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I Am A Child Abuser??

July 15, 2014

This morning, I came across this picture on Twitter:


And me being me, I can’t resist giving a quick comment:

• I don’t know that we normally tell children they are “broken”; but every parent knows that you have to tell your children when they do something wrong, and that doesn’t necessarily make it easier for them to do what’s right. In light of that parenting reality, “broken” is a fairly good way of describing the human condition!

• Again, most Christian parents don’t tell their children they are “lost” – but if we do, we also point out that Jesus is there for them; they have already been “found”. Not scary, just comforting!

• I’ve definitely never heard anybody tell me or my children that they are “unworthy”; being saved means being forgiven and brought into fellowship with God. Yes, we don’t deserve it, and yes, I could (and do frequently) say that nobody is worthy of God’s grace – but that’s adult teaching, not Sunday school stuff.

• As for needing to be led, well, any parent and teacher would know that children do not automatically do the right thing. They need to be taught to walk, to eat, to get dressed; they sometimes need to be coerced to go to school, to do their homework, to avoid drugs, to stay safe… I would think that neglecting those elementary parental duties would be more likely to be labelled “child abuse”!

• When my children climb a tree, they look to me to help them get down if they get stuck, and to catch them if they fall. Anything else would surely be child abuse! They rely (mainly) on their mum to provide food for them. In need of another’s strength? Absolutely! And so are adults; when we went to France, my wife relied on me to speak to people, since I have a linguistic strength that she is lacking. That’s why we live in communities, rather than each one of us in splendid isolation. Why should it be abusive to tell others that we all need spiritual strength as well, and that there’s only one source that can provide it?

• As for “labels”, if this refers to calling children “Muslim babies” or “Christian children” – well, funnily enough, I agree with the atheists on this one. Children are born to parents of a particular conviction, who will want to pass that on to their children. If “religion” was simply a set of rituals you acquired as you grew up, then a label would be appropriate. Christian faith is about choosing to follow Jesus, and a little child obviously can’t do that; therefore, I prefer to assume children are born neutral, and will at some point have to make up their own minds.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tell them what we believe! Everybody does, automatically; there’s no less indoctrination involved when parents demonstrate that their main focus in life is pleasure or money or football, then if parents live for Jesus. That teaching isn’t done through words but through lifestyle.

• The final one is basically correct, although I would change “faith” to “Jesus”; this idea that “faith” in itself, regardless of its object, is somehow what Christianity is all about, is rather bizarre. The only way faith leads to righteousness is if it’s faith (=trust) in what Jesus has done. But if that is true, as I believe it is, how can it be labelled “abuse” to tell children about it?

This insistence that teaching children about God is child abuse actually reminds me of the Soviet Union, where parents were not allowed to share their faith with their own children. I don’t think they embellished it by calling it “protecting children from abuse”, but the end result was the same: the ruling elite decide what is kosher to believe and to pass on the next generation. That is not democratic; it’s not in accordance with human rights; it’s not how families and societies work; and – especially when the ruling elite is wrong (1984, anyone?) – it might even be child abuse!


From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

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