Piper and Baucham Mistake Coercion for Obedience (and it’s hurting families)

[I have a guest post up at Julie Anne's blog Spiritual Sounding Board. Below is an excerpt, and I hope you click over to her place to read the rest.]

Discernment Among the People of God

A few years ago Voddie Baucham made the outlandish claim that shyness is a sin. Then he said that he knows how to fix that kid’s sin.

Let me give you an example, a prime example. The so-called shy kid, who doesn’t shake hands at church, okay? Usually what happens is you come up, ya’ know and here I am, I’m the guest and I walk up and I’m saying hi to somebody and they say to their kid “Hey, ya’ know, say good morning to Dr. Baucham,” and the kid hides and runs behind the leg and here’s what’s supposed to happen. This is what we have agreed upon, silently in our culture. What’s supposed to happen is that, I’m supposed to look at their child and say, “Hey, that’s okay.” But I can’t do that. Because if I do that, then what has happened is that number one, the child has sinned by not doing what they were told to do, it’s in direct disobedience. Secondly, the parent is in sin for not correcting it, and thirdly, I am in sin because I have just told a child it’s okay to disobey and dishonor their parent in direct violation of scripture. I can’t do that, I won’t do that. I’m gonna stand there until you make ‘em do what you said.

You see, it’s all about obedience: you better make that child obey or everyone’s a sinner!

I first read Baucham’s extreme claims at Julie Anne’s blog in June but it came back to mind because of an article Dr. John Piper published a couple weeks ago.

Where Baucham is concerned about all those people sinning – kids, parents, Baucham himself dragged into it as bystander – Piper sees more concrete problems: If you don’t make your children obey you, you have only yourself to blame when they end up laid out on a slab in the morgue because they got shot dead.

There is so much wrong with this nonsense. …

[Click here to read the rest.]

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14 Responses to Piper and Baucham Mistake Coercion for Obedience (and it’s hurting families)

  1. Mary Anne says:

    Hoooo, boy. This guy is warped as a wet floorboard. X-P

    And I’m speaking as the child of parents who did NOT tolerate disobedience/defiance. If my brother and I were starting to misbehave, we got the hairy eyeball of death and we knew what would happen if we persisted. (Hint: it ain’t a time out.) But for shyness?! I think this may call for one of my famous demonstrations of “There are eight ways to kill a man with his own foot. Let me show you one . . .”

  2. Jeannie says:

    I commented over there too, Tim, but just wanted to come back and say thanks for that post. The judgmentalism coming from both speakers is shocking. When just having a bit of compassion on a child and his parent gets interpreted as sin like Baugham says, that IS warped. (As Mary Anne’s analogy ^ puts it so well…)

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Jeannie, saw your comment over there and appreciated it greatly. And you’re right: what ever happened to encouragement as a teaching tool?

  3. I read what you wrote and I listened to the speaker. As someone who was abused in childhood and who then went into an abusive marriage because I had no idea what coercion was or where my personal boundaries lay (thank the Lord for Henry Cloud) I can say unequivocally that those statements advocate abuse. The arguments ‘for spanking’ are the same that my ex-husband used to use in order to ‘excuse’ his punching me in the face and it being ‘my’ fault.

    I am incensed that anyone could relate an (at most) thoughtless mother with the tragedy of a shooting. A young person dies and all he can do is *criticise*? That does not sound Christ-like at all.

    What hope is there if it cannot be found in Christ? Because that is what both of those men are advocating, to victims, like me. I don’t know if I have said that adequately. I wouldn’t even bother except that I know that John Piper is a famous person and many people like him and quote him (even here in UK), so they’ll be following what he says (just like I used to – believing and trusting that divorce is a sin and that I *must* obey my [ex] husband). So sad.

    As someone who didn’t have the chance to see earthly justice for the two who abused me (but that’s another story) it means such a lot coming from a judge. Thank you. I’m going now because this has actually really upset me and I need to pray. God bless.

