“Don’t turn your face away.
Once you’ve seen, you can no longer act like you don’t know.
Open your eyes to the truth. It’s all around you.
Don’t deny what the eyes to your soul have revealed to you.
Now that you know, you cannot feign ignorance.
Now that you’re aware of the problem, you cannot pretend you don’t care.
To be concerned is to be human.
To act is to care.”
― Vashti Quiroz-Vega link
Today, I am focusing on two posts featured at The Gospel Coalition website. Both appear to demonstrate a disconcerting lack of understanding when it comes to two issues: spanking babies and the horrors of child sex abuse cover up.
1. Spanking a baby is abuse.
Last week, there was significant discussion throughout Christian websites on Jonathan Merritt's post, Christians have no moral rationale for spanking. This caused a brouhaha with the usual folks weighing in on the biblical™ reasons to spank, while Merritt's dad weighed in on why he wished that hadn't spanked his kids.
From Merritt's post:
…Eighty percent of born-again Christians believe that spanking is acceptable. This is 15 percent higher than the general population.
…In addition to the possible long-term psychological and physiological effects of spanking, there is an increased risk of immediate physical harm. After studying almost 2,500 children, Tulane University professor Catherine Taylor noted, "Hitting for discipline raises the risk of child abuse by three times, and by nine times if an object such as a belt is used."
I wish to focus on the abusive aspect of spanking. In the interest of being transparent, I want to tell you about myself. I read all the *correct* Christian literature on why Christians must spank. I tried it on my kids on a few occasions and decided that I was not cut out for spanking. So, I disciplined my kids using all sorts of methods such as time out and removal of privileges. Although I no longer believe in spanking a child, I also do not believe that everyone who spanks is abusive. Unfortunately, some people, particularly within certain segments of the Christian community do spank, and spank abusively.
The problem of abusive spanking
For the purposes of this post, I am focusing on the abusive aspects of spanking as exemplified by the Pearl method. Here is a link to a few posts we wrote on this. If you read these posts, you will see that the Pearls believe in such things as whipping babies if they start screaming.
they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming.
The Gospel Coalition featured a post Funner, Part 3 – Emotional Control written by one of Doug Wilson's daughters, Rachel. It wasn't a half bad post as it dealt with issues on how to help kids develop self control. I have some disagreements but they are not pertinent to this post. She didn't mention spanking which surprised me because Doug Wilson is an advocate of corporal punishment and I suspect she is as well.
….Here are four basic rules [of spanking]. . . .  Never spank in anger. . . .  Discipline must be painful. It must not inflict damage, so use a flat wooden spatula. . . .  Spanking should be a time of instruction. . . .  When the spanking is over, there must be a full restoration of fellowship. (Standing on the Promises, 121)
…If discipline is not painful, it is not discipline. At the same time, discipline must be proportionate and within reason. (Standing on the Promises, 132)
Bloggers and readers of blogs: a call to actively and purposefully confront suspected child abuse in comments.
However, there was a comment to the post that concerned me. I do not blame Femina for the comments. Goodness knows we allow a lot on this blog. However, the lack of negative responses to these comments leads me to wonder if this sort of thing is more prevalent and accepted in certain subcultures.
First, this woman "suspects" that spanking a four month old baby is too young. Just suspects?!! Then, she remarks that spanking a 1 year old baby is probably "too late!" Therefore, she wants to know when she should start spanking her baby! Good night! The spanking of babies is never, ever, ever appropriate. I consider this child abuse.
If this had been my blog, I would have taken that comment, featured it and begged the woman not to spank her baby. I would then offer her some resources and ask her to get some counseling ASAP. Folks, this is not a simple disagreement on secondary issues. This baby at risk of being abused.
Here is my plea. If you are a reader on our blog, or any other blog, and such a statement is made, speak out. Provide resources. Contact us if the remark is overlooked at TWW. If you are a blogger, please confront the thinking as thoughtfully as possible. The only way to make a change is to challenge this thinking at every turn. You may be saving a life.
Please join me in praying for Mary and the safety of her baby.
Child Sex Abuse Cover up is not a misstep
Recently The Gospel Coalition featured Authority in Weakness written by Collin Hansen. He reviewed the Joe Paterno situation, quoting extensively from journalist Joe Posnanski who was supposed to write Joe Paterno's biography. I agree with the core of Hansen's argument. A lifetime of good works can be wiped out with a single bad action. He encourages everyone to confess their sins so that the world will see that all of us have need of a Savior. (Although the words "boast in our weakness" part is a bit hokey. Why must they all overuse the expected tribal language?) He believes that leaders should openly confessing their failures, something that we have argued for here at TWW.
Instead, we seek the good of others before our own, careful always to confess our sin and boast in our weakness, so that Jesus might be exalted above all. We won't be perfect, but we'll offer credible witness to the power of the gospel.
Certain segments of the Christian community seem to want to hide our failings because it will "damage the church." But, the world already sees our faults so the only ones we are fooling are ourselves. One only need look at how the R W Glenn's book, written with Tim Challies, disappeared off Cruciform Press' list of publications with no explanation. Trust me, we all went looking for the reason and that is not due to gossip. Glenn set himself up as an authority on morals and should be questioned as to the soundness of his advice.
However, I believe that Hansen demonstrates a serious lack of understanding of the serious moral and life consequences caused by those who cover up or minimize child sex abuse. You need to follow his argument which centers around the fall of Joe Paterno. He portrays Paterno as living a good life of service to others who was unfairly taken down by a simple misstep at the end of his life. In other words, it shouldn't have caused this much of a public uproar. It requires "perspective."
Since he did so much good in such a storied career, we should keep his ending in perspective.
