Sometimes, atheists and agnostics forget how they got to where they are today. We pride ourselves on being evidence-based skeptics, seekers of truth wherever it may be found. We are conversant in all things Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and Harris. We have read numerous books, magazines, and blog posts. We have watched more YouTube videos than we care to admit.
We investigated the claims of the religion we once held dear. We re-studied and reinterpreted the Bible. We read Bart Ehrman, the 21st century prophet to the godless. We now know how errant and man-made the Bible is. We are rational and logical, no longer in bondage to a mystical, mythical religion. We are free to be whomever and whatever we want to be.
But, here’s the problem: many atheists and agnostics forget that what they are now is not what they once were. They forget how their journey out of Christianity began. They forget how fearful they were when they first considered theGod question. They forget the nights where sleep eluded them as they wrestled with sincerely held beliefs about God, salvation, Jesus, heaven, hell, and eternity. Have I really been living a lie all these years? we asked in the stillness of the night.
The journey out of Christianity rarely begins with evidence. Seldom does a person decide to leave Christianity on an evidentiary basis, especially those of us who were Christians for many years. While we NOW see clearly the falseness of Christianity, I doubt our vision was so clear when we first dared to consider the truthfulness of our beliefs.
Most often, the journey out of Christianity begins with our emotions. I am often accused of being angry and bitter, and, quite frankly, at some point along my journey out of Christianity, I am sure I was angry and bitter. How could it be otherwise?
Leaving Christianity is no small matter. Leaving the religion of your parents is not easy. Leaving the religion that gave you peace, comfort, hope, security, meaning and purpose is a decision laden with emotional baggage. We must be willing to admit this lest we lose authenticity. We must account for everything that brought us to where we are now. To leave anything out paints an incomplete picture of our life.
My journey out of Christianity likely began when I became a disaffected, disillusioned Christian and pastor. I was tired of the meaningless I saw everywhere I looked. Nothing mattered. Everywhere I looked I saw passivity. In the rare occasion where I saw committed, serious Christianity, I also saw arrogance, hatred, and pride. I saw a divisive, sectarian spirit that bore no resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible.
I was worn out from long hours pastoring churches that rarely paid well. I was tired of all the moving. The pettiness in every church I ever pastored sickened me. Struggles with church power brokers left me wounded. I was hurt by hateful and mean-spirited church leaders and fellow pastors.
When I stopped pastoring churches it was a relief. Sleeping in on Sunday morning — what a joy unspeakable and full of glory! The stress level in our home and marriage when down dramatically. What a difference godlessness made.
I realize I just gave my critics a boatload of ammunition to use against me. I will now be accused of leaving Christianity for emotional reasons. I was angry, bitter, and hurt. I was tired and worn out. Here’s what my critics don’t understand: while these things played a part in the first step I took out of Christianity, they were not the last steps I took. What may have had an emotional beginning didn’t have an emotional ending.
As my emotions abated the evidence took over. As I read and studied I came to the conclusion that the truth claims of Christianity were false. My studies led to me conclude that the Bible is not a divine book, that it is a fallible, man-made, errant text written by unknown authors centuries ago. While it may offer some valuable insights, it should not be considered a divine road map for life, a blueprint for living. Many of its teaching are immoral. It is a book that’s been used to prop up violent governments, enslave people, and its pages are soaked in the blood of innocents. I view the Bible like a morsel of edible food in a garbage can filled with rotting, smelly food. I am no longer willing to dig through the rotting garbage just to find a morsel to eat.
What took root in disaffection soon became a search for truth. This forced me to re-investigate everything I once believed was true. I had to reevaluate my moral and ethical beliefs. My entire worldview was being challenged. At times, I was fearful. What if I am wrong? What if God really exists? I wrestled with Pascal’s Wager long before I ever knew what it was.
I am sympathetic towards atheists and agnostics who hide the emotional aspect of their journey. They don’t want to have to deal with constant questions about motives. They acknowledge the emotional component of their journey, as I did, but emotions were not the primary or deciding factor. When every factor is considered, it was the evidence that led them from God to godlessness.
I think admitting that emotions played a vital part in our deconversion will be extremely helpful to people considering leaving Christianity. We need to think about those who come after us. They need to know it is normal to experience a broad range of emotions such as anger, fear, hatred, and bitterness as they consider whether to abandon Christianity.
Be careful, dear Christian, before charging me or other members of the godless fraternity with leaving Christianity for emotional reasons. That street runs both ways. Did you become a Christian solely for intellectual reasons? Was it the evidence alone that caused you to embrace Christianity? I already know the answer to these questions. Over the years, I have watched hundreds of people profess faith in Jesus Christ. In every instance emotions played a part in the conversion process. In fact, decisions to profess faith in Jesus Christ without emotion are considered suspect. Becoming a Christian is the single biggest decision a person will ever make in his or her life, just like the decision a Christian makes to deconvert. How can such a dramatic decision NOT elicit a deep emotional response from us?
A person may pretend to be a Christian while in reality he is not. As long as he is in this condition, he is quite content with his knowledge of the mere outlines of the Christian doctrines. Everything beyond that, he says, is for pastors and theologians.
To perceive as clearly as possible everything that God has revealed is something in which a non-Christian has no interest. However, the moment a person becomes a Christian there arises in him a keen desire for the doctrine of Christ.
Even the most uncultured peasant who is still unconverted is suddenly roused in the moment of his conversion and begins to reflect on God and heaven, salvation and damnation, etc. He becomes occupied with the highest problems of human life. An instance of this kind is afforded by those Jews who flocked to Christ and also by the apostle.
What about the increasing number of atheist/agnostic pastors/evangelists/professors/denominational leaders who spent many years delving deeply into the Word of God?
For thirty-five years I had a keen desire for things of Christ. I read the Bible from cover to cover numerous times. I spent thousands of hours studying the Bible. I read hundreds and hundreds of Christian books, magazines, and newspapers. I listened to countless sermon tapes, attended Bible conferences, revival meetings, and mission conferences. I did my best to put into practice all that I read and heard. Jesus was the way, truth, and life to me, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I was as deeply immersed in the things of Christ as one could be.
In Silva’s world, only Christians who think like him are really Christians. Silva thought that most people who profess Christianity are false professors. They professed Christ but never possessed Christ (Christian cliché 101).
These days, I know a lot of Christians turned Atheist. Almost every one of them was a conscientious, serious person who believed the teachings of the Bible and sincerely desired the things of Christ. To suggest these people didn’t really have any interest in the things of Christ is laughable. Most Christians turned Atheist I know understand the Bible quite well. Of course, according to the Ken Silva’s of the world, they have a head knowledge and not a heart knowledge (Christian cliché 102).
I have some questions for those who believe that abortion is murder.
Does life begin at conception? How do you know it does? Is your view based on science or is it based on a religious belief?
If life begins at conception, why are you supporting an Ohio bill that makes it illegal to have an abortion once a heartbeat is detected? Does life begin at conception or at first heartbeat?
Do you support the use of emergency contraception (morning after) drugs? Why not?
Should a pro-life pharmacist have the right to not dispense emergency contraception drugs? Should I be allowed to opt out of anything that goes against my moral or ethical beliefs?
Is abortion murder?
