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Does Spanking Children Cause Sexual Problems?

Does spanking cause sexual problems in children when they grow up?  A recent study linking some sexual problems to spanking made the headlines not long ago.  The study, conducted by Dr. Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, says that spanking or other corporal punishments are more likely to cause sexual problems in children as teens or adults.  

According to the study, submitted to the American Psychological Association (APA), children who are spanked, slapped, hit or threw objects at have a greater chance of “verbally and physically coercing a sexual partner to have sex, having premarital sex without condom, and engaging in masochistic sex.”   

Dr. Straus, a spanking expert, goes on to suggest that “parents should never spank because, although it does work, it’s no better than non-hitting methods that don’t have harmful effects.” 

Before going further, let me say that I generally don’t give this kind of study the time of day or even bother to respond to it, because it is strictly secular and rooted in worldly wisdom; which changes with the times.  Not to mention that it is contrary to what I believe, as a Christian.  

However, the reason I decided to respond to this study or write on this subject is because I know the impact it may have on some Christian parents. Particularly, those who don’t really know what they believe or how they believe it, i.e., those who try to raise their children on worldly wisdom, from the likes of Dr. Straus, rather than on Godly wisdom, as espoused by the Bible.   

Therefore, my response is going to be both from a secular, i.e., commonsensical viewpoint, and from a biblical viewpoint.  Now, having said that, let’s examine some of Dr. Straus’ assertions, first from a commonsensical viewpoint… 

From the quote above, Dr. Straus clearly identifies three sexual problems, which he attributes to spanking.  

These are:

·         verbally and physically coercing a sexual partner to have sex

·         having premarital sex without condom

·         engaging in masochistic sex

First, let’s examine the claim that spanking could be the cause of “verbally and physically coercing a sexual partner to have sex.”   

I don’t claim to be an expert of any sort, much less a spanking expert, but this could be a result of anything, especially a person’s upbringing, i.e., what he/she saw modeled at home. 

For instance, if a child is raised in a home where one parent forcefully demands sex from the other parent, chances are the child may do the same thing and think that’s how you get sex. Or it could just be the way a person is mentally wired.  But to link this to spanking is ridiculous!  

Likewise, engaging in premarital sex without condom could easily be attributed to illiteracy or sexual unawareness.  Therefore, the more literate people are, the wiser their decisions when it comes to having sex.  More illiterate or sexually ignorant people tend to have sex without condom than people who are literate or sexually educated.  Case in point, Uganda.  But Dr. Straus attributes this to spanking! 

According to news reports, the rapid HIV and AIDS epidemic in Uganda in the early 90’s was attributed to sexual ignorance on the part of the people. So, one of the things they did was to launch a massive sex education campaign about HIV and AIDS, and the danger of having unprotected sex. 

Needless to say, that helped to reduce drastically, the spread of HIV and AIDS from about 15% of the adult population to about 6.7%, overtime in Uganda.  

The Ugandan approach to combat HIV and AIDS has been dubbed the ABC approach: sexual Abstinence (before marriage), faithfulness to one partner, i.e. Be faithful, and Condom use among the unmarrieds or the promiscuous. Therefore, for Dr. Straus to attribute having premarital sex without a condom to spanking is preposterous! 

Also, Dr. Straus attributes engaging in masochistic sex to spanking!  This cannot be true.  If this were true then most Africans would be masochists!  By virtue of the fact that most Africans, especially West Africans, do not believe in sparing the rod to spoil the child.  Instead, they believe in spanking, and do spank their children, perhaps more than Westerners.  Yet, most Africans, especially West Africans are NOT masochists!  

In fact, if there were any such thing as “spanking headquarters,” then Africa, especially West Africa would qualify easily as the spanking headquarters of the world! Or if spanking was a prescription, which the doctor ordered, many African children got them in large doses! Not out of meanness or wickedness but out of love.  Most often, people spank out of love.  Many African parents are strict, no-nonsense disciplinarians who used spanking as the preferred method of discipline.  

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a community where you not only got spanked by your parents, uncles and aunts or by neighbors, but at school!  And I mean up until high school!  We outgrew spanking when we got to college.  But not until then.  Yet, we turned out okay. We didn’t have any of the sexual problems Dr. Straus suggested.   

Interestingly, however, one of Dr. Straus’ surveys claims to have been conducted among 14,000 university students in 32 nations.  But, just as I suspected only two of the 32 countries were African countries: South Africa and Tanzania! No West African, East or Central African countries!  In fact, more than half of the 32 countries were either European or Western countries!  With a few countries from Asia and Latin America.  

