Contrary to Christian Scripture, spanking is abuse

I am quite sure there will be many who disagree with me, but my blood ran cold when I read thisth (7) statement “Is your child unruly, undisciplined, or disrespectful?” It immediately raised questions over how much love and respect the child might be receiving at home, or if the lack of mutual reverence is behind a lot of the unhappiness.

I shouldn’t have read this particular blog post and it was probably wrong of me to comment, but it’s not okay when Christian’s use Bible verses to justify abuse against children and, yes, I do consider spanking a child as unnecessary and cruel abuse.

The author of this blog was promoting a 20-page booklet, which seems to be the miracle cure for children with behaviour problems. The more I read, the clearer it became as to why this type of parent is experiencing problems in the first place.

If one follows the draconian steps of beating and intimidating a child into obedience, then I’m quite sure the parent’s life may well be a little easier. But, will this approach contribute to a psychologically balanced child who grows into a secure and happy adult?

When I was a Christian, I enjoyed pondering the teachings of Jesus. I remember how he viewed children as innocent and certainly never “little monsters” that deserve “the rod” to teach them the error of their ways.

In the Bible, Jesus said, “Unless you are like little children, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” This doesn’t sound as if he condoned the physical or emotional abuse of a child, so why do some Christian’s justify this by quoting Biblical scriptures that date back to a time when sacrificing your child on a alter was a Godly thing to do?

The author then goes onto say that a child will act like a heathen with no moral standing if they don’t reflect God’s authority. Of course, this is completely incorrect, as well as ridiculous. I’ve witnessed more morals among non-Christian children and adults than those who attend church on a weekly basis. In my opinion, the following statements are testament to the “moral standards” contained in the author’s post.

“We must strive to teach our children to honour and respect the parent, no matter how sick, weak, or incapable we are as parents.”

“The rod is a useful tool for a foolish child”

“Spanking your child is a good and Godly act.”

“Love your child by spanking them.”

“The parent who spares the rod hates their child.”

I don’t see anything in there about Jesus’ teachings of love, honour, respect, and forgiveness. Jesus said in the bible, “Whoever humbles himself as a little child is the greatest in heaven.” This doesn’t imply that it’s okay to humiliate and terrify your child by using violence to address behavioural issues.

I had behavioural problems as a child, which spiralled as I grew from toddler to teenager. I don’t ever remember my parents trying to help ME understand why I demonstrated little ability or willingness to obey any type of rule.

Slaps on the legs as a toddler soon escalated to dad holding me down on the bed as a five-year old while pounding my bare bottom black and blue. By the time I reached nine-years old, until I left home at seventeen, I would get a slap, punch, or kick and sometimes all three, whenever I broke the rules.

Obviously, I didn’t like the violence and I was petrified of my stern father, so I was confused as to why I was unable to be perfect, rather than misbehave and face another potential leathering. It never occurred that a lot of my misbehaviour was actually quite normal, but the expectations and discipline were not.

What their violent discipline did do was create secretiveness and distance. While growing up, I was never able to trust or like them enough to sit in the same room and share family time. When neighbours were sexually abusing their child and then teenager, I was unable to approach either parent for guidance due to fear of a beating.

My parents will defend their actions as unconditional love and guidance, but this does nothing for the psychological damage I’m still trying to repair in therapy today.

th4AG1UDCTSmacking children is a lazy option to parenting and does little to encourage healthy development. A child needs the support and guidance of a loving parent, but fear of physical punishment will only discourage them from discussing and learning from their mistakes with mum and dad by their side.

We wouldn’t smack another adult for misbehaving or making a mistake, hitting out at children is an extreme abuse of power and this is not okay.

Psychology Today on Smacking

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47 thoughts on “Contrary to Christian Scripture, spanking is abuse

  1. Dawn D

    Amen!
    Yet… so many still think they have to beat their children into following the rules.
    I remember fearing my parents, being unable to open up to them. When I tried the same method as my father and saw fear in my child’s eyes, I realised this isn’t the way. It’s still not easy everyday, I had to fight their father (now I can’t do anything about it any more), but I’m getting better at it 🙂
    Thank you for writing this post!

