Thursday, January 10, 2008

Question on Spanking Answered

Here's a follow-up I promised:

An anonymous blogger sent me this question last week after I posted an article on spanking:


Interesting links you provided and great thought provokers. However the "Religious Tolerance" 'pro-spanking site' is a Reformed Protestant Christian perspective. What are the positions held by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches on spanking? They are Christian and would likely have very interesting input.Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches are within the Peoria area... possibly their leadership would comment on this subject?Thanks for not shying away from challenging subjects.

So, I called the churches this week. Here's what I found:

Catholic Diocese of Peoria (Il): The Diocese would not respond. If you are not in the media business, just know, this is no surprise. I am often told from the diocese they don't have time to respond or can't find someone to answer my question.

So, I called another Catholic Diocese and got an interesting response:

Catholic Diocese of Savannah, Georgia:

The Catholic Church doesn’t have a specific policy or stance on spanking. I think the best response to the question of discipline can be found in the U.S. Catholic Bishops pastoral message to families entitled: “Follow the Way of Love”. On p. 21 of the small booklet it says: “When children are born, both mother and father are important in nurturing and forming them. …Children in the family share equal dignity as persons with the adults. They too are part of the covenant of mutuality. Parents can demonstrate this by treating children with respect, giving them responsibilities, listening seriously to their thoughts and feelings.”

In the section A Concluding Word they write: “Parents: not only do your children need discipline and love, they need the example of adults whose behavior demonstrates their caring. Put your children first in making decisions about family life.”

Spanking is a form of discipline that teaches children that the adult, the “bigger person” can control by abuse and hurting. The child then learns to wait to be big enough to do the same. That is the philosophy of many of the social workers I know and I believe it is true that children learn more from love, understanding and concern than they do from spanking or physical discipline. The Church understands the stresses that the family faces today and encourages parents to take advantage of the spiritual supports and community to be able to discipline with love and not violence.

There are some wonderful examples of how to raise peaceful and peacemaking children. Kathleen and Jim McGinnis have the institute for Peace and Justice with educational and parenting materials at .

Naomi Drew offers a newsletter about peaceful parenting at

These would be some of the suggestions I would offer to parents regarding ideas for alternate forms of discipline that will help create loving and peaceful homes.

I hope this helps you a little. Please feel free to contact me if you need more information.

Sister Pat Brown, SSMN

Director of Family Life

Catholic Diocese of Savannah

All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Peoria, Il:

"We are going to say we don't believe in spanking. It's a form of abuse."

And here's an interesting pro-spanking comment from

Parents should take note that the Bible never recommends "hitting" your child, it clearly states we are to use the "rod" of correction. (The fact that it is necessary to pause a moment while fetching the customary instrument of correction insures that parents will not lash out in anger, but administer correction in a controlled fashion.)

  • Proverbs 22:15 "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."
  • Proverbs 10:13 In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.
  • Proverbs 13:24 "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."
  • Proverbs 23:13-14 "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. 14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."
  • Prov 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Some nimble "Christian" psychologists explain away the rod as a symbol for authority, and teach that you should never use anything but your hand to give a token swat to a misbehaving child. I have no doubt that the plain and most practical interpretation of Proverbs is parents should use the rod rather than to swat their children. I also believe the scriptural reference to the "rod" best corresponds to a switch or perhaps a flexible paddle.
    • I hope reading both sides on this issue helps you decide what's best for your family

      -NewsAnchorMom Jen


      C. J. Summers said...

      I'm disappointed that the Greek Orthodox Church takes such an extreme stand on this issue, calling spanking "abuse." It's unfortunate that people can't just agree to disagree on this form of discipline. It's certainly not abuse if administered correctly and lovingly.

      Even though I disagree with the Catholic Diocese, at least they gave a logical argument and allowed freedom for parents to make their own decisions.

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