Do You Shoot the Messenger?

I have been speaking out publicly about the negative effects and lack of Biblical justification for hitting children for almost a year now. Since I began, I have experienced various reactions to my advocacy on the part of my friends and family, ranging from silent Facebook “unfriending” to written reproof to complete severing of contact with myself.

When I learn that a friend or family member has been angered by the blog posts I write and the articles I share, my attempts to speak with them are typically either outright denied or entertained only briefly. When they are entertained briefly, I have found there to be a common thread. In every such case, the person has said to me something to the effect: “Stephanie, I disagree with you on parenting issues. But that isn’t the real problem. The real problem is how you speak about the issues. Your words are judgmental and aggressive.”

When I ask someone to explain to me how my words are judgmental and aggressive, they pause briefly before going on to say, “I can’t explain it. They just are.”

I will be the first to say that my attempts to advocate for children are not free of mistakes, that they are not free of sin. How could they be? I am, after all, a messy, ill-equipped sinner. But I take heart! Not only have I been reconciled to God by the work of Christ on the cross, I also have example after example available to me in the Bible and beyond of messy, ill-equipped sinners being used by God to bring about his holy, sovereign plans.

Is It Really My Words?

Having mulled over the above for quite some time now, I have posted here two articles that I urge you to read. In doing so, you will have the opportunity to examine if and how your opinion on a topic impacts your perception.

For example, if you believe that spanking is a justifiable means of discipline, I can guarantee that you will be characterizing me as judgmental and aggressive just a few sentences in to Article #1: “How dare she speak so harshly! How dare she judge me as a parent!” If, however, you believe that abortion is not a justifiable means of birth control, I can also guarantee that you will find neither judgement nor aggression in all of Article #2: “The truth must be spoken! She is right to call abortion what it truly is!”

Let’s get started.

Article #1

Spanking is rarely talked about.

I’m not talking about the word “spanking.” We hear this word a lot. But we rarely hear about it. Spanking almost always refers to something else. We hear that spanking is fundamentally about a parent’s right to discipline their children how they see fit. And that spanking is a litmus test for good Christian parenting. And that spanking results in obedient, well-mannered, happy children.

But none of those things is what spanking really is. Spanking is the intentional hitting of children.

Death is in the Power of the Tongue

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Spanking is a clear example of this truth.

The abuse of children can be tolerated and even championed as a social good so long as we don’t call it what it is. Call spanking an individual parent’s right and you can write it into the legal code. Call spanking a compassionate tool used by good parents seeking to prevent their children from one day going to prison and you can swing popular opinion. Call spanking a God-ordained method of disciplining children that can successfully be done “in love,” and Godly people will follow the urging of pastors, Christian leaders and authors, family members, friends, and memes to preserve the practice of spanking in their homes.

But you won’t hear those who advocate spanking say, “We will fight for the right to hit our children!” Because calling spanking what it is might awaken uneasy consciences out of a euphemistic stupor to realize that millions of the most defenseless human beings in America are being hit by men and women who are ignoring Christ’s words in John 8:7: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone…”

Death is in the power of logic contradicting, term redefining, and deceptively clinical tongues. We have allowed legal child abuse in this country because we’ve called it something else.

Life is in the Power of the Tongue

That’s why Christians, the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13–14) must keep speaking the truth about what spanking is with relentless clarity. “We destroy arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:5) by not yielding the ground of clear truth. Because life is in the power of truth-speaking tongues.

Therefore, we will keep saying:

Spanking abuses children and we all know this.

Our legal code demonstrates that we know this because the phrase “physical or emotional harm” is included in the federal definition of child abuse, making legalized spanking a schizophrenic, arbitrary, and tragically defective legal ruling.

Spanking is mercilessly violent. Children with heartbeats, brainwaves, and a nervous system that allows them to feel pain are literally beat by those that should be protecting them.

“When adults do not understand the connections between their previous experiences of injury and those they actively repeat in the present, they perpetuate a destructive cycle and inflict their own suffering on their offspring. The next generation continues to carry the damage that has been stored up in the mind and body of their ancestor.” – How Spanking Harms the Brain, Psychology Today

The number of children abused by spanking every day dwarfs the number of women who are raped and other abusive horrors taking place daily in the United States.

  • More than 35 million American children wake up every day in homes that utilize the abusive disciplinary practice of spanking.
  • The International Center for Assault Prevention estimates between 80% and 98% of children are subject to abuse in the form of physical punishment around the world.

“Physical violence is often accompanied by psychological violence. Insults, name-calling, isolation, rejection, threats, emotional indifference and belittling are all forms of violence that can be detrimental to a child’s well-being- especially when it comes from a respected adult such as a parent.” – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

And we will speak many, many more clear truths until spanking is made illegal.

Here’s the point: truthful tongues save those who are oppressed. Legally protected spanking is an evil that occurs and is tolerated because of deceptive words. And it’s truthful words that are required to clear the fatal fog with clarity.

Keep Speaking

I don’t know if our speaking truth will succeed in helping to change the legal acceptance of spanking. Research reveals encouraging developments. But as John Piper says, “We are not called to win; we are called to witness.”

