What is wrong with punishment? It teaches people to cover up (conceal) their mistakes.
What is right about punishment? Unrestrained they will do it again.
When to punish and when not too? Punishment is for those who refuse to do the right thing. Punishment should be used to teach them to own up to their mistakes and in this way it is no longer punishment but simply consequence.
If a child makes a mistake and we simply punish the kid, we have more than likely taught them that they need to try harder to not get caught.
But if caught we confront them, we tell them that we do not wish to punish them and if they come clean and make amends then we will not punish them. This is mercy and teaches them to come to us with their mistakes BEFORE they are discovered.
Consequences cannot be avoided and can be mistaken for punishment.
For instance making amends can seem like punishment because it may be humiliating to them but it actually will teach them humility!
If my son steals and I did not know I say “son did you steal that? If you tell me the truth I will not punish you but you will need to go and confess to the victim and offer to pay them back” In this way he may want to avoid being exposed and confession be he TOO wants to avoid punishment. But if I punish him and force him to make amends he has no desire to ever come clean.
If he does not do the right thing what would I do?
I would tell him he is grounded until he does the right thing. Of course I need to be sure that he did do it! So he can be in his room one minute or for weeks (unlimited) until he does the right thing. Maybe not the next time, but eventually he will come clean sooner knowing that it is in his best interest and that his father has nothing but mercy to offer. And then eventually he will NEVER steal again!!!
If he does steal, one time he will come to confess it to me and ask me to help him fix it, because he knows that nothing but mercy is given by his father.
So in this way sending him to his room is not a punishment but a consequence for not choosing to do the right thing. And coming clean too is not a punishment, but a consequence that teaches him an opposite action in order to create and opposite character/habit.
In this way – the way of mercy – we NEVER punish, but this does not mean we are enablers. We do provide accountability and this way is TRUE reform!
Hitting people to teach them not to hit – is just a silly contradiction.
Lets say a man in our church community committed murder. His coming clean will cause him to receive punishment from the state – will it not? In fact we cannot send him to his room but we are not to eat with him. So too it is our civic duty (so that we are not complicit) to tell him that if he does not come clean to the state we will need to inform the state. This is the moment where loving your brother as yourself is the moment you might give your life for your brother for now he as the option that if he kills you he wont be found out. And of this type of love there is NO greater!!!
I know of a case where a man came clean to a judge – he had assaulted (accidentally) a police officer. This judge thought it strange that he would not plead innocent because the way the “game” is played if you plead guilty you get the greatest sentence but if you plead innocent you can plead out to lesser punishment in order to avoid costly court fees and time. In this way the state is evil, it encourages you to deny and lie. A man in the community stood up and asked to speak with the judge. After hearing the community man tell how this man has changed his life, the judge ruled him forgiven!
If we give ourselves to the mercy of God and don’t play their game, God intervenes and if we serve time for something we didn’t do this too God allowed!!!
We were bought with a price and our lives are no longer our own!
Give mercy but don’t throw accountability out the window. As my mother use to say “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” Unfortunately for her – these words did not have meaning for her actions did not back them up.
Perhaps you still don’t see a difference between consequence and punishment. Did you know that a traffic ticket is NOT a punishment. Think about it if you get in an accident and you are injured is that a punishment or a consequence? It is a consequence and the state as a parent is giving you an alternative consequence to injury in an attempt to avoid the pain of an injurious consequence that could be even as bad as death.