Our Sunday School on child training has been a very rewarding experience. We are reaching the end of the series. The last 4 sections have dealt with the 4 parts of teaching which are 1) setting standards, 2) rebuke for breaking known standards, 3) confession and forgiveness, 4) which sets the stage for the proper punishment to be applied for the breaking of the standard. This Sunday morning we were talking about the proper punishment for the broken standard. Just a footnote * chastisement or the use of the rod is reserved for rebellion. Chastisement is different from a just punishment.
One caution was given during the comments about needing to be careful when dealing with broken standards. A college youth had molested a relative and afterwards committed suicide. The thought was that the punishment was too harsh. But, as we talked about the incident the realization came that the problem was not that the punishment was too harsh but just the opposite. The steps of teaching are designed to cleanse a person from guilt. This young man should have been reported to the police. Instead the action was covered up. I doubt if the proper steps of rebuke, true forgiveness and a just punishment were applied. Since there was a cover-up there was no place for confession or forgiveness. Because there was a cover-up there was no just punishment applied to help cleanse the young man from his guilt. His guilt could not be assuaged through forgiveness and punishment thus the guilt along with help from demonic forces combined to drive the young man to suicide.
That afternoon brought another teaching moment to our church service. We have a standard of giving a testimony before singing a special song. Recently we had a service where two groups of young men spent minutes preparing for their song without any of them giving testimonies. I didn’t say anything as I watched this unfold. Since that time I have communicated to all of the musicians and singers that they must give a testimony without a song before they are allowed to come and give a song. One of our young men is Mishack. He is an orphan that has found a ministry for himself in singing. He let me know he wanted to testify. After his testimony he wanted to sing and I had to reiterate that he would have to wait until next time before he could sing with a proper testimony. He challenged this and finally sat down sulking. Most of the adult saints recognized this action for what it was. I announced that if you were my son I would have to spank you. After church I rebuked him for breaking the known standard, he apologized and I forgave him and then we set the punishment that he would have to testify again without music with a proper attitude.
This morning I had to try and substantiate some rumors about one of our young men. The young man admitted that the rumors were true. He had impregnated a girl and three months ago the girl aborted the baby at the insistence of her mother. He received the rebuke and apologized for his actions, I forgave him and then we talked about just punishment. Because this young man could not control himself in a godly manner, this girl went through the emotional trauma of an unwanted pregnancy followed by pressure from the family to undergo an abortion by drinking local herbs to induce the abortion. Knowing that the effects of this man’s actions will follow this girl for the rest of her life I need to decide what a fair and just punishment for the young man would be. Explaining the gravity of the effect of his actions and offering my forgiveness and leading him in a prayer of repentance began the healing process for him, but I am still left with the decision of just punishment. For some reason in the light of our Sunday school just having him stay out of church for a given amount of time seems to not come anywhere close to being a punishment that makes up for the damage he has done.