Is Spanking a Childish Punishment?

One apparent obstacle to accepting spanking is that people associate it today only with punishing children. Some people never punish children that way, but it is still firmly associated with it in their minds anyway. It is sometime asked as an innocent yet serious question, and other times as an attempt at ridicule, whether spanking is not for adults because it is for children. The reasoning is that I am an adult, and not a child, and therefore I should not be spanked. Even couples who practice spanking have often had that thought before. Let’s examine this topic, despite the ease at which many overcome the objection.

One thing to think about, is that adults do things children do all the time. As far as events, adults play sports, and children play sports, but we do not demean adults for playing sports, or accuse them of being immature. Children celebrate birthdays and adults celebrate birthdays, but let’s see how many people want to object to adults having cake on their birthday just because children do. Any takers? Adults at times suffer other similar punishments to children. Children might have their favorite things taken away as a form of punishment. Adults might have their money, or their possessions taken away as punishment too. There may be unique elements to the equation with adults, but it is basically the same punishment. Is the government treating adults as children if they confiscate a drug kingpin’s mansion and sports car? Adults and children further have the same responsibilities very often. They both make their beds, for example. If U.S. Marines have to make their beds, and children have to make their beds too, are the Marines being treated like children? I hope not. Please don’t tell that to the Marines. This all means that children and adults share similarities in their activities all the time, including in how they are punished.

The idea that spanking is only for children is in part a result of corporal punishment being cleansed out of other parts of society. What is left now in the West is only a portion of homes in which children are spanked, and a corporate cultural memory of the practice. However, adults historically have been punished similarly, whether criminals, or badly behaved slaves, and the Bible certainly endorses it for adults as well. They may not have suffered an over the knee spanking, but they suffered a flogging, a whipping, or a caning. Clearly corporal punishment can be used on adults, and at many times in history, throughout the globe, it was the norm for adults to be punished this way. You do not have to go very far back in U.S. or U.K. history to see flogging and other forms of physical punishment dished out to adults. There were distinctives for adults that may not have been present for children — such as much greater severity — but it is in essence the same punishment. Wives have been spanked as well for thousands of years, and those who do it today are not really innovating anything. Nor are they imitating the bdsm movement, since that movement has not invented the practice, but only adds certain modern theatrics. They continue in an age-old practice both of using corporal punishment to correct wives, and of using corporal punishment on adults in general. Perhaps if we brought it back in other areas of society, it would not seem so peculiar.

The punishment of a wife is unique in itself. It is neither the punishment of children, nor of criminals or slaves. In terms of severity of her spanking, we could say it lies in the middle between the two. She’ll have to deal with significantly more pain than a child would, but it is not of the extreme variety, nor could it leave her laid up in bed for weeks, as a severe civic caning could. In terms of how the spanking is usually applied, it is also multifaceted. Her position usually is more like that of children, including being over her husband’s knee, as he gives her a fatherly spanking. In other regards it is very different, as it may include full nudity, and she may need to perform sexually for her husband as well. The wife further has more understanding than the child, so she not only can understand more deeply why she is being punished, and the kind of remorse she ought to feel, but further have more adult communication with her husband, as they discuss her wrong, and as he lectures her. She can engage and receive a correction on more levels than a child ever could. 

Perhaps the most important thing to understand, is that there’s nothing really wrong with being a bit childlike. The Word of God calls us to be like children. That is not in our immaturity, but in our simple faith, and looking up trustingly to Christ to lead us. We should have a humble heart, as a child often does. Being so humble is good for us, especially at a time when we need correction and guidance. We need to look up to the person who will give it. In terms of the wife, that is her husband. She should receive her correction with a simple trust in him, and without fighting against the shame. She needs to turn any power she has over to him.

The associations we make between receiving a bare bottom spanking and childhood, in fact, can aid in the discipline process. That association can help a wife realize her own need to be somewhat childlike, and help her see her husband in the way a child sees the parent: as one to look up to, and even be in awe at. That heart of a child will help her be malleable, express her remorse, and pour out her tears, as she is relieved to be called to account and to be cleansed from her wrong. Stripping off her pride, and her vestiges of maturity, just as she strips off her clothes, helps her in becoming humble, and learn the lesson of the correction. She doesn’t get to be big and prideful now. She has to be fully under the power of a strong fatherlike figure who corrects her. Just as Christ chastises His people as a loving father punishes a child, so a husband lovingly corrects his wife, who is as trusting and vulnerable as a child. Women, like all of humanity, need that strong and loving father. A basic childhood association to spanking, then, is a rightful part of the process. We all have an element of the child in us, and the purest of human hearts appear childlike.

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9 responses to “Is Spanking a Childish Punishment?”

