Proverbs 20:30 – Does the Bible teach corporal punishment?

corporal punishmentProverbs 20:30 – “The blueness [bruise; black and blue] of a wound cleanseth [purifies] away evil [sin; wickedness]: so do stripes [beaten; blows] the inward [innermost] parts of the belly [bosom; womb; inner being].”

As with earlier devotional thoughts on discipline and corporal punishment from Proverbs, Proverbs 20:30 returns us to the dilemma of a biblical truth that runs contrary to 21st century America’s penal system and politically correct “experts” of childrearing.  Unlike Islam’s “graceless” system of justice that maims and disgraces offenders of its laws, the Bible’s mandate for discipline is primarily instructive with an emphasis on correction and temporal pain that induces a change in action [“cleanseth away evil”] and encourages a change in attitude [“cleanseth…the inward parts”].child in jail

There are some who read Proverbs 20:30 and, in the absence of loving entreaty, administer discipline that is nothing short of abuse!  Rather than taking aim at the heart of the child for their soul’s sake, such a father or mother violates the spirit of biblical discipline and the mandate Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus:

Ephesians 6:4 – And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

The primary application of Proverbs 20:30 is when justice and stern correction is administered for sin [a violation of the Law and principles of God’s Word], the desired effect is a repudiation of evil [sinful actions and attitudes] and an invitation to choose righteousness [“cleanseth away evil”].  Biblical discipline is not vengeful; it is remedial and addresses matters of the heart [“inward parts of the belly”]. father comforting son A loving parent knows that temporal pain embodies an opportunity for an attitude adjustment and course correction for a child to become the benefactor of God’s favor and lasting peace..

Hebrews 12:6-7 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?”

Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith