Tag Archive: Evangelicalism

It’s Time to Tell The Truth: I Had an Affair

 

silhouette of woman

It’s time for me to come clean.

I can no longer hide from my past.

The ugly, ugly truth must come out.

I had an affair.

I had a mistress.

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.

Her name?

The Church.

repost, edited and corrected

Taking Off the Sheep Clothes — the Musings of a Wolf

wolf sheeps clothing

As my fame continues to spread across the internet, people who used to know me are finding out that I am no longer a pastor, a Christian, a believer in God, etc.  I suppose this is how it must be. If I am going to write publicly, use my real name, and talk about my life as a minister, I am going to be “found out.”

I know I am responsible for this. I choose to write what I write. I choose to be honest and direct. I choose to recount my past and present life as I understand it (and I say this because I realize others may see my life and the past differently).

I could have chosen to write anonymously. I could have made this blog (and the previous iterations of it) private. But, that’s not me. I have always been direct and open.  Rarely have I heard someone say about me “I don’t know what you mean.” In my younger years, directness and openness were better described as blunt and abusive. As a minister-in-training, I was taught to speak the truth without regard to the feelings of others.

This way of speaking my mind has served me well over the years, but it also has provided me many opportunities to apologize for the times when silence would have been the better course of action. I continue to be schooled in the fine art of shutting upwhether with the words I speak or the words I write.

Just recently, I had the opportunity to apologize to a former church member for running her family out of the church because she wore pants. Her husband asked me if I thought his wife wearing pants was a sin. In no uncertain terms I said YES! In every way this couple were fine church members, dedicated followers of Jesus. The husband drove one of our church buses. Yet, because I thought women wearing pants was a sin, the church lost a good family. How much better would things have turned out if I had said, Well that’s between you and God. But I couldn’t do so. I was God’s man and directness was the only way to speak God’s truth.

These days, I suspect my openness and directness threatens some people, especially those who have had an intimate relationship with me in the past. They would rather I leave things alone. They would rather I leave the past buried in the past. No need to talk about old times best forgottenOne former pastor friend told me that I shouldn’t talk about the past and my defection from the faith lest I cause others to lose their faith.

I can’t do that. While I don’t want to be a person who lives in the past, I realize that understanding the past is essential to my well-being in the future. If I learn nothing from the past, there can be no growth in my life in the present.  The key is not to be shackled by the past. I must learn from it, embrace it, but I must not allow the past to keep me from moving forward in my life.

It seems my “outing” is working its way down my résumé and list of family and friends. I told my wife the other day that I thought most everyone now knows about my apostasy from the Christian faith. Well, maybe my first grade teacher doesn’t know.

In First Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul writes about it being commonly reported that there was incest going on in First Baptist Church of Corinth. Based on these common reports, Paul made a judgment about what was going on in the church. So it is with me. It is now commonly reported that Bruce Gerencser has apostatized. Sermons are even preached about me. (here, here, and here)

As many of you know. I co-pastored the Community Baptist Church in Elmendorf, Texas. I was excommunicated from the Church in 1994. Several years ago, a member of the church stumbled upon my deconversion story at John Loftus’s blog, Debunking Christianity.   Here’s the comment left by her:

So the wolf has finally taken off his sheep’s clothes. Took a while.

When the Church officials excommunicated me in 1994, they declared that I was a publican and a heathen. The Bible says in Matthew 18:

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

My apostasy makes perfect sense to the people in San Antonio. It is simply the full manifestation of what they declared I was in 1994, a publican and a heathen. I was a wolf in sheep’s clothing (John 10:12 and Matthew 7:15) , a satanic angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) , a false prophet (2 Peter 2).

But what does this say about them? They were certain it was the will of God for me to be their pastor. Evidently, they were not as discerning as they should have been. This lack of discernment  has been a common problem for them. Prior to my excommunication, they had excommunicated 2 other pastors, and countless Church members.

I was not excommunicated for anything one might consider grounds for being booted out of a church. No stealing of church funds or screwing the church secretary. No trying to foment a church split (although I could have). No deep, dark, secret sins. No, my transgression was that I butted heads with the man who started the church. He was bull-headed, arrogant, opinionated, and temperamental and so was I. Like two little children, we both wanted our own way. Eventually, I decided I no longer wanted to play and I was excommunicated for my refusal to play.

In a church service akin to a scene from a Catholic Inquisition, I was in absentia found guilty and excommunicated, not only from Community Baptist Church, but from Christianity altogether. For a few years, I tried to resolve the conflict between me and the other pastor (Pat Horner). He rebuffed every attempt at reconciliation. I saw the conflict as a personal matter. He saw it as a matter between me and the Church and God. (Horner is no longer the pastor; Kyle White is.) In the eyes of Community Baptist Church, I am, and will always remain, a publican and a heathen. Unless I return on hands and knees to the church and repent of my sins, there is no salvation for me.

Well, that’s not going happen. I am having too much fun enjoying my life as a publican and heathen.

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UPDATED: Serial Adulterer David Hyles Has Been Restored

david hyles

David Hyles, present day

If you have not read The Legacy of Jack Hyles, I encourage you to do so.

David Hyles, son of adulterer Jack Hyles, once an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor and a serial adulterer, has come out of the hole he crawled into (Hyles deleted his blog after it was publicized) over twenty years ago, and he telling all who will listen that he has been restored.

Restoration in the IFB movement is like a slum lord who remodels a house. The slum lord is only concerned about the rent money so he rehabs the house just enough to make it look acceptable and then he puts the FOR RENT sign in the window. Behind the paint and underneath the stained carpet is the same cockroach-infested house that existed before the slum lord rehabbed the house. So it is with restoration in the IFB church movement and in much of Evangelicalism.

