Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Thank You For Spanking Me Dad": What the Arrest of a Father Implies About the Culture & Why Spanking is Necessary

In October 2008 my wife gave birth to our first child, a son. And I have and intend on continuing to spanking him. Sadly, this may mean that I might face a fine or even jail time as a punishment for my actions. My conviction for the necessity for spanking children is primarily two-fold: 1) Scripture exhorts parents to discipline their children via spanking and 2) it works.

If you don't believe me, just ask Pastor Barry W. Barnett, 43, from Wisconsin who has been arrested for spanking his 12-year-old son for lying. The father has been released on a $10,000 bond but could face up to 3 years in prison if found guilty of felony charges of abuse against his children.

What is most interesting about this case is that the 12-year-old son has publicly thanked his father for spanking him and his daughter has been seen standing outside the courthouse holding a sign that says, "Thank you for spanking me dad." Nonetheless, the actions taken by the father are viewed as abusive and going too far.

This case and the gradual spread of similar cases and beliefs around the country has some important implications worth discussing.


THE CULTURES VIEW OF PARENTING & PARENTS


One implication is it reveals the cultures true colors as it relates to parenting, parental rights, and children. What is interesting about this case is the response by Pastor Barnett's children. Both the son and the daughter have expressed gratitude towards their father for his "abusive," behavior. Even at their age, they see the benefit of his actions.

But more importantly, the children do not view their father as abusive, but loving. The words and actions taken by these children reveal this conviction. No daughter who believes they are being abused upon having their father arrested would stand outside of a court house in protest thanking their abusive father for "beating" them. No. Rather, a daughter who knows that her father deeply loves her, cares for her, wants the best for her, and would never harm her nor put her in harms way does something like this.

This case reveals what our culture really thinks about parenting the rights of parents. We used to be a country that trusted each parent with the responsibility of raising their children and gave each parent the freedom to raise their own child. Now, however, government has become a spy cam, a watch dog, always seeking to prosecute and remove children from their parents for various reasons.

At this point, it should be made clear that abused children should not remain in abusive homes. I am not arguing that right now. What I am arguing is the fundamental attitude of the culture and of government that says that we will be allowed to be parents so long as we go along with the criteria set by those in state capitals and in Washington.

As a result, every child now has an extra parent: the government. Plato would be proud. In fact, Plato argued that children should be removed from their parents virtually from birth. He believed that parents were dangerous and ran the danger of indoctrinating their children with the wrong ideas. He feared that parents didn't really know what they were doing and so could not be trusted with the responsibility. Therefore, he wanted to remove children from their parents and place them in an institution where they will be raised by the "philosophers," that is, those "qualified," and able to raise them.

I fear that we are dangerously getting close to living out that dream. Public schools have taken children away from their parents and they now spend more time in the presence and under the responsibility of state run schools than they do their parents. Very few parents even know what is going on in and what their child is taught at school.

Furthermore, the growing trend of women in the workforce has affected this trend. I am not against women working, but I do believe that home is more important. It would be better to live a mediocre life (financially speaking) and make one's primary focus on the raising of a family than to live a more "successful" life (financially speaking again) and have very little concern and influence on the raising of one's children. Sadly, whenever women went to work, our culture left the raising of children to someone else. And the result hasn't been good.

Another trend that has contributed to this is the mass exodus of men from the home. Men aren't as involved in the raising of their families as much as they used to be. The father used to both disciplined and provide for his family. This mass exodus, for whatever the reasons and there are many, has led to the role of government to replace the traditional role of the father.

Also, this exodus has led to the increasing trend of children growing up to be...well...wimps. Men are leaving along with their sternness and form of discipline. Similarly, with the exodus of men came the belief that their forms of discipline, specifically spanking, were abusive. With the rise of psychologists in a sissified cultured came the belief that not only is spanking not needed, it is morally wrong.

Therefore, those who spank are abusive and must be stopped. And as this though continues to grow influence among politicians and the "elites," legislation is being passed, parents are being arrested, and "justice," is being done. As a result, parents are virtually given permission to raise their children from the hand of government and psychology.

This is a dangerous trend. Though many may not describe their parental authority in this way, even worse, most remain unaware of this trend, this is exactly what is happening. If the government or psychology views the actions taken by parents to be abusive or wrong, then government has the authority to replace the parents with someone else.

We see this trend in various ways. Perhaps the clearest example is in the public school. Parents, for the most part, have very limited say in the education their children received. Even worse, parents have accepted this limitation and adopt it. Therefore, schools can now take their students on "field trips" celebrating the marriage of their female teacher to their lesbian spouse. And to object to this action taken by the school is viewed as wrong and closed minded.

In the end, what we see is the cultural understanding of parenting. Parents are no longer free to parent. They are free to only raise their children as the culture sees fit, and that is not freedom at all.


