On Whipping Your Children

Some with a narrow agenda against IFB would have you think that the only people in the world that promote spanking with words like “whipping” and “beating” are the Independent Fundamental Baptists that were the focus of Elizabeth Vargas’ 20/20 last week. This is a stereotype that is unfair. I’ve made myself clear about spanking. I do not endorse the “whip you kid” rhetoric whether it comes from the right or the left. It’s naive, however, to think it’s only a white evangelical problem. Interestingly, I preached a message on the topic the Sunday prior to the ABC 20/20, having no idea that spanking was going to be discussed nationally a few days later as if IFB are the only champions of spanking.

But it’s not just white conservatives. Roland S. Martin, a highly popular and outstanding journalist, who is also black and liberal, is highly supportive of “old school” corporal punishment. First, a brief introduction for those of you who don’t know Martin:

Mr. Martin is a commentator for TV One Cable Network and host of “Washington Watch with Roland Martin,” a one-hour Sunday morning news show. He is also a CNN Analyst, appearing on a variety of the network’s shows. In October 2008, he joined the Tom Joyner Morning Show as senior analyst.

Named by Ebony Magazine in 2008, 2009 and 2010 as one of the 150 Most Influential African Americans in the United States, he is the 2009 winner of the NAACP Image Award for Best Interview for “In Conversation: The Michelle Obama Interview.” He is the 2008 winner of the NAACP Image Award for Best Interview for “In Conversation: The Sen. Barack Obama Interview.”

In 2009, CNN was awarded the Peabody Award for its outstanding 2008 election coverage, of which Martin was a member of the Best Political Team on Television (source).

The March/April 2011 edition of Chromelight Magazine had an article about Roland Martin who spoke at the local RAMM Scholars Banquet 2011. It says:

Martin did not shy away from the fact that he firmly believes that there is still a place in child-raising for ‘old school’ corporal punishment. He referenced the fact that when he was a kid, if he did something wrong witnessed by ‘old timers’ in the village, he got several whippings before he got home — and another whipping after he got home.

Martin says that today’s villager looks at a child and says things like, “That’s none of my business; it’s not on me; and it’s a doggone shame.”

He used family experience to drive home the importance of more than parents raising a child. One experience shared was about one of his young nieces. Martin said that his brother had adopted the ‘no spanking’ rule in raising his daughter.  While visiting, Martin noticed that when his brother called the child, it took at least six times of calling her name before she responded. He spoke to his brother bout his niece’s behavior.  When the brother seemed to be unconcerned, Martin stayed out of it.

However, when Martin asked his niece to turn down the television (twice) and was ignored, he “snatched her,” i.e. “physically grabbed her” and gave her a spanking.  When his brother reminded Martin that we don’t beat her, Martin said his response was, “No problem, I’ll do it for you!” (Chromelight II, March – April 2011, p. 17-19).

Roland S. Martin is one of 150 most influential African Americans in the United States. You don’t think that kind of talk will get abused by loyal listeners?

Viewers of ABC 20/20 who think that IFB have the monopoly on this kind of rhetoric about spanking children are either extremely sheltered or so prejudiced that they really don’t care about victims or facts. They only want to score points against their enemy du jour.

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19 Responses

  1. Great post, but Google used the opportunity to advertise a PBS special on “The Untold Story of Church Sex Abuse In Alaska” below your post.

  2. Many people of all cultures believe in spanking. This does not shock people. The shocking thing being taught by a subcuture of Christians is the spanking of infants, less than a year old. Some are teaching parents to use switches on babies of 4 month old or less.(!)

    • Sure, a SMALL subculture, and a SMALL number of parents spank a 4-mo. old or less.

      BTW, I reject that teaching.

      • Case in point, it’s not as far off as you might think . . .

        Tedd Tripp is very popular among what I would consider the wider ifb culture.

        Shepherding a Child’s Heart, p.154. Chatper “Infancy to Childhood:Training Procedures.”
        “When is my child old enough [to be spanked]?
        “When you child is old enough to resist your directives, he is old enough to be disciplined [ie spanked]. When he is resisting you, he is disobeying. If you fail to respond, those rebellious responses become entrenched. The longer you put off disciplining, the more intractable the disobedience will become.
        “Rebellion can be something as simple as an infant struggling aginst a diaper change or stiffening out his body when you want him to sit in your lap. The discipline procedure is as same as laid out above. You have no way of knowing how much a child a year old or less can understand of what you say, but we do know that understanding comes long before the ability to articulate does.”

        . . .

      • I hope you are right. I have linked to way too many pages about such teachings. You know, the Pearls do not give a lower limit for spanking and are very clear about starting the “training” during infancy.

      • I don’t know about a small number. I know my pastor growing up (BJ Academy / Tennessee Temple grad) taught spanking infants. He’s still a pastor in South Carolina.

    • The paragraph below is from a Wikipedia article about corporal punishment:
      “For example, two different articles of the Minnesota Legislature allow parents and teachers to use corporal punishment as a form of discipline by creating explicit exceptions to the state’s child abuse statutes for “reasonable and moderate physical discipline.”[23][24] Also, in 2008 the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that spanking a child is legal and does not constitute abuse. The ruling stated that “We are unwilling to establish a bright-line rule that the infliction of any pain constitutes either physical injury or physical abuse, because to do so would effectively prohibit all corporal punishment of children by their parents” and “it is clear to us that the Legislature did not intend to ban corporal punishment”. The case involved a man who had spanked his 12-year-old son 36 times with a maple paddle and who was declared innocent by the Minnesota Supreme Court.[25]”

      Also in a different Wiki article about corporal punishment:
      “In the United States and all African and most Asian nations, “spanking,” “whipping,” “smacking,” or “slapping” by parents is currently legal; it is also legal to use certain implements such as a belt or paddle.”