Do you believe murderers should be prosecuted?
Do you believe that driving the get-away car makes a person just as guilty as the person who robbed the bank?
Do you believe a woman who has an abortion should be prosecuted for murder? How about the doctor who performs the procedure? How about the nurse that assisted in the procedure? How about the person who drove the woman to the clinic? If you believe in the death penalty, do you support the execution of murderers?
Do you use birth control pills?
Should you be prosecuted for murder since birth control pills can, and do, cause spontaneous abortion?
Should abortion be allowed for reasons of rape, incest, or saving the life of the mother?
If you answered yes to question eleven, do you support murdering the fetus if it is the product of rape or incest?
Should a fetus be aborted if the mother’s life is at risk?
Do you support murdering the unborn if it saves the life of the mother?
Is your viewpoint on abortion a religious belief?
What passage in the Bible prohibits abortion? Does this passage define life beginning at conception?
Has God ever killed the unborn?
In Genesis, God destroyed every human save eight by drowning them in a flood. Were any of the women who drowned pregnant? Did God kill the fetuses they were carrying? (Kill the mother, kill the fetus.)
Do you support the death penalty? Do you support war?
If you answered yes to question nineteen, why do you oppose the killing of the unborn but support the killing of those already born?
Why do you believe that killing the unborn is murder but consider an American bomb killing a baby 3 hours old a tragic result of war, collateral damage, but not murder?
Do you support birth control being readily available in every school? Isn’t your objective is to reduce or eliminate the need for an abortion. Wouldn’t easily available, free access to birth control reduce the abortion rate?
Do you believe it is better for a severely deformed child to live for a day and die than for the fetus to be aborted? If so, explain why it is better for the child to suffer needlessly?
Do you believe that God is in control of everything? Does everything include children being born deformed or with serious defects that will result in a life of extreme suffering and pain?
Is someone a Christian if he or she supports abortion?
My view on abortion
I do not think that life begins at conception nor do I think it begins at first heartbeat. That said, I do not support abortion on demand. Approximately 63% of abortions occur in the first eight weeks, and 89% of abortions occur in the first trimester. I do not support any law that restricts access to an abortion in the first trimester. Once fetus viability (the ability to live outside the womb) is established, I do not support the right to an abortion except when the life of the mother is at stake.
At What Time in the Pregnancy Abortions Occur
I support women having full access to reproductive services (including access to birth control), as well as school-aged girls and young women. For women who have an at-risk pregnancy, I support government-sponsored access to genetic testing and amniocentesis that will reveal severe birth defects. Better to have an abortion earlier in a pregnancy than to have a child born without a brain who will die a few moments or days after birth.
I support sex education for junior high and high school students and health education for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. Since girls often reach menses at ages as young as ten, waiting until they are sixteen to educate them about reproduction is irresponsible and leads to unintended pregnancies. I do not support “Just say No” programs that take the “aspirin between the knees” approach and ignore the reality that most teenagers will, at some point, be sexually active. Yes, teens should wait, but they don’t, and everyone should agree that teenagers having babies is not a good idea. If we agree that this is not a good idea, then making sure they can’t get pregnant should be a top priority.
I support the radical change of adoption laws in this country. The government should make it easy and affordable for people to adopt a child (after being thoroughly vetted). By changing the law, this will make it more likely for a woman with an unplanned pregnancy to carry the fetus to term. This would also put out of business adoption agencies, many of them Christian, that charge extortion level fees for an adoption.
Three Day Old Human Embryo.
God, the Bible, papal decrees, or religious rhetoric have no sway over me. Showing me bloody pictures of dismembered late-term aborted fetuses also have no effect on me. I know that only 1.2% of abortions occur after the 21st week. In 2011, 1.06 million abortions were performed in the United States. Roughly 12,000 abortions were performed from the 21st week to term. Why don’t pro-lifers wave around pictures of zygotes or other pictures from the chronological time period when most abortions take place? Simple: such pictures wouldn’t excite, inflame, and manipulate the passions of the faithful like a bloody, gory picture of a dismembered fetus does.
As a Baptist pastor, how did I answer science questions? The short answer is…I didn’t.
I was five years old when my parents joined Tim LaHaye’s church, Scott Memorial Baptist Church in San Diego, California. I would remain associated with the Evangelical church for the next forty-five years, pastoring churches in Texas, Ohio, and Michigan. Whether as a church member or as a pastor, the world I was a part of was insulated from secular science. I rarely had someone ask me a science question and the reason for this is quite simple. I believed and taught others to believe:
The Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God.
The Bible, in most instances, is meant to be read literally.
Genesis 1-3 accurately, literally records HOW God made the universe and everything in it.
If science conflicts with what the Bible says, science is wrong and the Bible is right.
Questions and doubts are the works of Satan.
Certainty of belief is a sign of faith and maturity.
We had our own science books and scientists. My favorite Evangelical “scientists” were Henry Morris and John Whitcomb. Morris had a degree in engineering, Whitcomb a degree in theology. Even though their books contradicted accepted scientific facts, they had a high view of Scripture and accepted the Bible as the final answer to every question, so their books carried great weight in many Evangelical circles. I have no doubt that if I was still a pastor I would have taken church groups to the Creation Museum so they could see the “proof” of our creationist beliefs.
The children in the churches I pastored were insulated from the world. Many of the children were home schooled or attended private Christian schools. Children were not encouraged to go to college, especially a wicked secular college. The highest calling for a woman was to marry a godly man and bear children and the highest calling for a man was to become a preacher or a missionary. All other vocations were considered inferior.
Rod and Staff Publishers 8th Grade Science Book
From 1983-1994, I pastored Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio. For five of those years, we operated a tuition-free, church-member-only, Christian school. We used Rod and Staff science textbooks, books that emphasized the young earth creationist point of view. Rod and Staff is a Mennonite/Amish book publisher. My wife and I also home schooled our children. We used Rod and Staff textbooks to teach science to our younger children.
I have very little science training. I took a general science class in 9th grade, biology in 10th grade, and biology in college. My college biology class was an absolute waste of time. No lab. No experimentation. The teacher, a local pastor, read to us from a biology book published by a Christian book publisher. The only thing I remember from my college biology class (the same class my wife took) was the teacher’s lecture on not marrying outside of your class, religion, or race. He was quite bigoted and racist.
The few times I was asked a science question that challenged my creationist beliefs I replied:
The BIBLE says…
This was the answer I gave for almost every challenge to what I taught.
The BIBLE says…
THE BIBLE SAYS really meant:
This is my interpretation of the Bible, my interpretation comes straight from God, my interpretation is final, so shut up and get back to serving Jesus.
There are thousands of churches and pastors who hold similar views. We are one of the most scientifically advanced nations on earth, yet, at the same time, we are quite ignorant about basic scientific fact. We can thank religion for our collective ignorance.
Oh, preachers preach about it. Life is short, hell is real, or so they say. But, I am not sure they really believe what they are saying.
Baptists are noted for being hellfire and brimstone preachers. In my Baptist preacher days, I preached hundreds of sermons on hell. The altar was often lined with sinners fearing hell. I was a very, very good hell preacher.
