What Does the Bible Say about Discipline?

To spank, or not to spank? That’s a divided question. Every parent seems to have an opinion regarding the effectiveness – or harmfulness – of spanking a child as a form of discipline. What about using time-outs, or grounding? As parents, the questions and concerns we have about discipline come from a deep desire to raise our children up the very best way that we can. But there are so many thoughts, ideas, and options out there. How do we know what’s right?

A wise parent once said, “The Bible is the only parenting book you’ll ever need.” As parents, we can take comfort in the fact that we have a God-given parenting book right at our fingertips. But what does the Bible say about discipline?

The Bible addresses the parental desire to guide children in the way they should go. Here are some verses about discipline.

  • No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
  • A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother. Proverbs 29:15
  • Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
  • Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16
  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9

This list is not exhaustive, but it is clear that God gives us some pointers when it comes to disciplining our children. As the verse from Hebrews 12 points out, discipline is not fun – for either party involved. Yet, it produces a healthy result.

The same is true for anyone who strives to follow God’s law. It may not be easy at the time (obeying God’s commandments can feel annoying or unnecessary or overbearing). But God did not give us His instruction to keep us from having fun, but to keep us safe. We discipline our children to keep them safe. God knows what is best for us, and he knows what is best for our children. Thankfully, he graciously gives us some great advice on the subject of discipline so that we might do our best to raise our children up in the way they should go.