I am replying to the article of Michael Abrahams’ article: “The Bible: A Poor Guide For The Treatment Of Children”, published in the Daily Gleaner on Monday, November 19, 2018.
Before I get to his 10 criticisms of the Bible, it is necessary for me to deal with the presuppositions that has led Abrahams to write this article. Abrahams does not believe that the God of the Bible exists. He does not believe that the Bible is inspired by God. What follows from the presuppositions that the God of the Bible does not exist and that He did not inspire the writers of the Bible? He interprets the Bible as “stories about people’s beliefs (about God)…many of which cannot be verified…some of which are myths”. Based on these presuppositions, he writes that the Bible is a “poor guide for the treatment of children”, and looks for evidences of this in the Bible to try to prove his point. My questions to him are these: “If the God of the Bible does not exist, then who is the one who is to decide what is right or wrong for everyone everywhere? If the God of the Bible does not exist, then how may there be any standard outside of each of us to decide for all of us everywhere what is right or wrong? Each one of us has his or her own preferences, then who knows everything and has all of the wisdom that he or she may decide for people everywhere what we should do or should not do? If the God of the Bible does not exist, then whose standard are you using to write that the Bible is a poor guide for the treatment of children? If the God of the Bible does not exist, then why should any one’s own standard, such as your own, be used to judge those who believe in the God of the Bible, and who believe in the Bible as the inspired and authoritative Word of God? What makes your point of view a law that is applicable to everyone everywhere? If the God of the Bible does not exist, then anything and everything that a person may prefer to do may be done, without the person being judged as guilty, and therefore why do you judge the Bible as being guilty of mistreating children, when you have taken away the basis for deciding what is right or what is wrong?”
Now let me examine the ten criticisms which you make of the God of the Bible and of the Bible itself.
Firstly, you criticise the command to beat one’s children. (Prov.13:24) You made no distinction between beating and physical abuse. The kind of beating that is taught in Proverbs is not beating to injure children. It is also not done just because parents are vexed. It is done after warning the children from the Bible about the dangers of what they are doing, and they have not listened.
Secondly, you criticise God for causing 42 boys to be mauled by two bears. (2nd Kings 2:23-24) Who are you, a sinful man in the sight of God, to sit in judgement on God’s Character. You are not qualified to be the judge of God. “The LORD is righteous in ALL HIS WAYS, and holy in ALL HIS WORKS.’ (Ps.145:17) Furthermore, you are using your LIMITED knowledge to judge God, who has UNLIMITED knowledge. You don’t have all of the facts of the case, and you are passing judgement on God. This is what God is saying to you: “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa.55:8-9) God does not think like sinful human beings. He does not act like sinful human beings. His level of knowledge is comparable to the distance between the earth and the heavenly bodies in space, such as the different galaxies. You will never come close to knowing as much as God knows of everyone’s heart, motives, words and actions. God knows what a child will become even before he or she is born. Furthermore God does not tolerate disrespect to His Messengers, the Prophets. Disrespect to a Prophet of God is being disrespectful to God, who sent Him. These boys were disrespectful to God, and He, in His Wisdom and Justice, saw it fit that they be punished. Just because you disagree with God’s decision, does not make God wrong and you right. God is the Supreme Judge of His creation.
Thirdly, you criticise God for commanding the death sentence of children, who curse their parents or who are rebellious against their parents. (Lev.20:9; Deut.21:18-21) God sees sin in a far more serious light than human beings do. This Law teaches that God does not tolerate children’s dishonouring of their parents and their rebelliousness. When an action is tolerated by being allowed, it is going to cause those who are doing it to get worse and worse, resulting in a nation becoming more and more evil. The Law of Moses was given to prevent the people of Israel from becoming evil like the nations around them, and this penalty was meant to keep God’s people holy, so that they could be a good example to those who did not believe in the God of the Bible, and bring them to a change of heart so that they may believe in God, love Him and respect Him. The principle of not cursing parents and not being rebellious, still continues in the New Testament; but we are not commanded in the New Testament to put our disobedient children to death. (See Eph.6:1-3) The Old Testament Law was replaced by the New Testament Law when Jesus Christ died on the cross. (See Heb.8:6-13; 9:15-17)
Fourthly, you criticise the Bible for saying that the child who mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will have its eyes picked out by ravens and eaten by the vultures. (Prov.30:17) Again, this is in the context of the Old Testament Law, which punished disrespectful and disobedient children with death; but the principle of honouring and obeying parents continues in the New Testament Law, but the punishment is not commanded today. (See Eph.6:1-3)
Fifthly, you criticise the Bible for expressing the wish that the Babylonian infants be dashed against the rocks, for the people of Judah and Benjamin being taken by the Babylonian army into exile in Babylon. (Ps.137:9) The context of the Bible shows that from the beginning, when God made a Covenant with Abraham, the ancestor of these people, who were taken into Babylonian Captivity, God said that He would curse those people who curse Abraham’s descendants. (See Gen.12:3) This is why not only the children but also the entire inhabitants of Babylon became extinct, and their city has not been rebuilt to this day. (See Isa.13:19-20)
Sixthly, you criticise God for commanding Samuel to tell king Saul to kill all the Amalekites, including children and infants. (1st Sam.15:3) The context of the Bible shows that the ancestors of these Amalekites tried to kill the people of Israel when they were at Mount Sinai. Therefore God, in keeping with the Covenant that He made with Abraham, that He would curse those who curse his descendants, (See Gen.12:3), made a promise at Mount Sinai that He would “utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” (See Ex.17:14). When king Saul did not do as God had commanded, a descendant of the Amalekite king Agag, several centuries later, who was prime minister of Persia, tried to wipe the entire Israelite nation out of existence; but was unsuccessful (See Esther 3:10-15). God knows what He is doing when He pronounces judgement on His People’s enemies!
