Calvary Chapel Abuse explores two examples in Calvary Chapel Land as it relates to Child Abuse and Kids: One very bad example and one very good example.
Calvary Chapel can be the Wild West with little to no accountability from the Parent Calvary Chapel Association…and there is very little standardization with regards to best-practices protecting children along with proper teachings on legal non-abusive discipline.
The Calvary Chapel Association (formerly CCOF) does not mandate a set of standards in the official Calvary Chapel Affiliation Agreement…the agreement is required to be an “official” Calvary Chapel and be a part of the Calvary Chapel system of churches.
Nothing illustrates the divergence and inconsistency (and danger) more than the tale of these two Calvary Chapels: Calvary Chapel Jonesboro, Arkansas and Calvary Chapel Lebanon, Oregon.
Let’s first examine how bad the teaching and rhetoric in Calvary Chapel can be since there is zero standard outside of a pledge of loyalty to Chuck Smith’s brand and general views on End Times and biblical inerrancy.
In doing some research on both the good and the bad in Calvary Chapel regarding Child Protections, Child Abuse, etc…I came across one egregious example of dangerous teaching that clearly stood out above the rest…though this was essentially what was taught and believed and practiced by my step-dad Calvary Chapel Pastor and I am personally aware that this view is held by many a Calvary Chapel.
Pastor John Lawrence’s Calvary Chapel Jonesboro, Arkansas franchise teaches this on his website and his Calvary Chapel:
“The Biblical Case for Physical and Corporal Punishment – Proverbs 20:30
Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts. Proverbs 20:30
Physical punishment . . . here is a topic that brings out the most strident opposition in a lot of people. When it refers to children some call it child abuse – and when it comes to the punishment of those who break the law the phrase “cruel and unusual punishment” is used. So what exactly is God’s take on the idea of corporal punishment and some kind of physical response to disobedience and criminal activity?
There are two levels to understand this Proverb – that of the physical and the responsibility of parents and the state – and a purely spiritual level and how it relates to our growth in a relationship with the Lord. I’ll begin with what is being addressed most clearly here – which is the response of parents and governing officials to disobedience and crime.
Our justice system has turned away from the biblical view of crime and punishment. We try to rehabilitate criminals without thought that they need to acknowledge that they’ve stepped over a very serious line in their behavior. The results are not encouraging at all. We have overcrowded jails and prisons where repeat offenders abound. We’ve gotten to the point where we have more people interested in the rights of the criminals than in the rights of those they infringed upon with their godless behavior. Our prisons therefore have revolving doors on them – and with the present focus, there are few who are rehabilitated while incarcerated. Put our current record next to one of a modern state that practices physical punishment for a crime.
Several years ago a young American citizen was arrested from a crime in one of these states. He was convicted and sentenced to a caning. People in the United States, especially among liberals, went ballistic. Yet the facts should be viewed without all the hysteria. Their crime rates are much lower than ours. What they see currently and have seen in the past is that truly stripes and strokes do scour away evil in the heart. They do reach the innermost parts of a person. They are a very powerful deterrent to crime and disobedience.
The spiritual level is little different. God disciplines those He loves and, according to Hebrews 12, He scourges every son He accepts. How does God deal with His own children? He disciplines them with scourgings – stripes and strokes that scour away the evil of our hearts and make us think twice about being disobedient again. We are fallen beings and have a sad tendency to ignore God and His commandments and turn instead to what our flesh cries out for constantly. The way God deals with this is to bring us into discipline. Anyone who has ever experienced this discipline knows that it is stern but loving. There is no doubt that God loves us when He disciplines us – but He is dead serious about it too. He knows what is at stake – and is wanting to deter us from walking in rebellion and sin. These things will hurt us – and in some cases even destroy us – therefore He takes it very seriously a trip to the proverbial spiritual woodshed. But do not ever be mistaken . . . God does these things because He loves us. The same should be said for parents and for a society that crafts effective physical punsihments for those who break the law.
