On Vipers in Diapers, Emotional Enmeshment, and Toxic Churches

by | Mar 11, 2022 | Uncategorized | 56 comments

Voddie Baucham and Vipers in Diapers
Merchandise is Here!

Dads shouldn’t need their adult daughters to give them adulation and affection.

That’s called emotional enmeshment and triangulation, and yet that’s what Voddie Baucham, who has been nominated for President of the Southern Baptist Convention (he may not actually run) believes.

On Fridays I like to share what’s been happening on social media, and this has been a busy week with a TON of comments coming in. It all started when I shared this Fixed it For You about Baucham:

Yes, there really are people who say creepy things like this who are actually high up in huge denominations.
It’s not just fringe people who think this way.

Voddie Baucham is a proponent of the “stay at home daughters” movement, meaning that daughters are under their father’s authority until they marry, when they come under their husband’s authority. So daughters shouldn’t be educated or work really, but should instead serve the father and then the husband.

And he honestly said this in a now-deleted video (that was talked about at length online at the time).

He’s called babies “a viper in a diaper” and has made headlines for talking about spanking kids “5 times before breakfast.”

And he is in the running for SBC President–President of the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

My friends, we have to do better than this. Please.

I was surprised at how many people pushed back and said that this really wasn’t that bad, and he didn’t mean anything sexual by it. In the context of the original audio (it starts around 30 minutes in), he was saying that we distort love and make it into lust (which is true), but then he does have this bizarre part where:

  1. Men leave their wives for younger women
  2. What they’re really looking for in younger women is affection and adulation that a daughter can give
  3. And so what these men are doing when they have affairs is looking for daughter substitutes

There is absolutely no context in which that accurately describes a healthy relationship. This is called emotional enmeshment and triangulation–and the comments were quite interesting!

Let’s revisit the spanking debate and “vipers in diapers”

Ironically, if people hadn’t defended Voddie so vigorously I would not have looked more into what he said about parenting. But I found some very disturbing things, and so thought we should look at the spanking issue again.

This one got a ton of engagement, and I may revisit it on a podcast sometime, because we do need to deal with the idea that “I’m fine and I was spanked” does not actually outweigh the evidence from a meta-analysis of 160,000 children. And we need to revisit the difference between anecdotal evidence and large scale academic studies.

But regardless, I wrote this, while sharing my post about what the research says about spanking, and why Christians need to stop talking about disciplining babies:

Are kids just “vipers in diapers” who may need to be spanked 5 times before breakfast? Do kids desperately need to be spanked, and spanked often?

Voddie Baucham would say yes, and there’s been quite the debate in the comments about this since last night.

Mamas, I know so many of you just want to do right by your children. And you’ve grown up in churches that have told you that God wants you to spank your kids and break their rebellious spirit, and if you don’t, they won’t know God. Their salvation is at stake.

And I hear your heart and I know you want to do what’s right.

But please hear me on this: The Bible does not tell us to spank babies or toddlers or our children. It just doesn’t. It’s a misinterpretation of the Hebrew from a few verses, where the word for “child” there means more like teenager, and certainly not a toddler; and it’s not about spanking but about a metaphor for discipline.

And research? It shows that spanking either has neutral or negative outcomes, but not positive ones. Other parenting techniques have much better outcomes, without the risk and harm.

Your children do not need to be scared of you. And you do not need to hurt them. You can discipline them and correct them and guide them in far more effective and emotionally healthy ways.

Here’s a post where we elaborate on that a bit. Parents, we can stop this negative cycle for the next generation. We can do better

Sheila Gregoire


Is God calling you out of a toxic church?

Julie Roys wrote a very important investigative report this week about an incident at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church, where a woman came to ask for help because her husband was severely abusing her and the kids, and they instead told her she had no biblical reason to be angry (let alone separate or divorce); that she must forgive; and that she must submit more.

She got a restraining order instead, and the church put her under discipline, and twice in the service of 8000 people John MacArthur named her and told the congregation that they must treat her as an unbeliever.

Her husband is now serving a decades-long sentence for multiple counts of child abuse and sexual abuse of a minor.