      In another article:
      “Spanking in the States
      Spanking your kids is perfectly legal in the United States, as well as in Canada and Great Britain. Individual states, including California, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts, have had spanking bans proposed but none passed the state legislatures. Technicalities vary by state, but in general corporal punishment that is considered necessary and reasonable is allowed: for instance, the California Welfare and Institutions Code, in defining child abuse, states that “serious physical harm does not include reasonable and age-appropriate spanking to the buttocks where there is no evidence of serious physical injury.”

      So, legally, these IFB parenting books and IFB preachers saying we should spank our kids is OK.

      I still think we need to be careful with how that is done and how it is taught. But, it is legal to spank your children in the USA.

  3. [...] see that Bob Bixby posted something On Whipping Your Children today.  Also, I see from my comments that people are, indeed, discussing it.  Apparently, I am [...]

  4. It’s been 20-25 years or more, but I’ve heard in person people talk from the pulpit about spanking infants before they came home from the hospital.

  5. I think this is one of the things that surprised me after our family moved out from under the direct influence of BJU-affiliated IFB churches: that this was a much broader teaching than just IFB.

    However, the systematic, repetitive, spiritualized spankings/beatings are definitively classified under the umbrella of General North American Protestantism (I am not the first to use the GNAP reference, for sure). On newborns and infants? Well, that I’ve only heard from IFB…and infants from Pearl, Fugate, and Tripp (assuming 8 mos is still infant).

    I think we can say this sort of belief (minus the ritualistic, spiritualized part) has been exhibited to some degree in most cultures throughout all ages, because it is human nature to abuse authority over the helpless and vulnerable, a category which infants and small children definitely fall into. Because “playing the parent card” is just one of many ways of “playing the authority card.”

    • If two of the most liberal and progressive states in the country, Minnesota and California (see above), still say it is legal to spank your children, then it is kind of a challenge to argue that if the IFB teaches it then they are also promoting abuse.

  6. Spanking your child is a need be in life, not an abuse of authority.

    I’ve lived a long time, and I can tell you that the undisciplined child is headed for jail or Hell, take your pick.

    • wow, just wow. Spanking is not the only method of discipline. It is sometimes necessary. I know of indie fundies who still “whipped” their teenagers regularly. They were “whipped” for things which definitely did not require the parent striking their child for. If a parent needs to regularly spank their teenager then that parent seriously failed to get at the heart of the child when they were in fact, a child. In my opinion, that parent provoked their child to wrath. As Christian parents, we should be willing to extend graceful discipline, not hell fire and brimstone disciplne.

      • SOn, if you are a Christian you ought to be willing to do whatever the Bible says for you to do in regards to your children.

    • No it’s not necessary to hit a child. EVER…no more than it is necessary or right to hit YOU and adult. I am a 56 yr old grandmother who disciplined my children … and never hit them. They are now great and loving adults. My daughter doesn’t hit her children either and herthey are lovely children. Discipline means to TEACH not to hit. Hitting a child teaches nothing but anger, hate and how to avoid being hit ….not WHY a certain behaviour is to be avoided. I don’t want to show a child violence as there is already too much in the world, and it’s about time parents learned to parent properly, gently and kindly. It’s worse than just an abuse of authority, it’s and abuse of trust. I never loved, trusted or respected anyone who hits me or any other .. and that includes my parents….

    • I do follow the Bible too .. Christ said that the most important thing over all is to love God, and then to love one another, to treat one another as we would like to be treated. Love and hitting do NOT belong in the same sentence .. you can no more love a child and hit it than you can hit your wife and love her. Love .. and GOD is the only one who can ‘forgive your sins’ not your parents .. not the priest or minister …

  7. “if you are a Christian you ought to be willing to do whatever the Bible says for you to do in regards to your children.”

    That is true.

    However, it is also important to be sure we are using careful hermeneutics and rightly understanding the Bible in its whole salvific context, when we apply the Bible to our children’s lives.

    Too often, what is taught in the US Christian subculture, especially by some popular parenting authors of the 80s and 90s, is more a reflection of cultural understanding and not Biblical understanding.

    And, it is simply dangerous to take a cultural understanding of whipping/striking/spanking a child, and baptize it as “what the Bible says”. . . That easily leads to abuse when parents are motivated to do the “right” thing and are simply doing what a man is teaching is Biblical.

    Take for example, what the Pearls teach. . . and the death of Sean Paddock and Lydia Schatz. Or what the Ezzos teach, and the over-spanking with a glue stick. . . Or Fugate. . . Or many others. . . Abuse is even more ugly when it is in Christian families and sanctioned by the church.

  8. “Take for example, what the Pearls teach. . . and the death of Sean Paddock and Lydia Schatz. Or what the Ezzos teach, and the over-spanking with a glue stick.”

    None of those people are IFB’s……

  9. I wasn’t saying they WERE IFBs. . . I was responding to what is true about ““if you are a Christian you ought to be willing to do whatever the Bible says for you to do in regards to your children.” and how it is often misrepresented in the broader evangelical and fundamentalist circles.

    And. . . you can NOT tell me that IFBs do NOT promote these materials, even if the authors don’t identify as IFB. . .

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