Child Abuse #1
It is difficult for right thinking people to comprehend the thought of an adult harming a young and helpless child. Social agencies are inundated with investigations of child molestation and endangerment cases. Children are frequently removed from the custody of their biological parents, to be placed in an environment thought suitable for normal development. These are alarming indicators of the value society places on children, and on life itself. However, child abuse is not limited to the dysfunctional misfits of the world, but is alive and well among believers. Not necessarily physical endangerment and molestation, but rather spiritual child abuse.
Spiritual Child Neglect. I have observed parents who simply “turn their children loose” without accountability for their whereabouts or social contacts. Obviously some parents do not believe they have the right or responsibility to keep the social reins tight with their children. What is the difference between abuse that locks a child in the closet without supervision and care, and the parent who turns them loose outside, without the same? It should be remembered, “… a child left to himself brings his mother shame” (Pro 29:15). This type of spiritual child neglect is evident in homes where loving discipline is not administered. Commands for instructional and corrective discipline are replete in God’s word. “Train up a child...” (Pro 22:6); “… bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). “He that spares his rod hates his son…” (Pro 13:24); “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Pro. 19:18). In fact, the love of the Heavenly Father motivates him to chasten his children (Heb 12:6). The barometer for a parent’s love is measured by the extent they are willing to instruct and correct their children.
Spiritual Rebellion. In the matter of discipline lies the issue of teaching a child to respect authority. Specifically, that Jesus “has all power in Heaven and on earth” (Matt 28:18) and generally, that we all must answer to others in one capacity or another. Parents breed rebellion when they do not instruct their children to submit to God and require them to respect others. Manifestations of this include, parents permitting their children to rule the home by catering to their every whim, disrespect of teachers, disrespect of adults and disrespect of civil authority. All of which is disrespectful (a sin against) of God’s authority. As adults, these children will have difficulty until they learn to respect authority; whether in the workplace, government, or church. Parents instruct their children in the way of rebellion by poor example by telling them to respect authority, yet demonstrating contempt for God’s authority by refusing to submit to the elders of the church (Heb 13:7), speaking evil of civil authorities (2Pet 2:20& Tit 3:1), and not submitting to one another (Eph 5:21). All of which sends mixed signals. What’s the difference between this and physical child abuse? When you observe out of control children, you are seeing a miniature version of out of control parents. When parents refuse their God-given role to take charge, keep their children under control, and make them obey and respect others, they are sinning
We are all appalled by the reports of children being physically abused. Are we as equally concerned about spiritual child abuse? Are we concerned enough to modify our actions, and help others too? Parents and grandparents must wake up to the fact that the effects of spiritual child abuse last far longer than physical abuse, and that both are equally deplorable. The souls of our young are molded and pointed toward one of two eternal destinies. For which are we preparing them? Think about it. Mark Pape