I shared Julie’s post with this:


A woman went to John MacArthur’s church for help because her husband was violently abusing the children and her–and she was told she had no biblical reason to be angry; she was told she had to submit more; and she was put under church discipline when she got a restraining order and separated. And he announced this in front of their 8,000 member congregation–that she should be treated as an unbeliever.

Her husband is now in jail on multiple charges, including sexual offence of minors and child abuse.

They knew that he abused her and the kids. And they said she had no biblical reason to leave.

Thank you, Julie Roys, for this in-depth article. It’s so needed.

But I want to say something else today.

Some of you are in churches like John MacArthur’s, and you agree that this terrible. You’re remaining in that church because you’re hoping you can change it.

I get it. Ten years ago that was me too. I thought I could be part of the change.

For some of you, that may be true.

But remember: By attending that church, you are giving your money and your seal of approval to that church. If you are a healthy, safe person, and other people in your community see that you go to that church, they will think, “that is a church where healthy, safe people go.” And they may start to go to that church.

What happens if the youth group gives their sons Every Young Man’s Battle? If the premarital counseling gives them Love & Respect? If they host a Love & Respect conference?

If they go for counseling for abuse, and they’re told that they need to submit more?

Are you using your money, your volunteer time, your good name to support a church that is actually harming people? What if the best way to change it is to leave?

I don’t know if that is the message that God has for you today. Some of us are called to stay. But I believe that more and more of us are called to leave.

What would happen if the healthy people got together and joined healthy churches (and there are many out there!) Churches where they did not blame women for their own abuse. Churches that protected the vulnerable. Churches that did not teach toxic things to teens. Imagine how if all of us at unhealthy churches banded together in healthy ones–those churches would be HUGE! And the unhealthy ones would shrink and lose their influence.

This story is horrific. Please read it. Please sit with it. And know that I hear stories like this EVERY SINGLE DAY. We have to do better. And I believe that may only come when enough of us say, “Stop.”

Sheila Gregoire


The Good Guy’s Guide and The Good Girl’s Guides launch on Tuesday!

I’m so excited that these books will soon be able to be in your hands! And I shared one of my favourite quotes from The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex:

Sex Should be a Knowing

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Imagine building a great sex life–from the ground up!

What would it look like to build a picture of sex that was MUTUAL, INTIMATE, and PLEASURABLE FOR BOTH–with no harmful messages?

Welcome to the The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and the ALL NEW Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex.

Pre-Order Now! (Helps us out a ton)

And if you email your receipt, we’ll send you a special pre-order BONUS

Does your body tell the story of your sexual self?

So often we get angry at our bodies for not responding sexually the way we want them to, or for not having a libido.

But what if your body has actually been doing its job–and has been protecting you? What if your body’s reaction to sex is a signal about the messages you’ve been told about sex? 

I recorded this live on Instagram that I really like, and that is super important, and I’ll likely turn it into a post sometime. But I know it will help some of you and this is what some of you need to hear today!

That’s all for this week!

Make sure to follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss an Instagram live. And may we all start talking about the route to emotionally healthy relationships more, even if it means letting go of some of our sacred cows (like spanking). As I wrote this week, may we talk better about why we wait for the wedding night. May we not be afraid of what academic studies show us, because Truth will never point us away from God. It only reveals more. And the picture that I am seeing of a God who loves us and nurtures us and cares for us is really quite beautiful.

Any thoughts on the spanking debate? On how to choose when to leave a church? On how our bodies tell our stories? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Can Sex Be Hot and Holy at the Same Time?

Can sex be hot and holy at the same time? One of my big picture passions that I want people to understand is that sex is more than just physical--it's supposed to be deeply intimate too. And maybe to understand that, we need to take a step back to see what God thinks...


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  1. Jo R

    It’s bad enough that Every Man’s Battle, Sheet Music, and other popular “Christian” books turn CHRISTIAN wives into church-approved porn stars in their own homes. Now this idiot (and if you think that’s a harsh term, it’s actually the nicest one out of my list) is borderline promoting pedophilia and incest.

    • Jo R

      Sorry, that was supposed to be “church-approved porn SUBSTITUTES,” not “stars.”