David Hyles has found two preachers to help him rehab his life: Mike Johnston and David Baker. Johnston runs a ministry called Promise Ministries International Center for Biblical Studies (PMI) in Battle Creek, Michigan. PMI is a distance Bible and pastoral training ministry that focuses its efforts on people in prison.

David Baker, a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College,  is the pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Columbia, Tennessee.

What kind of church is Lighthouse Baptist? A screenshot from the church’s web page will tell us all we need to know:

lighthouse baptist church columbia tennessee

Lighthouse Baptist Church, Columbia, Tennessee

David Hyles has found two pastors who hold to his dead father’s philosophies and beliefs to help him restore his life. Asking IFB pastors, especially those who hold to a perverted, truncated, cheap view of grace, to help you restore your life is like asking the town drunk to help you stop drinking.

I am all for people trying to turn their lives around. I am all for people trying to change their ways. However, I think to do so a person must own his past behavior, be honest about his actions, and not expect people to just forgive and forget.

David Hyles, by all accounts, was a serial adulterer. He had sex with numerous women in multiple churches. Some of them may have been underage. His sexual conquests are well documented. His father covered up his son’s perverse behavior and helped him get a fresh start at a new church. At the new church David Hyles repeated the same conduct that got him into trouble in the first place.

In 2007, the following expose of David Hyles appeared on The Conservative Babylon website (no longer active):

Claims to fame: Son of Jack Hyles; former Youth Minister, First Baptist Church of Hammond; ex-pastor, Miller Road Baptist Church (Garland, Texas); accused serial adulterer; divorcé; cohabitator; alleged child abuser; suspected child killer

Moral apex: As the story goes (we don’t know; we weren’t there), somebody at Hyles’s church discovered porn magazines containing ads for group sex which, they reportedly claimed, featured photos of Hyles having sex with church member Brenda Stevens (by some accounts, the daughter of a deacon). A story soon surfaced that Hyles had had extramarital sex with some 19 female members of the church.

Every one of these women was apparently stupid enough to think she was Brother Dave’s “one-and-only,” according to a voice on a taped phone conversation attributed to Dave’s wife Paula. And, as you can guess, it appears more than a few marriages where destroyed when the truth came out.

What happened next: It appears to outsiders that Miller Road Baptist threw him out, and his wife divorced him and took off with their two kids, and he started living with Stevens (out of — gasp! — wedlock) in Illinois.

Where it gets really tragic: Stevens had a small son, Brent. Dave Hyles was suspected of abusing the boy — who had suffered some eight or nine broken bones in his short life, which had never been treated. Brent was taken out of Hyles and Steven’s Illinois home and given to his biological father in Texas. Within a few months, for reasons beyond comprehension, Brent was returned to Stevens.

And then, in late 1985, 15-month-old Brent was found dead in his crib. Hyles, who had been alone with the child, claimed he found him not breathing, and called police. It has been suggested in a few online articles that Dave’s father Jack arrived before the cops did.

A coroner’s inquest into Brent’s death (at which Hyles took exercised his Fifth Amendment rights — and which the baby’s mother doesn’t appear to have attended) was apparently thwarted because the little boy had been embalmed and buried (reportedly the very next day after his death), before a proper autopsy could be performed. (An empty bottle of Actifed — for which a prescription had been filled only the day before Brent’s death — was found at the scene.)

Without any physical evidence of wrongdoing, Hyles was not indicted. The case remains open.

If those who follow the Hyles story are correct (waving at the Fighting Fundamentalists!), n the mid-1990s Hyles went to work teaching Sunday school at a Pinellas Park Baptist Church in Florida — which reportedly expelled him on charges of adultery. It’s also been reported that he was thrown out of the next church he attended (Berean Baptist Church in Orange Park, Florida), for “sexual misconduct” with three different women.

(One of those women is assumed to be church secretary Joyce Phaneuf, who appears to have been arrested for prostitution in 2003. Assuming this is the same Joyce Phaneuf, her mug shot and arrest report — which notes the tattoo on her right-upper thigh, reading “David’s Girl” — are available at everybody’s favorite finger-wagging site, The Smoking Gun.)

Just when you think it can’t get any more tragic: Hyles, it’s said, finally married Stevens and they had their own child together, a boy named Jack David. In March, 1999, when the child was five years old, Stevens was reported to have run over him with her car, killing him. According to news reports, she claimed he must have fallen out of the vehicle, and she didn’t know it….

What does David Hyles say to reports like the one on The Conservative Babylon? He ignores it and refuses to directly confirm or reject the behaviors he is accused of. Instead, in a blog page titled, David Hyles: My Story (page no longer available), Hyles writes:

Others may be reading this book merely out of curiosity. You heard of me and read many of the horrible stories about me. Now you want to know what I am going to say in defense or in explanation. I trust you will not be too disappointed, but this is not a tell all book. I have no intention of defending myself nor do I plan on trying to separate the truth from the legion of lies. I do not believe it would bring honor to God for me to try and explain what is and is not true. Explanation often leads to excuse or blame and I desperately fear that. You do not need to read about my sins. You just need to know that whatever I did do when I was away from the Father, God in His rich mercy and grace has restored me to HIMSELF. This is a book about grace. I trust that God’s grace and not my sins will be glorified.