Maybe I’d be more interested in Dr. Straus’ study if some of the students surveyed were from West Africa, East or Central Africa.  But they were not.  This then begs the question, “If West Africans spank quite often, and exhibit little or none of the sexual problems Dr. Straus attributes to spanking, especially masochism, how then could spanking be the cause of sexual problems or masochism?”  

You say, “How can you say that most Africans don’t have sexual problems without any scientific proof?”  I don’t need any scientific proof.  I lived it!  I am the scientific proof!  And I don’t have any of these sexual problems Dr. Straus mentioned. My brothers, sisters, friends, cousins, etc. lived it!  They are the scientific proof!  And they don’t have any of these sexual problems Dr. Straus described. 

Now, I realize that spanking is not, and should not be the only form of correction or discipline.  But it should be a form of it.  Therefore, Dr. Straus’ recommendation that parents should not spank their children is absolutely insane.   Besides, it totally contradicts what the Bible teaches about discipline.  Even God ‘spanks’ His children!  The Bible says that:

For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.  -- Hebrews 12:6 

The word scourge means ‘to flog!’  God ‘flogs’ His children spiritually in many ways to bring them in line with His way or will.  Or better yet, to keep them from self-destruction.  And if spanking causes sexual problems, do you think that God would be the last to know?  The One who made humans!  Or do you think that God would need the likes of Dr. Straus to realize that spanking causes sexual problems? 

Certainly not!  

Rather, He inspired the wisest man to ever live, King Solomon, to tell parents:

Do not withhold correction from a child,
For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.

You shall beat him with a rod,
And deliver his soul from hell.  –- Proverbs 23:13-14 

Commenting on Proverbs 23:13, Matthew Henry writes, in his commentary of the whole Bible, “The rod will not kill him; nay, it will prevent his killing himself by those vicious courses which the rod will be necessary to restrain him from.” 

Notice verse 14 of the passage above says that when you spank a child you’ll “deliver his soul from hell.”   That is, you’ll deliver him from self-destruction.  Why?  Because spanking rather than make a sexual pervert out of a child, straightens out a child.  That’s why King Solomon says in another passage that

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction, drives it far from him. -- Proverbs 22:15 

In other words, mischief is all a child knows, which by the way is why they have parents. God didn’t give children parents to be spectators, to just watch and do nothing, while the child goes down the path of destruction.  The reason King Solomon also writes,

He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. –- Proverbs 13:24 

He also says:

The rod and rebuke give wisdom,
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. -- Proverbs 29:15

Looking at Dr. Straus’ recommendation that parents not spank their children, in light of what the Bible teaches can be likened to a situation where the makers of Hyundai are trying to tell the makers of Toyota how to fix Toyotas.  Can the makers of Hyundai know more about Toyota than the makers of Toyota?  I think not!

…Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’? -- Isaiah 45:9 

Growing up, spanking removed the foolishness that was bound up in our hearts, just like the Bible says.  It delivered our souls from hell. And above all, it didn’t kill us or make us perverts. Rather, it kept us from killing ourselves.  If anything, spanking kept us on the straight and narrow path. Thank God for the spanking!  I wonder where we would be without the spanking. 

Now, the problem with America today is listening and heeding the advice of the likes of Dr. Straus, someone who has done some groundbreaking study on some topic or the other.  Personally, I believe that one of the reasons for some of the social problems in America today can be attributed to lack of spanking or insufficient spanking! 

You would think that the fact that there are more school shootings in America than anywhere else in the world should suggest to us that perhaps it’s due to our little or no spanking. Perhaps, if Americans used the rod more than they spared it, there might be less school shootings than we have now in this country!  I believe that many of this foolishness we see among American teenagers and young adults could be prevented if their parents spanked more in the earlier years.

 This is the reason why King Solomon writes again:

Chasten your son while there is hope,
And do not set your heart on his destruction. – Proverbs 19:18 

Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul. -- Proverbs 29:17

Really, the survey I’d like to see conducted is among misbehaving children and well-behaved children to see who got more, less or no spanking.  Chances are you’ll find that the wayward children got little or no spanking!   

I know we live in a country where everyone assigns blame; where people don’t want to take responsibilities for their actions. But to attribute increase in sexual problems to spanking, I believe is stretching the truth. And if we are going to blame sexual problems on something it ought not to be spanking. 

By the way, the root cause of all human problems, including sexual problems is sin. Not spanking! Spanking rather than cause a sexual problem prevents or curtails it.  And should spanking cause sexual problems, which I believe it doesn’t, I’d rather take my chances than have an unruly child who may become a menace to himself and/or society!

Therefore, my recommendation to parents, uncles, aunts and guardians is, “Whoop that butt!” – in love!

 Spanking: a cause of sexual problems?  Give me a break! 

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