Everyone knows that some day they will die. Many people fear what happens “after” death. It is the fear of the unknown that leads many people towards religion. Hellfire and brimstone preaching is good for the church business. If people fear hell they are more likely to buy into the salvation/heaven scenario. You don’t want to go to hell, do you? You don’t want to burn in the flames of hell forever, do you? Scare people right into heaven, that’s the essence of the gospel preached by many Evangelicals.
I have come to conclusion that most preachers really don’t believe in hell. Preach as they might about hell, when it comes time to put their theology into practice, they cower and refuse to proclaim their hell belief.
Let me tell you a story about a man named Bob. (Bob is a pseudonym, but all the details that follow are real.) Bob was raised in a Fundamentalist Baptist home. His parents were stern, devout, Christians who helped start several local Baptist churches.
At the age of 17, Bob attended a revival meeting at the First Baptist Church. When the invitation was given Bob walked down the aisle, knelt at the altar, prayed the sinner’s prayer, and in that moment became a Christian.
A short time after this, Bob had a falling out with his family and moved out of his parent’s home. Bob never attended church another day in his life apart from an occasional funeral or wedding.
Bob lived to be 83 years old. From the time Bob was 17 until he died at age 83, he lived a life of sin and infamy.
Bob was a child abuser. Bob beat his wife. Bob was a drunk. No woman was safe from Bob’s leering eye and his groping hands.
Bob was a nasty, vulgar, kind of drunk.
Bob raped a woman while her 12 year old son was home from school sick. He was never prosecuted because his victim was a mentally troubled family member.
Bob died recently.
Bob’s funeral was held at the same Baptist church he once attended. His family still attends the church. The funeral was the first time that Bob had been to church in over 60 years.
The preacher mentioned what an ornery man Bob was. And then the preacher spent the next 20 minutes preaching AT Bob’s friends. The funeral service was not about Bob at all, it was all about Jesus. Maybe that was better because it was probably hard to find much good to say about Bob.
Mercifully, the preacher brought his Jesus talk to a close with an invitation to trust Jesus as savior.
Why? So they too could be in heaven some day with Bob. The Bob, who at age 17 walked down the aisle, knelt at the altar, prayed the sinners prayer, and became a Christian.
I have attended dozens of funerals over the years. I have preached a good number of funeral sermons myself. In every case, the deceased was preached into heaven. No matter how the person lived, no matter what they did, heaven was their final destination.
Baptists are known for believing in what is commonly called “once saved, always saved.” While I no longer claim to be a professing Christian and I am quite vocal about my atheism, according to many Christians, I can’t get “unsaved”. Once saved, always saved. (also called eternal security, perseverance of the saints). God has me whether I want him or not.
According to the preacher at First Baptist, Bob is safe in the arms of Jesus. Pity all the women he raped, abused and molested over the years. Pity all those he terrorized when he was drunk. The fire insurance Bob bought at age 17 covered everything he would ever do. This gave him immunity from prosecution for all his debauchery.
It matters not that he did not attended church in the past 60 years. He never prayed; never read the Bible. In fact, he cursed God, hated God and lived as if there is no God.
But, at age 17…well you get the gist of the story.
It is time to honest, preachers. Hell doesn’t really exist, does it? For all your hellfire and brimstone preaching, when it comes right down to it everyone makes it in. Anyone who EVER had a momentary religious experience is safe.
Preachers, if you object to what I have written, why not tell the truth about the Bobs of the world? If your God be true and every man a liar, if your Bible is true, then people like Bob are burning in hell. It seems you can quite easily tell wonderful stories about people going to heaven, why not the opposite?
Personally, I do not believe in hell. If there is any hell at all, it is here and now. But, if you claim to believe the Bible is the Word of God, then speak as if you do. Don’t pollute God’s heaven by sending any more Bobs there.
This post is written from the perspective of a person who believes in heaven, hell, and the afterlife. I don’t, but in the case of Bob, I sure wish there was a hell.
Several years ago, 3 young Ohio boys fell through the ice on the Sandusky River and drowned. What a terrible, terrible tragedy. Two of the boys were brothers.
The pastor of the church where their funeral was held said the following: (link no longer active)
A minister has told mourners that three Ohio boyswho fell through ice and died together in a river are now playing together in heaven.
This statement is restated many different ways during countless Christian funerals.
Granny is running around heaven now with no pain!
Gramps is in heaven now and doesn’t need a wheelchair to get around any more.
________is in heaven and there is no more pain, sickness, disease, suffering, etc.
Here’s the problem…
Statements like these are not true.
Historic, orthodox Christian doctrine teaches that when people die, they go to the grave. They are DEAD. The body remains in the grave until the resurrection. At the resurrection those who have died will receive a new body (1 Cor 15).
So why is it that preachers lie? Why did I lie?
Families are grieving. They have lost a loved one. They want to believe there is a divine purpose, and they want to believe that life continues after the grave.
So preachers concoct grand stories about heaven and the immediate transport of the dead from earth to heaven.
Belief in the afterlife requires faith. No one has ever come back from the dead to tell us the what lies beyond the grave (if anything). Anyone who says he has is a liar.
Even Jesus himself didn’t talk about the afterlife after his resurrection from the dead. His disciples did, the apostles did, but not Jesus. He told his disciples that wherever he was they too would be some day. He never mentioned one time any of the things commonly heard in Christian funeral sermons.
Even the notion of spending eternity in heaven is not taught in the Bible. Search all you might, it is not there.
What IS taught in the Bible is that followers of Jesus Christ will live forever in God’s eternal kingdom (on a new earth). On this point the Jehovah’s Witnesses are probably closer in belief to what the Bible teaches than many Evangelical Christians.
The same could be said about hell. Those who are not followers of Jesus will NOT spend eternity in hell. The Bible doesn’t teach that. The Bible DOES teach that unbelievers will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14).
Sentimentality allows preachers, who are supposed to be guardians of Christian doctrine, to ignore what the Bible teaches in favor of telling stories to comfort a grieving family.
I understand WHY they do it but let me be clear here…
Preacher, if you can’t tell the truth when it really matters the most, how can you expect people to believe anything you say? If sentimentality allows you to ignore what the Bible teaches about heaven (and hell) how do we know that you are telling the truth any other time? Not telling the truth in hard circumstances results in a loss of credibility.
As an atheist, I have serious reservations about the notion of an afterlife. At this point in life I lack the requisite faith necessary to believe. I am of the opinion that each of us had best get to living life because it is the only one we have. That said, if you are a Christian you are bound by what the Bible teaches. As a preacher you are obligated to tell the truth. In fact you owe it to your congregants to tell them the truth, even when it is hard to do so.
This is the fourth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please leave the name the song in the comment section or send me an email.
Today’s Song of Sacrilege is God Shuffled His Feet by Crash Test Dummies, folk rock/alternative rock band from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
After seven days He was quite tired so God said: “Let there be a day Just for picnics, with wine and bread” He gathered up some people he had made Created blankets and laid back in the shade
The people sipped their wine And what with God there, they asked him questions Like: do you have to eat Or get your hair cut in heaven? And if your eye got poked out in this life Would it be waiting up in heaven with your wife?
God shuffled his feet and glanced around at them; The people cleared their throats and stared right back at him
So he said:”Once there was a boy Who woke up with blue hair To him it was a joy Until he ran out into the warm air He thought of how his friends would come to see; And would they laugh, or had he got some strange disease?