In other words, whatever Hyles did or didn’t do, he ain’t tellin’. God has forgiven him, it’s under the blood, time to move on. Time to move on meaning, I have written a book I want you to buy.

david hyles greatest men

Jack Hyles, David Hyles, Jim Krall, World’s Greatest Men

Hyles has some sharp words for his critics:

First you are hurting the lost. Several years ago I worked with a young man who knew I was a Christian. This young man was searching. He had dabbled into several religions in his search. He respected me and began to question me about Christ. God was working in his life and I felt he was very close to accepting Christ as his Savior. Someone, in an attempt to hurt my business began circulating an email through my workplace and he received it, anonymously, of course. He never again listened to me and eventually our paths parted. I pray every day for God to save him. It was not MY sins that turned him away. No, actually it was the evil spirit of those my accusers who claimed to be Christians. He wanted no part of that.

Secondly, you are hurting the fallen. Countless Christians have seen what you have done to me and to others who have fallen and decided to just disappear rather than being restored. I believe that there have been suicides and other tragedies that could have been prevented if a fallen brother or sister had felt there was hope. You diatribes on your filthy forums serve Satan’s purpose well.

Thirdly you are hurting those who I have hurt. Please hear me on this. Every fallen pastor or Christian leaves hurting people in their sinful wake. I did. I know that. It breaks my heart. David did too and his heart was broken. There is little we can do to repair the damage. Their deliverance must come from God and it will not come from revenge or retribution. It will come only from forgiveness. Please allow God to be God and to deal with his children as He will. Stay out of it and encourage those who have been hurt to find their peace from God not from your vigilante system of internet justice.

Allow me to elaborate on this just a bit more. People who are hurt by a sinner are destroyed by bitterness. No one’s sin can destroy your life. Our loving Father would not allow that. He stands ready as a loving Father to pick you up and mend your broken heart. Sinners (and that includes us all) do bad things that affect other’s lives. For all have sinned… However, if we get them to take their eyes off of the offender and place it on the Savior they can be healed. Closure does not come from our flawed idea of justice. It comes from letting God heal us even as He deals with the one who offended or hurt us.

Fourthly you are hurting you! The manure you are hurling fails to hit me but your hands sure do smell of the filth you have no business picking up. I am sorry for the pain that makes you feel that somehow you will gain some kind of satisfaction from trying to hurt me. I wish this book could give you the peace you are lacking but I sincerely doubt it will.

Finally and most importantly, you are hurting the Father. I have news for you that is not going to please you, but here goes. GOD LOVES ME and I AM SAVED AND FORGIVEN! I fell but, you see, when a Christian falls we do not fall away from grace, we fall into it, hence the name of this book. I am in His grace and one day I will stand before Him clothed in the righteousness of His Son and not the sin of my own.  Why would you dare try and hurt the heart of God? Is it because there is unconfessed sin in your life? Are you so far from Him that you have lost the sweetness of His mercy and grace in your own life? That is sad.

David Hyles, in the manner of countless abusers before him, refuses to own his past behavior and points the finger at those who attempt to hold him accountable for what he did. Hyles thinks he has a get out of jail free card. He thinks the blood of Jesus has cleansed him from all of his past actions, and if God has forgiven him so should everyone else.

David Hyles perpetrated acts against real flesh-and-blood people, and if he is serious about turning his life around he MUST deal with the men, women, and children he hurt. Putting his past actions under the blood, cast into the sea of God’s forgetfulness, might play well in IFB churches, but here in the real world where real hurt must be atoned for, David Hyles is expected to own his past behavior, make a complete confession, and, as much as is humanly possible, make restitution to those he hurt.

It is clear from David Hyles’ blog, Fallen In Grace, (which he deleted once it was publicized) that he is still a believer in IFB doctrine. No matter what “sins” he committed, no matter how perverse his life was, because of the IFB doctrine of “once saved, always saved,” Hyles was always a Christian. No matter how many people he hurt and abused, he was always God’s child.  This turns the Christian gospel of grace on its head, and no matter what a person might have done, if he, at one time or the other, mouthed the right prayer, he is a Christian.

This is why David Hyles can reinvent himself and start fresh. As countless preachers before him, his God has hosed off the shit from his life, and he is a clean, fresh-smelling Christian. However, I suspect the people David Hyles hurt and abused can still smell the shit. Their lives were forever marred by the perverse actions of David Hyles.

I have no doubt David Hyles will convince a lot of people that he is truly a new man and that God has a wonderful, new, exciting ministry for him. Christians love a comeback story and Hyles is counting on their gullibility to make a new life for himself.

For those of us who lived through the David Hyles scandals and the Jack Hyles scandal, we are not easily fooled. When David Hyles demonstrates true acts of repentance and restitution, then people such as I might, in time, be willing to give him a twelfth chance. Based on what Hyles has written so far, he sees no need for repentance or restitution. He sees no need to make things right with those he victimized. God has forgiven him and THAT is all that matters. Because of this, I am inclined to think that David Hyles is just another disgraced IFB preacher trying to make a comeback because he needs some money.

jack hyles passion for sunday school

Just today, Bob Gray, retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, Longview, Texas, announced that his publishing house will soon release a book by David Hyles.  Longview, you might remember, is the church that gave David Hyles a rousing and warm welcome when he visited there a couple of years ago.

Bob Gray’s version of Christianity leaves no one beyond the grace of God. It requires no repentance or restitution. It requires no accounting of crimes committed or people defrauded. All that matters is that a sinner prays the prayer and his or her ticket for heaven is punched. According to Gray, David Hyles has a fire insurance policy that can’t be revoked.

The publishing of this book is a reminder that David Hyles, like his father, is a narcissist. Imagine if Hyles wrote a book titled, I was Wrong: My Apology to Those I Hurt. Most people would appreciate his willingness to come clean about the past (though fessing up to what might have been murder might land him in the slammer). Instead, Hyles writes a book about his father. By doing so, Hyles reminds everyone that is paying attention that nothing has changed. Ain’t God good!

