Thursday, April 05, 2007

Spanking Debate - Open Challenge

Open Challenge
to any professing Christian

Scripture, Historical Christianity, and especially Reformation theology are clear:

If you love your children, you will spank your children.

There are modernist in the church who are seeking to deny this, to assert that is wrong for parents to hit their children, or the like.

I hereby challenge any professing Christian to a debate on the topic of spanking.

I offer this affirmative thesis that I will defend:

Scripture commands parents to spank their children as a general rule when the children deserve such a spanking, it is hatred of one's child to refuse to follow this rule, and such an understanding is the consistent teaching of virtually all pre-modern Christian exegetes who have addressed the issue.

If you are interested in debating this topic (or a subpart of the topic), either comment on this post, or send me an email. You can access my email through my profile, which is linked on the left side of this blog.

I don't expect to get any serious offers from anti-spanking advocates, because - frankly - Scripture and History are clear on these issues. Nevertheless, if there is an overwhelming response, I'll let those anti-spanking advocates who post here pick a spokesman by a democratic process, and then they can all pile on with comments.

The proposed format is:

I will present a < 5000 word opening statement.
The anti-spanking advocate will present a < 5000 word opening statement.
I and the anti-spanking advocate will take turns asking questions for up to 20 questions each ( 500 word per question limit for questions and 2500 word per answer limit for answers).
The anti-spanking advocate will present a < 5000 word conclusion statement.
I will present a < 5000 word conclusion statement.
Then we will each take questions from the public, with the same question/answer word limits and with the public choosing who the primary answerer will be.

  • Any takers?



Anonymous said...

Be sure the debate begins with definitions, as all good debates ought. Especially about the difference between spanking and hitting. Key!

Turretinfan said...

Feel free, anonymous reader, to set forth your own definitions, if you like.

This is not to be debate about semantics, but substance; in case that is unclear.


Anonymous said...

This topic should be filed under pendulum syndrome. Some Christians (and many non-Christians) go too far with spanking, scheduling, assuming kids are (often) annoyances and so should be strictly dealt with. Next the pendulum swings to permissiveness, self-expression (on the part of kids--not parents!),and shamelessness. In the violent swing from one to another, the truth is quickly passed by. Anyway, who has any use for tradition, old things, old commentators? This is another syndrome--if I didn't come up with it, it's not worth bothering about. Anyone over 60 (used to be 30) is not to be trusted. Many different ideas are coalescing in this topic. Since I'm on the side of the oldies who believe in original sin, the book of Proverbs, and Reformed commentators, even if they are dead, white males, I cannot be a debater against you.

Turretinfan said...

- Yes, some parents are too austere and some are too permissive. In addition to our duty to spank our children we also have a duty to do so for the child's benefit, and with restraint.

- Nevertheless, I would not characterize it so much as a pendulum, but as giddy men (and, on this topic, more frequently women of both sexes) meandering from the truth either to the left or the right.

- Yes, the rebellious flower children are going to seed, and redefining old-foginess in the process.

- As for the spanking advocates being dead white males, while many historical advocates one could readily quote might be European, at least one African (Augustine) and four Jews (Solomon, ben Sirach, John, and Paul or whoever the author of Hebrews was) readily come to mind.

- Indeed, as Calvin said, corporal discipline of children is the common practice of mankind. It is the modernists who seek to pervert even the light of nature on this topic, as they have with some many other things.

- We should be thankful that our Heavenly Father is NOT a modernist, but loves us, and chastises us for our sanctification.


Daniel Ritchie said...

You win the debate before its even started. Spank your children when their young and you wont have to stone them when their older.

Turretinfan said...

Thanks, Mr. Ritchie!

Sadly, a creeping modernism that was noted over a century ago by JC Ryle is attempting to dissaude folks from applying the rod.

Hopefully, people who happen to pass by and see the failure of anti-spanking advocates to address the Biblical and historical issues will recognize that the anti-spanking movement is modernism.

Given your recent book on the subject, I'd be even more interested in your take on the RPW debate I had recently with Centuri0n.

May God bless you richly!


Anonymous said...

"Hopefully, people who happen to pass by and see the failure of anti-spanking advocates to address the Biblical and historical issues will recognize that the anti-spanking movement is modernism."

Historically, it causes a significant and embarrassing amount of sexual fixation in societies which use it heavily.

You, like many other Christians, don't care about the potential sexual damage that can be done, regardless of the amount of evidence available.

If someone knows that a practice can harm normal sexual development, and yet continues to advocate for that practice, there is little point in discussion.

Apparently everyone else thinks so too, since no one is interested in debating you.

Turretinfan said...

I. Let's see if we can catalogue the errors in that last comment:

1) First, let's examine the claim "Historically, it causes a significant and embarrassing amount of sexual fixation in societies which use it heavily."

a) Notice how this allegation purports to be stating historical fact, when (in fact) it is not only not stating historical fact, but is presenting an untruth.

b) Notice how this allegation uses terms that cannot be quantified in any conceivable way: "significant," "emharassing," and "heavily."

c) Notice how this allegation employs the outdated Freudian psychological concept of "sexual fixation." (which could have been added to item (b) above)

d) Notice how it presents the argument at a macro-level ("societies") not a micro-level ("families"), even though it is not "societies" but "families" and more particularly "parents" that use spanking heavily or not.

