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Corporal Punishment And The Bible What Should A Child Do?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/15/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 575 times Debate No: 92753
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
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In our story a teenage girl comes to the pastor at her church and tells him her father beats her. The pastor tells her to obey her father and when she doesn't to accept correction with the strap as the Bible commands

Our debate question is 'What should the girl do'?

The Contender will state in their opening argument what the girl should do. I will then oppose it

Four rounds


1st Find anorher Church; No pastor that I know would give such advice; what he would do is support the young lady, bring in the secretary as this poor child will require the comfort only a lady can provide. Next, Call in the mother straight away, Although Police and child protective services are options, no pastor should jump into either without clear evidence of the truth, but above all the child is not to be allowed to re-enter the home unprotected.

Likely the mother will be supportive, and may shed additional light, secondly, as Pastor he must have the discernment to determine if the mother is supportive or abused herself. If his fears are realized, it would certainly be appropriate to call in special services. One must be aware that preventing further trauma to the child is paramount, they must be protected at all costs, encouraged, and supported by members of the church who are the extended family; If needed a place to stay, food comfort, supportive agencies, clothes, emotional support, other support agencies, protective services etc...

I would not envy a pastor in this situation, but neither should he not treat this with the highest degree of credibility. The direction to go must be dictated by the welbeing of the child!

anyone who has ever dealt with Child Protective Services knows that this is an organization, you do not call with frivolity! Again the welbeing of the child must be paramount!
Debate Round No. 1


From my description we know the child claims her father beats her. We know what the pastor tells her: to obey her parents and to accept correction with the strap. What inferences can we draw from this?

1. the child has behaved in a willfully disobedient manner towards her parents for which she was spanked

2. the pastor doesn't believe the child was abused.

If these are correct what the pastor told the girl is reasonable, truthful, and practical. If she doesn't want to feel the sting of the strap on her bottom she should choose to obey her parents . Something which is required in scripture.

We have another set of inferences

The first two listed are related but somewhat different

3. The correction the child received was excessive and unreasonable causing injuries to her. By injuries we mean more than a few welts or redness on her buttocks which disappears within a few hours

4. The beatings the child complains of are more chronic in nature and may not always be administered for appropriate reasons

For inferences 1 and 2 the girl should follow the pastor's advice. If 3 or 4 are true-- the pastor doesn't appear to be an ally. In which case the girl should talk to someone else. Her mother if she is an ally and she may not be. or someone else in the church or someone outside the church would be possibilities

As to your advice on being careful before reporting to law enforcement or CPS it is not necessary or appropriate for the Church or anyone else to investigate it themselves before reporting it. All that is required for an allegation of child abuse to be reported is a reason to believe also referred to a reasonable suspicion a child is being abused or is in imminent danger of abuse. A few questions asking about severity of the abuse and/or the frequency of it might be in order but nothing too probing or invasive. A reporting source does not have to be able to prove the abuse actually happened. Only the suspicion is necessary.

And I don't know if they have to leave the church. The pastor even if he was wrong in how he responded to the girl may still have done so in good faith


Hmmm this is not just a child, but a teenage who knows the difference between Beating and spanking. It is not reasonable to for an adult to speculate that the teenager is lying without proof, and such conduct could lead to litigation. In either case, people are being jailed for spanking their children now a days.

As to the pastor, the laws of today insist and demand that the pastor err on the side of caution when human life is at stake. The disobedience factot is also problematic in that no reference was made as to conduct, though in any case beating is an unacceptable outcome which leads to confinement in most states.

Police would be my route ..... CPS is useful for removal of child only, where as it is the responsibility of the police to investigate and pursue CPS as indicated. For Pastor to bypass police would be ill advised as it could lead to further more indepth traumas, where police may opt to have child stay with Grandparents which would not be the case in CPS.
Debate Round No. 2


Depends perhaps on where this is but likely both law enforcement and CPS are going to be involved. They each have their own specific purposes. Related as to the basic goal but nonetheless different. The pastor or whoever can choose to whom to report but both agencies will end up getting involved in all probability.