    • Tim says:

      Thank you for sharing your story here, Sandy. I know it must have been hard to write that comment and hit the post button. Capitalizing on someone’s grief in order to make a doctrinal point is not Christ-like at all, and I hope one day Dr. Piper will stop doing it.

  4. Erica M. says:

    I left a couple different comments over at the post but I’ll sort of sum it up here as well.

    1.) Regarding Baucham-I’m fairly certain that being intimidated into speaking would not magically make my shyness go away. I’ve gotten over most of it through having to interact with other people in secure environments. I’m also fairly certain that had someone tried to say hello, and I hid behind my mom, and they stood there and waited for her to make me come back out, she would have just sort of given them an odd look and walked away. (And possibly made a snarky comment.)

    2.) As for Piper, as I said over there, I can feel the tiniest bit of sympathy with what he’s saying. I don’t think he’s speaking out of hatred, but out of misguided concern. We do have kids at our library who make enough trouble that we have to call the cops, and their parents don’t seem to understand why they were banned, indicating a severe lack of discipline at all. But this is an extreme example, and I doubt the smaller “infractions” are going to cause a child to grow up into a hardened criminal. (Example: one of my friends was always told not to go into the creek at my house, and she would inevitably “accidentally” fall in. Every time. She has grown up to be a successful nurse and mother. Her repeated disobedience did not turn her feral.)

    Anyways, thanks for the insights, and for introducing me to Julie Anne’s blog!

    • Tim says:

      Both your points are well-stated, Erica. Kids hiding behind their mom or dad’s legs when introduced to a stranger are not sinners. As you say, they will thrive best in a secure environment. and for Dr. Piper, while I agree he’s not trying to be mean, he wields so much influence and continues to misappropriate another person’s private tragedy in pursuit of such bad doctrine that he needs to be challenged on it for what it is: dangerous.

      I love your reference to your friend not turning feral, too. What a hoot!

    • Mary Anne says:

      Yes–all kidding aside, I wonder sometimes how I’d cope if I had children, with some of the stuff you see going on these days. I suppose (hope) I’d manage like any parent who wants to be a Godly parent: do the best I could, pray a lot, and hope it would all work out. But in my workplace I regularly see children who have never been told “no,” never had any limits, and clearly feel like they don’t need to pay attention to what an adult tells them. And lots of attitude that “the rules don’t apply to me.” I recall at least one exchange with a child who persisted in asking me for something despite several repetitions that the rules didn’t permit it, and on about the fifth request I looked her in the eye and said, “No. And don’t ask me again.” She stepped back and looked . . . well, baffled. Literally unable to process the fact that she wasn’t going to get what she wanted.

      And for me this is such a disconnect with my own childhood, when it was so clearly understood that it was part of the air we breathed: when an adult speaks to you, you have to listen and mind. Now . . . well, just because it’s over age 21 doesn’t mean it’s an adult!

  5. Aimee Byrd says:

    Boy Tim, you really racked up the comments over on Jullie Anne’s blog with this topic! I can see why, it is a very sensitive issue. My favorite line from your article:
    “Let’s say, though, that parents tried to force obedience. That doesn’t mean the children actually obeyed.”

  6. I’m sad to hear this from Mr. Bauchum. I’ve read one of his books and have watched a few of his interviews and truly liked him. I guess though everyone has strong points and not so strong points (I see it in myself all the time). Perhaps he’ll learn one day that shyness is not a bad thing, and that they can be gifted with various things. My Micah is really shy and he is not doing wrong in being so. He acts that way (like the child in Bauchum’s quote) when people try to talk to him. He has to get to know a person personally before he will follow them around and love to be with them and not be shy anymore. I’m the type of person who trusts people too quickly which could be dangerous at times and he is more cautious than I.

    • Tim says:

      The way you understand and work with your son’s personality is a good example of how those outside the family should not presume to know better than the parents themselves how to care for their children. You and Rob are raising two wonderful boys, Victoria.

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