God shuffled his feet and glanced around at them; The people cleared their throats and stared right back at him
The people sat waiting Out on their blankets in the garden But God said nothing So someone asked him: “I beg your pardon: I’m not quite clear about what you just spoke Was that a parable, or a very subtle joke?”
God shuffled his feet and glanced around at them; The people cleared their throats and stared right back at him
I was intimate with my mistress for many, many years.
My wife and my children know about the affair. I am so sorry for all the hurt and damage my affair caused. That my wife and children stood by me all these years is a wonderful testimony to their love for me. I don’t deserve it.
My mistress and I carried on for a long, long time. In fact she would follow me wherever I moved: Ohio, Texas, Michigan. She was always right there for me.
My mistress is a lot older than me. She is what is commonly called a cougar.
The sex was great. The only problem was I could never satisfy her. The more sex we had the more she wanted. She was quite the nymphomaniac. I had suspicion she was having sex with other people (she was bisexual) but it didn’t matter. What WE had was special. She treated me as if I was the ONLY one.
Over the years, we made a lot of promises to each other, well-intentioned promises. But neither I or my mistress delivered on our promises.
I gave my mistress a lot of money. She deserved it, or so I thought. Yet, no matter how much money I gave her, she wanted more. She would often tell me “prove that you love me Bruce.” So I would give her more money. I began to wonder if she was a prostitute and I was a john. My wife and children suffered because I gave so much money to her. I justified their suffering by telling myself that my affair was what gave me purpose and meaning in life. Without it I might as well be dead.
I deceived myself for a long time. I convinced myself that what my mistress and I had was real. After all, she made me feel alive. She gave me self-worth. When we were together it seemed like time stopped and we were transported into the heavens.
One day, a few years back I began to have doubts about my affair. The sex was great, but there is more to life than sex. I certainly enjoyed the company of my mistress, and boy she sure could cook, but I still felt quite empty when I was away from her.
I began to think about all the sacrifices I made for my mistress. All the money I gave her. The loss of a close, intimate relationship with my wife and children. Was it worth it? Since my mistress got the best of me, all my family got was leftovers. By the time I came home to them, I was too tired, too busy, and too broke to give them the time they needed and deserved.
Twelve or so years ago, I ended the affair. I sold all of the mementos of our torrid relationship. I told my mistress that I could no longer be in a relationship with her. She didn’t even get angry, or for that matter, even care. She told me “There are plenty of other people who would love to have me in their lives. Your loss, Bruce.”
So we parted ways,
I went to the doctor a few years back. I was having some discomfort. The doctor ran some tests and found out I have an incurable, sexually transmitted disease. With medicine and therapy the symptoms can be managed, but I will never be cured.
Every week or so, I trudge to the doctor to get a shot, The shot helps to manage the symptoms, but I still have a lot of residual problems from my 25 year affair. That’s the price you pay when you have an affair.
My wife and I, along with our children are trying to rebuild our home. The damage done by this affair is incalculable. I can only hope that, with time, the wounds will be healed.
I should warn all of you about my mistress. She is always on the prowl looking for someone new to entice.
“But is wasn’t. My mind was filled with thoughts of all the wonders I found outside the box. Things that those in my box said were bad for me; things that they were sure would ruin me. They told me that the box was all I needed. They feared I was becoming a wanderlust.
And they were right. I wandered once again outside the box, and just like before I fell down the slope of the slippery hill. This happened to me many times before I finally gave up and stayed at the bottom of the hill. When I did this, the box I had lived in for almost 50 years no longer large enough for me. For the first time, the things I had found in the box seemed odd, peculiar, and contradictory.”
Every time I left the box I found new and wondrous things, things I had never heard about before, things I had never experienced. The box I was in for five decades was a box whose dimensions were clearly defined. There was no guessing about the length, width, or depth of the box. Over time, the box had to be replaced. Those outside the box constantly battered the box with bats, bricks, and rocks. Sometimes, these attacks would cause gaping holes in the box and it became necessary to replace the box.
The new box was not like the old box at all. The dimensions were different and it held fewer people. Everyone in the box pretended that the box was just like the old box. An old-fashioned box, we were told. We knew the box was not like the old one, but giving the appearance that the new box was the same as the old box was more important that coming to grips with the reality that the box was different. The box keeper was adamant. He said our box was just like the first box, that the box had stood strong for 2000 years.
On one of my trips outside of the box, I found out that the box keeper wasn’t telling the truth. He was trying to preserve something that never existed. Perhaps he really didn’t know since he had never been outside the box. I found out the box manual had errors and contradictions. People outside the box questioned whether the box manual was the correct manual. For a time, fear plagued me every time I went outside the box. I realized if the box manual wasn’t true, then everything I believed about the box was wrong. I thought, I am smart guy. How could I have been deceived for almost 50 years? Surely ALL these people in the box can’t be wrong?
As I strayed farther and farther away from the box, though, I found that there were all kinds of boxes. Every group of people had its own box, — some were religions, some were political, some were social, and some were economic boxes. I always knew there were other boxes, but I considered all other boxes but the one I was in to be false boxes.
Those of us in the box always mocked those in the atheist box. None of us actually knew an atheist, nor had we ever read a book written by an atheist, but Dr. I-Have-The-Truth told us he knew all there was to know about the atheist box and he was certain the atheist box was a false box with no bottom that led straight to hell. He told us many horrible things about the atheist box. I was glad I was not one of THOSE kinds of box dwellers.
Imagine my surprise to find out that the atheist box was nothing like Dr. I-Have-The-Truth said it was. In fact, I found out there was quite a bit of diversity in the atheist box. They argued back and forth with each other, but once they were done arguing they all went to the bar and were still friends. I had never seen such interaction before. In my box, when arguments broke out they usually ended with one party calling the other party not-a-true box dweller. Some of them even went so far as to leave the box and, just a few feet away, build another box. They said they were a new and DIFFERENT box, but everyone knew that the only thing different was the location of the box.
I found that I liked the atheist box. Those in the atheist box encouraged me to be skeptical of the every box. I had never heard this before. In the box I was from, we were told to never question the box and certainly to never question or doubt the box manual. The box keeper warned us that doubt led many a box dweller outside of the box never to return. We wondered, did they end up being recycled?
This new-found freedom to question and to be skeptical was quite liberating. It also caused a good bit of conflict for me. People from the box I had left were questioning whether I was ever a “real” box dweller. They said, Yes he was in the box but he never really believed the box manual. They called me a deceiver. Some even thought I was deluded. The box keeper used me as an illustration of what happens when a person becomes skeptical and asks questions
For a time, my wanderlust, while liberating, caused me a great deal of mental conflict. There seemed to be a constant tug and pull. I felt as if I were going to be pulled apart. I heard about a man who specialized in helping people who left boxes similar to the one I was in. So I went to see him and I knew immediately that he could help with the tug and pull that was trying to tear me apart.
Over time, I began to see how the box, the box keeper, and the box manual had taken over my life to such a degree that I lost any concept of who I was. Every time I saw the specialist I reclaimed some of the self that I had lost. As this happened, I began to deal with the questions I had about the box and the box manual.