However, history does show that the faithful, relentless, prophetic witness of the saints over many years results in the remarkable spread of the gospel and the end of thousands of horrible social evils from the individual to the national levels.

So we must keep speaking. We must call spanking what it is: the abuse of children and a vicious established legalized evil and injustice.

Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we just remembered because of his relentless truth-telling in the face of established, legalized racial evil, once said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”

We dare not be guilty of this. The Lord who said, “Rescue those who are being taken away to death” will not accept the excuse, “Behold, we did not know this” (Proverbs 24:11–12).

May truth be in the power of our tongues.

Article #2

Abortion is rarely talked about.

I’m not talking about the word “abortion.” We hear this word a lot it in the public square. But we rarely hear about it. Abortion almost always refers to something else. We hear that abortion is fundamentally about a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. Or abortion is a litmus test for judicial nominees. Or abortion is symptomatic of what’s wrong with the social discourse in America.

But none of those things is what abortion really is. Abortion is the intentional killing of unborn children.

Death is in the Power of the Tongue

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Abortion is a clear example of this truth.

The killing of children can be tolerated and even championed as a social good so long as we don’t call it what it is. Call abortion an individual’s right to privacy and you can write it into the legal code. Call abortion a compassionate choice offered to a frightened girl to save her future or to save a child from an undesirable quality of life and you can swing popular opinion. Call abortion a liberation of women from the social and economic oppression of male dominance and passionate people will march on capitols chanting demands to preserve the human right of abortion on-demand.

But you won’t hear the street marchers chant, “We will fight for the right to kill our children!” Because calling abortion what it is might awaken uneasy consciences out of a euphemistic stupor to realize that millions of the most defenseless human beings on the planet are being denied the self-evident, Creator-endowed human right to life.

Death is in the power of logic contradicting, term redefining, and deceptively clinical tongues. We have allowed legal child-killing on-demand for 41 years because we’ve called it something else.

Life is in the Power of the Tongue

That’s why Christians, the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13–14) must keep speaking the truth about what abortion is with relentless clarity. “We destroy arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:5) by not yielding the ground of clear truth. Because life is in the power of truth-speaking tongues.

Therefore, we will keep saying:

Abortion kills children and we all know this.

Our legal code demonstrates that we know this because it grants an unborn child the rights of personhood in areas such as tort, criminal, and property law, making legalized abortion a schizophrenic, arbitrary, and tragically defective legal ruling.

Abortion is mercilessly violent. Children with heartbeats, brainwaves, and a nervous system that allows them to feel pain are literally torn to pieces.

“93% of all abortions [in the United States] are performed on healthy mothers, with healthy babies . . . Less than 1% are performed because of rape or incest.” (Abort73)

The number of children killed by abortion every year dwarfs the Holocaust and other homicidal horrors of history.

  • Approximately 3,300 children are killed by abortion every day in the United States. Americans kill 1.2 million unborn children every year.
  • The World Health Organization estimates between 40 and 50 million children are killed around the world by abortion, approximately 125,000 every day.

Unborn girls are killed at a higher rate than unborn boys. Estimates are as high as 163 million unborn girls have been intentionally killed since the 1970’s because they were girls, resulting in what some are now calling a “gendercide” (see Abuse of Discretion, 334).

And we will speak many, many more clear truths until abortion on-demand is ended.

Here’s the point: truthful tongues save lives. Legalized abortion is an evil that occurs and is tolerated because of deceptive words. And it’s truthful words that are required to clear the fatal fog with clarity.

Keep Speaking

I don’t know if our speaking truth will succeed in helping to change the abortion laws. World Magazine reports encouraging developments. But as John Piper says, “We are not called to win; we are called to witness.”

However, history does show that the faithful, relentless, prophetic witness of the saints over many years results in the remarkable spread of the gospel and the end of thousands of horrible social evils from the individual to the national levels.

So we must keep speaking. We must call abortion what it is: the killing of children and a vicious established legalized evil and injustice.

Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we just remembered because of his relentless truth-telling in the face of established, legalized racial evil, once said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”

We dare not be guilty of this. The Lord who said, “Rescue those who are being taken away to death” will not accept the excuse, “Behold, we did not know this” (Proverbs 24:11–12).

May life be in the power of our truthful tongues.”

Concluding Thoughts

Surely you recognized that Article #1 and Article #2 are nearly identical, that they differ thematically, and that they share the same surrounding language. In fact, Article #1 was derived from Article #2, which was written in its entirety by John Bloom and titled Relentlessly Call Abortion What It Is. You can find this excellent article on the Desiring God blog here.

From the few others that I have heard from so far, it is absolutely eye-opening to learn how this exercise brings to light how a stance taken in opposition to our own can so quickly and thouroughly color our perceptions in regards to the tone and character of the messenger.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to comment below or message me personally at graceformysheep at gmail dot com.

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One thought on “Do You Shoot the Messenger?

  1. amyphoenixffp

    I appreciate your heartfelt message and clearly see that your words are not harshly judgmental, they are factual. It’s very hard to not feel judged when we feel guilty or convicted in our actions, but that doesn’t mean others ought not stand for the truth. Keep carrying the light, please.

    Reply

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