What gives wisdom? Proverbs 29:15 says, the rod and reproof do -- reproof, yes, but also the rod. The rod. Say it. The rod. The rod is an indispensable requirement for parenting. I'm not saying that people couldn't still turn out fine, but in most cases and most likely not. The rod is disappearing today in our culture. It's easy to see, just like the Bible being removed from the public school. In most cases evangelicals are cooperating with the elimination of the rod, taking it out of the toolbox. Reproof isn't popular either.
Spanking is still allowed for parents in the state of California, but it was outlawed in the public school starting in 1986. In 2007, the state attempted to outlaw spanking for all parents, but the bill was stopped in the state legislature, in a major way because of the influence of our church. That was ten years ago. We still can spank in this state and God used our church to save it for parents. That's about 40 million people who still have this freedom, and most don't even know how they almost lost it. I want to start to tell the story and then talk about the overall issue.
Today there are visible attacks on religious freedom in the United States. This administration may be providing some push back for Christians, who believe and practice the Bible, and others who borrow from the Christian worldview on child discipline. You see it with the Hobby Lobby case, the transgender bathroom issue, and the cake baking and flower arrangement cases. If Hillary had won, things would be worse. Her village would have intervened in your home life. One of the prominent attacks on biblical obedience by the United States government today is in the area of child discipline, specifically in the attack on spanking.
Since Proverbs says that the rod and reproof give wisdom, the world, the flesh, and the devil oppose both the rod and reproof, but especially the rod. Many times parents won't spank their children in a biblical way, but it is possible that the day is near that they can't. Today the practice is chilled by various child protective services. Child protective services does some good work. They do. The good work they do is outweighed, as I see it, by the bad they do in trying to find abuse that isn't there, but what is actually just good parenting by parents who still follow the Bible. They find actual child abuse, but they harm biblical parenting and over all more children are endangered. Everyone reading this knows that if you spank a child and leave a mark, and you have a doctor visit scheduled soon thereafter, you could get in trouble. This is never ending at this point in American history. I believe this is a major contributor to end time apostasy as we see it here in this country.
A legislator in California, a single woman with a pet cat, and sort of social justice warrior, wanted to do away with spanking, which in the bill she wrote, was taking away the use of an implement. Parents would be outlawed from using a switch, a fairly thin tree branch that is part of our national heritage. Everyone understands a child being taken behind the woodshed and dad using the switch he pulled off the tree for a time of correction.
You can read the stories on the internet if you google "spanking," "Bethel," and "California." I actually read a story I had not seen, written in a publication in South San Francisco in 2014, that said that our school was the last one in the entire state to use corporal punishment. What does that say about this state? I know parents are afraid to send their kids to the public school, because they are afraid for their safety. Teachers cannot keep control of their classrooms. Meanwhile at our school, children are happy, growing, thriving in quiet classrooms, learning, because there is a threat to go to the office for swats. We rarely give them, but that tool is still in our toolbox. Others have eliminated it because of the liability or the hassle or the perception, like they are ashamed of what the Bible teaches on this. Why should anyone believe anything in the Bible if we don't like everything in it?
Have you ever seen the crazed people who oppose spanking? Almost ten years ago, I saw a very strange, weirdo looking character standing in our parking lot, looking at our children while they were playing. He was a man with long black hair to his waist. He just stood their watching. I noticed it and ignored it, then I looked later, and there he was still. I walked out to talk to him, and he told me he was standing there, because he was trying to figure out how he could close our school down. I spent the next two hours talking to him in the hot sun, burning the top of my head. He didn't do anything, because I think I somewhat persuaded him that we were helping children.
How the battle started for us was the following, and I'll end with this part of it. One of the parents in our school sent their foster child to the school, and they were spanking him. You can't spank foster kids, maybe anywhere in the country. The child complained to the foster child leadership, they sent it to child protective services (CPS), and the interview of the child had to be at his school. We were his school. CPS came to our property and interviewed him in the office. They had an obvious bias right away against us, because this child had been spanked. The family didn't get in trouble, because spanking was still legal. They just couldn't keep the child any longer, and the child, I know, because he's been in touch since, went to really bad situations, that were actually abusive. However, they were abuses the state tolerated, because they were politically correct. What I'm saying is that they didn't actually protect the child. They hurt him.
When CPS visited us, they noticed a tract our other pastor had written on corporal punishment on spanking, essentially exegesis of scripture meant to help parents. The CPS people took that tract and they sent it to the newspaper, and because of this law that was in the state legislature, it went to front page, top fold news. CPS was trying to hurt us and getting glee out of it. We had several articles written about us. The major television in the Bay Area here came out to do news stories and interviewing people.
CPS and the news really, really wanted to find a bunch of kooks to show how horrible spanking was. It didn't work. Our people were very reasonable. There were no skeletons in our closet. We looked like decent, caring, loving people. The children looked great, and it really did backfire. The woman legislator with the cat is the one who came off looking weird. The media was interpreted as overweening before there was fake news. Parents were not going to deny what was plainly in their face. This is a witch hunt. The only repercussions were that we lost a few parents, who were just afraid of the state, and it affected our enrollment from a few. Overall, it's been a plus for us. We don't want a big school and so it helps screen out people very nicely.
Meanwhile, the bill was going through the state legislature, and I'll talk about that next time.