Notes

Let me be clear, I don’t think David Hyles is evil personified. He is a man with a wife and a family. He has sisters and a mother. I must never forget that is he a fellow human being. But, he also has a sordid past, a past he is unwilling to deal with. His unwillingness to do so casts a long shadow over his present life. Hyles thinks that the blood of Jesus is some sort of magic potion that makes the past disappear. While that might play well in places like the Longview Baptist Temple, there are a number of people, IFB pastors and church members included, who are outraged by Hyles’ narcissistic, unrepentant behavior. To these people, men like Bob Gray are enablers who encourage people to make light of their sin. Is there no sin that carries a societal and church death penalty? In Bob Gray’s world, evidently not. A decade from now, when convicted sex offender Jack Schaap is released from the federal penitentiary, I have no doubt he will find a home at the Longview Baptist Temple. Why, he might even become a worker in the youth group, sharing, like the Apostle Paul, stories from prison.

David hyles facebook

David Hyles’ Facebook Profile Picture

You can check out David Hyles’ Facebook page here

Much of Hyles’ Facebook wall is private, but his older status updates are public. Take a few minutes to read them. I suspect you will notice, as I did, that he loves to quote himself, proving that he is a chip off of his father’s block.

David Hyles Google+ page

Several preachers are listed as friends on Hyles’ Google+ page including  Bob Gray, retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, Bob Gray II, current pastor of Longview Baptist, and Joel Fugate, assistant pastor Clays Mill Road Baptist Church. (Jeff Fugate’s son)

David Hyles’ mother, Beverly, has a blog

David Stewart’s defense of David Hyles

Romulus, Michigan Police Department report about one of David Hyles’ girlfriends. You can read the full report at the Smoking Gun.

Police Report for Joyce Phaneuf, a Church Secretary and Once a Girlfriend to David Hyles. Notice the Report Mentions a Tattoo, David's Girl?

Police Report for Joyce Phaneuf, a Church Secretary and once a girlfriend to David Hyles. Notice the report mentions a tattoo, David’s Girl?

David Hyles at a monument to his Dad

david hyles at monument for his dad

David Hyles, at a monument to memorializing Jack Hyles. I think the phallic design is fitting.

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What I Found When I Left the Box

Man hiding in box

Yesterday, I wrote a post titled The Danger of Being In a Box and Why It All Makes Sense When You Are in a Box.  A commenter on Reddit asked if I would elaborate on this part:

“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.

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The Danger of Being in a Box and Why it Makes Sense When You are in it

man in a box

 

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.

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Frozen Embryos: If Life Begins at Conception

3 day old human embyro

Three Day Old Human Embryo. Why He Looks Just Like his Father.

According to anti-abortionists life begins at conception. At the very moment the sperm and egg unite, a new life is created. Anti-abortionists are intractable when it comes to their position. Life begins at conception…end of debate.

Let me tell you a story……

This story takes place at the We Make Life Possible Fertility Clinic.

Sue gave birth to a beautiful baby girl through in vitro fertilization. Her baby girl is one month old . Sue stopped by the Fertility Clinic to show off her newborn to the Clinic staff.

While Sue was at the clinic, a huge explosion rocked the place and the clinic was engulfed in flames. Later speculation on World Net Daily, suggested a supporter of Barack Obama was behind the attack.

John, named after John the Baptist, a pro-life activist, happened to be passing by the clinic when the explosion took place. John went running into the clinic hoping to perhaps save someone from the fire.

John had been to the We Make Possible Life Fertility Clinic before. His wife Patience had problems conceiving, and not wanting to wait on God to open her womb, John and Patience went to Clinic. While the treatment was successful, Patience miscarried a few months into the pregnancy.

John knew the Clinic stored hundreds of fertilized eggs (embryos) in a freezer. As he rushed into the Clinic, John saw Sue huddled in a corner with her newborn daughter trying to get away from the fire. John thought, “Surely I should save these two.”

John thought for a moment, asking himself What Would Jesus Do? Suddenly, he realized the fire was going to destroy all the frozen embryos. John told Sue and her baby Sorry, maybe Jesus will come rescue you, and he rushed to the freezer where the frozen embryos were stored. Through John’s heroic effort, hundreds of frozen embryos were saved. Sadly, Sue and her newborn daughter were burnt to death.

Who among us would fault John? After all, he acted according to the greater good. Who wouldn’t save two hundred lives at the expense of two lives?

The above story follows the logic of the life-begins-at-conception viewpoint to its illogical conclusion.  There is no difference between two hundred embryos and Sue and her baby. Life is life. It makes perfect sense for John to save the frozen embryos and not Sue and her little one. Surely John would be praised for saving the two hundred embryos, right? If the clinic is unable to reopen, perhaps the frozen embryos can be put up for adoption. After all EVERY embryo is a life.

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You, Me, and the Bible

bible

There’s You.

There’s Me.

And there’s the Bible.

You believe the Bible. You believe it is God‘s Word. You believe it is inspired, inerrant, infallible, and supernatural.

I don’t.

You believe the Bible is God’s divine road map.

I don’t.

You believe the Bible is God’s moral and ethical rulebook.

I don’t.

You believe the Bible gives us everything we need for this life.

I don’t.

You believe the Bible is truth.

I don’t.

You believe the Bible is the rule by which we are to measure all things.

I don’t.

You assume everyone thinks like you.

I don’t.

When you quote the Bible to me, please remember what I have written here.

I know what the Bible says.

I know Christian theology

I can quote the Bible.

In fact, I have likely read and studied the Bible more than most American Christians. My rejection of the Bible is not due to a lack of knowledge or understanding.

I am more than happy to talk to you about what the text of the Bible says.

I am more than happy to talk to you about theology.

