There is a trend in modern times in many western nations of some parents and activists taking a stand against spanking children. Sometimes parents quietly choose to raise their children without spanking. Sometimes activists campaign against spanking in public forums and even lobby for legislation to outlaw spanking. As I understand it, there are actually laws against corporal punishment of children in some countries. Even in the United States, corporal punishment can be interpreted by some as child abuse and there may even be some risk of being called into court if a parent physically disciplines his or her child. That is not common, but it can happen.
Most people's views about spanking are probably influenced by their experiences, either their experiences with their own parents when they were growing up or their experiences raising their own children. Those who have experienced right spanking know what right spanking is, and they can see the benefits of it, and they are more likely to favor spanking as a form of discipline and teaching for children. Others who have experienced no spanking, wrong spanking, or physical abuse often conclude that all spanking is wrong. They cannot tell the difference between right spanking and wrong spanking because they have never seen right spanking. They don't know how to do it and they don't know what it looks like. They often do not even know it exists.
Right spanking in the family is usually invisible to outsiders for two reasons. One, when a parent uses spanking the right way, he doesn't have to do it very often. The child develops the habit of obedience early and doesn't need to be spanked frequently. Two, in the current environment of some activists trying to label all spanking "child abuse", parents are even more private in the way they spank their children than they were in the past. This makes right spanking even more invisible to those who would most benefit from seeing it - those who have never experienced it or seen an example of it.
Satan is the deceiver of the whole world, and he tries to weaken families (Revelation 12:9). He deceives the world about child rearing just as he deceives the world about religion.
Some who are against spanking are only against corporal punishment but not against other forms of punishment such as time-outs where a child must sit in a corner for a certain number of minutes, or denial of privileges (such as no desert), or whatever. But some are against ALL forms of punishment, and some say that the Bible teaches grace and forgiveness, not punishment, and we should practice that principle in raising our children.
But God gives us instructions in the Bible about child discipline. He not only instructs us to teach our children the right way by correcting them with punishment, but He sets us the example, showing that He punishes His own children, that is, true Christians in His true Church, who are His own sons and daughters.
Does God punish Christians, His own children, to teach them lessons?
Hebrews was written to the Church (Hebrews 3:1). Notice Hebrews 12:5-11: "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: 'My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.' If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:5-11).
Notice that the writer of Hebrews says that if you are without chastening (punishment), you are not a son (or daughter) of God (verses 7-8). In other words, if God doesn't punish you, you are not really a Christian.
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent....He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 3:19-22).
Furthermore, God teaches parents to include punishment as a teaching tool to teach their children the right way to live. "He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly" (Proverbs 13:24).
Thus God teaches us both by instruction (Proverbs) and example (how He deals with us, His children in the Church), that we should include punishment as a tool to teach our children for their good.
God teaches punishment, and He does not exclude corporal punishment, that is, spanking. In fact, in speaking of the "rod" (which I assume is a kind of whip, not a hard rod that can injure) in Proverbs 13:24, God uses a physical form of punishment as an example of punishment.
What are the characteristics of right spanking?
It should not be more harsh than is necessary to produce obedience. You don't have to spank your child till he cries necessarily, for example. The object is learning the lesson, not tears. You know by the results. Suppose your child disobeys, you give him a light spanking, not enough to make him cry, but he learns to obey. Then that is sufficient. But if he still does not obey, then the next spanking should be harder, whether he cries or not. The goal is to teach obedience and right behavior, not humiliation and tears. Usually small children will cry, but if they don't cry, don't try to make them cry.
It should be fair. Spanking should come after the child has clearly heard and understood your instructions and disobeyed. If you are in doubt, do unto your child as you would want God to do to you.
Spanking should never cause injury. It should never be done in anger, but in love, to help the child.
Spanking should be consistent, applied to every incident of disobedience the first time, without delay, without repeating the command, no exceptions, so the child does not imagine he can get away with disobeying. Done this way, the child will learn to obey his mother and father the first time he is told to do something, promptly, automatically, without argument. There will not typically be arguing, fighting, and power struggles, and there will be few tears. The child will be happy and obedient and responsive to right teaching.
I have seen spanking, the right way, work very well to produce well-behaved, loving, and happy children, and balanced, confident, responsible adults. I have not seen that result without spanking. I don't say it is impossible, just that I haven't seen it myself. Those attempts by parents to raise their children without spanking or with minimum spanking that I have seen have led to bad results.
Laws against spanking are absolutely wrong and oppressive. God has given parents the responsibility to raise and discipline their children.