him, but he will bring you peace and be a delight to your soul. (Proverbs 29:17)

Below are listed scripture verses on this topic.

“He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” – Proverbs 13:24

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.” – Proverbs 22:15

“Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell.” – Proverbs 23:13-14

“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” – Proverbs 29:15

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

“Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul.” – Proverbs 29:17

“Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction.” – Proverbs 19:18

“Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” – Col 3:20-21

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:1-4

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.” – Proverbs 3:11-12

“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:5-11