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Dawn,

      This is what spanking children does, it hands the legacy down the line in families, but unfortunately, many are not as aware as you and the punishments can get out of hand.

      Thank you, Dawn, I do hope things get better with your ex and some kind of mutual agreement made for the future, he sounds such an arrogant man

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      1. Dawn D

        Yes, I agree Cat, though in my family it was slapping instead of spanking, it was the exact same legacy. “I’ll force you into compliance, and you’ll go there because you’ll fear the consequences.”
        I have little hope of things getting any better with my ex. Not that I resent it, I’m just resigned. Always hopeful, but not surprised when my hopes are crushed. We’re talking about a man who tried to convince his child over the phone that school is important, you’re not really sick, you should go back to school. Should I mention this particular child had had a doctor’s note, because he felt the condition was serious enough or could become even more serious without house rest?
        So spanking? Of course!
        Arrogant… yes that he is for sure!

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  2. Priceless Joy

    I agree with you Cat. My earliest memories are of my father taking his leather belt and smacking me over and over – every single night of the week. Why? Because I was naughty. Actually, I wasn’t naughty, I was an adventurous child. Children don’t know things are wrong. They are not born with the ability to know what is good for them and what isn’t good for them. So basically, I was being smacked for not knowing right from wrong. Sadly, the psychological damage done to me turned into mental illness.

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  3. drgeraldstein

    Agreed, Cat. Nor is there commentary in the Bible, in either Testament, proscribing slavery, for example. No wonder that the South used this fact as justification for their institution of slavery. Religious tomes are heavy books. Unfortunately, some use them to wack those who are vulnerable.

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  4. Sharon Alison Butt

    Thanks for speaking out. I agree with you and I’m not going to say anything further because for me it’s a case of ‘don’t get me started’. Unfortunately like you say, many many Christians disagree. Smacking never brought me close to my parents and I agree that this whole ‘rod’ thing is misinterpreted. Agh!

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    1. Cat Post author

      This was why I had to write a post… I was so p’d off and BTW I almost included a link to your last post, to show the other side of Christianity. Thank you, Sharon

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        1. Cat Post author

          I wouldn’t go near it, but where I live in south London is deadly quiet this weekend, even the traffic wasn’t such a nightmare this morning when we were driving to the common to be soaked to the skin… lovely, the things I’ll do for Jack!

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  5. Anxious Mom

    Agree with you completely. There are so many better alternatives to spankings or whippings that actually teach the child something other than fear.

    But on the Christ aspect, I don’t often meet many Christians who have read the Gospels or have any clue what Jesus was truly about. Otherwise, things would be much different.

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    1. Cat Post author

      But, the better alternative take more time, patience, and understanding and that is beyond some people.

      I think it’s very sad that the Christian church seem so out of focus with the teachings of Jesus, which are plain and simple but so contradictory to most of the institutions we see today and the people in them!

      Thanks AM

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  6. Anonymous

    Completely agree, Cat. I used to just think it was the era we came from where parents thought instilling in children was the equivalent of teaching respect. Quite the opposite. But in reading that article (bunch of religious rhetoric BS) I see it’s still the same- lets instill the fear of God, pray pray pray!) did someone say don’t get me started? Love begets love… Thanks Cat- good post.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Oh I could go off on another rant too about the article and I wasn’t surprised they didn’t publish my comment, which wasn’t abusive or Trolly in any way, just truthful 🙂

      Thanks Mandy

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  7. therabbitholez

    That was a very scary post and I couldn’t stomach much more after the 3rd paragraph, it does make you wonder doesn’t it.
    “the sins of the children” like something out of a horror flick.

    In my culture(although I’m born in the UK) “spare the rod and spoil the child” is very much the cornerstone of being punished always with hitting(rarely talking), though in the last perhaps 20yrs much has changed.

    We as kids were spanked for everything, it was the same with most of my friends, so we never really talked about it as being wrong, those whose punishments were more severe didn’t talk about it either.