But, please remember this is an academic exercise for me.

I don’t have your belief about faith, God, the Holy Spirit, and the afterlife.

What faith requires, I do not have.

I am a permanent resident of Missouri.

Hustling for Jesus: Christian Home-Based Businesses

christian business

Comic by the wildly entertaining Jeffrey Weston, at Ape, Not Monkey.

Suzanne, who blogs at Every Breaking Wavehad this to say about her experiences with home-based Evangelical Christian businesses:

One of the things that the ladies kept trying to pound in my head during those early days, besides telling me that I should use “To Train Up A Child” to discipline my very ill child, was that if I was going to be a good Christian submissive wife I was going to have to not work outside of the home. Which was foreign to me, I’d always had some sort of job outside of the home, even if it was part time, and mostly tried to work at a time when Jim could take care of the kids so that they didn’t have to go to daycare.

This was the first time I’d heard of the family economy. I did this for a year or two, did the quilting, to make some money while I was incapacitated by the fibro. But eventually I did go back to working outside of the home, to the disappointment and derision of the ladies of the church. I just kept telling myself that they didn’t know any better, none of them had college educations and it seemed like a waste of my own education to not work.

But like any good cult, eventually the messages being replayed over and over again went into my head and I started seeking a way to do the home-based economy thing, find something I could do. When I started making flags it seemed like the perfect answer, most of what I made was either an air-brushed design, or something like a 9 foot long half round lame flag with an inset of glittery chiffon or a special shaped, painted, stoned, flag that was one of the kind. One of the most popular ones I sold was a half round flag with a flaming sword appliqued into place and bejeweled and stoned with a hand-worked sword hilt on the flag handle.

What I’m trying to say is that the flags were one of a kind, hand made, designs I’d come up with, more like art work than anything mass produced. I charged accordingly, because, none of those things I’m talking about are quick and easy. Sometimes I’d have close to sixty dollars in materials alone in the flags.

At first I sold quite a few, and I’d get contacted frequently to make something special, or perhaps an entire set of flags just for a church. Did so well and had enough orders that I quit my job as a systems admin at an insurance company. Home-based economy, honoring God, etc…

…With the flags and large banners I ran into a snag after a few months, a snag I’ve seen played out again and again and again in the Christian home economies in many different divisions.

It would go something like this. I’d be at a teaching conference, or someone would see my now-defunct website and start asking questions about one of the items. Most of the time this was about the half round 9 foot long flags with a half round center of glitter bedecked chiffon, not an easy item to make, but one that I’d managed to come up with a nearly fool proof method to make. I had my own pattern I’d made, and my own special technique for appliqueing in the center, while cutting away the solid lame in the center. It wasn’t easy, but it was my way to do it that worked every time.

The problem with this particular highly-coveted flag is that you needed a minimum of 5 yards of very expensive materials. It was usually about sixty dollars for fabric in that particular one. The ones that contacted me proclaiming what Good Christians™  they were also were the very ones that demanded either a) a big discount or b) to know exactly how I made that flag so they could make their own. Why? Because the $90 I was charging was thought to be too much for this item that took lots of expensive fabric and the expertise to make.

Many times I’d give in with a sigh, sketch out how to make one if I was at a conference, or explain via email. Usually what happened is that the person would get so far into the project, screw it up and then demand I fix their mess. For free. Most of the time when I looked at what they’d done I’d have to point out that they’d mangled the delicate fabric so badly that they’d have to start from scratch again. Would have been way cheaper just to buy from me in the first place

Eventually I’d sell the pattern, but people would still balk at spending ten bucks for a pattern and demand I explain for free.

And the people who were whining and demanding were also screaming out what Good Christians™ they were so I owed it to them because I was a Christian.

I got to see that Good Christian™ dynamic at work in just about every place, public secular business or Christian business, people saying that since they were doing the work of the God they deserved a discount or freebie, who would not let up until they got their way. Vyckie Garrison and I have had discussions about the Good Christian discount whine.

To add insult to grievous injury every single freakin’ time I’d come up with a new design, something I’d sketched out, made the pattern for and then made the sample and posted it on my website within a week I’d see a badly executed copy made from discount fabric of my original design up on Ebay for a cheaper price. To me that is what separates true artists from the artisans. Artists do it because it’s inside of them, artisans are just looking to make a buck.

Even as sales were decent after awhile I got most burned out by the attitudes of entitlement, the begging, whining, demanding a discount and the general intellectual thievery. I stopped making flags for anyone but myself, or when someone who’s seen one of mine and is willing to pay without whining. Just readied a big box of flags going on a missions trip to Cuba next month.

One thing I started to notice during my years at good old Creek Church, the tendency of the Creekers and other Good Christians™ to take advantage of people, press every advantage and try to drum up business by means fair and foul. Example, just about everyone that sucked up to the Pastor’s wife bought Pampered Chef merchandise and many ladies at the church signed up to sell beneath her every single time she started putting the pressure to people over being Good Christians™ helping out each other.

It was as if none of them thought hard work and conviction was enough, they had to press every advantage and try to game the system each and every time. Some of them still are, hence Mrs. 5 by 5 fleecing two different sets of the elderly she did the books for out of over 20K. Today I saw her with another new senior citizen that has a small business and I’m going to see if I can talk to her newest employer’s relatives before she steals from this women…

… Here’s what I learned in the last twenty years plus years dealing with Fundigelicals and their businesses/home based economies:

(1) If they can take some small advantage of you, then they will. If you call them on it they will claim it’s their right as Christians to be entitled to more or they outright deny they’ve done it.

(2) They believe if they can whine, beat you down, demand, threaten or haggle long enough you will give in to their sense of entitlement and give out something for free or deep discount. Why? Because Christian! Because Bible!

