Tag Archives: Westminster Larger Catechism

To spank or not to spank? Benedict of Nursia and the Westminster divines speak

Corporal punishment is both a family and a state issue, in a time when more kids than ever are being subjected to physical abuse by parents and caregivers. Five years ago some political developments led me to devote one of Christian History‘s “Behind the News” online newsletters to this touchy subject. After laying out the issue, I looked at what Benedict’s Rule and the Reformed Westminster Larger Catechism had to say that bears on physical modes of punishment:

To Spank or Not to Spank?
A 6th-century abbot and a group of 17th-century Calvinist divines weigh in on the issue
By Chris Armstrong

June 1, 2004

In the post-Benjamin Spock era, fewer parents than ever seem to be favoring spanking as a method of discipline. One website cites a drop from 59% of American parents in 1962 to 19% in 1993 who use spanking as their main disciplinary method. Though the same source reports that in 1994, “70% of America adults agreed that it is ‘sometimes necessary to discipline a child with a good, hard spanking,'” it notes that in also in that year, the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse found that “only 49% of American adults had hit or spanked their child in the previous year.”

Spanking is nonetheless still, if not the primary disciplinary method of choice, at least a backup option for many American parents—especially among the conservative Christians. Continue reading