Seventhly, you criticise God for punishing parents by killing their children, such as the death of the firstborn of the Egyptians (Ex.12:12) and the death of king David’s child who was begotten in adultery (2nd Sam.12:15-18). The death of the firstborn of the Egyptians was the tenth of the ten plagues that God sent upon the Egyptians because the king of Egypt refused to let the Israelites go, whom they had made their slaves for 400 years. God did this to show His power over the gods of Egypt and the Egyptian government, and also to punish the Egyptians for having mistreated His People, and to save His People from slavery. (See Ex.9:16; 11:1; 12:12,30-31) Concerning the death of king David’s first child with Bathsheba, the death of the child was to prevent the enemies of God from speaking evil of God because of David’s adultery. (See 2nd Sam.12:14)
Eighthly, you criticise God for placing children at risk when neither they nor their parents had done wrong. (Gen.22:1-12; Gen.19) In the case of Abraham’s intention to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice, God was testing his faith in Him—He did not actually want a human sacrifice. (See Gen.22:11-12; compare Jer.7:31) In the case of Lot offering his daughters to the people of Sodom to protect the two angels, who looked like men, the Bible sometimes record what people did, without God’s approval. The daughters were not actually given to the homosexuals of Sodom.
Ninthly, you claim that there is a gender-bias against women (Deut.22:21), but God is not biased against women, for whatever wrong either gender did, they were to be punished for it. (See for examples, Deut.22:22,25-29). God’s Laws are not biased or unfair. “Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments”. (See Ps.119:137)
Tenthly, you claim that when Jesus says that we must “hate” our children to be His disciples, that He was teaching “child abandonment”. (Lk.14:26) This is not what “hate” means. The Greek language was the first language that the New Testament was written in. The Greek word in Lk.14:26, translated as “hate”, actually means to “love less”. (Thayer, A Greek To English Lexicon Of The New Testament, “miseo”, page 415) In Matt.10:37-38, Jesus says that we are to love Him more than son or daughter. Therefore Jesus does not mean that we must hate our children, but to love them less. For example, if a son wants his father or his mother to defend his actions at school of cheating on tests, the father or the mother must let the son know that cheating on tests is dishonest in the sight of God, and that he must stop being dishonest and that he must tell the teacher that he cheated on the tests. The son might think that his parents hate him, but they actually love Jesus more and their son less. Jesus does not teach “child abandonment”. 2nd Cor.12:14, from the Good News Translation, reads: “…children should not have to provide for their parents, but parents should provide for their children.”
In conclusion, the writer of the article misrepresented the teachings of the Bible. He not only misinterpreted all of the Bible Passages that he used, but he left out a vast part of what the Bible teaches about how to treat children. The Bible teaches that we should love our children. (See Tit.2:4) The Bible teaches that we should provide for our children. (See 2nd Cor.12:14) The Bible teaches that children should be brought up by parents in a stable and lasting marriage relationship. (See Mal.2:15) The Bible teaches that children should be trained by parents who are setting a good example for them, and who are teaching them what God has commanded them to do. (See Deut.6:4-9)
Dr. Abrahams, you need to cry out to God and ask Him to help you, so that you can be release from that evil force that have you captive. Children, you are a precious soul to the Almighty God our Maker.
If every parent had been following what the Bible teaches on how to treat children, Jamaica would have been right now a gentle, peaceful, kind, helpful, forgiving, honest and hardworking society. What do we have instead? Children are taught to be sexually immoral. Children are taught to tell lies. Children are taught to steal. Children are taught to rob people. Children are abandoned by their parents, and see the need to wipe windshields to survive, or to join criminal gangs in which they learn to use the gun, and in which they learn to be drug-traffickers. Parents we need to discipline our children out of love for them. The enemy wants to destroy the fabric of the family, the enemy wants our children to go astray so that they can bring unnecessary stress on themselves and on their parents. If you want Jamaica and the world to be a better place, we need to use the Bible to learn how to treat our children. Let us hold fast to God’s Holy Word. There is no better guide anywhere.