Sunday, May 15, 2011

Restitution and a bank robbery

On the way to the store to buy bubble gum to make restitution for what had been stolen and eaten, Son Y was not satisfied that justice was being done.

"You're punishing me for something I didn't know was wrong," he said strongly.

Now I knew that he knew stealing was wrong, so I suggested, "What you mean is you didn't know you would have to make restitution if you stole the bubble gum, right?"

"Right! I shouldn't be punished twice for the same thing," he said with a frown.

Now, of course, I agree someone shouldn't be punished twice for their wrong. And, I'm also very sensitive to the biblical concern for justice. If there is anything Proverbs harps on besides wisdom, it's justice, righteousness, and equity (Prov. 1:3; 2:8-9; 8:15, 20; 11:1; 12:5; 16:11; 17:15, 23; 19:28; 20:8; 21:3, 7, 15; 28:5; 29:4, 26). Particularly, in authorities (Prov. 8:15; 20:8; 29:4).

How to help Son Y realize that I'm not double punishing him, and it is just for him to make restitution? ...

So I said: Son, that's like a man who robbed a bank telling the judge: "You can't sentence me to 5 years in prison!" When the judge asks why not, the man says, "I didn't know that robbing a bank carried a five year prison sentence. I thought I just had to give the money back."

To which the judge questioned: "Did you know it was wrong to rob the bank?" "Yes, I knew that." "Well, then, since you chose to do wrong, you have to suffer the consequences whether you knew what they were or not."

Son, since you knew it was wrong to steal, you have to take all the consequences of stealing, which includes restitution.

... silence ...

That must have made sense to him, since he doesn't give up his case easily. That was my best, on-the-fly shot at helping him understand that some sins have extended consequences.

Any ways you've helped your kids understand the justice of restitution?

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