  1. Jenny Avatar

    Sir, in full disclosure I’m not married but agree with the man’s charge in leading the home. I was raised on the importance of discipline which included correction. Age was never a question, acting like a child resulted in being treated like a child. A level of respect and obedience was expected. (Step) Father ensured we would learn from mistakes or wrongdoings. Guide and support so not to make the same error over and over. Communication was always key. As well as obeying all instructions. The rod of correction was never spared, nor would I want it to be. No, I don’t enjoy correction but smart enough to know that at times it’s warranted and quite humbling too! Yes, spankings (really) hurt but the hurt of disappointing someone I love and disappointing myself is more. I know I always feel remorse and that I’m loved. I’m sure one day I’ll have that with my husband putting me in my place (taken over his knee and have my bare bottom spanked like a child in order to learn from) and raise our children properly.

    1. aronhusband Avatar

      Thank you for your comment. That’s a wise way to look at being spanked. Spankings are there in order to teach, and a wife will learn a great deal from them. They are a small price to pay, and are a minor trial compared to the possible consequences of bad behavior otherwise. Growing up in a home with discipline certainly will help prepare a woman to be disciplined by her husband when she is an adult. It sets a good pattern for her, and teaches her the right values, including to respect authority. It is important to know that you are loved, despite the bad feelings attached to being punished. It all comes from love.

  2. Cresta Avatar

    I think the biggest reason that women feel it is childish to receive a spanking from their husbands is that they are taught that husbands and wives are equals. IN fact, today singles are taught that they need to be “complete” and “mature” on their own as individuals before even embarking on getting married to begin with. So when they get married it is two “complete” people forming an alliance of sorts of equally complete people who don’t need anyone but themselves, but for some reason have decided to form a partnership. Getting spanked says I’m not an equal partner, which calls into question all that other stuff about whether or not I’m really “complete” on my own, and if I’m as complete as he is why should he get to spank me?
    I should note that Christians in particular tend to misappropriate Colossians 2:10 which says, “You are complete in Him….” as a verse talking about the fullness of what we have in Christ spiritually as somehow meaning that each of us needs no one else or that there is no need for someone to have authority over them. And perhaps a woman doesn’t NEED a man to be in authority over her, but if she is married to him, there is an order that comes with the marriage covenant regardless of how smart, mature, complete, or equal she feels herself to be. He is still her head. You can’t use one scripture to cancel another one.

    1. aronhusband Avatar

      Thank you for your comment, Cresta. That surely is a strange misuse of that passage of Scripture. A woman who is complete in Christ will be fully able to submit to her husband, and more deeply find fulfillment in it. She is built for submission. A woman who is complete would wish deeply to glorify Jesus by showing her meekness to her husband, and letting him be the Christ head of the home. She is complete in her womanhood, and that womanhood looks to the man to lead.

      1. NotMe Avatar

        It has been suggested to me that a wife who is not strongly led by her husband is more free to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and that that can be a good thing.

        Can you please respond to that?

        1. aronhusband Avatar

          That is not true. It is the Holy Spirit who has placed the man in authority over his wife, and has taught his wife to obey him. It is the Holy Spirit who entrusts the man with that leadership, to present her holy, as a woman of God. Moreover, the Holy Spirit places all of us under some authority, so clearly it is possible to be under authority, and also respond to the Holy Spirit. The exception would be if a man demands his wife do what is wrong, in which case she would need to follow God above man, as the Holy Spirit teaches us how to live rightly. That means a woman is free to grow in the Holy Spirit, while being led by her husband. He is helping her, in that regard, to respond to the Spirit. Authority does not quench that at all, unless it is very misused.

        2. Oswald Avatar

          Simply the standard practice of taking anti Christian worldly ideology and wrapping it in fluffy, pious sounding language to justify one’s rebellious desires. Thos has no biblical or logical basis whatsoever. Beware slogans and convoluted justifications.

  3. Merichelle Avatar

    Sir, We each have our place in the world. Children are lacking in understanding, and grasp different things, but need sharp correction now and then. Ladies have full perception of the world but need the same sort of correction as children to be moulded into effective supporters of their man- the christian, patriarchal leader of the home. So the parallel between corporal punishment on children and on ladies is very obvious. In addition, ladies like myself can find comfort in the same way as children- through crying, through cuddling a soft toy, or crying in the arms of her husband. Additional disciplines that ladies may submit to- such as being sent to bed, or corner time is rather like a punishment given to a child. So to an outside observer the moulding of children and the continual training of a good wife looks rather similar looking from outside. Good, God-fearing people know the difference- but we must understand why others get a little confused.

    1. aronhusband Avatar

      Thank you for your insightful comment, Merichelle. There are similarities. People need to look on the inside as well as the outside to tell the difference, and some people are honestly confused in how spanking a wife may be similar to spanking a child. However, many people who throw this out as an objection are merely looking for an excuse to object, and intentionally trying to demean the practice. Those people need to step back, reconsider for a while, and approach the matter again trying to be fair.

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