(3) If you happen to not totally agree with their flavor of True Believer then they might refuse to serve you and/or jack up the charges.

(4) They act like they have some sort of moral superiority over you all the while behaving badly.

You can read the entire article here.

Suzanne’s wonderful rant and roll got me to thinking about my own experiences with Evangelical Christian home-based businesses/Christian businesses and a church that considered establishing such businesses as a command from God. Let me share several stories with you.

First, let me say I don’t have a problem with a person starting a home-based business. It is a great way to make money. But, when such businesses are wedded to a religious ideology, that’s where I have a problem. While Polly and I were ardent homeschoolers and came into contact with a number of families who had home-based businesses, we never had the desire to have a home-based business (the money was a lot better in the “world”).

In 2005, while we were living in Newark, Ohio, we attended Faith Bible Church in Jersey, Ohio. Polly and I really loved this church, and we thought maybe, just maybe, we had found a church to call home.

Faith Bible was a growing patriarchal Calvinistic, Reformed church filled with young families with lots of children. Everyone home-schooled, the women kept the home while the men worked, and home-based businesses were quite common. I suspect Faith Bible had a lot in common with the church Suzanne mentions in her post.

One day after church, our family was fellowshipping with several families and the discussion turned towards our family. It was assumed that we were like they were, that Polly was a keeper of the home and that I was in the world making money to support my family. When Polly let it be known that she cleaned offices for State Farm and that I was unable to work, the air was sucked out of the room and the friendly discussion stopped. It was quite clear that the manner in which we were trying to keep our heads above water was disapproved of, perhaps even regarded as sinful. From that moment forward, everything changed for us. We felt a sense of distance from other church attenders, and it was not long before we decided to attend church elsewhere (we attended Faith for many months).

It was not uncommon for families at Faith Bible to have a lot of children. Polly and I have six children, and in most churches that would be an exceptionally large family. At Faith Bible? We were just one large family among many. With families being so large and women not being permitted to work outside of the home, home-based businesses became an easy way to supplement family income.

Churches such as Faith Bible have a distrust of the government. They are quite conservative, vote Republican, and think the government should stay out of their lives. The Terry Schiavo case was in the news while we were at Faith Bible, and I vividly remember a discussion that went on one night at a men’s meeting. Everyone, well everyone except me, was against allowing Schiavo’s husband to terminate life support. I found it ironic that the men felt the government should step in and stop Schiavo’s husband, yet, to the man, they thought the government should stay out of our lives. (I did appreciate the respect the men afforded me even though I voiced an opinion they considered immoral. I suspect I was quite the topic of discussion later.)

What better way to stick it to the man, to get the government out of your life, than to operate a home-based business? There are few government rules or regulations that apply to home-based businesses. Often, such businesses fly under the radar. They often don’t have the proper licenses or permits, pay taxes, or file tax returns. This illegal behavior is justified as “not giving the immoral, godless government any more money than they have to.”

Suzanne mentioned what is commonly called “getting the Christian discount.” Years ago, my Fundamentalist grandfather operated an airplane engine repair shop, T&W Engine Service, at the Pontiac Airport (now Oakland County International Airport).  Tom Malone, chancellor of Midwestern Baptist College — the college Polly and I attended in the 1970s — owned an airplane that was housed at the Airport. One day, Malone’s plane was having engine problems and he asked my grandfather to take a look at it. (He knew Grandpa was a Fundamentalist Christian) Grandpa did, told Malone what was wrong, and how much it would cost to fix it. Malone asked for the “Christian discount.” After all he was doing the Lord’s work. Shouldn’t a Christian businessman want to help out a pastor? Grandpa told Malone that there would be no discount. Malone was quite upset that Grandpa wouldn’t give him preferential treatment.

I pastored Evangelical churches for 25 years. I can’t tell you the times I had a business owner ask me if I wanted the “pastor’s/church discount.” In every instance I said NO! Just because people are Christian or pastors doesn’t mean they deserve a discount. Yet, some Christians and pastors have no problem begging for Jesus. Like Tom Malone, they say they are doing the Lord’s work, and shouldn’t EVERY business owner want to give God’s special people a discount?

While businesses often grant Christian discount requests, it doesn’t mean they like it. They are pragmatists, fearful that if word gets out that they aren’t giving the discount that they will lose customers who are Christian. Maybe they will, but better to lose customers than to do business with those who try to extort you in the name of God. (A political example of this was John McCain being stuck with Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008. McCain hates Evangelicals, but fearing the loss of the Evangelical vote, he gave Republicans the ‘Christian discount” and made the IQ-challenged Palin his running mate.)

I, for one, do not frequent businesses that use the fish symbol to advertise their business. By using the fish symbol they are saying to me that Christian business and Christian money has more value than mine. From time to time, I will run into Christians in store parking lots selling their wares. Often they try to convince me to buy by giving me a guilt-laden speech about the money going to support their Christian family, their church, their youth group, orphans, or overseas missionaries. I NEVER buy from people who use Jesus to make a buck. In fact, I go out of my way NOT to buy from them (and mock and insult them if they try to pressure me into buying).

I pastored one church where I had to ban home-based sales marketing during church. From Mary Kay and Avon to Pampered Chef and Tupperware to Girl Scout Cookies and Amway, church members tried to get other members to buy their wares or attend their parties. I began to think that the church was turning into the story in the Bible about the money changers in the Temple. I saw myself as Jesus cleansing the Temple. As I look back on this, I now realize that my preaching helped to promote such an environment. I was a complementarian, traditional-family, women-not-working believer, so church women, for the most part, didn’t work. This created a huge problem because most of the families were quite poor and they NEEDED two incomes to make ends meet. Wanting to honor the commands of Bruce Almighty®, they turned to home-based businesses to supplement their incomes. Rarely did their home-based businesses generate as much income as they would have made in the evil, sin-filled, secular world.

