I never spanked my kids.
Well, there’s a funny story about Katie, but I’ll leave that for another time.
What I did do, though, was write a column in my weekly paper about twenty years ago bemoaning the fact that the Children’s Aid Society was taking children away from their parents merely for excessive spanking, when everything else was okay.
When you looked at the description of what was done to those kids, it wasn’t that different from what so many of my generation grew up with.
So I didn’t spank, because I couldn’t picture hitting my kids, but I also defended those who did.
Two things changed my mind: Research into spanking, and understanding more the heart of God.
When I looked into the very few verses in the Bible that people use to justify spanking, and realize that (a) they weren’t talking about toddlers, but teenagers, though none of us would spank a teen (I hope!); and (b) they weren’t necessarily talking about hitting but rather guiding and discipline, I realized that we were misusing the Bible.
I also knew that you could discipline well without spanking because that’s what we did!
Enter this week’s Fixed It For You, this time from Voddie Baucham:
I ran another quote by Voddie Baucham (there was a creepy one about fathers and daughters a while back too).
Did you know that a HUGE study of 160,000 children showed that spanking was either NEGATIVE or NEUTRAL, but never POSITIVE?
You can end up healthy and well attached DESPITE being spanked, but never BECAUSE you were spanked.
There are other methods of discipline that are far more effective and that help you CONNECT with your child. Spanking focuses on hurting them because of the past; healthy discipline focuses on building connection as you guide them and empower and teach them to make good choices in the future.
Positive discipline that connects reflects the heart of Jesus. Hurting our kids hurts relationship; proper discipline should build and repair relationship.
I find it so sad that Christianity is really well-known for encouraging spanking in the extreme.
God does not work this way with us; is this the view of God we want to give our kids?
There are much better ways. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, listen in to the amazing podcast I did last week with Wendy from Fresh Start Families!
Episode 145 of the Bare Marriage Podcast!
We had some great feedback, and I was thrilled to see how many people, when sharing the study, used some of our arguments from the podcast two weeks ago where we were explaining that your experience does not contradict research into 160,000 kids. An anecdote does not trump a meta-analysis of 160,000 children.
What bothers me, though, is how vehemently so many Christians defend spanking, as if by criticizing spanking you’re rejecting Christ Himself.
I honestly didn’t get that much pushback; I think the message is getting out there, and I’ve posted on this enough lately that people are starting to rethink. And that’s the good thing–we’re allowed to change our minds! As we learn more about God; as we understand more about how He made us to connect; as we understand more about parenting–we can change our minds!
I did. So many have. And it can be hard to change your mind when you DID spank your kids, and regret it now. But so many people shared how they have talked to their kids about it and it’s opened up beautiful conversations and it’s mended a lot of fences, and that’s wonderful.
But I just find myself so sad by the people who think I’m attacking God and spreading darkness by saying, “Hey, how about we don’t hit our kids, and instead learn how to connect and guide our kids in a way that builds attachment and relationship?”
Like, what in the world is wrong with that? How could that possibly be anti-Christian?
And if you think it is anti-Christian–then what exactly do you think is Christian?
One woman inspired a huge thread when she wrote that I was placing “human wisdom above Scripture”, and that “If the Bible says discipline is loving and good, then that is true.”
After dozens upon dozens criticized her arguments, saying that ummm…..you don’t have to spank to discipline, she said:
I read all the comments and my only reaction is, May God have mercy on His church! The world has so quietly crept in and spread its lies that Christians can’t even see the difference between light and darkness. For a Christian to believe that God is all about love and no discipline is unbiblical. For those who asked for verses, please use Google or your Bible app. There are so many verses that support what I am saying.
I find two things interesting here.
First, we had told her over and over again that there are other, better forms of discipline–but she refused to engage with that. We pointed her to last week’s podcast which explained how to discipline in a way that connects (and how this type of discipline probably means you say no even more often!).
But when you’ve been raised to think spanking=discipline, it’s hard to get rid of the association.
But the second and even more interesting observation is this:
She is saying:
Light = Spanking your child 5 times before breakfast and being excited about hitting and hurting your child
Darkness = Disciplining in a way that connects with your child to guide them, grow the relationship, and help them make good choices because they want to, not because they’re scared of you.
Obviously, if you think about it for a minute, this is entirely illogical.
But that’s the problem with so many evangelicals especially today. We’ve bought into all of these “extras”, and think they’re essential for the faith. We hold on to them as if we’re holding onto Jesus Himself.
And it makes us leave all reason behind. It makes us check our brains at the door.
When we equate one interpretation of one thing in Scripture that’s not even central to the gospel with the gospel itself, then if we lose that one thing everything will fall apart, like a huge Jenga game. And so we can’t change on anything.
You’re telling me WHAT goes WHERE?!
Talking about sex with your kids doesn’t always go smoothly.
That’s why we created The Whole Story, our online course that walks parents through the tough conversations and does the hard parts for you!
I believe this comes down to how we see the Bible.
If you believe the Bible, as it has been interpreted to you, and as it has been translated, is the equivalent of God’s Word, then you can never, ever question anything you’ve been taught. You can never grow!
But think about how many times Jesus said to the people: “You have heard it said…But I say to you…”
The point is that as we know Jesus, our views of things are going to change. That doesn’t mean we let go of the gospel! That means we UNDERSTAND the gospel better.
- What your church has taught you about Jesus is not the same thing as the gospel.
- The Bible translation that you use is not the same thing as the gospel.
- The books that you have read giving their opinion on what it means to be a Christian are not the same thing as the gospel.
But when you think it’s one big package, and your denomination is right about absolutely everything and can’t be questioned–then you can’t grow.
To think that you have to spank your kids five times before breakfast is the equivalent to the gospel?
That’s mind boggling to me. But if that’s the attitude you have to the things that you are taught in church, then there is no room to be a Berean, like in Acts 17, and examine for yourself what people say against the Scriptures and what you know of God.
And honestly, if you think Jesus would gleefully spank a kid five times before breakfast…then we don’t know the same Jesus.
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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