      • Andrea

        Thanks for this, I’ve been thinking about it, they’re hardly porn “stars” and more accurately “victims.” I hate how Christian resources say one of the problems with porn is that men like variety and the poor wife cannot ever live up to the beauty of those “stars.” It’s an evil way of controlling women, their weight and body image, and their willingness to spread their legs for their husbands. I’ve seen porn. It didn’t make me wish I looked like any of those women. (Seriously, most of it is low budge, at least all the stuff you get online for free.). It made me grateful I had parents who hugged me and encouraged me to pursue higher education.

      • Bre

        I mean, the way that so many of these authors and pastors describe it, “approved porn star” is sadly accurate. And, as Andrea pointed out (as well as Sheila in her sex trafficking podcast episodes), the harm and fallout for the women is exactly like real porn in most ways. Porn is built on abuse, rape, exploitation, coercion, trauma, and illegitimate consent. These wives are also victims of a culture that treats them like objects for men’s consumption, only worse, because it is supposedly blessed by God himself. And I can’t remember who (Piper? Grudem? I think it may have been Grudem on the Mars Hill podcast tapes?), but some sexist evangelical big-wig did literally call his wife his porn star in a sex sermon and talk about getting her to wear “stripper clothes” like see-through heels and leather pants🤮

  2. Nathan

    I wonder if the husband is still welcome at that church if the wife is not.

    • CMT

      If you’re talking about the Eileen Gray story, he isn’t welcome anywhere outside of prison at the moment because he’s serving 20 years to life for child abuse. But it makes you wonder doesn’t it

      • Mara R

        So I guess the question should be: Is the church supporting him in prison, visiting him and encouraging him and such? Helping him through this difficult time in his life?

        Because , you know, Jesus said it was good to visit prisoners, and all.

  3. CMT

    Men yearn for attention from younger women?? Stay at home daughters?? Yeesh. The more you listen to some of these SBC guys the more they start to sound like a certain nutcase out in Idaho, if you know what I mean. And don’t even get me started on the vipers in diapers nonsense.

    Also, re our bodies protecting us: I think you don’t even have to be fully committed to a belief in obligation sex to end up spectating, experiencing performance anxiety, and tanking your libido. Ask me how I know, haha. For me, just having the fear in the back of my mind that “he has a need I don’t have” and God won’t be happy with me if I don’t meet it (and enjoy meeting it!) was enough to cause years of issues.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, CMT, I think that’s very true about our bodies. As for the guy from Idaho: I think he just says loudly what a lot of them believe but know they can’t get away with saying.

      • CMT

        Yeah it was like I was fighting this thing for ten years but I had no clue what was going on, because why would I listen to my body?? It just needs to get with the program right? What a recipe for dissociation and resentment.

        I’ll say this, not everything you put out there works for me or my marriage. But the way you explain obligation sex and the impact that belief has on women has put words to an experience I didn’t fully realize I was having. It was the missing piece I needed to move forward!

  4. A2bbethany

    My dad has one of his books about dating and suitors. Basically the idea is that, a suitor has to be Jesus to be worthy of the daughter. Or that’s what my dad said it was saying. Making me genuinely puzzled….it’s either a parable for , “nobody is perfect so just look for fruits of the spirit”, or “nobody is really good enough for my baby”. I do know that his daughter was still sitting at home,in her upper 20s and wrote a book about how happy it felt!

    Not really..her book “joyfully at home”, comes off as empty and lacking meaning and purpose. But still trying to defend the concept, of why being at home is so great! I actually think that book had an opposite effect on me. I saw her, sitting at home and not working on anything, but daddy approved projects. And I knew that is not me! I hated dad’s open position as secretary!(home builder)
    It had the effect of making me restless to take my own path.
    I’d not heard his other teachings…
    But I have heard him praised for simply believing this way and being black. Which I always thought was funny….skin color shouldn’t elevate a preacher, regardless of how rare the 2 go together! (His conservative beliefs and being black)
    An interesting point but discussion for another day and another series!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I believe that Jasmine has now distanced herself from the whole movement, and has disavowed the book. It is interesting to see what happens when some of these kids who grew up in it have their own lives!

