I was reading through your website and I feel guilty so I felt compelled to send a message.  I am 17 years old and have been stealing money from my aunt's house.  I have been babysitting her kids and she has trusted me.  I have taken a lot of money over a period of 6 months.  I want to tell her what I did but I just can't bring myself to do it. I also believe I need to be punished for what I did.  In fact, I believe that a good old fashioned tanning would help me.  Do you agree? If so, how do I approach her with the topic?  Please help.

I'm glad you realize that stealing is wrong. When the Corinthians realized they had sinned, Paul praised them: "For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:11). Notice that an important element of repentance or change is effort in clearing yourself. What that means is that not only do you need to admit your error, but you need to restore to your aunt all that you have taken. If that means you have to work some extra hours to make enough cash -- so be it. It is the consequence of your straying from righteousness.

As far as additional punishment goes, that is up to your parents who will probably discuss things with your aunt. It is not up to you to decide what is the appropriate punishment for your sins. It would be like a criminal telling the judge, "I think you should lock me away for 90 days." In this case, I don't know how much you took, why you took it, or if you are hoping to get out of having to return the money by only going through a momentary punishment. But your parents probably will know what will be the most effective way to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Thank you for your advice. I admitted my sins to my mom (single parent) and to my aunt. My mom has turned it over to my aunt. My mom believes that I committed a terrible sin and crime to my aunt and she is the one that needs to punish me. My aunt has discussed this with me and has decided that she is going to give me the leather belt. I do think I deserve it. Hopefully, she is making the right choice. What are your thoughts?

I already gave you my thoughts. The punishment is up to your mother. The turning of the punishment over to your aunt was a poor choice as it can become a personal vengeance instead of a proper disciplinary action. "Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath" (Romans 12:19). If it was a matter that your mother thought a spanking was necessary, but wasn't willing or capable of giving the spanking, then it would have been better for the task to have been given to a trusted man. I also prefer that physical punishment, if needed, should be done with a switch (rod in Biblical terms) because it is less likely to cause harm to the one being spanked. Nor should a physical punishment be a substitute for your correcting your past sin by repaying your aunt the funds that you stole.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Stealing
Questions and Answers regarding Child Rearing
Questions and Answers regarding Sin
Questions and Answers regarding Spanking