I am not sure when the moment was, but I do remember coming to a place where I felt completely free. I felt “born again.” I thought, I am a “born again” atheist. I no longer felt any pull to return to the box. Of course those in the box said “See what happens when you stay outside the box for a long time?”
Seven years have gone by since I found myself at the bottom of the slippery hill. It is hard to believe — seven years. People in the atheist box, the box I now call home told me that things would be better with time. They encouraged me to read and study. They told me “go where the data, the evidence leads you.”
Over time, I learned that the atheist box, and for that matter no box, is perfect. In every box there are arrogant, nasty, vindictive box dwellers. No box is perfect, but some boxes are definitely better than others. That’s the greatest wonder of all…I now have the ability to freely choose the box (es) I want to be in.
I guess the best thing to say is this…I no longer feel boxed in.
I was a Christian for most of my life, a pastor for most of my adult life. I was a fervent believer of the faith once delivered to the saints. I believed it, practiced it, and lived it. When I was in the Christian box, it all made sense to me. Everything I read, everything I heard, and everything I experienced, reinforced the belief that I was in the right box.
God told me, the Bible told me, my friends and family told me, and the opposition of the world told me, that I was in the right box. Every once in a while I would take one step outside the box and experience a bit of “other-boxedness.” After every foray into the world outside the Christian box, I would return to the safety of the box.
This is the way I lived my life for five decades. Then one day, I decided to take more than one step outside of the box. I haltingly, tentatively took a few steps, staying close enough to the box that I could run back if I needed to.
Over time, I wandered farther and farther away from the box. I found all kinds of things that were not in the box I was in. I was confronted with data, beliefs, ideologies, facts, and practices that I had never heard of. I was uncertain about what I should make of these new-found things.
I talked to fellow box-keepers about this. They cautioned me about wandering outside of the box. Nothing good happens outside of the box, Bruce. Everything we need for life and godliness is right here in the box. We even have a manual that tells us how to live in the box.
But I continued to wander outside of the box. One day, I wandered so far outside the box that I realized, for the first time, that the box sat on a steep, slippery hill. And there were other boxes too, all of them on that same slippery hill. The first time I noticed this, I quickly retreated to the safety of the box. Then one day, I found myself far outside the box. I turned around to look longingly at the box and I slipped, and before I knew it I was slipping and sliding down the slippery hill. On this day I fought and clawed my way back up the hill and I crawled back to the box. Dirty and bruised, I was safe within the box once again. The box was my salvation.
But is wasn’t. My mind was filled with thoughts of all the wonders I found outside the box. Things that those in my box said were bad for me; things that they were sure would ruin me. They told me that The box was all I needed. They feared I was becoming a wanderlust.
And they were right. I wandered once again outside the box, and just as before, I fell down the slope of the slippery hill. This happened to me many times before I finally gave up and stayed at the bottom of the hill. When I did this, the box I had lived in for almost 50 years was no longer large enough for me. For the first time, the things I had found in the box seemed odd, peculiar, and contradictory.
When I was in the box it all made sense. It all fit. But now, outside of the box, at the bottom of the slippery hill, the things I once believed now seemed to be the strange language of an alien culture. I found myself saying, I can’t believe I actually believed _________________________. It seems so crazy and incoherent now, yet when I was in the box it all made sense.
I can’t go back to the box I was in. As a secularist, as a person who values skeptical, rational thinking, I must always be aware of other boxes around me. Every box’s occupants say that they have the truth. Every box’s occupants want me to take up residence in their box. However, I have learned, perhaps the hard way, that living in the narrow, blind confines of a box keeps me from experiencing the world that exists outside the box. Every box’s occupants think they are unique. Their sameness cannot be seen until one is out of the box – all of the boxes.
Experiencing the world outside of the box changed me forever. I know I still have a penchant for box-like thinking, but I revel in a life free of the constraints of any box.
Now there’s a title sure to get everyone’s attention!
Why do so many Christians abuse their children?
The reason is primarily a theological one (though they might not even realize it is).
Most Christian sects believe in some form of original sin (depravity).
The theology goes something like this:
A person does not become a sinner each is a sinner, from birth until death.
A person has a sinful nature inherited from the daddy for the human race — Adam.
A person has no choice in this matter. Each is a sinner.
So, from birth, children are sinners. They have no choice in the matter. They are what every human being is — a sinner.
The implications of this teaching are huge.
The Bible says:
A baby is born speaking liesThe wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Psalm 58:3
A baby is conceived in iniquity and sinBehold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5
A baby is the enemy of GodYe adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:4
A baby is alienated from God The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Psalm 58:3
A baby is born into the world under the wrath of God For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Romans 1:18
I am sure someone will object to some of the verses I just quoted. “Those verses apply to ADULT sinners.”
Really? Have you thought out the implications of your theology.? Is there any difference in God’s eyes between a baby sinner and an adult sinner? Does God have a sin chart he uses to keep score and rate the quality of the sins committed?
I thought in the eyes of God that every sin is the same. Sure, the consequences are different from sin to sin, but God sees every sin as an affront to his Holy nature. Every sin is an act of rebellion against God. In the eyes of God there is no difference between when a baby “lies” about being hungry, wet, etc. just so he can get his mother’s attention, and a serial killer who kills five people. Sin is sin. Sinners sin. That’s what they do.
Ugly isn’t it? When you shine the clear, bright, light of reason on the doctrine of original sin it reveals its ugliness for all to see.
Some sects realize there is a big problem with the whole notion of original sin, so they invent doctrines to address it.
Catholics and many Protestants baptize infants, washing away their original sin. They are then safe until they reach a place of accountability for their sin.
Some Baptists and Evangelicals teach that while a baby is indeed born a sinner, the baby is not accountable for its sin until it reaches the age of accountability. Some Churches say accountability begins at age twelve. Others say it is an indefinite age, and once children can understand the difference between right and wrong and understand the penalty for sin, they are then accountable for their sin.
Some Calvinists, especially Reformed five-pointers, baptize their babies as a sign of the covenant between the parents and God. The children are raised as if they are children of God until they prove they are not.
In Baptist and many Evangelical churches an emphasis is placed on evangelizing children. The theory is that if you don’t win them when they are young you risk losing them. Most children raised in churches like this make a profession of faith at a very young age. My wife was five and I was six when we made our FIRST (certainly not our last) professions of faith. It is not uncommon to hear testimonies about little Johnny coming to his mother asking her about being saved. And right there by the bed they knelt and Johnny prayed out loud and asked Jesus into his heart.
The programs of child-evangelizing churches reflect the importance of making sure children become Christians. Sunday school, junior church, and youth group are geared towards children becoming Christians, and most importantly, staying in the church. Without children in the church pipeline, attendance and offerings dwindle, as is the case in many Evangelical sects today.
Why do children need to be saved? For the same reason adults do. They are sinners. They are in rebellion against God. They are the enemy of God. They deserve judgment and hell, or so says the Evangelical zealot.
One of the tools that God gave to parents to use with their children, or so Christians are told, is the rod of correction. Spanking, whipping, beating, and hitting a child are all used to teach a child that sin has consequences. In a very warped and perverse way, children are told their moms or dads hit them because they love them.
After all, the Bible clearly teaches that God whips his children because he loves them. Who wouldn’t want to follow in the steps of Jesus?
