Therapy or Punishment?

July 8, 1998
In Boulder, Colorado, a schoolboy who sexually molested a younger girl student was sentenced to two years probation and therapy. In Fort Worth, four drug offenders were sentenced to undergo acupuncture as experimental drug-abuse therapy. Everywhere, it seems, criminals are being given therapy instead of punishment.

Why are we seeing an increase in the therapy sentence? I think it is due to our changing view of human nature. Christianity teaches that man is sinful and accountable for his moral behavior to God. But during the French Enlightenment Jean-Jacques Rousseau reversed this thinking and asserted that man is basically good. He believed that to understand human behavior we needed to go back to a state of nature in order to find the natural man who was naturally good.

Now two hundred years later, Rousseauís thinking has found a home in America. Psychologists, as well as philosophers and statesmen, begin with the conviction that human beings are by nature good, and that evil comes from external authority. Therefore, alcoholism, drug addiction, and sexual obsession (to name just a few) are the results of external afflictions. The individual should not be punished, but treated by some branch of the medical profession.

I believe itís past time for us to return to the biblical view of human nature and human sinfulness. Human beings are accountable to God and to society for their actions. No doubt criminals need treatment, but they also must be held accountable for their actions. We must not let therapy replace punishment.

Iím Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and thatís my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International