Friday, June 8, 2012

Pastor Arrested for Preaching Spanking

“Philip Caminiti, 55, was pastor of Aleitheia Bible Church... Caminiti was found guilty by a jury in March of eight counts of conspiracy to commit child abuse for teaching church members what he said was a literal interpretation of discipline prescribed by the Bible...”
 – The Wisconsin State Journal, May 25, 2012

The Wisconsin State Journal recently reported about a pastor jailed for encouraging child abuse- or spanking, depending on who you talk to.  You can read the full article here.

Now, I don't know exactly what this pastor was preaching, the kind of disciplinary practices that he was endorsing, or what exactly the methodology of spanking was which he was encouraging.

Maybe he was right, maybe he was wrong.

He was certainly right about one thing: kids need spanked.  I'm a graduate of the school of more than a few parentally-inflicted hard knocks, and I'm a better man for it.  But my experience isn't authoritative.  Let's look to Something that is.

The Bible repeatedly exhorts parents to spank their children- mostly in the book of Proverbs.  (Pr. 13:24, 23:13)

This does not equate to teaching child abuse.  The Word of God encourages loving parental
involvement in the lives of their children- teaching them, training them, and disciplining them when necessary.

To do anything otherwise is to abuse the child- whether by ferocious and angry beatings or by a failure to train the child in ways of righteousness.

So spanking isn't wrong- actually, it is very right.  It's hard to see this in a world where we rarely look past our nose.  We are used to microwave solutions.  We don't log in the brain-hours necessary to see the end results of our policies.

Thomas Sowell, in his excellent book Basic Economics, explains that governmental involvement in the economy should be judged by the incentives created, not by the ostensible purposes of the programs.

We are so susceptible to so much when we allow ourselves to be driven by emotion, by passion, by the tyranny of the urgent, by the simple need to DO SOMETHING!!!

When we look at life from this “do something, even if it's wrong” perspective, things like socialism make sense.  “Of course we need to steal from the rich- these poor people need help!”

We don't realize the devastating end results of these decisions.  We don't realize that by stealing from the rich we discourage wealth, that by indiscriminately feeding the poor we incentivize poverty, that by counting to fifty instead of spanking the child we train that child that instant obedience is really not that important.

And then what happens?  They grow up a terror, join the military to get away from their parents, and get spanked into obedience in boot camp.

I don't know whether this pastor was portraying the Biblical picture of loving discipline or the worldly stereotype of angry abuse.  I do know that the Biblical picture of child-raising involves spanking, and that God's Way is the best way.  If we can't see the benefits that come from walking in obedience to God, it just means that we need to open our eyes.

But there is something much deeper, much more disturbing here than a questionable interpretation of Scripture.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumy said, according to the Journal, that “the sentence, in part, was intended to send a message that child abuse will not be tolerated and to prevent Caminiti from once again teaching members of his church to spank their children with wooden objects to cure them of selfishness.”

Dare I say “wow”?

Not only did this judge just arbitrarily condemn the very definition of Biblical spanking, but she
condemned a man- punished him- to send a message?

Punishments are not to be administered as a method of communication!  The guilty are to be punished, the innocent are to be vindicated (Rom. 13, Ex. 23:7). 

But this pastor was not only sent to jail to send a message.  He was also being punished for his actions- or was he?  This man has not been convicted of any crime.  He has been convicted of “conspiracy to commit” a crime. At least, the judge thinks it is a crime.

This would be laughable if it weren't so horrifying.

The judge arbitrarily defines child abuse to include spanking.

I'm going to make up a word here: Fungusonomy.  Fungus-law.  This is what we see happening today, and it is the logical outworking of the humanistic worldview.  Fungusonomy teaches that the law has to be ever expanding, ever growing- we have to DO SOMETHING!!!  As good little humanists, we aren't limited by any law outside of ourselves.  It is up to us- well, actually, up to our nanny state- to police everything, to hold it all together, to punish hate crimes and thought crimes and mistreatment-of-mother-earth crimes.

So if a pastor encourages spanking, he must be silenced.  Because that might mean abuse.  Never mind The Bible.  Never mind the Constitution.  Never mind the years of misery that untrained children go through until they're finally spanked in much more painful ways later in life.  Never mind that this might result in many, many innocent people being convicted of child abuse.  Never mind any of that.

Somebody might get hurt.

We have to do something.

Read Gary North's excellent article on this case here.


