A Good Spanking

A rebuke impresses a woman of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool.

Proverbs 17:10


My dad used to say that he hardly ever had to spank me because if he just looked at me I’d start to cry. That was true for a lot longer than I care to remember. The last time it happened, I was about 14. I decided around that time that I was too old to be brought to tears with a glare. So I worked on myself to react differently when he gave me the evil eye. Also, as I got older, I did fewer things to merit the steely stare. 

My parents had trained my sisters and me from very young to respond to a look. If looks could kill, I’d have died a thousand deaths by now. Nonetheless, in retrospect, I believe training a child to respond to a look of disapproval is far preferable to other forms of discipline, like shouting and spanking. It’s a very mild and even subtle form of discipline and one of the advantages is that it teaches children to focus on people’s expressions. 

If we could learn to watch people’s faces and body language and respond from those cues, we could save ourselves the humiliation of more severe rebukes like shouts and “spanks.” A spanking for a person our age is any publicly humiliating attempt to modify our behavior – being called down in class, fired from a job or even a fight with a friend or boyfriend can be a spanking.

It would be nice if we could avoid humiliation all together by just being wise, but the fact is we’re human! Note that in our proverb that even a woman of discernment is rebuked. We make mistakes; we have character flaws – those things don’t work themselves out by the time we’re 20, in fact, they’re just getting started! 

Everyone on earth is under some human authority and we can all expect to continue to be critiqued, rebuked and yes, improved, by the authorities over us, both physical and spiritual. Rebuke can even come from people with no authority over us. 

The question is not, “How can I avoid being rebuked?” Instead it’s, “In what form do I prefer my rebuke?” If you respond appropriately with just a look, that’s as far as it needs to go. But if you’re not receptive to that, the rebuke will intensify until it is effective – all the way to the death penalty. 

Most of us don’t need “spankings” to get the point. We get it long before that, but out of arrogance and ignorance, we refuse to accept the message. Our pride doesn’t like to acknowledge, especially to anyone else, that we can actually learn something about ourselves from someone else. But we can, and it doesn’t take a guru to teach us either.

I used to date a guy who smoked. Although a very attractive person, he had scary teeth – perfectly straight, but almost hairy from years of accumulated guck from smoking. Early on in our relationship (way before I would have had the chutzpah to tell him that), I took him to a wedding with me. My little brother, then about 10 years old, was also in attendance and sat by us. My boyfriend and brother were chatting before the wedding began and I was looking around to see who else I might know. I overheard my brother say, “Why are your teeth so brown?” I stayed facing the opposite direction as my face turned beet red. I felt humiliated for my boyfriend so I can only imagine what he felt. 

About two weeks later I went over to his house one evening. Upon greeting me, he flashed me a big grin showing off his teeth – shiny, clean and white! Even a child’s rebuke can make a positive impact in our lives. 


The experience of being called on the carpet is humiliating – there’s no way around that. Will you suffer that for nothing and line up for more in the future on the same issue? Or will you accept the critique, act on it and improve yourself and your life?


Hold this thought: I don’t have to be told twice!

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