Spanking and The Woman Caught in Adultery
I was asked by a young man to comment on the issue of spanking children as a form to discipline. Something I am all for! The question posed to me was how the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) might relate to this subject. At issue was, how can a parent spank a child for a wrong doing? Let him to has no sin cast the first stone. What follows is my answer to him.
The short answer is that there is no correlation between these issues. The long answer is the same, just longer. First of all consider the issue of the woman caught in adultery. The passage makes it clear that she was caught in the “act” of adultery. Now, in case my readers do not understand this clearly, you have to have a man in bed with her for there to be adultery. And it was in this compromising position that she was “caught.” The problem is this, where is the other half of this sin? The man is glaringly missing. And these Pharisees know that the Law require that both parties are to be put to death (Leviticus 20:10, “If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death”).
The purpose of bringing her to Jesus, as the text clearly says, is to trap Jesus. Justice, God’s holiness, and purity among the people of God were not the concerns of these men and so Jesus tweaks these men by writing in the sand and not answering them until He is ready. He is not a man who is baited into a foolish argument. What is meant by, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her?” It is not a denunciation of the death penalty, for then He would have been denouncing His own word in the Old Testament! It was probably one of these two meanings. Either, He was implying that any of them who has not committed adultery may cast the first stone. Or, He was referring to the fact that underneath all of their supposed concern for the Law, in fact they were all plotting His murder. Either way, it is clear that the Pharisees knew what He was saying and they all withdrew.
Now, what about spanking the child? If a parent believes that they first must not have sin before they could spank then they have created a silly and impossible rule of life. First, this would require that they ignore the clear teaching of the bible that a child is to be spanked, and at times quite hard, as a means of discipline and training. In other words, they would be sinning by refusing to spank. Second, this type of argument would prohibit all discipline of any type. Anarchy would reign in that household. It is impossible to conceptually separate a “time-out” for Johnnie from a good swat on the rear-end. A mother who says, “I am with sin, therefore I can’t spank my naughty boy; therefore I shall make him go to his room and think about his sin” is just being foolish.