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Question and Answer

Spanking Children

Question:

Does the OPC have a specific policy about spanking children?

Answer:

The OPC doesn't have papers generally relating to various social matters unless they are formally and officially dealt with by a General Assembly (the highest ecclesiastical court of the church). But the OPC is not indifferent to such issues. Our primary standard of faith and practice is the Holy Scriptures (the Bible). And our doctrinal standards are the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms which teach that system of faith and morals taught in Scripture.

SPANKING CHILDREN: The Bible is quite clear on this subject. "He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently" (Proverbs 13:24). "Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol [hell]" Proverbs 23:11-13). The writer of Hebrews quotes Proverbs 3:11-12 and applies it to God's fatherly dealing with His children: "And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and scourges every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons" (Hebrews 12:5-8). (This latter verse means that those who reject God's providential dealings with them evince an unbelieving spirit.)

I realize that it is dangerous to spank children publicly nowadays. It is counted "child abuse." And severe, bodily-injurious spanking or whipping is child abuse. Parents ought NEVER to take out their anger on their children. But "hurting" their children's pride and hurting their bodies are two different things. Up to the point of bodily injury, children ought to be disciplined according to their degree of disobedience, willfulness, or defiance; the Bible teaches that bodily discipline is legitimate, but only if done in love, never in anger. What the practice of OPC households is, I cannot answer. But, if you read the Scriptures and put it all together, it makes sense.

So we don't spend time in our church courts arguing about matters that are quite clear in the Word of God. I hope I've been a help to you. Please feel free to return with other questions.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

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