Do you smack your children? Should you? And if you’re a Christian, is that right and proper? I came across this article from Denny Burk where he sets out why smacking your kids is Biblical, and many Christians around the world would agree with that. In Newfrontiers for example PJ Smyth commends it as a form of discipline.
Burk having briefly outlined his case ends with this,
“Despite the pronouncements of the judge in Texas, parents who love their children will make use of non-abusive physical discipline (Prov. 13:24). This is what the Bible teaches, and we should be vigilant not to let the spirit of the age make us think otherwise.”
We don’t and haven’t smacked our children (although the thought has crossed my mind from time to time). But I have a problem with the way Burk frames his case when he says, ‘Parents who love their children will make use of non-abusive physical discipline.’
Here’s part of my problem. In Sweden smacking your children is against the law and has been since 1979, in fact as a crime it falls under assault. So to smack your children is to physically assault them as if I was punching a stranger in the street. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that approach by Sweden, for the last 30 years it has been illegal to smack your child. So, what use then is Burk’s advice to parents and counsel from Scripture? None at all if you want to stay a family.
Would this be a case of obeying God rather than man and smack regardless (Acts 5:29)? It would be an odd hill to die on I think. Instead it would be a case of seeing these instructions not as essential or necessary for obedience, discipline or love or to put it more clearly it’s not a command. The Bible is not commanding that a parent must smack but must discipline. I doubt those that smack use actual rods or staffs, so they interpret.
So we must find other rods and staffs, more creative means of effective discipline and we’re glad to do so. Smacking my children is not an essential for a Christian parent, discipline on the other hand is and the two are not the same.