>Christians, Child Abuse, and the Old Testament

>The issue of child abuse is a concern that is universal. Parents, government, schools, and churches are concerned that children be protected from abuse. According to recent statistics, more that 3 million children are abused every year.

The problem that many people face is defining child abuse. This confusion is expressed by an opinion published in the Springfield News-Leader, of Springfield, Missouri. The person who wrote the opinion said:

To one writer, child abuse is practiced by Christians who obey Old Testament injunctions to “spare the rod and spoil the child” and if California Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-San Francisco, has her way there will be a law prohibiting parental spanking of children younger than 4. Spanking will then be a crime punishable by fines or time in the pokey. And, you know that — often — what is settled in Sacramento ultimately wends its way throughout the rest of the nation.

Child abuse is an act that places the life of a child in danger. Child abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual. Physical abuse comes out of violence against a child and causes bodily injury. Emotional abuse is attitude and behavior that affect the mental development of a child. Sexual abuse is any sexual approach between an adult and a minor.

But, is spanking a child a form of child abuse and a crime punishable by time in prison? Parents have a right to discipline their children and that right includes spanking. However, parents must be very careful because the use of force to discipline a child can inflict pain and cause injury.

There is a difference between spanking for the purpose of correction and beating as a form of punishment. When punishment gets out of control, then it ceases to be an act of discipline and it becomes an act of physical abuse.

Are Christians who obey the Old Testament injunction to “spare the rod and spoil the child” guilty of anything? The answer is “no!”

The answer is “no” because Christians will never obey the Old Testament injunction to “spare the rod and spoil the child” since such an injunction is not in the Old Testament.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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4 Responses to >Christians, Child Abuse, and the Old Testament

  1. h says:

    >There will always be those that will justify hurting others! LOL can’t find that in the bible either, but it happens!I think jail time is a bit much also!


  2. Natalie says:

    >I agree that jail time for spanking s a bit much but I do not think that spanking is a necessary means to discipline. There are other, non physical ways of parenting.


  3. saint david says:

    >The exact wording is not there; however something even worse is shown of the parent who does not use the rod of correction.The rod of correction of course is figurative, it may be a swat, or a belt across the behind.Proverbs has at least five directives to use the rod of correction upon a child. The first one comes very close to the “spare the rod and spoil the child”…it indicates that to withhold correction is to hate the child; it is: Pr. 13:24, he that spareth his rod, hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. The other directives to use the rod of correction in Proverbs are: 20:30 The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil, so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.23:13 withhold not correction from the child, for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.Children who are not corrected very often are corrected later in life by the state.


  4. saint david says:

    >Here is a more thorough treatment of the subject of ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’:http://www.pillarandground.org/spanking.html


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