      • Em

        I discovered Jasmine by doing just that: trying to find adults who grew up in fundamentalism. In her books, she elucidates 😉 the experience of a Black girl who grew up in the white, evangelical, homeschool context. I loved her books and learned a lot. I hope she writes more.

        I remember distinctly hearing this (dads need the affection of younger women i.e., daughters) growing up. It didn’t sit right with me but I did not have the words to articulate why. Boy do I now!

  5. Nathan

    I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes feel an attraction for younger women, but I’ve never wanted THAT kind of father daughter relationship. Again, as has often been said, when certain “Christian” leaders tell us what other men are thinking, it’s likely a window into their own soul.

  6. Rising Strong

    Such a great survey of this week’s topics that have, as usual, given me much needed freedom AND elucidated (#shoutoutrebecca 😉) many false teachings while replacing them with truth.

    I was perusing comments on the Roys Report story on John MacArthur and Eileen Gray, and am seeing occasional themes of, “Julie Roys is bullying/bringing down the Church and victimizing MacArthur and those poor elders,” and, “The timing of this report is so coincidental (and therefore sinister) because MacArthur has a big ‘shepherding’ conference coming up.”

    If these ad hominem attacks aren’t enough to expose the twisted thinking of so many, there are MANY commenters saying that Julie Roys needs to share “both sides of the story,” AS IF ABUSE AND THE SYSTEMS THAT PERPETUATE IT HAVE A VALID SIDE!!!

    To these (whacked) individuals I ask, “On. What. Planet. Is. Any. Of. This. Reported. Evidence-based. Behavior. Acceptable?”

    In what context are these egregious choices by these men—including those made by the husband AND by the church leaders who CHOSE NOT TO SEE THE EVIDENCE PUT REPEATEDLY BEFORE THEIR EYES—a valid “side of the story”?

    It’s this line of thinking that has gotten the church to this place, truly. Extending the benefit of the doubt plus PROTECTION for the abuser in situations of documented, patterned abuse is unequivocally wrong. Pure and simple. So grievous.

      • Rising Strong

        I did see that, and it was and is a blessing to my heart, Sheila.

        ***Cue the tears of gratitude, life-giving freedom, and affirmation that YEARS of counseling and detoxing and learning healthier paradigms (largely from YOU and YOUR TEAM, as well as from Leslie Vernick, Brad Hambrick, and Natalie Hoffman) have rebuilt my stolen sense that I have worthiness in God’s eyes.***

        The word picture was such an “afterthought” that came as I percolated your post and the comments on what to do when you’ve gotten it wrong. I have felt myself in that place of desperation for decades, not just in my marriage but in many core relationships. Talk about a TON of agonizing wound debridement during and after removing the Cement Blocks…😫

        Thank you for all you do, and for showing so many the doorway to freedom with your brilliant dissection of All the Cement Blocks, and your Free-Flowing Jesus Air. I know it’s emotionally exhausting work, and that the very core of your being takes hit after freaking hit…BUT YOU ARE SETTING CAPTIVES FREE!!!!! Ask me how I know. 💪

    • CMT

      Ugh, yes. Honestly I was surprised by how few MacArthur defenders jumped into the comments there. But I did see a couple of people endorsing what seems to me to be an incredibly toxic read of the situation, basically saying “well, yes, he did eventually get convicted of a crime but the conviction might not have been right. And even if it was, that hadn’t happened yet when Eileen was disciplined so the church was doing the right thing at the time. She was refusing the counsel of the elders so she deserved to be disciplined.” As if her own word about what was happening in her own home wasn’t valid, and the elders had a right to control her most intimate decisions! When you see people saying things like that, all of a sudden it makes a lot more sense why Sheila and others like her are hearing stories of abuse every day. It’s spiritual authoritarianism.

      • Rising Strong

        EXACTLY. I’ve had to stop reading the comments because it is absolutely overwhelming to my nervous system. I actual begin to shake and sweat with a sense of desperation on behalf of that poor woman and her children, and I get so angry I want to hurt the ones who trapped her and protected him, including the commenters who perpetuate the twisted narratives that got the church here in the first place. So despicable, and yet they are blind to their own sinful logic.

        They have missed the HUMANITY, which is what Jesus saw and honored and embraced again and again and again.

