Welcome to OneLife Ministries. This site is designed to lead you prayerfully into a heart experience of Divine Presence, Who is Love. I hope persons of varied wisdom paths will find inspiration here.
Brian Kenneth Wilcox
MDiv, MFT, PhD
Interspiritual Teacher, Author
You are invited to join Brian at his fellowship group on Facebook – Inspirations for Living – Love, Joy, Peace.
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Enter this sanctuary time by settling down, becoming quiet, and breathing deeply some breaths. Remind yourself you are in the Presence of Love. This place you are entering, within, is the inner Temple, where you are One with God. You may wish to use a mantra, or prayer phrase, follow the breathing in-and-out, or witness the arising and falling of all around you as the manifestation of universal-God. Enjoy these moments of quietly settling and come out when you are ready.
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Wayne was a friend of mine in first grade. I stood behind him one day, while he was waiting to see the teacher. I pulled, playfully, on his back pant pocket. It tore his pants. I did not intend the tear, but was only being playful with my friend. He did not seem overly upset, but the teacher did. She reprimanded me in front of the class. Then, she paddled me with a board in front of the class.
Her approach entailed a method with two aspects. First, punishment. Second, shame. Of course, there is an element of emotional and physical abuse, that was legal at the time.
Her approach was counter-productive. While I did not resist, the act, to this day, says nothing to me about love or proper discipline, or how to treat children or adults. She did not think of her action as abusive, but it was. I realize she was acting in cultural norms, but I do not excuse such action.
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This is like our “penal” systems that are over-flowing. Our prison system is over-loaded, persons are being let out early. Penal – punishment – does not usually work. The system shames, but usually does not lead to long-term corrective actions. Many who enter a penal system come out more hardened than when they entered. So, what was accomplished?
Punishment is a lazy method of trying to control, rather than take the time and creativity to find ways to redirect persons. Punishment may, indeed, control in some instances, but is control Loving? No. Does control rehabilitate? Rarely, if ever.
Certainly, for some reasons, some persons may be beyond rehabilitation. There are ways of discipline for them, and to protect the society from them. I agree with that. That is discpline, not punishment.
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What if the teacher had taken me aside alone and asked what I intended by pulling on Wayne's pant pocket? What if she had provided discipline by having me apologize or take responsibility to garner the income to buy Wayne a new pair of pants? What if she had said, “Wayne, how do you feel about what Brian did?” What if he had said, “It's okay. I know Brian did not mean to tear my pants”? There are many “what ifs” that avoid reverting to punishment and shame.
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There is a Christian scripture that speaks of the separation of fear from religion and spirituality. Listen to these wise words:
Divine Love has no fear in it. For this Fullness of Love dissolves all fear. If we are fearful, we're afraid of being punished. This shows we're not enjoying this Fullness of Love. With this Love, too, we can love each other.
*I John 5.18
Punishment and Divine Love are incompatible. How can we lovingly relate with a “god” who uses punishment to keep us in line, or correct us? How can we have loving relationships based on punishment, thus fear? Love disciplines, but Love never punishes. Love never fosters slavish fear. Love loving seeks to correct, guide, and keeps the good of the other in mind, in compassion, as one equal to the other in Grace.
In some measure, we reap what we sow. This is not punishment, but natural consequences. Likewise, discipline seeks to guide and educate in consequences, but does not control by criticism and punishment.
One more passage speaks of the Jesus approach. A common attitude is to punish the enemy, to control him or her; this extends from nation to nation. What has this produced? Look at the hell in homes, marriages, families, and even among nations. But read this:
But I tell you this. Love those who choose to be your enemy. Bless them who curse you; do good for those who hate you. Pray for them who abuse you, and bring harm to you. By doing this, you can truly be a child of the Heavenly One. Why? Notice, that One sends rain on everyone, just and unjust.
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What is the difference between lovingly disciplining and punishment? Why does punishment not work? Has God been presented to you as a punisher? What do you think and feel about that presentation of God? Is there a better way of viewing God? Explain. Agree or disagree, and explain why: One of the major failings of much religion is it is based on fear, not love? Is there a person or group you can shift to a loving posture toward? Is there someone who has hurt you that you can do some good for? Why not stop right now and pray for someone who has hurt you?
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©Brian Wilcox, and OneLife Ministries. 05/09/2010
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*OneLife Ministries is a ministry of Brian Kenneth Wilcox, SW Florida. Brian lives a vowed life, as an Associate of Greenbough House of Prayer. He lives with his two doggie friends, Bandit Ty and St. Francis and serves as a jail Chaplain.
*Brian welcomes responses to his writings at firstname.lastname@example.org . Also, Brian is on Facebook: search Brian Kenneth Wilcox.
*You can order his book An Ache for Union from major booksellers.