Following confirmation that there will be a referendum on smacking, there has been more discussion of this issue on the blogs. As usual, those of us who believe it is the parents’ decision whether to smack or not have been accused of wanting to beat our children, of following an “Old Testament” style of discipline, and (new to me) of contradicting the Sermon on the Mount.
Most people, whatever their religion, know the difference between smacking and beating, so we shouldn’t need scripture to back up this basic principle. But as we are challenged sometimes using the Bible (smacking is often referred to as “old testament”), I may as well back up smacking from the New Testament.
“…“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”
Note that the word translated “disciplines” can be translated as “educate, discipline, or instruct”, so would correspond to non-physical punishment. The work translated “chastises” can also be translated “flog” or “scourge” – physical punishment in other words.
So God Himself is referred to as using both non-physical and physical discipline, and this is described as what every father would be expected to do.
As I said before, we don’t need scripture to back up what everyone knows anyway. But if there was ever any doubt, the New Testament does support both smacking and non-physical discipline.