Sage is the most awesome girl in the world. I don’t deserve her and it is a miracle we are together. We are within a few years of a decade and I am proud of our marriage.
I have written my own story elsewhere. I would link to it except that Sage is trying to remain anonymous. Sage has already told much of my story.
To one who has grown up outside of fundamentalism or conservative evangelicalism, much of this seems strange. Yet our stories with their unique details are the result of deliberate efforts on the part of “spiritual leaders” to consolidate power by creating schisms in the body of Christ. Scripture informs us very clearly that this is the modus operandi of the heretic. The will to power continues to feature prominently in the social economy of the new schism and the scourge of Gentile leadership so completely condemned by Christ becomes an indelible marker of that body. It is then no wonder that American conservative Christianity bites and devours one another and kills so that it may obtain! While their great ones love to have the preeminence and lord it over those who in turn love to proclaim that they are of this or that leader or “man of God.” They are become fast and firm friends with the world as they indulge in the worst kinds of worldliness.
Our so-called churches are focused on butts, bucks, and buildings as they seek to define God’s blessing in terms the world will readily understand. Our churches are built not by Christ but through the charisma and leadership skills of professional CEO-pastors who build the work on the backs of those once welcomed with love but now regarded only insomuch as they are become cogs in the machine. It’s Orwell’s “Animal Farm”.
Christ did not die for this. We will not live for this. Sage and I are thoroughly convinced that life on earth means something, that it was meant to be lived and not sacrificed on the altar of some concept of the eternal that does nothing but destroy lives and condemn the world to destruction. If Christ wants to meet with us here he is free to do so. But our fundamentalist parents and “spiritual leaders” have already sequestered too many of our adolescent and early adult years and forced them into their freakish version of Christian utopia for us to submit another second to their teachings and lifestyle.
I’d like to conclude by examining the one thing that finally pushed my wife and I out of fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism for good: their take on child discipline. What seems like a minor side topic actually touches on core issues with the Bible and with Christianity. When you accept the fundamentalist approach to Scripture you eliminate textual problems while creating some very large moral ones. That it is easier for the fundamentalist to rationalize God being okay with the Israelites hacksawing their enemies live than to part with their approach to Scripture says quite a lot.
The book of Proverbs says quite clearly to “train up a child” in the way he should go, and when “he is old, he will not depart from it.” This is the core text for advocates of Biblical corporal punishment. The next text, again from Proverbs, is “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
Truthfully, many fundamentalists leave the matter here, allowing for a variety of spanking methods from hands to belts to sticks and a variety of intensities all to be determined by the parent. Some have even claimed that the “rod” meant is not really a big stick but something more along the lines of a switch. But when it comes to hitting children the matter must be taken farther so we can begin to understand how dangerous and harmful any Biblically-based system of corporal discipline is.
First we will deal with the phrase “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.” We are also told in Scripture that the “heart” is “desperately wicked” and that “in sin” our mothers “conceived” us. The Christian doctrine that explains this is called “original sin” and explains that by virtue of Adam’s sin we are all sinners from birth. This necessitates the death of Christ, the second Adam, to take away the curse of the first.
It is important to recognize this implication because it naturally leads to the concept of breaking a child’s will. According to Proverbs, the will to sin is thoroughly buried in the heart of a child and the way to end this is through corporal discipline. And, according to the doctrine of original sin, every child has this will, which then needs to be broken. Although fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals do not believe that breaking the will equals salvation, they strongly believe that breaking the child’s will makes them receptive to the gospel when they are old enough to submit to it. So then breaking a child’s will becomes a matter of heaven or hell.
Secondly, we must deal with the phrase “the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” I will be a good fundamentalist and let scripture interpret scripture here. Proverbs also says, “(t)he blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.” So wounds in the flesh and welts on the skin cleanse away evil, even to the inward parts like the heart. The rod of Proverbs is one that, in its character and application, will wound and leave welts on the child, and so drive away the foolishness (or sin) bound up in their heart. It makes sense considering that the next step up in the time that Proverbs was written was public stoning of the child.
Even in fundamentalist churches that do not develop the doctrine of corporal punishment as far as it’s connection with original sin and it’s call for breaking the child’s will, the attitude and results end up being the same. I quote Jack Hyles, a legendary fundamentalist leader, from his book, “How to Rear Children”:
“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.'”
Hyles won’t even admit the Biblical imperative for leaving stripes as a condition of inward cleansing of evil, and softens it down to say “sometimes”. It’s ironic when fundamentalists don’t take Scripture literally.
We have no plans to use “Biblical discipline” on our children. Quite frankly, it’s barbaric, and what we know today about children’s developmental processes, psychologically and otherwise, makes it false and unhelpful, along with any other Biblically-derived system of child rearing, coming from people like Gothard, Pearl, Ezzo, SM Davis, Dobson, or anyone else.