It is a safe assumption the parties involved know more than the brief summary of facts which I provided in the opening. I do not believe it is unreasonable from them to infer the possibility of abuse. And yes a teenager can understand the difference between a beating and a spanking. But there are times when a teenager will perceive it to be in her interest to confuse the two. The pastor may not be wrong as to how he saw the girl's story. One thing we can infer from it is she got a spanking for disobeying her parents.. It is also possible instead of the spanking/beating or in addition to it is what she really doesn't like are her parents rules.

Going back to the reporting of it and who to report to as we are assuming a reasonable suspicion of abuse- I do not think it is correct to assume there is abuse-- a reasonable suspicion is enough to report it. You are making an assumption the mother will support her daughter. She may not. She may side with her husband. Anyway that is an issue which CPS had to explore and not the police.

And if there is evidence of abuse beyond the girl's initial report of her father beating her others will get involvement. She will need to be examined by a pediatrician or other medical professional to diagnose injuries related to any abuse. And there are others as well--- school officials, mental health,and one or more lawyers

Someone will have to look at whatever injuries she has-- medical people are the appropriate ones to do it as they'll need to make a diagnosis as to the cause And the police will need to take pictures of it

Okay the girl has been abused and the pastor who she tells it to won't report it-- what should she do? That is what the debate question was asking. My answer is tell someone else or report it herself.


Depends upon location is agreed. Also at stake will be extent of injury, ie... obvious physical abuse will likely incur the wrath of both organizations. I simply infer the logic of allowing law enforcement the unpleasant task of choosing the type of action as one can imagine what the remainder of the congregants will percieve should the pastor turn narc. Old term yes but results would be the same, many young parents might decide to leave the membership should word get out (as it most certainly would) that the pastor turned parents in to CPS?

Although warranted, I think the knee-jerk reaction would be the same ..... the wooooe the pastor just turned a family in to CPS!
see my point? I contemplated the teenager revenge thing and though possible in most troubled teens one would hope Christian children would have shall we say are more spiritual response? Still I remain miffed that a teenager would still be recieving spankings as my teenagers were dealt with in a more adult manner, ie... grounding, restriction of car use. I do remember my teenager threatening to move out, to which I responded, that as she was younger than 17 she would be moving where I say which was a form of bootcamp, this had its expected effect and the matter was promptly dropped.

Regarding going back to reporting it. Not at all I presumed nothing, I stated rationale, as the point of discussion with the mother was one of investigative intuition vis a vis potential abuse. Abusers tend to abuse not just the children, but the spouse as well. the objective was to ascertain if the teenager was not the only one in potential harms way, perhaps the wife as well. So no, I would hope for the support but I would have been looking for spousal abuses as well. As to siding with husband, this also needs to be evaluated as there could also exist a dual threat to the teenager from both parents, you see? Purely investigative reasoning for seeking the spouses response?

Line which discusses pediatrician, is I think far out of bounds for pastoral involvement, as police would surely be required in such an event, for the purposes beyond CPS authority. Example would be abuse to the level of parental arrest and possible prison time ..... no no the pastor would not be involved at this level other than pastoral support.

Last statement; she is a child not viewed as and adult by any state, what to do passed out of her hands the moment she reported it didn't it? I mean every court in the land would presumptively and rightly so consider the matter fully up to adult intervention. That is to say, the child is far to young and innocent to take matters into her own hands. No I'm sorry, the choice as you say would fall completely in the hands of the Pastor, legally, what she should do is be enformed by a loving Christian extension of her family that the matter is well in hand and the matter will be taken care of for her, remembering to surround the child with mature loving adult women for emotional support while the matter is dealt with swiftly, quietly, and judiciously.
Debate Round No. 3


Laws in most states guarantee confidentiality to persons reporting abuse. They also grant immunity from civil or criminal liability if their report is determined to be unfounded. People suspected of abuse or neglect will assume the identity of who reported- sometimes that is not hard to figure out but those assumptions are not always right. But that is just for the family involved. Other families won't have to know unless that family tells them or the pastor tells them himself. People guess they've been turned in by people who had nothing to do with turning them in.