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? Hebrews 12:7-9
My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Proverbs 3:11,12
This is aptly illustrated in the death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus bore the wrath of his father. Why? Because he was bearing our sin. Our sin deserved the wrath of God and Jesus took that wrath upon himself. In other words, God beat his son Jesus for what we did.
Is it any wonder that the average Christian parents think it is quite normal, even quite spiritual, to spank, whip, beat, slap, or hit their children?
The Bible teaches it is a parent’s duty to beat his or her children.
Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge. Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. Proverbs 23:12-14
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Proverbs 22:15
There are two major cultural influences that encourage the abuse of children.
First, while we are not a Christian nation we ARE a Christian nation. The teachings I have mentioned in this post are believed and practiced by a large portion of American families. Every day, the newspaper has another story of parents who abused their child. I wonder if the abusers are ever questioned about what religious training they received?
The Christian ethos runs deep in our culture. Being whipped for transgressions is thought to be as American as baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Paddling school children for misbehaving is finally becoming a thing of the past in America, but many of us can remember a day when someone getting paddled was a common, everyday occurrence (as I experienced first-hand). We call it corporeal punishment, but its real name is child abuse.
Listen to older Americans as they complain about how unruly kids are today and how disrespectful they are. “Why when I was a kid my momma got a peach switch and beat me when I misbehaved.“ “When daddy got home we knew we were gonna get it with his belt. We learned to behave because Daddy beat us.” “A little beating never hurt anybody.”
What’s the message that the Bible, God, the church, and older Americans are sending? That violence is a good and necessary tool to use when children disobey (sin). I should note, in passing, that this thinking permeates our culture. Our government leaders do this every day when they say, in their justification of war, that violence will bring peace. Through violence we whip the country that sinned against us until they stop sinning against us. In short, violence begets violence. Violence never begets peace, At best, it brings a cessation of hostilities. If we want true, lasting peace, we must be peacemakers, and our peacemaking must begin at home with our children and family.
Second, preachers have a huge influence over families. Their sermons on the family, parenting, marriage, and children have a deep and abiding influence.
How often have church children heard from their pastor::
Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Colossians 3:20
Of course verse 21 is NOT heard as often:
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
While preachers will say they are just repeating what God said, their interpretation and application of verses that advocate beating children often provide a blueprint for child abuse. For those of us raised in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church, books written by men like John R Rice and Jack Hyles provided us with the Biblical justification for violence against our children.
In many instances it was generational abuse. Our great-grandfather beat our grandfather, who beat our father, who beat us, and we, like those before us, beat our children. It’s an ugly chain of violence, one that must be broken.
As I scoured the internet for source material from the God wants you to beast your children perspective, I was humored by how nuanced they have become. This is the right way, this is the wrong way. This is “biblical” discipline, this is child abuse. I see their justifications and explanations as an admission that the Evangelical church has a huge problem with God-sanctioned, Bible-approved, pastor-encouraged child abuse. Countless Evangelical how-to books have been written, yet parents continue to violently abuse their children, sometimes even putting them in the hospital or killing them. Thanks to the internet, we now know that abuse in the name of God happens far more often than Evangelical church leaders would dare to admit.
This is an extremely practical method that will save you a lot of second-guessing. Remember the point of a spanking: It’s to sting, to provide a painful deterrent to misbehavior, not to injure.
The Bible never implies that the rod of discipline should be violent. It offers no specifics about how hard a spanking should be, and there’s no reason to assume that it’s talking about a brutal form of punishment. Just the opposite, in fact. A parent who reaches back and swings hard is acting out of anger and frustration, not out of love and desire for the child’s welfare. That’s unbiblical by anyone’s definition.
When you spank, use a wooden spoon or some other appropriately sized paddle and flick your wrist. That’s all the force you need. It ought to hurt — an especially difficult goal for mothers to accept — and it’s okay if it produces a few tears and sniffles. If it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t really discipline, and ultimately it isn’t very loving because it will not be effective in modifying the child’s behavior.
Have the child lean over his bed and make sure you apply the discipline with a quick flick of the wrist to the fatty tissue of the buttocks, where a sting can occur without doing any damage to the body. You want to be calm, in control, and focused as you firmly spank your child, being very careful to respect his body.
“One mother, while reading an early manuscript of this book, was being pulled on by her whining twelve-month-old daughter. When the mother came to the part (above) about not allowing a child to whine (“If they are tired put them to bed.”), she decided to apply what she was reading. She put her daughter down and told her to go to sleep. The sleepy child responded by crying in protest. Following the book’s instructions, she spanked the child and told her to stop crying and go to sleep. The child had previously been trained to spend an hour intermittently crying and getting up, only to be fussed at and laid back down. Nevertheless, the spanking subdued the crying and caused her to lie still. The mother continued her reading, and after a while she looked up to see that the child had very quietly slipped to the floor to browse through a book. The mother smiled at how sweet and quiet the child was. Without interruption, she continued her reading.
Reading further, she contemplated the fact that the child had not obeyed. “But she is being so good and is not bothering me,” the mother thought. She then realized the issue was not whether the child was bothering her, but whether or not she was learning to obey. She rightly concluded that by allowing the child to quietly sit on the floor at the foot of her bed, where she would eventually go to sleep, she was effectively training the child to be in rebellion to the rule of law. Out of love for her child, the mother inconvenienced herself and shattered the quiet solitude by spanking the child and again telling her to stay in the bed and go to sleep. An hour later the waking child was cheerful.”
“Select your instrument according to the child’s size. For the under one year old, a little, ten- to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (striped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective.”
Would Jesus spank a child? If so, where would you point someone biblically who can’t imagine him doing this?
If Jesus were married and had children, I think he would have spanked the children.
The place that I would go to help a person see that he would, when they can’t imagine that he would, is Matthew 5 where he said, “Not a jot nor a tittle will pass away from the Law until all is accomplished.” In other words, all the Law and the Prophets stand until they’re done. And the Law says, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” That’s a paraphrase. The book of Proverbs says, “If you withhold the rod, you hate your son.” Jesus believed the Bible, and he would have done it.
Now, that does not address the heart of the issue. The heart of the issue is: Why does this person feel this way? What worldview inclines a person to think that you shouldn’t spank a child? Where does that come from?
Well it comes straight out of this culture, I think. There’s a sign that used to be on the side of the 35W bridge, on the right as you go north. And the sign simply said this: “Never, never, never, never, never hurt a child.” That’s all it said! And spanking is equated with hurting children. It’s against the law in Sweden to spank a child. And it’s against the law, I think, in some states in America. I’m not sure.
Well, I will go to jail over that issue! Talitha is to the point where I don’t think in terms of spanking my 13-year-old daughter anymore. But I did when she was little.
I could give a whole theology of spanking here, but maybe I’ll just boil it down. Why does this person feel squeamish about spanking? My guess is that it is a wrong view of God.
Deep down, does this person believe that God brings pain into our lives? Because Hebrews 12:6 makes the direct connection: God disciplines every son whom he loves, and spanks everyone that he delights in (my paraphrase). And the point there is suffering. God brings sufferings into our lives, and the writer of the Hebrews connects it to the parenting of God of his children.
