The debate on spanking continues. Here are some of my comments with a lot of benefit from John Piper (as usual). See also the well done post by Martin Shields and the relevant philosophical approach of David Benatar from the Philosophy department of University of Cape Town.
Let me say first that both sides have been guilty of unwarranted argumentation: I have known children who have [not] been spanked who turned out fine. Sure. I am sure there are people who have been abused who have turned out “fine” (whatever that means). God’s grace is great and unpredictable and many kids turned out just ‘fine’ despite our imperfect way(s) of raising them. On the other hand, there may be children who have been raised ‘perfectly’ (what does that mean?) who did not turn out so well…
To get back to our issue – this question is certainly related to our theology of suffering and also of God.
Since many people on this blog (seems to me) lived and live in countries where Christians did not suffer (especially physical) pain, I can understand why suffering (it seems especially physical) is such a big problem. For some of us who lived in Communist or other countries where Christians suffered various kinds of persecution and (yes) physical pain, we learned to see its benefits too! While it can be argued that the pain was inflicted by the ‘bad guys,’ and that is mostly true, as believers in a sovereign God we also understood it as a way that God was disciplining us and working on our character. Some of the most beautiful characters I know/knew were people who were ‘chiseled’ by suffering (e.g. Richard Wurmbrand).
Contrary to what one commentator said [if I remember correctly] our God, the Loving Father, did punish His children [Israel etc] in various ways and some of them did involve PAIN (physical included).
 Square brackets are used for ‘footnotes.’
The debate about “to spank or not to spank” continues and is even heating up. The article and comments from Dr. John Stackhouse’s blog are very useful. Frankly – most times I learn more from the comments. It is worth reading Andrew Tsui’s comments on that blog and also Roger’s. I also wrote a short post here.
I sense from that blog that the attitude of the majority who are against spanking is one of superiority. Here are these uncivilized “cave men” who still believed in spanking, but they actually need to grow up and learn the new and more effective ways to deal with their children. As if the people who believe in some form of mild and loving spanking are not aware of these ‘new’ methods and every time they get into a difficult situation they resort to spanking! Oh brother! To borrow the expression of one startled commentator from the non-spanking side… 🙂
Personally – I have to confess again. YES – I was spanked. I was disciplined physically by my mother, my father, and by my grandparents. And I am very happy and thankful for that. I am fairly confident that most of the times I deserved it and it did good to me. I am not anti social, I am not aggressive etc…and I am willing to bet [I may try to do a mini study when I get back to my home church in Los Angeles] that most of the people from my generation were spanked [I am talking about Romanians and Romanian Americans here] and are thankful for that.
I don’t have much time these days to write blogs, but this issue definitely caught my attention. Here is a blog from John Stackhouse on this subject: Now You Can Finally Stop Hitting Your Kids. The title says it all.
It is apparently based on a Canadian study. One article dealing with this study can be found here. Here are a few relevant excerpts:
“We’re really past the point of calling this [spanking] a controversy. That’s a word that’s used and I don’t know why, because in the research there really is no controversy,” she said in an interview…”If we had this level of consistency in findings in any other area of health, we would be acting on it. We’d be pulling out all the stops to work on the issue.”