To Smack or Not to Smack?

Smacking child discipline

How Should Parents Discipline Their Children? Is Spanking Wrong?

Andy Naselli —  September 2013
Child discipline bible

The latest issue of Southern Seminary’s The Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry just released.

My contribution, “Training Children for Their Good,” addresses parental discipline. This is a lightly edited manuscript from a sermon I preached on June 3, 2012.

Here’s the outline:

1. Seven Propositions about Discipline from Hebrews 12:4–11

  1. God disciplines his children (Heb 12:5–7, 10).
  2. God disciplines all his children (Heb 12:6, 8).
  3. God disciplines only his children (Heb 12:6–8).
  4. Discipline is training: God disciplines his children for their good (Heb 12:10–11).
  5. Discipline seems unpleasant and painful (Heb 12:11).
  6. God’s children should endure God’s discipline (Heb 12:5, 7, 9).
  7. God’s disciplining his children compares to human parents’ disciplining their children (Heb 12:5, 7–10).

2. Levels of Discipline in the Book of Proverbs

  • Level 1. Teach
  • Level 2. Warn
  • Leve 3. Enforce
    • Does “the rod” represent discipline but exclude physical discipline (Prov 13:24; 22:15; 23:13–14; 29:15)?
    • Is spanking a form of physical and psychological child abuse?
    • Do the proverbs about using the rod refer to young men rather than children?
    • Is spanking an obsolete part of the Mosaic law-covenant in the Old Testament?
    • Is spanking antithetical to the gospel?

3. Concluding Application

  1. Pray for your children.
  2. Evangelize your children.
  3. Use multiple levels of discipline.
  4. Love your children, and tell them and show them that you love them.
  5. Beware of two extremes: (a) not disciplining and (b) over-disciplining.
  6. Fathers, take the lead in discipline.
  7. Learn how to discipline each of your children most effectively.
  8. Distinguish between family rules and the Bible.
  9. Be humble about parental discipline; don’t be proud and judgmental.
  10. Persevere with a long-term view that trusts God’s word.

What are your thoughts?


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