I have been in discussion with a brother about spanking children. The viewpoint I have taken is that Jesus would not have spanked children because he did not endorse violence. In the secular world, there is plenty of research that does show that spanking is counterproductive. Do you have any insight into this subject from a biblical perspective? -- Lee-Mark Ruff

I will share just a couple of ideas with you, since you’ve already seen what I’ve written at the website, and maybe even read our parenting book, Principle-Centered Parenting. (See the chapter on Training and Discipline.)

1. Jesus never spoke against the practice.
2. There is, yes, abundant evidence that physical, verbal, or sexual abuse seriously messes up kids. There is no evidence of which I am aware that spanking (age-appropriate, of course) has negative effects when there is an atmosphere of love and acceptance.
3. I encouraged you to read some Christian parenting books. (See the bibliography at the end of Principle-Centered Parenting. Or see the various family websites recommended at this website.)
4. Biblically, you should explore the Old Testament. The book of Proverbs, for example, chapter 29 has several pretty clear passages. The New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 12, also speaks to this. But so do many other passages.
5. For some children, I am convinced that spanking not only does not work, but causes psychological damage (e.g. some children with mental health challenges). Yet behavior modification / reinforcement is an essential part of parenting, along with nurture.

If you are a father, I sincerely hope you will follow the word of God as you train your children.