Here’s a PowerPoint regarding the issue of spanking and corporeal punishment I made in undergrad for a class.
For what its worth here’s my thoughts on spanking.
My overall position on spanking is: Though not explicitly Biblically mandated, it is wise for most children upon severe and volitional misdeeds/offenses to be spanked.
Spanking will be relative to the child and circumstance; and to delineate explicitly guidelines and principles would be helpful but tedious and cumbersome at this time for me personally.
It seems clear to me that the “rod” (choter in Hebrew), refers to corporal punishment of some kind in the book of Proverbs.
For example, “a whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools” (26:3). Clearly, corporal punishment of some kind is in mind here. Or take, “on the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.” (10:13). Then, one uses a rod to strike in 23:14, “If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” (Similarly in 23:13.)
Maybe, though, I’m missing something.
I do believe however from 23:13, that corporal punishment (which spanking is a manifestation of) is a subset or type of discipline. It says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.” To not withhold discipline involves striking a child with a rod, but I do NOT think that discipline is coterminous with corporeal punishment.
Take another example. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother”(29:15). Rod and reproof are aspects and dimensions of discipline—and I believe that there are even more. Discipline does not equal the rod.
So not all discipline demands or warrants spanking/corporal punishment. And I honestly don’t believe anyone who believes to the contrary.
Now, my understanding of Proverbs derives particularly from Bruce Waltke (see An Old Testament Theology: A Canonical and Thematic Approach by Bruce K. Waltke and The Book Of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15. (New International Commentary on the Old Testament) by Bruce K. Waltke).
Basically, the statements in the book of Proverbs are not imperatives, nor guarantees that if we follow each one to the letter everything things will be as described in this book. There will be exceptions.
For example, it says in 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” However, as we all know there are many children whose parents trained them up correctly in so many, but they still departed from the path, with temporally or entirely.
In Wisdom literature, each saying is a generalization in which exceptions will always occur, and should not be taken as explicitly as commands. They are wise sayings that should be followed if one wants to be wise.
As a result, I don’t think that one can say from Proverbs that spanking or corporal punishment is a Biblical mandate. Nor do I think exceptions to, or abuse of, warrant refrain from this form of discipline.
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol” (23:14-15). “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him” (22:15). IF you spank or use corporeal punishment, there is no guarantee that these proverbs will hold true.
But I don’t think one can escape the fact that it is wise to spank a child under some severe circumstances. As it says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” (13:24).
Could be wrong.