The Christian History of Spanking Part 1

This page was part of the rough draft of the soon-to-be-released book, “Gentle Firmness,” by Stephanie Cox.  You may read a few chapters from the book  here.


  1. been a parent on July 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    It has been interesting to watch the war on spanking unfold until it is being pursued with the same zeal as the old beat the devil out of ’em crowd tried to justify spanking as the panacea for all childhood misbehaviors. After seeing various fads come and go, it because obvious that neither side cares about children. All they want to do is “prove” they are right.

    • Hermana Linda on July 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      I am really curious about how you can to that conclusion. As far as I can tell, both sides love and care about children. Of course, I don’t doubt that there are individuals on both sides who fit the description you share, but I believe that they are in the minority.

    • Steph on July 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      Thank you for your comment, beenaparent. I agree with Hermana Linda on this…How did you come to your conclusion that neither side cares about children? If this were true, there would not be such a huge controversy about hitting children. I can say for myself that I care VERY much about children or I wouldn’t be taking the time and effort to write these posts. As someone with a severe disability, I type every letter with my nose. If I was not passionate about children and God’s Truth, do you really think I’d go through all the effort to write this and my book if I only wanted to “prove” that I’m right? And as I point out throughout all of my writings, most parents who hit do LOVE their children. They just have been misguided. Anyway, thank you for reading my work. God bless you!

      • been a parent on October 9, 2013 at 4:04 am

        Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I just came back across this website again and noticed the replies to my original post.

        At the same time, the current government shutdown may be useful in explaining my assessment of the war on spanking. It is quite likely that, were one to ask either the Democrats (Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, etc.) and Republicans (John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, etc.) in Washington whether they love this country, both sides would answer in the affirmative. Yet, they have completely opposing ideas as to which direction the country should proceed. Nevertheless, despite their professed love for the country, both sides are so sure their vision for America is the only way to save the country from the other side that they are unwilling to negotiate, compromise, or seek a mutually tolerable resolution to prevent a government shutdown.

        Unfortunately, the level of entrenchment seen in Washington during the fall of 2013 is fairly common these days. For example, one often sees it in divorce proceedings where children are involved. Ignoring what truly is in the best interest of the children, waring parents enter the courtroom determined to get their way. In the process, the children are little more than pawns caught in the middle of a legal chess game. They are prizes to be captured.

        In my experience, much the same thing is true in the war over spanking. On one side there are those pointing to tradition (Samuel Butler) and selected biblical references (Proverbs). Opposing them are those with carefully selected research papers (Murray Straus, Irwin Hyman) decrying the evils of spanking. Yet, if asked, everyone involved claims to love children! Nevertheless, underneath the polite facade, sides are out to win. Once again, as in bitter divorces, children are little more than pawns in a game of egos.

        In many ways, the battle over spanking is just another variation of the ages old battle of the sexes. While those adhering to patriarchal religion are most likely to advocate spanking, liberal white females with college educations are most likely to oppose it. In general, and although there are exceptions, men tend to favor spanking more than do women.

        It is always easier to profess love for children than it is to raise them. Even pedophiles claim to love children. Just ask them!

        • Steph on October 9, 2013 at 7:26 pm

          Thanks Been a parent but I don’t think comparing a child’s right not to have pain inflicted on them is political nor is it to stroke our egos. I’m writing my Master’s thesis in which I discovered that calm “loving” spanking/hitting is indeed harmful. I couldn’t predict the results. Even my professor was surprised at the numbers. It did not stroke my ego but it did give me hope that more of satan’s lies will be exposed. I don’t think teaching God’s Truth is ego stroking. My and other anti-spankers goals are not to be right. It is to protect children. I don’t think that I can say the same about the pro-spanking crowd as all their comments seem desperate to be right. So desperate that they often resort to insults. I do agree with you though that saying you love children doesn’t mean much as many children are abused and even murdered in the name of “love.” God bless you!

  2. summer on March 19, 2012 at 9:28 am

    help! 4 children 3mo to 7 yrs. i agree wholeheartedly with your non spanking. we stopped spanking 2 wks ago…but i’m without tools to still maintain order and obedience…any good books or websites to implement this approach in our home?