Several churches I pastored had Christian business owners that also home-schooled their children. In every case, the children became a free or poorly paid work force. One such business was totally staffed and operated by children. What upset me the most was that the children would be running the business during the times they should have been home doing their school work. Their parents told me that their children did their school work in the evening. They used ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) materials so very little parental involvement was needed. This family never properly registered with the state or local school officials, so they were pretty much free to do what they wanted. Still, I am surprised no one ever reported them. I suspect one reason they weren’t is that the children were quite engaging, a pleasure to be around. It was hard not to see them as a rural Ohio version of a sweat shop.

Let me reiterate, I am not against home-based businesses. I am all for people making money and providing for their families. What I am against is the religiosity that is connected with many of these endeavors. Putting out a booklet that lists all the home-based or traditional Christian businesses in the area is a sure way to make sure they never get one dime from me. I expect the people I do business with to compete in the marketplace. I expect them to play by the rules, have the proper licenses and permits, and pay taxes.

Notes

Just in case someone is getting ready to whine and complain, I am not saying that all home-based Christian businesses are like those mentioned in this post.

Over the years, numerous Christians have called me up to schedule an appointment to share with me a wonderful, God-honoring way to make shit-loads of money. (OK they didn’t say shit-load.)  A.L. Williams, Amway, Excel, and more vitamin, weight loss, better health MLM  programs than I can count. In every case, they are no longer in business. Evidently, God failed to bless their hustling for Jesus.

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Why Do So Many Evangelicals Abuse Their Children?

jesus spanking sinners

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 lies The 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

Video Link

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.

Notes

Here’s the advice Focus on the Family gives about spanking

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.

From Michael and Debi Pearl’s book, To Train Up a Child:

“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.”

Here’s what John Piper says about spanking:

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.”

“Yes.”

“So what should happen?”

“A spanking.”

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 works.

Spanking is Biblical, Christian behaviour.

Spanking teaches a lesson and decreases child violence.

According to David Stewart:

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!…

According to Jack Hyles, in his book,How to Rear Children:

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.

Jack Hyles gave this spanking advice to parents:

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.

Jamie Pritchett, author of Kid’s Need Lots of Love and Spanking, wrote:

…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)

071816

Does the Bible Advocate Beating Children?

dennis the menance being spanked

Dennis being spanked by his Dad with a hairbrush

The Bible speaks, you decide. And please, no revisionists; a rod is actually a shepherd’s crook used to gently guide the sheep (children) along. The Bible says:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Colossians 3:20

In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding. Proverbs 10:13

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. Proverbs 13:24

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Proverbs 22:15

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 23:13,14

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back. Proverbs 26:3

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Proverbs 29:15

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

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

spanking

Man spanking his son

These verses are often used to justify the brutal, violent beating of children and teenagers. God demands obedience and those who refuse to obey should be beaten into submission. Through the centuries, countless Christian parents have used paddles, whips, hair brushes, books, belts, or anything else that was handy, to beat their children. Better to beat them than lose them to the devil, right?

Most of us who were once Bible-believing, sin-hating, devil-chasing Evangelical literalists now see that our disciplinary methods were abusive, cruel, and ineffective. It’s hard to look back at how we “disciplined our children as unto the Lord” and not feel regret and shame. I know that’s how it is for me.

I was a stern taskmaster. I believed the Bible laid out the pattern I had to follow IF there was to be any hope of my children turning out well. I can now say that my children turned out well DESPITE the whippings I gave them. Their love and respect for me and their forgiveness of me overwhelms me. I don’t deserve it.

They know I was just doing what I thought God commanded me to do, but knowing that I inflicted unnecessary pain on my children is heartbreaking. I am often asked if I think all spanking is child abuse. In general, yes I do. I think there are better ways to discipline children than by hitting them. While I make some allowance for slapping a toddler’s hand, I do not think hitting, punching, or slapping a child is the best way to get them to obey.

Yes, the Bible says ___________________and we who desire to live in a less violent world must be willing to say that the Bible is w-r-o-n-g. The authors of the Bible likely reflected the way children were disciplined during their time, but we have come to the place where we now know that beating children, for whatever reason, is not only unproductive, but it is also abuse.

If you are a parent with young children, how do you discipline your children? I am an old man, the product of an era gone by, an era when violence against children was the rule and not the exception. If we truly want to live a nonviolent way of life, it must begin with our treatment of those who are innocent, weak, and vulnerable. If you had to give discipline advice to a young father or mother, what would you tell them? Please share your advice in the comment section.

071816

Bruce, I Love and Respect Your Position

mr atheist

What Evangelicals Really Think

No you don’t.

And you shouldn’t.

If you are a Christian, I mean a card-carrying member of the Jesus band, you should find my views abhorrent, loathsome, and damnable.

I know you say you are my friend.

I know you have become adept at separating the man from his message.

I appreciate the fact that you make an attempt to love me where I am and how I am.

But I wonder…

Do you really love me for being me or is your love a means to an end?

Perhaps you operate under the delusion that if you just love me as you think Jesus loves me that I will return to the Christian faith and the universe, your universe, will be in balance once again.

You hold on, hoping that the hounds of heaven chase me down and return me to Kingdom of God.

Sometimes I think you are like those people whose spouses have died. Night after night, they sit on the couch hoping that it is all a mistake and that their spouse is going to walk through the door.

I am not coming through the door.

It is time for you to embrace reality.

atheists are deceived

What Evangelicals Really Think

I am a non-believer.