You are also suggesting a congregation which supports and many of whom use corporal punishment themselves. I think it is going to be more along those lines these people will be upset. They could be turned in themselves. But they would have to discount the issue of abuse and believe the pastor turned the parents in for spanking their daughter. Which would not be totally off the mark but misses the point..

If you go back to my opening argument this pastor told the child she deserved to have gotten the spanking and she should have accepted it and instead of complaining about her father she should be obeying him I was going to use the word whipping in the previous sentence in place of spanking. If the other members see it as a spanking they might be upset the pastor reported it. But if it is a whipping it might be different

They would also have to know of assume why the pastor turned the family in. One doesn't know but one might guess the pastor supports corporal punishment so it wouldn't be just for a spanking. What I am getting is the pastor needs to be less concerned about members leaving because he turned this family in but in getting them to support the family in their crisis. By support I don't mean siding with the parents specifically the father-- support doesn't have to come with agreement with what in this case the father has done.

About the pediatrician-- I agree that is not the pastor's concern and I did mean to imply it that way. I was referring to the scope of the investigation and it wasn't possible to limit it to just one agency-- the police

Corporal punishment of 17 year old children is more common than one would be inclined to think. Something like 80% of children that age are subjected to some form of corporal punishment. Here corporal punishment is defined broadly to include not just spankings but other physical assaults including punching, slapping, grabbing, kicking, pushing, and so on. But spanking more narrowly defined includes a fair portion of it

There are two general categories of physical abuse of teenagers. One arises from the use of corporal punishment (spanking) at an earlier age which may not have been abusive. But as the child grows and becomes stronger the spankings become less and less effective forcing the parent to increase the severity to where it becomes abusive. The second category is what I mentioned in the above paragraph. This arises in the child's teenage years and results from the parent's frustration with and inability to deal with adolescent moods and behavior. The girl in our example may have been talking about this second type of adolescent abuse when she told the pastor her father beats her

Don't know if there is anything else to say. Thank you for participating and doing so constructively and informatively


Laws in most states guarantee confidentiality to persons reporting abuse. Agreed,

If you go back to my opening argument this pastor told the child she deserved to have gotten the spanking and she should have accepted it and instead of complaining about her father she should be obeying him I was going to use the word whipping in the previous sentence in place of spanking.

hard to accept 17 year olds accepting spankings though, could lead to much greater problems.

One doesn't know but one might guess the pastor supports corporal punishment so it wouldn't be just for a spanking.

But THIS pastor told the child she deserved the beating, this pastor would notify no one, it appears by all accounts he does support this type of behavior!

As to members leaving I totally agree, that is not a contributing factor on the need to act.

Statisics are astonishing especially in todays society.

I thank you for the opportunity to participate. Be Well!

Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by FollowerofChrist1955 2 years ago
Referring back to my first response, was precisely the point. The only person able to be spoken to is the mother, as pastors are not at liberty to speak to other people outside the parent unless volunteered by said teenager. Then the more appropriate thing to do is notify police .... I am aware that cps MAY be called just at a hint or suggestion. However it is a gross error to do so willy nilly as CPS can and frequently are super destructive, when police are more advisable as cps is one of their referrals, after investigations which is right up their alley. Police are far more tactful I think.
Posted by bearski 2 years ago
What it comes down to in reporting child abuse. What did the child tell you. What did someone else tell you. What injuries did you see on the child both new and older ones. Is there anything about the child's appearance, demeanor, or behavior that you have noticed and which raise concerns.
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