What does this mean? It appears that Hansen thinks that people are should be willing to forgive anything except outright child sex abuse.
Consider: when was the last time you heard moral authorities confess their sins? Did they lose your respect? Not likely unless you heard a confession from someone like Sandusky who ruined dozens of lives and deceived many others.
It also appears that he is saying that covering up child sex abuse is a simple misstep, not a horrendous sin that caused more abuse to occur.
A lifetime of good works can be wiped away after one misstep.
He makes the following statement which appears to blame those who believed that Paterno was guilty of more than a misstep.
We lift our moral authorities to tear them down.
But even Joe Paterno appeared to understand the ramifications of his actions.
Posnanski told the weakening coach, "You are Joe Paterno. Right or wrong, people expect more from you." According to Posnanski, Paterno nodded and said, "I wish I had done more."
Hansen then goes onto denigrate those who were angry with Paterno, saying they were kicking dirt on his grave!
You'll probably never do as much good as Paterno. And look what happened: as soon as controversy swelled around him, decades worth of enemies emerged to kick dirt on his grave.
He adds a comment by Posnanski in which he claims that it takes "superhuman powers" to do the right thing like call the police. (I always thought that it was a simple as 911.)
To call someone a saint or a fiend is to reduce him to cardboard," Posnanski writes, "to turn his life's decisions into mere computer code, to invest him with superhuman powers—in other words, to make him unlike real people.
Remember, Hansen appears to understand why people would be angry with Sandusky who ruined many lives. Somehow, he does not seem to understand that Joe Paterno did the same thing if he knew of the abuse and did nothing. Any leader who conceals child sex abuse which is occurring on his watch is as guilty of ruining the lives of all of the abused children from the time that he was informed of the matter and did not act. One phone call to the police and children would have been spared the agony of heinous abuse.
Why didn't Paterno act?
Perhaps he gives us a clue in this answer. Was he trying to protect himself instead of the children?
The day after he was fired, Paterno could not stop crying. "My name," Paterno told his son and fellow coach Jay, "I have spent my whole life trying to make that name mean something. And now it's gone.
Hansen is well aware of another situation of child sex abuse cover up which was revealed this summer. Our regular readers will know where this is going.
The confession of child sex abuse cover up by Grant Layman, formerly of Sovereign Grace Ministries
Many people were stunned when former SGM Pastor Grant Layman (and CJ Mahaney's brother-in -law) confessed, under oath, that he knew about the child sex abuse that was committed by Nate Morales and said he did not report it, even though he knew that he should. Nate will probably spend the rest of his life in jail. In my opinion, Grant Layman is morally responsible for any child who was molested by Morales from the moment he knew of Morale's despicable actions and chose not to report it to the police. That is NOT as misstep.
Here is a response from Boz Tchividjian when asked about the SGM situation.
But the scandal of the Louisville, KY-based Sovereign Grace Ministries, which began as a national network of charismatic evangelical churches but eventually adapted a Reformed theology — suggests that the problem of child sex abuse and the seemingly inevitable cover-up in conservative churches — is a pattern that is deep and wide. And part of that pattern is that too many leaders enable the abusers with their silence, their refusal to consider that the accusations might be true, and/or their efforts to silence the victims. Child abuse investigator Boz Tchividjian thinks the silence of Evangelical leaders regarding child sex abuse in evangelical churches is not only "deafening" but speaks "volumes".
Indeed. It speaks volumes about the character and moral vision of the leaders of the conservative denominations that comprise the base of the Christian Right
This past week, I have fluctuated between anger and tears as I read about Christian leaders who proclaim the Gospel with their voice, but remain silent and/or defensive about the horrors of child sexual abuse within the Church. These leaders have once again, and perhaps unwittingly, demonstrated the art of marginalizing individual souls for the sake of reputation and friendships.
Earlier this week, I read the second amended complaint filed by eleven plaintiffs against SGM, two churches, and a number of individuals, including a man named CJ Mahaney…. it is one of the most disturbing accounts of child sexual abuse and institutional "cover up" I have read in my almost 20 years of addressing this issue. Besides the horrific accounts of child victimization (some of which allegedly occurred on church property), what struck me most about these allegations is the systematic efforts by these churches to discourage and sometimes prevent the families of children who had been victimized by church officials from speaking out and reporting to law enforcement. Another aspect that struck me as I read (and re-read) through this complaint were the myriad of common threads related to the efforts made by these SGM churches to silence these survivors.
Perhaps Collin Hansen does not see the ramifications of his words. At the beginning of his post he discussed the nosedive in the confidence level of the public in organized religion. Note how he mentions the problems with the Catholic church's cover-up of child sex abuse.
Last month Gallup reported that Americans' confidence in organized religion fell in 2012 to an all-time low. The slow decline began in the 1980s with the televangelist scandals. An uptick of confidence in religious leaders followed the September 11 attacks, but cover-ups of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church sent those numbers plummeting in 2002.
When Hansen deems Paterno's lack of concern for the lives of children as a "misstep," does he realize that it causes me to wonder if this is what he believes about the controversy over child sex abuse cover up in SGM? Is it a simple misstep in his view?
Some of his buddies at The Gospel Coalition have been quite solicitous of the issues at SGM and have yet to retract this statement. Perhaps this is why we continue to have problems with child sex abuse in the evangelical church which is just as bad, or worse, than the RCC according to Boz Tchividjian.
Jesus had something to say about this.
"If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Matt 18:6 NIV
Misstep? Not by a long shot. It is time to call child sex abuse cover up what it is: enabling a pedophile to continue to commit heinous crimes against our children. May God have mercy on those little ones who were harmed by the silence of men who knew. And if you think that child sex abuse cover up is a misstep, it is time to address the very big hole in your heart.