    Teachers if the saw obvious evidence would report it,however in those days how you punished your children was up to you.

    Kids knew the consequences of talking to someone outside of the family unit, so therefore would make excuses, and teachers etc could do nothing unless a child corroborated the action.

    We were punished as I said by beating sounds terrible, but in the Caribbean culture that means to spank, not a much better term and at times my own mother was lets say over zealous at times, though oddly that is not where my resentment lies with her, but it did have it’s effect, did it make me a better behaved child..not really just more cautious about getting caught.

    I will say were never beaten because of sin,never called sinful, we were punished for being naughty which could mean anything dependent on mood.

    Another member of our family a devotee to punishment, changed her tune when she started working in the youth sector and came to realise the damage caused by spanking.hitting children and summed it up with “it’s a big person hitting a little person, find another way” so that was progress my own mother also came to that way of thinking also when she did youth work and a degree(we were adults then).

    It always outraged me personally when she would council parents not to hit their children, they little knowing that’s exactly what she did to us, it sends out a message of hypocrisy, and an ingrained fear of violence, and that someone especially your parent had power over you, and because your a child no one would listen.

    Hitting your children is wrong period.

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    1. Cat Post author

      It was such a difficult article to read, I just couldn’t help but blow off a little steam. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Cay, much appreciated

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  8. niceatheist

    I agree Cat. However, yelling is the new spanking. I find myself yelling at my children at times then I ask myself “what does this solve?” Since deconverting I have become much more aware of my boys’ sensitivities. “Do I like it when someone humiliates me, threatens me or call me names?” I have fanatical Pentecostal parents. My husband was brought up by Fundamental Southern Baptists. You know the other details of our backgrounds. When you combine all those aspects with my husband’s military career (retired), you have a recipe for disaster. We continue to learn new ways to replace destructive discipline with constructive discipline. We’ve been focusing more on the rewards for good behavior instead of the punishment for bad. This is why I believe Christianity is dangerous. Jehovah (Yahweh, etc.) Commits the ultimate child abuse by marking his son for a bloody death of shredded flesh, piercings and basically suffocation/collapsed lungs. When that is seen as an act of love it is no wonder many religions abuse their children from circumsicion at birth and on.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Most of us can understand yelling and while it may not be perfect, it’s far better than physical assault of a child/teenager. Awareness goes a long way and you have heaps of it, Charity. Thanks for sharing your experience

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  9. Pingback: Contrary to christian scripture, Spanking is Abuse | All Things Chronic

  10. Cheryl-Lynn

    I read this in my twitter feeder this morning and forgot it was not on my WP reader…been looking for over an hour to comment…your post did make me get up at 6am on my day off…that is how good and important it is!! I remember when the law came into effect and even child protection specifying in Canada that spanking was legal as long as the child is between 2 to 12 and not given out of anger and only using the hand (not that wooden spoon or yardstick or belt) I added that last snarky part. And it says you could not spank above the neck. Working on a youthlien, I hear of youths getting hit on the head a lot because “it won’t show any marks” Ah gee! just saying to not spank out of anger is pretty obvious…if you are no longer upset you will realize, being in your right mind, NOT to spank.
    I was raised with this philosophy too…my father taking his belt out to whip my bottom at 18 months becaue he thought I was tossing and turning in my crib. I remember the last time my om ran after me with the yardstick because I probably mouthed off (I did put my foot in it a lot) and I ran to my bed and lay down on my back and kept kicking to avoid the stick and ended up kicking my mom on her chest….oooops….but she stopped…never did it again!

    The people who are scary are those who hide behind the “word of God” and they turn the words around to their advantage. Good on you, for spreading the word|!!! It IS wrong and it is abuse of power and only instills fear and resentment. It kills the spirit of a child which affect many into adulthood. Thanks for taking a stand!