I am an apostate.

I am a Christ-denier.

Outside of these things I am still a pretty good guy.

You don’t really love and respect my position.

How can you?

I stand in opposition to most of what you believe.

Besides, I voted for Obama

You believe the Bible is God’s truth.

I don’t.

You believe that all human beings are sinners in need of salvation.

I don’t.

You believe Jesus is the way, truth and life.

I don’t.

You think attending a church is the most important thing a person can do.

I don’t (but I do make exceptions for funerals and weddings).

What does the Bible say about someone like me?

Be honest.

I am a dog returned to his vomit (2 Peter 2:22).

I am a pig returned to the pig pen (2 Peter 2:22).

I have given heed to seducing spirits and the doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1).

I am a scoffer walking in my own lusts (2 Peter 3:2-7).

I am willingly ignorant (2 Peter 3:2-7).

I am a false prophet, a false teacher out to deceive all who come in contact with me (Matthew 24:11,12).

Let me remind you of what the Bible says about someone like me:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.

But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;

And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;

Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:

Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Peter 2)

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What Evangelicals Really Think

The Bible is clear. God has spoken. It would have been better for me not to have ever known Jesus, never to have been saved.

I understand why some Evangelicals become so violent, so aggressive with me. I am a fly in their ointment, a stench that can not be removed. Their answer is to declare that I never was a Christian, that I never was saved, that I never believed the truth, that I am a publican and a heathen (Matthew 18).

But YOU know better.

You know what I believed.

You know how I lived.

You know…

I don’t ask you to love and respect my position.

Stand for what you believe, what you think is the truth.

All I would ask of you is that you truly have an answer for the hope that lies within you (1 Peter 3:15).

Don’t tell me what your denomination, pastor, or church believes.

Don’t tell me to read the latest, greatest book by a Christian guru.

What do YOU really believe?

If you know what you believe, shout it from the mountaintops.

But, if you are not so sure…

If you have questions…

If you have doubts…

Consider me an alternative viewpoint.

I am not a guru.

I am not a prophet.

I am just one man on a journey from eternity to here.

This blog is the written expression of my journey.

It is my “bible.”

I am nothing more than one man crying in the wilderness of his own life, seeking to know and understand not only his own life, but the lives of those he inhabits the earth with.

Most of all, I am here to help.

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Hope for the Hopeless and Rest for the Weary

hopeless and helpless

I used to preach that Jesus was hope for the hopeless and rest for weary. Unfortunately, for many people, Jesus, or I should say the Evangelical/fundamentalist church, made them weary and hopeless.

What should have been a source of hope and rest turned into something destructive – so destructive that some people have thoughts of ending their life.

It shouldn’t be this way. I am convinced that Jesus, real or not, is not the problem. I find nothing in the words of Jesus that would cause me to lose hope or have thoughts of suicide.

No, it is what the Church has done with Jesus over the past 2,000 years that is the problem. God, Jesus, and the Bible have become tools of manipulation, control, and destruction.

I wish I could share with you the emails I get from people who are former, or trying to be former, Evangelicals. I can’t share them because I respect the privacy of those who email me. For some, my email inbox has become their confessional. I can tell you this: there are a lot people who are hopeless and weary as a result of their immersion in the Evangelical Christian religion.

They often have no place to turn. In many instances, their families or spouses are still in the church. They desperately need someone to talk to, but they have no one to turn to. They can’t go to their pastor — he wouldn’t understand. If they live in a small town, they can’t even seek out a local counselor because everyone will be sure to know (you would have to live in a small town to understand this).

So they suffer silently. In the night they toss and turn and wonder what has gone wrong. Where is God? There is no God. Where is the God of hope? There is no hope. Where is the God who gives rest? There seems to be no rest.

Their thoughts turn to suicide. No, I can’t do that, I’ll go to hell. Wait, there is no God, who gives a shit?

I want you to know I give a shit. I have been where you are and some days I am still where you are. There are a lot of readers of this blog who know your story. They have lived it. They are still living it. They know the struggle you are going through — the struggle of a life of faith that has turned into faithlessness, a life of believing that has turned into unbelief. Maybe you are like the man in the Bible who cried “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief.”

I am not out to convert you to my cause or change you. It does not matter whom you worship, where you worship, what you believe, or what label you give yourself.

My desire for you is hope and rest.

For many of us, the Evangelical Christian faith has damaged us mentally and emotionally. The wounds and scars run deep. All the attempts in the world to marginalize our feelings will come to naught. We know what we know…

It’s late.

I can hear the clock ticking.

Another night with no sleep.

I hear my lover snoring.

I think of our life together.

So much time wasted.

So much work invested in things that do not matter.

Years have passed us by.

God we served you.

God we loved you.

God we worshiped you.

God we left all to follow you.

Careers, ambitions, wealth, family…

All forsaken to follow you.

Only to find out it was all a dream, and a bad dream at that.

And so, in the still of the night, I reflect on the heap of my life.

What am I to make of all this?

Can I go on?

Will I go on?

I must go on.

God or not, there is a life to be lived.

God or not, I still must live as if I am dying.

Because I AM dying.

So much life yet to live.

So much life yet to experience and enjoy.

God is back on the shelf where he belongs.

Maybe I’ll dust him off again on my final day.

Probably not.

Until then, I will live morally and ethically.

Until then, I will love and hate.

Until then, I will walk the path called life the best I know how.

Without God, without the Bible, and most certainly without the church.

I still have hope.

My hope is no longer built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.

My hope is built on the love and goodness of humankind.

These days the only gods I see are my family, friends, and fellow humans.

I devote myself to these gods.

I worship them.

That’s enough for me.

I will leave eternity to another day.

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