History of Spanking

Question:

Where does the modern practice of spanking come from? Is it taught in the Bible?

Answer:

I’m sure there were foolish children (young adults) throughout history who have been beat with their father’s rods (shebet) as a last step before someone by their own foolishness had a consequence of death. But applying this idea to young children is a more recent phenomenon.

In fact, the well-known saying “Spare the rod, Spoil the child” is not the wording found in any of the “rod verses” in the Bible. Instead it is a line from the Samuel Butler satirical poem “Hudibras” that ridicules the Victorian lifestyle. The very line today used to condone and even endorse the modern practice of spanking was originally penned to criticize and ridicule that same practice.

There is an interesting history of spanking. From its earliest practice, in Ancient Greece, spankings were administered to adults. It was a pagan practice for increasing fertility in barren women who were spanked by the pagan priests. Later, it was introduced into the Catholic Church as a means for adult women to have their sins removed by the priest spanking them after confession. In pre-WWII Britain the practice was expanded to wayward teenage girls in the tradition of the removal of sins.

The first time the idea was introduced that spankings are never to be given in anger, but rather in love, it was as the advertising pitch for the book “Spencer Spanking Plan”. That book put forth the instructions for spankings of husbands and wives within marriage in order to increase marital harmony. The key here, whether the spanking was administered for fertility, punishment, or fun, is that the person being spanked was willing.

The best I can find in my studies is that *spanking* as we know it started in Victorian Europe where appearances were everything, children were seen and not heard, etc. No doubt this was in line with the idea of spanking for the removal of sins that began in the Catholic Church.

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