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    1. Cat Post author

      And despite the vivid and traumatic memories many of us harbour, some parents still insist this kind of discipline is acceptable, rather than admit it’s simply the easiest route to a peaceful life. When I come across attitudes contained in that particular blog posts, I really do fear for what they are trying to justify behind their own closed doors

      I spent years listening to people justify their unacceptable behaviour through their interpretation of God’s word. Being hit by the people we are supposed to trust the most, doesn’t exactly instil us with confidence for a balanced adulthood.

      Thank you so much Cheryl-Lynn for taking the time and all that effort to read and comment, I am chuffed to bits!

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      1. Cheryl-Lynn

        I think many of my parents’ generation thought it was the right thing to do….my mom was very passive…her mother was more authoritarian and my father, well, he was just plain cruel when he drank. Both my parents were raised with the rod and both as adults still felt resentment for that. Fortunately my mother rarely followed those barbaric rules. But, It does become the cycle of violence, the rage some parents have spill onto their children.

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  11. Cheryl-Lynn

    I just check back on that “other” blog…interestingly I disagree with a few other posts there and notice how NO comments are EVER posted. Just as well…not following, not commenting, no liking and just not reading it better for your health anyway.

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    1. Cat Post author

      TBH, I don’t know how they appeared on my WP reader. Another of my readers assumed the author of that post was male, but when I read through a few of the other posts (which made me equally annoyed) I realised the author is a female (I think). Anyway, they were promptly unfollowed. Thanks Cheryl-Lynn

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      1. Cheryl-Lynn

        Should be shocked to see so many followers there? Nah, must be all their bff’s…(chuckle) btw, I often open my reader and it lists Freshly pressed and after a few posts, I think, huh? and it’s easy to have clicked on it too. It was perhaps meant to be, so you could have a discussion about this and you did. Well done!

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  12. Glynis Jolly

    As a child, I was spanked when I misbehaved. It was always on a clothed rear end and with the cupped hand of one of my parents. It was never a smack. It was an attention getter. It was shocking to receive the spanking even though it never hurt. It was done to show my parents disapproval of my action at the time. It was never done with anything other than the parent’s hand. Moreover, I never had to wait for my father to get home to receive the spanking. I was spanked when the situation came up.

    I never felt that I was mistreated because of these spankings.
    What is your opinion about making a child miss a meal when he/she misbehaves?

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    1. Cat Post author

      I can’t agree with any physical punishment, but yours sounds on the lower end of the scale. The trouble is, many parents just don’t know where to draw the line and this is why we should be like Sweden and have a blanket rule against any form of physical punishment.

      Missing a meal…um, I’m not sure, Glynis, but a far cry better than hitting a child. I did miss meals as a naughty child, but it wasn’t traumatising. However, if a child is left hungry for their bad behaviour, it doesn’t sound very good and could develop into psychological issues with food/eating disorders. Maybe some children are easier traumatised than others and what is bad for one is not so for another

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  13. Not So Cold

    I just found your blog today. This is an important topic. My dad worked for an employer that promoted a lot of those old fashioned “values”. I’m in my 40s and I’m still afraid of my parents and have intimacy/trust problems. I still hide everything and always feel guilty (this makes things rather difficult for my wife). All roads lead back to the spankings I received well into my teenage years. I was almost old enough to join the army, but still getting spankings. Damn.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Yes, I have intimacy and trust problems too and there’s that dreadful relationship with guilt and shame. Your parents went above and beyond in all the wrong ways. I know they are very tough memories to live with. Thank you for sharing here

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  14. Junk (@Oenonono)

    I mean, God is an abusive father. Look at the facts.

    Any time someone misbehaves, He harms or murders them. He struck Rachel with infertility. He murdered Lot’s wife. He killed hundreds of infant boys. He made a bet with Satan that Job would internalize any kind of abuse Satan could throw at Job–and was right. He contrived to have Jacob sold into slavery. He drowned everyone in the world but Noah’s family for bad behavior. He sent his only son to be viciously tortured to death. And He says that we should not question Him, He’s doing it for our own good, because we make Him do it.

    It it any wonder abuse and Christianity so often coexist?

    Liked by 1 person

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