2) Let's look at the second statement, "You, like many other Christians, don't care about the potential sexual damage that can be done, regardless of the amount of evidence available."

a) Notice how there is another claim to undocumented evidence, and yet the claim is not that actual damage is done but the "potential" damage is done.

b) See (b) above -- and add to the list "sexual" and "the amount."

c) Notice the ad hominem. The problem, according to this commentator is that I don't care about the harm to the children. It's a combination of ad hominem and ad miseracordiam. Such a lovely combo of logical fallacies.

3) We turn next to the dismissive portion of the comment, "If someone knows that a practice can harm normal sexual development, and yet continues to advocate for that practice, there is little point in discussion."

a) Notice how the commentator assumes that his (or, more likely, her) position is correct regarding alleged damage to sexual development.

b) Notice also how this commentator makes an appeal to normalcy, without providing a standard for normalcy.

c) Notice how, while there is supposedly little point to the discussion, this commentator has decided throw his two cents into the thread.

4) Finally, let's turn to the last little gem, "Apparently everyone else thinks so too, since no one is interested in debating you."

a) Notice that this is an argument from silence.

b) Notice to that, as can be seen from the comments above, this commentator's conclusion from the silence is patently wrong.

II. Having catalogued the errors in that response, here's the rebuttal.

We (Christians) are going to do what God said, even if non-Christians foolishly assert that it is a bad idea.

Non-Christians are not in a legitimate position to decide what is "normal," nor are they in a legitimate position to define deviation from their arbitrary definition of normalcy as "bad."

Let's replace all this Freudian sexual garbage with something actually measurable: the child's backside. Yes, spanking may cause damage to the child's skin, but it will help him learn to obey. It's a trade-off - it's hard for a loving father to spank his child because he sees that it causes pain to the child, and yet the long-term picture is that the child is actually better off because of it.

How do I know? The Bible says so.

But why the silence from the anti-spanking side of the world? The reason for the silence is that the Bible is clear and unambiguous on this issue. Those who oppose spanking, oppose the teaching of Scripture.


Turretinfan said...

There was a follow-up by the Anonymous author, which will not be published.

The reason it will not be published in its entirety was that it was a tirade, not an argument. I have no problem posting comments by people with whom I disagree, but there are some comments that are unfit for publication.

I was on the fence about publishing the first comment (because of its numerous catalogued errors shown above), but the second comment was so far across the line as not to contribute anything meaningful to the discussion.

Let me provide a quick example: The author of the comment implied that spanking causes people to be so marred that they don't marry and/or have children. This assertion is farcical. Spanking was the widespread practice in Europe in the middle ages, marriage was widely (if not nearly universally) practiced, and the population of Europe multiplied, mostly due to legitimate children of lawful marriages.

If the anonymous author is interested in debating whether Scripture commands spanking, ok. Provide comments that address that issue. If, however, the anonymous author simply wishes to express displeasure with spanking, then the single error-ridden post above has done that job. There is no reason to express your displeasure with more vehemence and decreasing cogence.

And consider: if you realize that Scripture commands it, where does that place you?


Turretinfan said...

My anonmyous reader whose most recent comment was left unpublished, has complained:

a) By questioning my motive for not publishing it. (Supposedly I don't want to address the ramifications asserted in the original comment above.)

b) By asserting that I am "seeking a debate format in which you can systematically shred your opponent using proof texts." Leaving aside the pejorative term "proof texts," the thesis that I am defending is that the Word of God says "Do X." Answering that thesis is going to involving turning to the Word of God. I am pleased to see that even this critical commentator recognizes that it would be futile to attempt to attack spanking on Scriptural grounds.

c) By asserting that "proof texts are not important" to people who have been injured by spanking. This sort of reasoning, of course, is not persuasive to someone who holds Scripture as their ultimate authority. Even if spanking could be shown to cause permanent significant injury, it does not kill anybody, and it has positive net value, a fact which critics either refuse to acknowledge, or try to hide.

d) By claiming, "It is in poor form to post a rebuttal/scolding regarding comments you will not publish." I view it as giving a commentator who posts wildly inappropriate comments a chance to clean up his/her act, and post comments that fall within the bounds.

In this case, I've repeated substantially all the comments in the post, so hopefully the honor of the anonymous commentator will be assuaged.


Turretinfan said...

In case anyone is keeping track, there is a third anonymous comment (apparently by the same commentator), in much the same style as the first two, and that consequently will not be published.

Dear Anonymous reader, your dislike for spanking has been noted. If you don't have anything either Biblical, intellectual, or at least courteous to add to the discussion, you may want to consider whether your beef is really with me, or with Bible.