“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.