A Preacher Looks At Child Abuse

By Mike Willis

The 23 January issue of the local paper, the Hendricks County Flyer (p. 30), contained an article entitled “Child Abuse Increasing.” According to the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department, there were nine times as many cases of reported child abuse in 1989 as compared to 1984. The problem of child abuse is not limited to Hendricks County; it is a national problem.

Psychologists, psychiatrists, law officials, welfare department officials, and the courts are working on the problem. They have given much more study to the problem and its cure than I have. Nevertheless, there appear to be some obvious and, perhaps, other not so obvious causes of child abuse. Child abuse needs to be attacked preventively, not just punitively or by assisting the victims. Child abuse stems from a spiritual problem; consequently, I am looking at child abuse from a preacher’s perspective, not a lawyer’s, judge’s, psychologist’s, etc. (although these perspectives deserve a hearing as well).

Child Abuse and the Breakdown of the Family

Much of the child abuse is from step-fathers and live-in lovers. Child abuse is a consequence of the deterioration of the family in American society. A society cannot ignore the divine commandments regarding the marriage relationship without paying the price for breaking it. God ordained that marriage be a lifetime commitment (1 Cor. 7:39; Rom. 7:12). Only the sin of fornication frees the innocent party in a marriage to form a second marriage (Matt. 19:9). The stable family relationship is the God-appointed environment for rearing children.

Parents who change mates like they change clothes, bringing in a mate who has never bonded with the children, create the situation in which child abuse is likely to occur. The “natural affection” which should exist between parent and child is not there (cf. Rom. 1:31).

We can greatly reduce, if not stop altogether, child abuse in our nation by mothers and daddies keeping their marital vows to one another, keeping the home intact. As parents who love one another, we can rear our children in an atmosphere of love, not in an environment of child abuse.

Does Abortion Stop Child Abuse?

Child abuse should not exist in our country, if what the pro-abortion advocates have said was true. We have been told that preventing unwanted children through abortion would end child abuse.

Since 1973, abortion on demand has been available in the United States. Over 20 million children have been put to death in abortuaries in our country. With so many “unwanted children” not having been born, child abuse should have been totally eliminated. Sadly, what was promised has not occurred.

There are more cases of child abuse today than ever before. Norman E. Geisler suggested the reason for this: “Apparently the disregard for human life reflected in the acceptance of abortion is extended from pre-birth to post-birth attitude toward offspring” (“The Bible, Abortion, and Common Sense,” Fundamentalist Journal [May 1985], p. 26).

Where human life is not highly regarded, child abuse will occur. A healthy respect for human life is the first step toward stopping child abuse.

Victims Become Abusers

Child abuse is learned behavior. Children mimic their parents. A child who has been a victim of child abuse in his youth is a potential child abuser. The Scriptures state that the learned habit of sin is passed down from one generation to another (“visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” – Exod. 20:4). There are second and third generation child abusers prevalent among us. The patterns of conduct learned from the parent are followed by the children and passed down to their children.

We can prevent child abuse by being good parents. Let our children see in us a good example of parental conduct and child abuse will decrease.

The Scriptures prescribe the conduct of parents toward children: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged” (Col. 3:20).

Verbal abuse would end when parents put away from their lives “bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking” (Eph. 4:31).

A Spiritual Problem

Child abuse occurs because of distinctly spiritual problems which cannot be cured by government programs and organizations. Being a spiritual problem, a spiritual cure is necessary to change the hearts of men and women.

The influence of the gospel on society has always been wholesome. The gospel, even when it does not convert the world, leavens the society in which it is prevalent. As America becomes more secular, removing God from its classroom and other public forums, the leavening influence of the gospel is methodically eradicated. We can expect more and more social problems to occur, stemming from people who have little or no commitment to live by the ethical standards revealed by God.

What a price we pay for leaving God out of our lives!

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 6, pp. 162, 183
March 15, 1990