    • Hermana Linda on March 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Yes, here are Gentle Discipline Resources. Also, check out all my posts about Gentle Parenting.

      • Hermana Linda on March 19, 2012 at 8:28 pm

        by the way, I just updated that post. 🙂

    • Steph on March 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm

      Summer, I am praising God that you’ve stopped spanking your children! You deserve much credit. I am beginning to write my next series called, “Discipline without Harm.” Please stay tuned for that. As far as books, anything by Dr. William Sears, Biblical Parenting by Crystal Lutton, How Would Jesus Raise Your Child by Dr. Terese Whitehurst. Plus, as Hermana Linda pointed out, there are tons of resources on this site to help you discipline firmly but gently! God bless you as you and your family embark on this journey!

  3. Nicole on November 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I love this! Thank you for writing! My children are young (4 and 2) and I have spanked my oldest. About a year ago when she was 3 I had a talk with my husband about an article I read about how spanking is not proper discipline. I told him that I discovered I only spank when I lose my patience! 3 year olds are good at wearing down their parents patience! As young children they do not have the ability to see what they are doing is wrong. If they hit another child it is because they are angry, not because they want to hurt them! I have since used different ways to discipline my children. Ways that actually help construct them into better people! My husband and I have not spanked since that conversation! And it feels good to know that I am not hitting my child anymore… How terrible that must have been for her! She is an upset 3 year old and I tell her to not hit by hitting her! : (

    • Steph on November 8, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Nicole. I praise God every time I hear from a parent such as you who have spanked your child but chose to see what was truly going on inside your child and stop. You deserve much credit for this! Please keep reading my work as well as the wonderful articles on this website about gentle discipline. I will also be writing a series on gentle discipline in the near future. Stay tuned. God bless you and your family!

  4. Mikaedi on March 24, 2011 at 2:34 am

    Hi I am very pro-spanking as form of discipline, have spanked my own children, they have all turned out as great loving and respecfull Adults.

    In the above you refer to a couple who spanked their 2year old child for 2 hours they must have had mental problems as no person Christian or not would in their right mind spank for that long ( crazy ).

    A lot of what you have said of Chritians who spank their children is plain wrong, teaching our children respect and appropiate behaviour towards others and God is the aim.

    Spanking our children is too bhe used only in certain circumstances ie Defiance and Disrespect

    • Hermana Linda on March 24, 2011 at 10:09 am

      Hi Mikaedi,

      Thank you for your comment. I am not the author of the piece, but as the publisher, I wanted to respond anyway. 😉 You say that spanking should only be used for Defiance and Disrespect. That requires judging your children’s intent. I have heard many stories from adults who still remember how someone punished them for perceived bad intentions which were incorrect. We really can not know exactly what is in our children’s hearts.

      Children are spanked for age appropriate behavior and childish mistakes by many parents. Babies are spanked for exploring. So, what is being said in this article may not apply to you or anyone you know, but that doesn’t mean that it does not apply to other Christian parents. Thank you for reading and keeping an open mind. 🙂

    • Steph on March 24, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      Hi Mikaedi,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, I used some very extreme cases as examples to show that hard, repeated spankings cause death despite what Proverbs 23:13-14 says that the child will not die from being punished with the rod. As I pointed out, the rod must be symbolic for authority as telling a child, for example, when he/she must go to bed will NOT kill them whereas being hit by an adult may. Also, as I point out, many Christian advocates such as James Dobson tell parents to spank harder and to repeat the spankings if the child does not obey.

      I am happy your children turned out how you wanted. Sadly, many children who are spanked often deal with emotional problems that their parents may NEVER know about because they don’t feel comfortable talking about them with their parents. This is well documented ( Everything I’ve said is backed up with God’s Word and words of others.

      Thank you for reading! God bless you!

  5. Steph on February 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Thank you for your kind words. It is quite emotional for me as well. May God bless you!

  6. Young Mom on February 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Very well done!! I was crying reading this, you basically summarized everything my parents believed.

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