Tennessee minister, accused of physical abuse in lawsuit, advocated spanking with ‘rod’

A co-founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries — accused in a lawsuit of physically abusing a female from her childhood into adulthood — has advocated painful spanking with objects.

Larry Tomczak broke with the denomination in 1997 in a dispute with co-founder and current president C.J. Mahaney.

The amended lawsuit alleged that Tomczak physically abused a girl into her adult years over a 25-year period with bare hands and plastic and wooden sticks. It accused him of forcing her to strip, even as an adult, and receive beatings on her bare buttocks. Eventually, “she fled and escaped from the abuse,” the lawsuit said.

Tomczak has denied the allegations.

In a 2009 interview with the Tennessean on the prevalence of spanking among parents in the South, Tomczak strongly endorsed the practice.

From the article:

Larry Tomczak of Franklin says there’s no reasoning with a child. Tomczak says sometimes parents are unwilling to spank their child because they don’t want to hurt them, but he thinks those parents should put aside their own feelings for the well-being of the child.

“I don’t want to hurt cute little Jimmy. Well, cute little Jimmy could burn your house down unless you teach him not to use matches,” said Tomczak, author of The Little Handbook on Loving Correction, which he says offers child-rearing advice from a biblical perspective.

Beyond the “spank or not to spank” debate, there’s a whole separate debate on the best way to spank.

… Tomczak says that hands should never be used for spanking.

“Hands should be used for affection because then a child can flinch when you raise your hands,” he said.

Instead, Tomczak says the Bible teaches to use “a rod.” This could be a flexible branch from a tree or even a paint stirrer from Lowe’s, he said.

“There should be some pain when that takes place,” he said. “There needs to be displeasure or they won’t learn.”

And when the discipline is over, Tomczak said it’s best to pray with your child.

“The child should ask God’s forgiveness and then the forgiveness of the person who was offended,” he said. “And then it’s done.”

Tomczak’s break with Sovereign Grace Ministries was accompanied with a lengthy controversy that included threats by Mahaney and other church leaders to expose wrongdoing confessed by Tomczak’s teenage son — actions later confirmed and faulted by an internal church report as well as external critics.