Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Still legal to be a practicing Christian parent in CT -- for now

The First Amendment still evidently carries some weight, even in Connecticut.

We read that the State Appellate Court has ruled that parents may spank, to some degree and under some circumstances.

That must come as a real relief to practicing Christian parents in Connecticut, who have read in the Bible that corporal punishment is one occasionally-necessary expression of parental love (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15). The Christian, always "ahead of the curve," is more impressed by the eternal wisdom of God than the most recent breathless finding of the latest self-appointed child expert.

Having said all that, I do have sympathy for the court and for anyone dealing with such issues. It is a nightmarish minefield. On the one hand, surely every Christian soul is horrified at the reality of actual child abuse. On the other hand, surely every Christian soul is horrified at the reality of actual governmental abuse of Christian families for practicing their faith. I've read appalling stories of children mistreated by monstrous parents; I've read appalling stories of families shattered by monstrous statist mini-tyrants.

I don't pretend to know the ultimate and flawless solution. It is far easier to criticize abuses (on both sides) than to propose solutions. Genuine child abuse cannot be tolerated. Genuine statist interference with Christians practicing Biblical faith cannot be tolerated.

Ideally, all parents would be practicing Christians, so it wouldn't happen. Less ideally, but more realistically, they would all be in healthy communities (churches, etc.) that could spot signs of trouble, and personally become involved before bringing in the state. (I do not have in mind the neighbor who reports homeschooled children because they're not at the government indoctrination center along with the other statelings-in-training.)

Meanwhile, we just have to grope our way, striving for that essential balance between the safety of children and the rights of parents. If it is in the best interests of children that they be protected from harm — and it is — it is no less in their interests that they be raised by parents free to practice Biblical child training, and not raised by the State.

We must find ways to put the safety of children at the top of our concerns, all the while remembering that the State is not God, and that the First Amendment still does guarantee free expression of religion without government interference.

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