I will admit up front that I know nothing about Aleitheia Bible Church or Pastor Philip Caminiti. I had never even heard of them before reading that Caminiti was sentenced to two years in prison for teaching that spanking is biblical.
Yes, this happened in America. Madison, Wisconsin, to be exact.
Again, I will confess to being ignorant of all the facts in the case. Is it possible that there were instances in which parental discipline may have gone too far? Yes, I suppose it is. But keep in mind that the imprisoned pastor was never charged with abusing a child. His "crime" was instructing parents in his congregation to spank their children.
As far as I can tell, no crime was ever committed. Wisconsin law states: "Reasonable discipline may involve only such force as a reasonable person believes is necessary. It is never reasonable discipline to use force which is intended to cause great bodily harm or death or creates an unreasonable risk of great bodily harm or death." I guess it all depends on what a particular court deems "reasonable."
I was reminded of something my own pastor, John Piper, once said about spanking: "I just think spanking is really healthy for children. It is a measured deliverance of a non-damaging act of mild pain that makes the child feel the seriousness of what he's done. It is not beating. It is not abuse. There is a clear difference. The very word "spank" exists because there is such a thing as a loving way to whop a child on his behind or his chunky thigh."
Spanking is "really healthy for children"? There are many people out there who would have a difficult time trying to wrap their minds around that concept. "He's saying parents should hit their children! How barbaric!" Nonsense.
We are designed in such a way that pain actually serves to protect our bodies. The pain a child feels when touching a hot stove keeps his hand from becoming badly burned. Likewise, a quick swat on the bottom can help a disobedient child avoid even worse consequences associated with sinful behavior.
This is a very important issue, and what has happened in Wisconsin should concern Christians everywhere. What many fathers and mothers consider to be a normal, biblical part of parenting could be reason enough for the state to tear them away from their children and throw them into prison.
But, then again, this is a nation that has little use for scriptural truth. What else would we expect?