Question:

Question

Answer:

Does a husband have the right to spank his wife?


Spanking is a form of discipline used by parents to correct their children, such as "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly" (Proverbs 13:24). The rod is a reference to an slender branch used to deliver punishment on a person's backside. It was also a form of discipline used by masters to discipline their slaves. "And if a man beats his male or female servant with a rod, so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished" (Exodus 21:20). There is also indications that spanking was used as a punishment by the government for misbehavior. "Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding" (Proverbs 10:13). "A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the fool's back" (Proverbs 26:3). These two verses can either be read as permission to use spanking as a form of punishment or a prediction that a person who acts as a fool will received discipline much as a child is disciplined by a parent. However, these verses are not permission for anyone who decides that someone else is a fool to take matters into his own hands. The Bible consistently states that punishment is only in the hands of those who have authority over another. Judges may decide that a foolish person deserves disciplining like a child.

Since God is our Father, He disciplines us as a Father would a child, not with physical spankings, but with trials. In speaking to David concerning his son Solomon, God promised, "I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men" (I Kings 7:14). Such care is offered to all men. "If they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes" (Psalm 89:31-32).

The relationship of a husband and wife is that of companions. "Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Malachi 2:14). It is not a parent / child relationship where the parent is training a child in the proper way to live. Husbands are not instructed to train their wives. It is not the relationship of a master to a slave. A marriage is a covenant freely entered into by equals. Nor is it a relationship where evil-doing is punished by the husband. The problem with the concept of a husband disciplining his wife is that it changes the relationship between the husband and wife into one never intended by God.

 

March 15, 2005