A CLEAR MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE NATURE OF MAN


Secondly, it reveals the clear lack of understanding of the truth nature of children and in men in general. One of the clear differences in the worldviews between liberals and conservatives is their view of human nature. Liberals traditionally see man as ultimately good. Conservatives see man as ultimately evil.

Christians, traditionally, believe that man is evil as a result of the fall. This understanding is called Original Sin. It says that all human beings inherit the sinful nature born out of the fall of Adam and Eve. Therefore, every person has a bent towards sin.

As a result of this sin nature, God must overcome this nature by first redeeming the individual. he does this by Justification and Sanctification. The parents role, it is understood, is to lead the child to Christ and to guide them on the road of sanctification. This process involves discipline.

Since each child is born with a sin nature, modern attempts to correct a child's behavior fall short. As I have said many times before, giving a child time-out only gives the child a chance to rest in order to start all over again.

In short, modern psychology and modern trends in discipline simply doesn't work. Why? Because it fails to deal with the real issue of human nature: sin. Discipline is to prevent sin from solely taking control of the individual. Both God disciplines, and so parents are to discipline. Parents are to model God, not culture.

One of the primary reasons I believe in spanking is because it works, while at the same time, at the end of the day the child, when it is done right, does not feel abused but loved. Spanking works, time-outs don't. This does not mean that alternative means of discipline shouldn't be used or practice. But I can usually tell between the children that are spanked and the children that are given time-outs. One is usually obedient, the other isn't.

Since spanking works and it is not abusive (thought it can be. But it must be pointed out that other forms of discpline can be turned into abuse, not just spanking. The issue isn't the discipline, but how it is administered), I will be spanking my child with the love of Christ and the love of a father in my heart. Not because I am angry, but because I love him.

As my heavenly Father disciplines me for my foolishness and disobedience, so I will displine my son after the example given me by God. And I would much rather mimic my Heavenly Father, than anything presented in the culture.


For More:
Blogizomai - Update: Breaking The Law By Spanking Your Children
Shortblogizomai - The Lunacy of Anti-Spanking Experts

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Abortion: Is Common Ground Possible?

It took three debates but one of the most divisive issues in America was discussed: abortion. Though there are signs of "fatigue," among many, even among Evangelicals, abortion remains to be a definitive issue of our time. For the past 35 years, the two sides have raged over the wrong of the other. In recent years, however, there has been a growing number of Americans that are seeking to reach "common ground" between the two sides.

But is common ground possible? If the two sides could come together and make up, it would stand as one of the most incredible reconciling actions ever in the history of the world. Politics would never be the same. The two sides are directly opposed to each other on this issue. The reason abortion is so critical is because it the offspring of one's worldview.

On the one hand are those that hold that all life is sacred. Believing in the sanctity of life means that God, who is Creator of all life, creates life not for the heck of it, but for His own will and purposes. The fight over life, then, become an inherently religious one. Belief in a God who creates life in His image means that all life is worthy of life. Life is a gift from God, and that gift must not be taken away. Therefore, we must defend life at all cost.

But it even goes deeper than that. The human conscience is at stake here. A culture that rationalizes murder at the beginning of life can easily rationalize murder throughout all stages of life. Take issues like euthanasia and infanticide for example. If life is no longer sacred, then culture defines who is worthy of living. If culture becomes the arbiter of "life worthy of life," then culture rewinds to the 1940's and we become Nazi Germany. Therefore, defending life at conception means more than just overturning a court decision, it defines the very direction of our country. Man is not the arbiter of life, God is.

On the other end, pro-choicers affirm a woman's autonomy over her own body. Government has no right telling a woman what she can and cannot do with what is hers. Freedom demands it. Culture and government cannot have the right to assert religious views on those that do not hold to them. There is, the Supreme Court found, a "right to privacy."

Those who hold to this conviction usually do not seek abortion, but honestly want to limit the number of aborted infants. To do this, they seek the underlying social and economic causes: poverty, singleness, rape, incest, the child might be born with a handicap thus making it harder for them to be raised, the mother's career might be at stake, the mother might be young, inexperienced, not ready, etc.

The tracing of these causes leads to the issue of the quality of life for the infant. With the world being overpopulated, is it not wise to limit the born to those that are wanted and have the best chance of happiness? It is not necessarily that the life is not sacred, but that sometimes it might be best to end the pregnancy for the couple, the woman, and for society as a whole. Being pro-choice represents liberation from religious oppression and the right to have control over one's own body.

These are two very different worldviews. One says that all life is worthy of living despite the social and economic causes of pregnancy and sees the dangers of such a trend, the other warns of the dangers and uncertainties that raising children might bring. Pro-lifers ask, "what about the child?" Pro-choicers ask, "what about the mother?"

It is hard to imagine these two worldviews could be reconciled. This is why it remains the contentious issue that it does. Both sides hold dear to their worldview and don't seem to want to change their minds. Murder is murder. Choice is choice. There is no reconciling these two.