This is a wrong view of God! God uses suffering to discipline his children. So do we.
Now, you don’t damage a child. You don’t give him a black eye or break his arm. Children have little fat bottoms so that they can be whopped.
When my sons were three and four years old, at their worst stages, drawing with orange crayons on the wall, they knew what was going to happen. So one day, just to give you an illustration of how this works emotionally, I found an orange mark on the wall in the hall upstairs from a crayon. Just about Barnabas’ height. And he’s three or four.
So I get Barnabas. I say, “Come here Barnabas. Did you make that mark on the wall.”
“Yes.” At least he’s honest.
I said, “We have a rule against that. You know you cannot draw on the wall with your crayons. You’re old enough to know that.”
“So what should happen?”
I said, “That’s right.” So I take him in the room, and whop! And he cries easy, so he cries. And when he’s done crying, there’s a big hug. And I say, “Don’t do that again, OK? Daddy loves you and we don’t mark on the wall, OK?”
Three minutes later he is bouncing off the walls, happy happy happy.
Now if I had said to him, “You go into your room and you sit there and you stay there until you feel appropriately guilty, and then we’ll see if you come out and do the right thing,” what a wicked way to punish a child!
Spanking is so clean! It’s so quick! It’s so relieving! A kid feels like he has done atonement and he is out of there and happy.
To these modern ideas of timeout, or sitting in the corner, I say, “Bologna! Give me a spanking! I want to go play!”
I just think spanking is really healthy for children. It is a measured deliverance of a non-damaging act of mild pain that makes the child feel the seriousness of what he’s done. It is not beating. It is not abuse. There is a clear difference. The very word “spank” exists because there is such a thing as a loving way to whop a child on his behind or his chunky thigh.
According to Baptist Mom, Nicole Munoz:(link no longer active)
Spanking teaches a child to develop inner self-discipline.
Spanking is punishment for a crime, payment for a debt. In other words, once paid, they have a clean slate. Spanking takes away the guilt, because the crime has been paid for.
Spanking properly prevents abuse because the parent does not build up anger toward the child and then explode on the child.
Spanking is the most effective tool for child discipline.
Spanking insures a good parent-child relationship.
Spanking is Biblical, Christian behaviour.
Spanking teaches a lesson and decreases child violence.
The Bible teaches that a parent who loves their child will spank them. Proverbs 13:24, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Proverbs 29:15, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” America’s prisons are filled with youth and adults whose parents didn’t agree with God. No parent is right with God who allows their children to run the streets, not knowing where they’re at all times and keeping tabs on them. It is every parent’s responsibility to protect their child, to keep away from bad influences. The Devil knows that children are very impressionable and he has a bid for your child!
God put that padded area in the back for a reason. A child should only be spanked on the buttocks, which is why God made that area well upholstered. Child abuse is a sin. No parent should ever knee-jerk their child in anger. A good ole belt across the rear-end hurts like heck, but won’t break a bone. Sticks or boards are hard and should not be used. Hard objects should not be used, which may cause injury. In the old days, parents would make a flexible switch from a small tree branch. Perhaps you think that whipping your child is abuse, but not disciplining a child (so that they grow up to spend their life rotting behind bars in prison as a criminal) is a thousand times worse!…
The Bible is clear that little children are born in sin. Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” Because of this God has given parents to children to discipline then, to spank them, and to teach them the awful results of wrong. The plain teaching of the Scripture is that the parent who disciplines his child does the child and parent a great favor. Let us notice these favors.
The parent who spanks the child teaches him to have wisdom. Proverbs 29:15, “The rod and reproof have wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” The child is taught the wisdom that sin does not pay and that it brings displeasure, discomfort, and heartache. He will learn to associate wrong with punishment and thereby flee from it.
The parent who spanks his child provides himself with a happy future. Proverbs 29:15b, “. . . .but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” Oh, the heartbreak endured by parents who have failed to discipline their children. Many such are decaying old folks’ homes across the nation and around the world. They sit by silent telephones and search through empty mail boxes made so by the ungrateful child whose life is bringing shame and reproach to Mother and Dad. While these lovely souls pine their hearts away in remorse, their old-fashioned counterparts enjoy security, protection, provision, and love from those whom they spanked and disciplined as children.
The parent who spanks his child guarantees him a clean life. Proverbs 20:30, “The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil; so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.” In other words, the parent who disciplines cleanses the child from evil character and inward sin. The child has been taught that sin brings trouble. He learns to fear and hate it. Someday he will rise and call his parents blessed.
The parent who spanks his child offers for himself more opportunities for service to God. In writing to Timothy in I Timothy 3:4,5 Paul says that a pastor should be one who “ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” He also disqualifies from the office of deacon one who does not control his children properly. I Timothy 3:12, “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” Hence, one who does not follow God’s plain teaching about discipline is not qualified to hold either of the offices in the New Testament church. God will not use men who disobey Him in this vital matter. One reason God blessed Abraham so mightily is the fact that he could trust him to “command his children and his household after him,” according to Genesis 18:17-19…
The disciplining parent adds years to the life of his child. Exodus 20:12, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” What a favor the parent has done to the child when he disciplines and spanks him. He literally adds years to his life.
The parent who corrects his child will probably save the life of the child. Proverbs 23:13 says, “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.” Now at first reading we might be led to believe that the teaching of this verse is that the rod itself will not kill the child and certainly this is true if administered properly, but there is another teaching here: The child who has been spanked and taught that doing wrong brings bad results, tragedy, and punishment will less likely brawl or be killed in a car wreck because of drinking while driving. He is not as likely to die of some terrible disease caused by sin. In other words, he will be taught to live a safer life than he would have lived had he not been disciplined. Ah, how fortunate is such a one.
The parent who spanks the child keeps him from going to hell. Proverbs 23:14, “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” A child who is spanked will be taught that there is a holy God Who punishes sin and wrong. Hence, he will learn to heed authority and obey the laws and rules. When he then hears the Word of God he will obey what he hears and will accept the Gospel as it is preached. The parent has kept his child from hell by teaching him truths that can be learned only by discipline and the use of the rod.
The spanking parent teaches his child how to equip himself better for the future, for he will obtain a better education. When the child has been taught to respect authority, obey the rules, and keep the laws before he starts to school he then transfers this obedience and respect to his school teacher. Because of this he receives a better education, better equips himself for life, and will be of more value to society and reap a larger financial reward. Hence, the parent who disciplines his child Scripturally is putting money in his pocket and success in his future.
Let the child realize that you are simply representing God in the execution of the punishment. Explain to him that parents represent God before their children and that they are ministers to execute His judgment. Psalm 103:13 says, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” So God is like a father and He chooses fathers and mothers to represent Him in the punishing of little children. Let the child realize that if you as a parent do not punish him properly, you are being disobedient to God and committing the same sin the child is committing. Explain to him that you are a child of God and if you refuse to obey God in the execution of His judgment upon your children, God will pour out His wrath upon you. For you to be a good child of God requires that you be a good parent to the child. Let him understand this. He will get the idea that God is a holy and just God, One Who loves and yet One Who wants us to become out best. For this to be so He must punish us when we are deserving.