Bush Maid said...

Such a sad thing, because it is true. I think if you ask any now adult who was disciplined Biblically as a child if they suffered because of it, their reply would be quite the opposite. The thing is, no one is held accountable for their own actions anymore. There is no responsibility. And even if you do do something wrong, there are no consequences. (or next to none) This is all a result of children not being held accountable for their misbehavior as a child. Spanking shows a child that there are consequences to one's actions. If they grow up without this training, they become prideful self centered adults who think the world owes them everything and they can get away with anything. With the Biblical principle of spanking now removed, people are training the next generation of adults to be quite useless to society.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

YES. It's striking how victimized modern American society is. Reminds me of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

Bailey said...

Leave it to Wisconsin. *sigh*

There's so much wrong with that article that I'm just It makes me mad, too, because there ARE cases of genuine abuse of spanking that DO need to be addressed by the law...but equating a few swats with abuse trivializes what abuse is.

I don't support spanking 100% for 100% of the child population but it ticks me off that courts are butting into Biblical interpretation and church discipline. It should be the Christians (whether they spank or not) who keep an eye on abusive teaching and deal with it themselves.

Racheal said...

I was spanked and even though I didn't like it then--I am very thankful that my parents spanked me. I have actually thanked them for taking a paddle to me. They always made sure to explain to me why I was getting spanked and pointed me to the Bible. "This does not please God...what does the Bible say about it?"

Gabriel, I have never read any of Ayn Rand's works though I'm in the slow process of reading a book on her philosophy (Without a Prayer by John Robbins). It is extremely confusing and contradictory. How does it come across in novel form? ('Atlas Shrugged' is a novel isn't it?)

Gabriel Hudelson said...

"It should be the Christians (whether they spank or not) who keep an eye on abusive teaching and deal with it themselves."

YES. It's not the state's job.

Racheal, yes, "Atlas Shrugged" is a novel. She is ferociously conservative (good!) and ferociously feministic (bad!) and ferociously atheistic (also bad!). So she really is a mixed bag. She does a great job of exposing liberal philosophies, but she also tries to create a system of morality without God, which results in, of course, an epic fail.

Xalem said...

As a pastor myself, I actually am happy to see someone holding pastors to account for their preaching. In any congregation, the children are the most vulnerable. A preacher could teach parents an abusive parenting style, and create a wall of silence within the community giving a child nowhere to turn for help. God clearly calls on leaders in the Church to put the needs of children first. (Mark 9:42) Pastors cannot simply preach a narrow doctrine when it comes to raising children. Any pastor has to be aware of all of scripture, all the theological discussion on these issues, and all the scientific literature and all cultural knowledge. The role of pastor is a profession for exactly this reason. My denomination expects me to weight all these concerns very carefully whenever I preach. I have no sympathy for those who claim that the Bible commands the rod to rule the household. It is in the home where Christ's gospel of forgiveness must be most clearly lived out. Any pastor that teaches parents a harsh discipline approach to parenting runs incredible risks:kids who commit suicide or run away, parents who go too far and abuse their own children. The Bible is clear, the pastor will be held responsible by God, and for my part, I think human courts should be able to intervene when a pastor has gone too far. I hope this arrest is a wake up call for those who take on the profession of pastor.

Jemimah :-) said...

Man, can that really happen?!?!?!?!?!?
I strongly believe that spanking is an all biblical and god-honouring thing for parents to do, as long as it is done in love. When a parent does it in anger then it is definitely wrong. God has appointed the job of disciplining children to their parents, but he clearly shows that it is ALWAYS to be done in and out of love.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Mr. Xalem, I agree that pastors should be held accountable to keep their teachings within the purview of Scripture.

However, I do not see Scripture anywhere giving the state jurisdiction to provide that accountability.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Jemimah- totally agree. :-)

Anonymous said...

Everyone here speaking in favor of spanking for discipline is skipping over three VERY important words from the judge's statement: "WITH WOODEN OBJECTS"

I'm all for discipline, and I received it when I deserved it, but a big line is crossed when you've decided that your hand isn't delivering a sufficient message and you go find a hunk of wood to help you deliver your "love" to your kid...

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Anon, Scripture says "the rod." :-)

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Thanks for the great clarification, Andrew. Don't know if I totally agree with the second paragraph- I think you might be doing some unnecessary semantical dancing there. :-)

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Well, you bring up a fascinating point that I've never thought about, but I think to be too staunch on that is to become the person you are condemning- the one who speculates on the text. Because, really, you sin, you get spanked. So it is a punishment. God disciplines His children- so we are punished for wrongdoing.

