Back a few months ago, Karen and Elizabeth Shatz were found guilty of their child's murder (they pleaded guilty). The adopted child was beaten to death by following the instructions in a fundamentalist Christian child-rearing book. Another mother, Lynn Paddock, was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing her 4 year old son, Sean, because he wouldn't stay in bed. Well, it has happened again.
Larry and Carri Williams are charged with homocide resulting from torturing, beating, and starving their child, then leaving her outside to die of exposure (and, presumably, her various wounds).
The parents, in both cases, essentially (over time) beat their child to death by following the teachings of a book called "To Train Up A Child" by Tennesse pastor Michael Pearl and his wife, Debi Pearl. It's a good Christian's guide to abusing your children in order to bring them up right. The authors advocate corporeal punishment for children from infants on up, with appropriate Bible citations and instructions as well as the sorts of implements you'll be needing to do the job. You can buy this torturer's guidebook on Amazon where it's a best seller. Yes, it's a best seller . . . meaning there are plenty of good Christian parents who adhere to this method of child-rearing.
Before I continue with my part of the story, take a moment to watch the video below. If you can.
When I posted this video to Google+ a few days ago, someone replied with a quote from Matthew, suggesting that the parents "will get theirs" for disobeying the word.
Matthew 25, 40 "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
If only it were so simple. To begin with, it should be noted that Christ was not talking about children in that quote. As to the Christian-ness of the parents, one could argue that the parents were, in fact, the very best of Christians and true believers to boot. The girl, by all accounts, was misbehaving. So harken unto the word:
Deuteronomy 21, 18-21 "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die:"
I don't know about you, but having my son argue with me after a night of drinking won't be enough for me to take him to the village elders and have him stoned to death.
Should the parents have punished the girl? Let's see . . .
Proverbs 23, 13-14 "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."
Maybe they just wanted to beat her long enough to deliver her soul from hell and got carried away. How much beating is okay? If you beat her until she is nearly dead but recovers, is it okay?
The Bible (or pick your favorite holy book) is filled with contradiction. As such, you can pick and choose what you want to support your point of view, but in quoting the Bible to say this kind of cruelty is wrong (as with the quote from Matthew), you must allow the counter argument (that it's okay to beat your children) or the Bible must be dismissed as a source of truth or justice. Either it's okay to beat your children to death or it isn't. Either the Bible is the complete and eternal word of God or it isn't. And if one part of the Bible is wrong, then other parts are as well. And if other parts are wrong, then there's no way to tell the good from the bad and it must be abandoned as a source of moral teaching.
You may call yourself a fundamentalist Christian. I'm betting you're a lot less fundamentalist than you think. Or at least, I hope you are. I'd hate to think you beat your kids and leave them out in the cold to die.
In closing, the title of the Pearls' book, "To Train Up A Child", comes from the Bible.
Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."