On Christianity, Fundamentalism, Spanking, and What Constitutes Child Abuse
" . . the fundamentalist view of humanity is such that humans are viewed as sinful and hell-bound by nature. This rebellion must be addressed. The best way to save one’s child from hell is by “beating the hell out of him or her.”
In Grevens’ Spare the Rod: The Religious Roots of Punishment and the Psychological Impact of Physical Abuse (1991) the notion of using physical abuse to “break the child’s will” is explored. It is the parental responsibility to break the will so that the child will conform to the parent’s wishes, thereby learning obedience to God.
How much force must be applied?
Most fundamentalist commentators state that the parent must remain fairly emotionless and turn a deaf ear to the protests of the child.
[Thus engendering numbing and avoidance in the the parents, btw, a classic symptom of PTSD.]
The child must be struck repeatedly until s/he begins crying profusely, for that is the sign of a broken will—the objective of striking the child in the first place.
Grevens demonstrates through much anecdotal evidence that the whole notion is fraught with difficulties. . . .Citing examples of well-known Christians reflecting on their childhood, a picture emerges of children waiting during the “cooling off” period, making deals with God, and pleading with God that they would not be beaten again.
As for the love part, Ruth Wilkerson Harris (sister of evangelist David Wilkerson) in her book, It was Good Enough for the Father: The Story of the Wilkerson Family (1969), recounts how the Wilkerson children, had to face the “humbling” of embracing their father after a beating and saying, “I love you Daddy. Forgive me for disobeying.”
[Thus teaching the important lesson that people who love you get to hit you and hurt you.]
Capps, in Religion and Child Abuse: Perfect Together (JSSR, 1992), points out that this mixture of anger, pain, beating, and love is very confusing to children.
They likely come to view the ritual as a pain filled affair necessary to gain the parent’s love. They must surely long for a love that might, someday, be unconditional, with no beatings attached.
[or -- they might go the way of -- Vitter?]
They plead for God to deliver them. God doesn’t. As much anecdotal evidence indicates, as adults, such children do not thank God that they had a parent willing to inflict physical punishment on them and many grow up with a very confused image of God. They have been taught that God is all-powerful, yet God did not rescue them when they pleaded with God for mercy."
Hands up everyone who perceives the relevance of the non-golden rule Talibangelical presence in the military to the government-sanctioned sadism at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, CIA black sites?