Depending on how you define it, yes, but that's why I think your post gets into semantical dancing- where we strain at the gnat of whether spanking is discipline or punishment and ignore the weightier issues of the law, such as whether the spanking (discipline or punishment regardless) is being done in love.

James Templeton said...

I wonder if the judge realizes that for some of the things grownups do now Moses would have you stoned, and she thinks Biblical spanking is bad.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Oh my.

"How then can we say that whether we spank our children or not is weighty, but what we intend to accomplish by spanking them is not?"

Good point, but that's not what I'm trying to argue.

"That, my friend, is very, very dangerous. Camel-sized dangerous."

Totally agree with this, too.

In fact, I think I agree with everything that you've said. It's the quibbling over whether to call it a punishment or a form of discipline that I think goes too far.

Because really, I think it's both!

Gabriel Hudelson said...

I'm trying to argue that discipline serves the dual purpose of being a hard consequence and training to prevent them. :-)

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Andrew- that's just what it is. It's a hard consequence. You sin, you get spanked. We can debate the philosophy, but I don't think we can say it's not a consequence!

That said, thanks for the good food for thought. :-)

No, I have no assassination attempts planned over this issue. ;-)

Kathleen said...

"Sometimes I wish you'd say more so it's easier to know what it is exactly that you are trying to argue...;)"

I had to smile at this coming from the one person I have come across who types even more than I do. :)

Strangely, children "abused" in this manner usually grow up to be more mentally balanced than those who haven't. I would venture to guess that this judge was not spanked as a child, or she would recognize the value of it.

Living in the UK, I enjoy listening to the BBC's cricket commentary. One of their commentators, Geoffrey Boycott, is the stereotypical "grumpy old man." I remember one game where an England player had an unprofessional display of temper. Boycott's comment was, "that lad needed more smackings when he was younger." (said with a *very* strong Yorkshire accent) :)

Racheal said...

I haven't kept up with this...but there are some very interesting discussions here :)

However, I really wanted to remark about the 'wooden object' a kid I ALWAYS preferred the wooden paddle over my daddy's hand! It didn't hurt near as bad as that strong open hand wacking my bottom :)(Of course, I never told him that until pretty recently ;D ) I've only be literally switched once--and that was by my Grandpa. (By the way, what do ya'll think of grandparents spanking youngsters? I fully expect my parents to do it if I'm not around.)

Dakota said...

Hey, I just came across your blog by doing a bit of blog-surfing and I'm glad I did! I've added myself as your newest follower, and I hope you'll check out my Christian devotional site as well.

Have a blessed day!

In Christ,
Dakota - A Look at Life from a Deerstand

Jodi said...

I thought that lying was a sin! You are lying via omission. He was NOT jailed for simply advocating spanking as discipline. He was jailed for instructing parents to beat children as young as two months old with wooden dowels.

If you leave that part out, you are either a liar and/or too stupid to know the difference between spanking and horrific abuse.

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Dakota, thanks for stopping by! I'll be sure to do likewise on your blog. :-)

Jodi, thanks for checking out my blog!

I don't know exactly what method of spanking that he was advocating or how he advocated it. Furthermore, he very well may have been encouraging child abuse, but that's really irrelevant to the point of this article! :-)

Anonymous said...

I think you, Gabriel, should be spanked for condoning child abuse. It sickens me, and I hope one day, you learn the truth about what you highly are recommending for our children. Very sick. I feel very sorry for you and any children you bear.

Kathleen said...

Anonymous, Gabriel clearly does know what he is advocating here. He says himself that he was spanked. So was I. While I had a hard time being grateful then, I am most certainly thankful now for those past spankings.

You know, sometimes, my parents gave us a choice. They let us choose between the spanking, or some other punishment that "fit the crime". We always chose the spanking. It was better to have the brief unpleasantness over and done with, and the relationship restored. So yes, I chose the spanking over missing the next trip to the beach. Had I been given that choice, I'd probably have also chosen spanking over washing my mouth out with soap for talking when "zipped"... but I don't recall that ever being an option. :)

We aren't clueless here. We're speaking as those who recognize the value of parental (and, in some cases, grandparental) discipline in our own lives.