Recently New Zealand got a new anti-smacking bill (an amendment to section 59 of the Crimes Act). Even before this bill, it was illegal to be violent against a child. But using reasonable force to correct a child was not an offense. Some people felt that this provision was being misused, hence the new bill.
With the new bill, police are expected to make a distinction between the offense of smacking as a correctional tool by good parents on the one hand, and the offense of violent acts by irresponsible parents on the other. After making that distinction, they are asked to ignore the former offense. Prosecuted or not, smacking a child for correction is an offense according to the law of the land. How tragic is that!
Smacking, like a knife, is a tool. It can cause devious harm in the hands of the wrong person.
Knives can be used to cut a capsicum or chop a tomato; they can also be used to stab someone. We prefer to teach people to use knives responsibly rather than ban them. Irresponsible and violent parents must be brought to book. This law will not serve that purpose; instead it will harm some of the best families in NZ. Eventually our society will pay the price.
My children, all three of them, have all been smacked at some time or the other. It hurt their father and me to smack them more than it hurt them. I have watched some Supper Nanny episodes and have always felt that the ‘naughty spot’ tool was a bit of a hassle. I was able to achieve the same result with a tight little smack in the calf. The lesson was learned quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
What does the Bible have to say on this subject? You know, how I tremble to think that these are the words of the Most High God.
My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor detest His correction;
For whom the LORD loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
(Prov 3:11, 12)
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 bestour 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.
Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of correction will drive it far from him.
The rod and rebuke give wisdom,
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. . .
Correct your son, and he will give you rest;
Yes, he will give delight to your soul.
(Prov 29: 15, 17)
Do not withhold correction from a child,
For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
You shall beat him with a rod,
And deliver his soul from hell.
(Prov 23: 13,14)
Blows that hurt cleanse away evil,
As do stripes the inner depths of the heart.
But not all professing Christians agree on the subject of corporal punishment.
In this quote from NZ Herald dated Wednesday May 02, 2007, note the two views of Anglican Archbishop David Moxon and Destiny Church’s Bishop Brian Tamaki. The quote also includes the reaction of Sue Bradford, MP and brain behind this bill.
Anglican Archbishop David Moxon said . . .
“Reading of the Bible must always be done through the lens of Christ’s teaching and life. It is inappropriate to take texts such as Proverbs 13:24 [“Spare the rod and spoil the child”] out of their ancient cultural context and out of the broader context of scripture, so as to justify modes of behaviour in a modern situation very different from that for which they were given.
“This isn’t about going into people’s houses and telling people off for smacking. It is about removing a loophole of using reasonable force as a defence in court. It’s not an invasion of privacy, it’s a way of keeping children safe.”
Destiny’s Bishop Tamaki . . . said the bill contradicted the God-given responsibility for parents to raise their children according to biblical principle, and that included administering “loving, proper corrective discipline in appropriate circumstances”.
Ms Sue Bradford said from the first day she began speaking publicly on the bill she was aware of the religious aspect of the debate.
“It is as much a theological debate as it is a political, a social, a cultural, a psychological one,” she said.
“I’m thrilled with the statement from the Anglican bishops, and the church leader’s statement. Many Christian leaders from a wide range of churches have come out in support of the bill.
“I think it’s fantastic.”
I think, collectively, Christians, who should have been like salt to preserve the moral stature of this land have let New Zealand down.