Physical punishment and corporal punishment may be unpopular with the liberal elements of our society – but in all honesty, they are wrong. Yes there need to be limits put in place – there needs to be a humane way to practice the death penalty – and there should be wisdom in a parents administration of discipline. Yet there also should be a full acknowledgement that the sinful nature of man will not respond to a call to reform alone. It is in the best interests of a family – and indeed a society to practice physical and corporal punishment. How do we know? The Word of God informs us.”–Calvary Chapel Jonesboro, Arkansas
In another article, this Calvary Chapel defines what the “Rod” to beat your child with may look like, according to the Old Testament:
“What is the “Rod” and Why Should We Use it? – Proverbs 29:15
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15
I find it an interesting thing to listen to the “child-rearing” experts argue in our day. I include in this those who speak for and against the idea of spanking or corporal punishment for a child. This proverb answers both groups with wisdom. Let me address both groups with what is taught in this passage.
First, let me address those who say that any kind of spanking is wrong. Some even assert that this is child abuse. This runs up against the Scriptures which here teach us that we are to use the rod and reproof with a child to train them up in the way that they should go. Note it says the rod and reproof. The reason I draw your attention to this is because is lists both. There are some who assert that the “rod” is meant to be the rod of one’s mouth – or – their words. That doesn’t work for two reasons. First of all the rod of our mouth is as least a stretch for how the Scriptures address this instrument that is used for the purpose of punishment and instruction.
This rod was usually either a stalk of bamboo that was cut into a two to three foot long rod. There were also small limbs of trees (usually of a flexible type) that were stripped of all other branches and used for the purpose of administering discipline. The other problem is that there are other passages in Proverbs that speak of striking the child with the rod. It is foreign to the Scriptures to have a child-rearing discipline that is without the use of corporal punishment.
It was used to administer a controlled amount of pain to be associated with disobedience to deter a child from continuing in a type of behavior. It was not ever meant to be abusive or excessive – it was meant to be instrtuctive. This is where many who “spank” need to be addressed by this passage as well.
Unfortunately there are some who represent “spanking’ as the administering of rod – and that alone. I’ve heard some adults say things like this, “My parents beat me – and that was good enough for me.” This gives the impression that all that is done is spanking. That is foreign to the Bible too. Note that the passage says the rod and reproof are used. This means that not only is corporal punishment used – but instruction as well. The child is taught that certain behaviors are not appropriate. They are wrong – and as such are foolish. If we spank “only” and do not take the time to instruct our children – they will grow up wanting to avoid “bad behavior” because of an aversion to the pain it may cause – but they do not understand anything except to avoid the pain. There is a higher purpose behind good parenting under God.
The important thing to note here is that the rod and reproof give wisdom. The purpose here is for a child to learn to be wise. Too often any form of parental discipline is done because children are annoying and interrupting a parent. That is NOT good child-rearing! We want to teach our children to be wise as they learn to view all things from God’s perspective (the basic definition of wisdom). They are “spanked’ to help turn them from foolish, sinful, wicked behavior. But as they are disciplined – they are pointed to God’s way, which is infinitely superior. And even as discipline is applied they need to be taught the gospel. Oh that we would not miss this vital thing in discipling our chidlren.
All things point to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we rear them to be good kids – we must not see this as the end because we can NEVER make them good enough to stand before God. That is why as we are instructing them to obey our commandments, we must teach them that God’s commandments and Law are infinitely higher and MUST be obeyed. We must instruct them that their disobedience to us is proof that they are sinful and fallen. This helps them to see that their sinfulness is ultimately against God, Whom they have chosen to disobey. Disobedience to us must be punished, but there is a much higher punishment for disobedience to God’s Law. Even in discipline we show them mercy, love, and grace – so that they can see that even greater is God’s mercy, love and grace shown in the gospel. Then let them know the most important truth. Tell them that there is One Who came to pay the ultimate price of their disobedience before God. That One is Jesus Christ Who died on the cross to pay the price of their rebellion and make them right with God. Oh, dear parents – even in discipline we need to point to the gospel!
Tomorrow, I’ll finish commenting on this particular proverb. The reason for this is that I do not want to casually glance over the shot fired across the bow of motherhood here. God is not beating up on mothers with what He says. Much to the contrary – He is speaking of their importance. More on that tomorrow. It is my hope that what today’s proverb has taught you is the importance of fighting the right battle when it comes to corporal punishment of children. Some want to make it all about spanking or not spanking. God does not place the importance of what He is saying here about such things. He is seeking to have godly parents focus on teaching and training their children to be wise. He wants the foolishness of a fallen child to be countered – first by the discipline of parents – and then ultimately by the gospel.”