Or is there? There is a growing number of people, especially among more moderate Evangelicals, that believe that they have found the great compromise: Reduction.

Perhaps one of the major spearheads of this "compromise" is Emerging Church leader Jim Wallis . After watching the recent, and last, Presidential debate between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, Wallis is believes he is beginning to see glimmers of hope that this compromise might be reached.

After quoting the two candidates in the debate on this issue, Wallis concludes with the fol owing:


There are indeed profound moral issues involved in the decisions to have or not to have an abortion, and most Americans believe that. Most also believe the abortion rate in America is far too high but are hesitant to completely deny the difficult choice to have one.


Abortion reduction is the clear common ground that could unite the pro-choice and pro-life polarities and bring us together to find some real solutions and finally see some results. John McCain and Barack Obama last evening opened up the possibility of finding some new common ground in reducing abortions, reflecting the 2008 Democratic and Republican platforms. There is also now some movement in the Congress with pro-life and pro-choice members looking for common ground solutions for reducing the number of abortions that are proven to work. New and compelling studies make the clear connection between abortion and poverty, with fully three-fourths of the women who have abortions saying that they just couldn’t afford to have the child. It will be a great day when both poverty reduction and abortion reduction become non-partisan issues and bipartisan causes.


Life is precious. John McCain believes that, Barack Obama believes that, Sarah Palin believes that, and so does Joe Biden. In fact, I’m not sure I have ever met a person who believes otherwise.


Freedom is fundamental. John McCain believes that, Barack Obama believes that, Sarah Palin believes that, and so does Joe Biden. Again, I’m not sure I have ever met a person who believes otherwise.


Americans are for life. Americans are for choice. The challenge for our political leaders, our religious leaders, and every American is to hold freedom and life together even when they seem to collide. We should do all we can to make sure we have as much of both as possible. And we can start by having a better conversation about abortion in this election and beyond. Thankfully, the first steps toward that conversation were taken last evening.

But is abortion reduction the answer? Those in the Emerging Church, and others outside it, firmly believe that it is. Tony Campolo makes this argument in his book, "Red-Letter Christians." The idea is to mix the two worldviews, find common ground, and execute the plan. The emphasis at this stage is on having the "conversation."

But will this conversation ever accomplish anything? How do you convince someone that reducing murder is ok whenever the very idea of murder is repugnant? How do you convince someone that "limits" are the answer whenever the ultimate issue is liberation from limits? Yes, dealing with social and economic causes behind the desire for abortion are helpful and they might reduce the number of abortions, but state-sponsored murder remains.

Here is the problem with trying to find common ground on many issues is, it doesn't solve anything, nor does it bring unity, it only delays the issue. The two are irreconcilable. I will never be satisfied until life is defended by the State. How do you reconcile that with the polar opposite?

Though Wallis' aim might be commendable it is simply naive. The idea that we can all get together, light a candle, sing the Coca-a-Cola theme song and we will solve our problems reveals how blind he is on this issue. It seems that the Emerging Church, as a whole, has compromised their pro-life position, which the vast majority of them seem to hold, in order to support candidates that defend abortion and yet at the same time want to save the planet. It seems, at least to me, such a trend shows that they care more about the planet than the life that populates it.

Do I want reduced abortions? Of course. But that is not enough. Does finding the social and economic causes behind most abortions help reduce them? Of course. But it is not enough.

Even if poverty vanished, raped ceased, incest was nonexistent, and all handicaps were cured, we would still be dealing with the abortion issue. Why? Because the reasons for abortion are deeper than economics and social issues. The real purpose of abortion is that it creates a backup plan that enables one to avoid the consequences of their actions.

We want sex. But we don't want the consequences. And we live in a culture that is absolutely convinced that they can have one without the other. And if one does become pregnant, there is always the option of abortion. "But don't feel bad," we console ourselves, "it's not your fault. Your poor, were raped, the child will be handicap, he/she will keep you from living your dreams, etc."

Again, we return to the Garden narrative. Like the first couple, we are trying to place the blame on something else. We live in an illusion that it is never our fault. It is time that we live in the world that God created. Though mistakes result in unwanted consequences, in this case pregnancy, that does not mean that God's glory is in anyway diminished.

We must return, at this point, to the pro-life view. Because all life is sacred, we know that even those situations that are not ideal, God's glory can still be revealed. A mother uncertain of where the next meal is coming from can still find reason to smile and trust in a God who loves her and has forgiven her whenever her child's first words are "momma!" And a culture that has for so long seen children as a burden can once again return to it's proper understanding that all life is sacred and worthy of life.

God still judges and causes us to bear the burdens of our own consequences. But He is also the God of love and mercy that always finds a way to remind us of His love even whenever we find ourselves broken, confused, and hurting. The gift of life is precious, and that can never be compromised!