Why punishment?

A spiritual look at issues of interest to young people

Do you think kids should be spanked? Put in a time-out chair? Given detention? How about expelled from school? Wow, I can hear a whole bunch of arguments out there for and against those kinds of punishment!

But wait a minute! Maybe I'm asking the wrong question. Maybe the best place to start is to ask this: If a kid does something wrong, does she or he actually need to be brought to a halt for his or her own good? Or for the good of another kid?

I got caught cheating in school once. I thought the teacher was really not very good, and that she was making us work harder than we should have to. None of us could keep up with the pace she'd set for us, and we were all flunking the class. So I thought up a plan on how to cheat and get a passing grade.

It worked. I did so well at cheating that I was getting A's!

When we had an important test at the end of the semester, I shared my cheat sheet with other kids in the class. Well, that worked a little too well. Everybody got a good grade. And the teacher got suspicious. And then one of my friends told on me.

Boy, was I scared! At first I tried to lie my way out of it. But it was no use. My punishment? Just being caught and having to face the teacher and my parents was punishment big time! Plus, I flunked the course. Plus, I missed out on learning the stuff in the class, which I now know could have been a big help to me.

But when I think about that terrible experience now, I only feel glad. Glad that Somebody (God, who was/is my Mother, Father, Teacher, and Friend) loved me enough to stop me from doing something wrong. And especially from doing anything to encourage other kids to do wrong.

I learned that doing something you know is bad means only trouble. It can never bring anything good into your life. Let me tell you, I never cheated again!

Later on, I learned more about what God is: good. And who I really am: the child of God. God is also Truth, so cheating, lying, and dishonesty don't come from God. And God is also Love, so meanness doesn't come from God. God never does anything wrong. Because this is the way God is, it's the way God made you and me.

The Bible is pretty clear that God is good and Truth and Love. Have you ever thought of God as your Mother and your Father, your Teacher and your Friend? A God who cares about you more than anyone else in the whole world cares about you?

No matter what you do, God only knows what's good about you. He hangs right in there with you, keeping you close, really focusing on what you need. And sometimes one of the things people need is to be corrected. As I found out, the God who is Truth loved me too much to let me keep moving in the wrong direction, where I could get hurt or lost or miserable. God wants good for us. And we can only feel good in our life by acting out good in our life.

Mary Baker Eddy wrote a book that tells a lot about God being Love - "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." It says this: "Through the wholesome chastisements of Love, we are helped onward in the march towards righteousness, peace, and purity ..." (pg. 323). ("Chastisements" is a gentler way of saying "punishments"!)

What if you forget who you really are, and you do or think or say something that's not good? What if you face some kind of punishment for it? It can seem really tough at the time. But you can only be helped, and never be hurt by it. Because it's really not that people are hurting you. It's that Love is actually keeping you happy, honest - even perfect. The way She made you.

My son, despise not the

chastening of the Lord; neither

be weary of his correction: for whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father

the son in whom he delighteth. Happy is the man that

findeth wisdom, and

the man that getteth understanding.

Proverbs 3:11-13

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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