Does the Bible Sanction Child Abuse?
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Christian fundamentalists often are as keen to promote the rights of parents as they are to block the rights of women and gays. Congressman Mark Meadows is the parental rights amendment” that has 64 signers in Congress. school Bible teacher and former restaurant owner from North Carolina who rallied the Tea Party in shutting down government operations this month. His passion for killing contraceptive access has been on national display. Less known is the fact that Meadows also is spearheading a fight against rights and protections for children. He is the lead sponsor of a “
Or consider Scott Lively, the anti-gay preacher who recently announced that he is running for governor of Massachusetts. Lively is known internationally for fanning the sometimes lethal flames of homophobia in Uganda. But his admirers see him as more than a single-issue candidate. According to Tea Party enthusiast Brian Camenker, " He is principled, pro-family, pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-2nd-amendment, pro-religion, pro-parents’ rights, and utterly fearless.”
Conservatives like Meadows and Lively oppose both national and international protections for children—including compulsory education—which they see as government overreach. Thanks to their advocacy, the United States is one of two nations (out of 196) that has failed to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. (We stand with Somalia!) They also oppose the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities because it “replaces parental rights with the 'best interest of the child' standard.”
Why do parent rights make it onto the Tea Party list along with God, guns, gays and gyno-politics? To answer that question, one needs to look no further than the Bible. Futurist Sara Robinson points out that women in the Bible are actually possessions of men, protected (when they are) by property laws rather than civil rights laws. In this regard, women of the Iron Age fall into the same category with slaves, livestock and children.
Modern Christians like to depict children as the little lambs of Jesus, who is their Good Shepherd. school teachers sing, “Red and yellow, black and white/They are precious in his sight.” Preachers quote a verse from the book of Matthew which says, “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” (Matthew 18:6NIV).
But the broader theme of scripture is that a man’s children are his possessions, to be trained, traded and treated as he sees fit, even if it kills them. This concept of the child emerges in the Hebrew Tanakh, beginning with the book of Genesis, and continues into the Christian New Testament. Stories, commandments, legal codes, and theology are built on this premise and make sense only when we understand fatherhood to mean ownership.
Sacrifice your son. Abraham is considered the father of the Great Middle Eastern religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. According to the story, God promises Abraham a son whose offspring will be as numerous as the stars. The boy, Isaac, is born to Abraham and his wife Sarah in their old age, and they treasure him to the point that they even drive off Sarah’s slave, Hagar, who had been used to produce an interim heir. But then God tests Abraham.
“Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you .” (Genesis 22:1-12nasv)