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Gods Mandate to Parents

Mike Connell

New Zealand has an appalling record in the area of abuse of children. In terms of the United Nations hit list, we're near the bottom for the area of welfare and safety of children. In other words, there's more risk to people or children in New Zealand, of abuse and violence, than there is in many nations of the world. That is appalling - yet we say we're a free nation, great nation, beautiful nation to come, and yet you read the stories of children being beaten, being abused and being violently put to death, the most horrendous stories. This does not happen all over the world, and so from the United Nations list, of western countries particularly, we are well down in terms of care of children. It's an embarrassment to the nation, and an indication of the decline of the nation. It's inevitable, in that environment, people want to bring laws to try and regulate it.

Of course as we're well aware, you can't change what people are doing by passing another law, and as we'll see the proposal that's there at the moment is to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act, and it says something like this: Every person in the place of a parent of a child, is justified in using force by way of correction towards that child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances. That's the provision at the moment. What they're planning to do is remove that, and one of the reasons for removing it is of course the bigger picture of the abuse right through the nation, and of course many parents have actually abused their children and then hidden behind that law, and have got off actually being held to account for their abusive behaviour.

So the government's response, or kneejerk response, or philosophical response, basically they want to change the law. They want to remove now that provision for a parent. Let's read it again. Every person in place of a parent of a child - the parents - are justified in using force, by way of correction, towards the child. In other words it's saying: you can use physical force to correct a child, provided the force is reasonable. Now what they're doing is taking all that away, and of course there's going to be a lot of dilemmas. The proposals won't change this, but what they will do will mean that good parents will then be turned into criminals by the use of force against their children in any kind of way. This has huge implications, and I have looked up some of the articles that have been written about it.

The proposed change won't save the problem. What it'll mean is that, if you as a parent want to spank your child, any neighbour who notices, any teacher who notices or hears about it, your child reports it to anyone, the police will be required to investigate, and the result of that is, they will be required by law to act if a complaint is made. Now you can understand the tremendous distrust this will produce in our society. It's very, very bad, and the law won't stop those who are doing this from doing this. All the law will do is make criminals out of the ones who are acting responsibly, and this is where a huge issue is. Now of course it will place the child in the same position as an adult, and this is the bit I want you to understand. I don't want us to be jumping up and down about government passing laws. This is relatively ineffective.

I want you to understand how God wants us to respond in the midst of a situation like this. Otherwise you'll be the smacking group, the non-smacking group, everyone will argue, come up with their experts and whatever, and they do all this kind of arguing. We do a survey. No one wants the law changed. The government changes the law. We know how it goes, and we've seen it already a number of times, that the government actually has it's own philosophy. They have their philosophical base, their own philosophy. They have a belief system upon which they make laws. Now this is the bit that I want to get you to, is I want you to understand why it is a Christian believes certain things, and what the issues are for a Christian, because you'll jump up and down about someone taking away your rights, when God is more interested in you accepting your responsibilities. So what people will tend to do is jump up and down about invasion of their home and their rights by the government, and the rights to do this; they get all angry about my rights being taken away, but what they won't do - and this is the thing we need to do - is look at what our responsibilities are, and be sure that we fulfil our responsibilities, rather than just jump up and down about the rights.