These teachings encourage folks in this Calvary Chapel to violate State and Federal Laws. “Caning” is not to be admired and is an extremely violent act on adults…imagine it being done to children…yet this Calvary Chapel pastor admires it and promotes it as something to be emulated.
This is not to be admired, especially in the context of teaching your Calvary Chapel congregation how to discipline their children. Invoking and admiring the “caning” that other barbaric Islamic fundamentalist cultures do is irresponsible and dangerous when you are addressing the issue of proper and Jesus-like child discipline.
Link to more teachings from Calvary Chapel Jonesboro on how to beat your kids that they say the bible teaches you to do from the Old Testament: http://www.calvarychapeljonesboro.org/3/category/corporal%20punishment/1.html
Clergy are mandatory reporters, so are those who work with children in a Sunday School environment. If you see this teaching lead to child abuse, you are required to report it to authorities in Arkansas immediately. We will be informing Arkansas officials of this particular Calvary Chapel’s teachings as well as the Calvary Chapel Association, Brian Brodersen of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the “Deep South Oversight Team” Leader, Pastor Sandy Adams (according to the CalvaryChapelAssociation.com website here: http://calvarychapelassociation.com/regions-original/ccadeepsouthregion/
This teaching leads to child abuse and gives child abusers scriptural support to abuse their children…in the name of Jesus of course.
This Old Testament mindset is dangerous. The Taliban and Islamic Fundamentalists of today very much model a similar attitude to both women and children. There’s another part of the bible…and it’s just to the right of the Old Testament teachings that tell you to execute women and children with stones and to beat your children with rods and leave stripes and scours…it’s called the New Testament. I suggest you live in that side of the bible, as you should end up in jail if you act out this bad pastor’s teaching on child discipline.
To Calvary Chapel Jonesboro’s assertion that “caning” and physical violence toward children will somehow cure the ills of American society and reduce America’s prison population: The data and statistics and evidence proves that violence breeds more violence. Beating your kids into submission can damage them psychologically as well.
Here are the facts according to government data, including the U.S. Department of Justice statistics:
About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.
In at least one study, about 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
14% of all men in prison and 36% of women in prison in the USA were abused as children, about twice the frequency seen in the general population.
Children who experience child abuse & neglect are about 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.
Beating your children with rods is barbaric and teaches violence. It does not do what Calvary Chapel Jonesboro promises to do and it is no more “Godly” than stoning your unruly children to death as prescribed by the Old Testament here:
Deuteronomy 21:18 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
Parents, don’t beat your kids with rods leaving stripes and scours (wounds) which are against the law and often don’t foster a spirit of love and grace that the Jesus of the New Testament taught us: “I give you a new law…love your enemies…as your father in heaven is perfect”–Jesus Christ.
The days of the Old Testament Law and barbarism are not for today. You don’t keep the Torah. You don’t have multiple wives, concubines and slaves. Beating your kids with rods is not “good” and it’s not going to force them to be a good Christian*. What it will do is hurt them, sometimes irreparably…physically, emotionally and spiritually…and it might land you in jail (and should if you get caught or someone around you has the guts to report you).
I am a living example of the scars of child abuse. So are my brothers. I raise my kids through Grace-based parenting…much like I imagine the good Jesus of the Gospels deals with you and me. “Forgive 70 times 7″…”Love your Neighbor”…”Servant of All”…”Do not provoke your children to wrath”…Jesus models the loving father and Paul the Apostle forbids provoking your children. From personal experience, discipling your children without violence bears much better fruit…it builds trust and builds relationship without beating down the precious will of the child and confusing them at a vulnerable and formative stage in their life.
There is no magic parenting pill that guarantees your kids will turn out perfect. Kids are human beings with individual wills and souls and it is not our job to play God with them and force them into our particular “perfect” behavior or attitude or belief etc. As a parent our jobs are to provide for our kids, to protect our kids and to love our kids. Discipline is necessary for the good of the child, but violence is not the answer.