Sometimes spanking should leave stripes on the child. Proverbs 20:30 says, “The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil; so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.” Our natural man rebels a such punishment, but we are reminded in I Corinthians 2:14 that the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit. Hence, we have to trust the God Who knows more than we and obey Him.
I can recall when I was a boy we had a peach tree in the back yard. I do not ever recall seeing a peach grow on that tree. When I think of the old peach tree I think of Mother walking back from it with a branch in her hand, peeling the leaves off as she came. I then recall her using that switch to spank my little bare legs. I can still see the stripes often left by that switch, and I thank God for every one of them. Today I call her “blessed” because of her faithfulness to the teaching of God and her willingness to obey Him. Placing stripes on me as a child kept me from bearing more painful ones as an adult. Ephesians 6:4 says, “And, ye fathers. . . bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The word “nurture” means “chastening.” It is the same word that is used concerning the scourging of Christ as He was beaten with the cat-o’-nine-tails. The wise and spiritual parent obeys God and follows His commandments, not his own reason.
Begin early in spanking the child. Susannah Wesley said she spanked John and Charles before they were a year old. Certainly the wise parent will start by at least this age. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” This means there is a time in a child’s life when no hope is left. During the formative years, yea, the infant years, the child should be spanked. As soon as his is old enough to walk away from his parents he should be spanked if he does not walk where they say he should walk. As soon as he is old enough to understand what they say he should be spanked if he disobeys what they say. This Scripture admonishes us that even when a child is so young that his crying reaches our sympathy, and though it is hard for us as compassionate parents to spank one who seems so innocent, we should nevertheless discipline him. Parents should not have to remove vases and delicate glass ornaments from living room tables. A house need not become disorderly and full of riots because a baby has come. Start early in disciplining the child.
The parent should build such a close relationship that the worst part of the spanking is the broken fellowship between the child and the parent. I can still recall how disappointed my mother’s face looked when she spanked me and I can recall how I dreaded displeasing her even more than I dreaded the spanking, (and believe me, I DID dread the spanking). When the love and affection is close between the child and parent and the relationship is what it ought to be, the worst part of a whipping is the broken fellowship. In other words, when the parent is not disciplining, the relationship should be so wonderful, the fellowship so sweet, and life so happy that the severance of that in itself is terrible punishment for the child to endure.
The spanking should be a ritual. No mother or father should jerk the child up and in a fit of temper administer a spanking. In fact, no punishment should ever be given in a fit of temper. The ritual should be deliberate and last at least ten or fifteen minutes. (In the long run time will be saved using this method.) It should be a ritual dreaded by the child. He should not only dread the pain but the time consumed in the ordeal.
The punishment should always be far in excess of the pleasure enjoyed by doing wrong. The child should realize he will always be the loser by far and that the discomfort will be so multiplied that soon he will have forgotten the pleasure derived from the wrong.
The parent should state very clearly to the child the wrongs and the punishment for each one. As near as possible these wrongs should be listed with the punishment that is to be inflicted for each one. If the punishment does not seem to correct it, then perhaps it should be increased. Some parents have made lists of possible wrongs and have carefully gone over this list with the child explaining exactly what each punishment would be. The punishment is inflicted without exception so that the child will know exactly what to expect.
Before punishing the child tell him clearly what wrong he has committed. Talk sternly and deliberately without a display of temper. Let him know exactly what he has done wrong. Then require that he state to you exactly what the wrong was so that what he did is very clear to you and to the child. Then, ask him what the punishment is. By this time he will know. Let him know that to be just and righteous you must inflict the punishment reminding him that you are doing it in the place if God against Whom he has really sinned.
Never give a child that for which he cries. The baby who cries for attention and gets it will become a child who cries for a toy and gets it, then a teenager who whines and complains for every whim and gets it, and then a young adult who will demonstrate and riot in order to get his wishes. Riots are not started in the streets but in the crib.
The spanking should be administered firmly. It should be painful and it should last until the child’s will is broken. It should last until the child is crying not tears of anger but tears of a broken will. As long as he is stiff, grits his teeth, holds on to his own will, the spanking should continue.
After the spanking tell him why you did it. While he is still crying have him sit down. Explain to him again what the crime was and that you had no alternative but to obey God and punish him for the crime. Ask him again to repeat to you what he did that was wrong. Allow the impression of the association between the wrong and the penalty to be cut deep in his mind.
Then the wise parent should assure the child of his love and explain the reason he spanked him was because of that love. He should then have the child remain in the room alone. (All spankings should be administered in privacy and with a closed door.) The parent should have a brief prayer with the child. Lead him to realize his sin was against God. Ask the child to pray asking God to forgive him. He should then have time to be alone in the room to think over his wrong for a few minutes. After two to five minutes the parent may open the door and allow normal activity to resume.
…But I also knew people whose children were absolutely delightful to be around. They did not interrupt; they did what their parents asked immediately and politely – even cheerfully; they happily played independently of their parents; and between parents and children, pride, adoration and love were mutual and obvious.
These were the kind of children I wanted and I knew I could be a great mom to children like these. But how do you get a well-behaved child? You can’t just put in an order for one and expect to receive it.
I had already observed many times which discipline methods did not work to bring about polite and obedient children. So I sought to find out what parents of well-behaved children did differently. Whenever I met someone whose children were well behaved (and whose family was close and loving), I would ask, “How do you discipline your children?” Invariably, the answer was some sort of controlled spanking for disobedience and then some sort of loving explanation as to why the child received a spanking. Also, invariably, that method was started early in childhood (about age one), and tapered off by age nine with a rare spanking after that – because by then spankings were rarely needed.
Most of the people I interviewed were Christians following the Biblical directive of discipline with the “rod.” I looked up all the Bible verses concerning child discipline. There were several, but some were particularly pertinent. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15) How true! And we have all seen it! “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” (Proverbs 29:17) Also true. All the children I had observed who had been disciplined according to those Biblical directives were the type who would delight any parent’s heart.
For me, the method of discipline seemed obvious. I wanted polite, affectionate and obedient children. I would do what worked and what I had seen proven over and over again. When my twins were born I was doubly glad that I had researched so thoroughly because caring for twins is so exhausting and stressful in the early years. I know I could not have coped with one ill-behaved child, much less two! I started disciplining my girls when they were about a year old, and I’ve never regretted using this method. At age 13 my daughters are polite, well-behaved at all times, and we are very close. Every stage of their lives has been a delight – even through the “twos” and now into early adolescence.
Sadly, sadly, I see in the newspaper and on television these days: “Don’t ever strike your child!” or “Spanking is child abuse.” And I wonder where these people are coming from! By my definition (and millions of other parents) a “spanking” or using the “rod” as some people term it, entails a couple of swift whacks on the child’s clothed behind with a ruler, wooden spoon, or paddle. And that’s all. No ranting or raving. No screaming or raging. No harsh or hurtful words. No sarcastic or cutting remarks. Just a quick spanking and then a few minutes lovingly telling the child why he was spanked, how much he is loved, and how to keep from being spanked in the future…
…All discipline systems are not alike. There are some discipline methods that sound great and are “politically correct”. But do they work? Do they produce polite, obedient and cheerful children? Unfortunately, most do not. The method that I’ve described – spanking under control, followed by a loving talk, does work. (From Mark and Sallie Benedict’s Christian Parenting Network)