You can’t beat Jesus into your kids…but you can sure beat Jesus out of them.
Kids out there, if you happen to read this and you’re being abuse…I will help you. You aren’t alone. It may seem hopeless to you. You may feel confused because you think that the beatings you receive are your fault and that God is telling your parents to hurt you for Jesus. It’s not true. What your parents are doing isn’t right. Your parents are wrong. If they are telling you that if you tell someone you’ll be taken away and put in foster homes etc, there is some truth to that, but many times there are other family members or other better non-violent Christian* families who will step in and help. In fact, another adult confronting your parents may stop the abuse without you having to leave your family unit once your parents are properly dealt with and monitored and learn to parent differently.
If you need help, email me at agrenier7 at gmail dot com. I know what it’s like, I’m here to help you.
On the other end of the spectrum, Calvary Chapel Lebanon, Oregon gives us a great example of solid Child Protection Policies that promote a responsible and safe child ministry environment. These are some of the best “best practices” and official policy that we’ve seen in the Calvary Chapel system of churches.
Not only is the Policy thorough and responsible, it is also available publicly on their website which is a great deterrent for child predators and child abusers who are seeking a church community to exploit.
It’s like a big warning sign that reads, “Child Abuse is not tolerated here and Child Abusers may be forgiven of their sins by Jesus, but they aren’t allowed to work with our kids.”
Calvary Chapel Lebanon’s policy is very thorough. It screens all those who will work with kids at their Calvary Chapel in any capacity and screenings are for both paid staff and volunteers.
Background checks are done on all workers and if a worker doesn’t submit to the process, they are disqualified from working with kids.
From the Child Protection Policy:
What constitutes a disqualifying offense that will keep an individual from working with children will be determined by Lebanon Calvary Chapel on a case-by-case basis in light of all the surrounding circumstances. Generally, convictions for an offense involving children and/or for offenses involving violence, dishonesty, illegal substances, indecency and any conduct contrary to our mission will preclude someone from being permitted to work with children. Failure to disclose a criminal conviction on the application form will also be a disqualifying event. The background check authorization form and results will be maintained in confidence on file at the Lebanon Calvary Chapel Office.
In addition to these responsible measures is a “Two Adult” rule that provides for more accountability so one adult doesn’t have access to kids alone.
The policy also defines Child Abuse properly and requires Mandatory Reporting of the following:
For purposes of this policy, “child abuse” is any action (or lack of action) which endangers or harms a child’s physical, psychological or emotional health and development. Child abuse occurs in different ways and includes the following:
Physical abuse – any physical injury to a child which is not accidental, such as beating, shaking, burns, and biting.
Emotional abuse – emotional injury when the child is not nurtured or provided with love and security, such as an environment of constant criticism, belittling and persistent teasing.
Sexual abuse – any sexual activity between a child and an adult or between a child and another child at least four years older than the victim, including activities such as fondling, exhibitionism, intercourse, incest, and pornography.
Neglect – depriving a child of their essential needs, such as adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care.
Having been abused as a child, I am aware of the harmful effects that things like physical injury from beatings, emotional abuse and exhibitionism can cause. Calvary Chapel Lebanon does a great job defining what is “abuse” and articulating that it will be looked for and dealt with properly at their Calvary Chapel. This is the way Child Abuse should be defined in the Calvary Chapel system of churches and this Child Protection Policy should be the Norm and not the Exception.
Pastor Tom Sanderbrink, well done sir. Calvary Chapel Lebanon family, well done.
Link to the Calvary Chapel Lebanon, Oregon Child Protection Policy here: http://lebanoncalvarychapel.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Lebanon-Calvary-Chapel-Child-Proctection-Policy.pdf
Calvary Chapel Association, you have a Problem. You need to deal with the Calvary Chapels like Jonesboro, Arkansas and you need to require Child Protection Policies similar to that of Calvary Chapel Lebanon, Oregon as a condition in the Affiliation Agreement to become an “official” Calvary Chapel.
Sandy Adam, “Oversight Leader” of the Deep South for Calvary Chapel, you have some work to do with regards to Jonesboro. We’ll be monitoring your progress closely and we expect to see some changes soon.