        I am thankful for Jesus and His example, and I will choose that ultimately. Abuse—and protection of abusers— never has two sides. Never ever EVER.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Just disgusting. This is a sign a church isn’t healthy. People need to flee–fast.

      • Laura

        Like Eileen, I went through a divorce 20 years ago. We did not have children so there was less for me to worry about, but he was sexually abusive to me and would sometimes hit the dog. I was a member of a megachurch but did not feel the need to go to church leadership about leaving my husband. Why should I? After all, before the sexual abuse ever started, we were in counseling at the church and the counselor/pastor said that divorce should never be an option.

        I knew that I just needed to divorce him quietly and without church input. It’s not like they knew us well because there were so many church attenders and different service times. I don’t regret leaving him at all and to make a fresh start after my divorce, I decided to attend a different church which I enjoyed going to for almost two years before I moved to another state.

        Patriarchal pastors like MacArthur are one of the reasons why I am just done with organized religion.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I understand, Laura. It’s wise not to go to pastors in churches like this. It’s better to seek out licensed counselors who are equipped in this. I’m glad you’re in a better place now.

  7. Anonymous for this one

    The spanking debate is certainly very hot button. It is also very cultural. I live in a multi-cultural area, and many cultures within the various races (White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian…not all cultures, but cultures within these races) are pro-spanking, and even pro-smacking. It is also legal where I live. And don’t you DARE speak up about it because they will run you up one side and down the other for interfering with their culture and how they parent.

    It makes it hard for schools to report abuse, because a parent will smack and verbally abuse their child in front of the teacher, but if the teacher reports it, she’s a racist…and nothing can be done unless the child is injured or it is part of a much larger abuse issue…because it is legal.

    It’s changing, though. I was spanked and smacked around. I spanked my kids, but only for “biggies,” not every infraction, but realized it sucked as a form of discipline and quit. When I was spanked, there was no love and reconciliation afterwards. Only anger and distance, probably because my dad knew he spanked too much out of temper, but he still held the idea that, “she made me do it.”

    One time I was beat over the head because my pet pooped on the floor. I wasn’t even there when it happened! All of a suddden, my dad came around the corner, grabbed the nearest thing, which thankfully was a pillow, and beat me over the head until the pillow broke. No one called the cops because he was a cop.

    So, I vowed to always love and hug my kids afterwards, and never spank in excess, and never spank to hurt, but just to cause unpleasantness. But, I realized how in those moments, in that state of utter vulnerability and helplessness (child) and utter control and upsetness (parent), it is SO easy to go too far. Besides, it really wasn’t effective. Spanking isn’t really a deterrent unless you have a very sensitive child (who wouldn’t need to be spanked anyway because just looking at them sideways is enough) or unless you become the feared parent (abusive).

    I was also taught by the church to use a spanking implement so the child correlates the spanking with the wooden spoon and not your hand!!! As if that didn’t raise a red flag?! To this day my kids call my wooden cooking spoons “spanking spoons.”

    The other issue here is that many parents who refuse to spank replaced it with horrid verbal abuse. Any trip to Wal-Mart and you’ll hear a parent tell their crying child to “knock your f’ing s-word off, you bratty b-word.” In that case I think I’d rather see a calm, single smack on the rear! But, ultimately, we all need to be more patient with children learning to behave in stores.

    I left fundamentalism and all these toxic teachings. Thankfully, my kids either don’t remember or have forgiven.

    And my husband was massively grossed out by Baucham’s daddy-daughter reference.

    • Emmy

      Sounds like some PARENTS need to learn to behave in stores first…

  8. Cynthia

    That report on what MacArthur’s church did is horrifying. I’m not surprised but it is still shocking.

    This isn’t about women wanting to “take control” or buck tradition or be “unfeminine”. This is literally a matter of life and death. Those in charge know about the abuse and the risks, and their priority is to maintain control over victims so they don’t talk, and to maintain exclusively male leadership that will perpetuate the pattern of silencing women. It isn’t an accident, it isn’t a side effect – this has become their main mission.

    This is why, as a divorce and child protection lawyer with many religious clients from different faiths, I will never endorse religious counselling for couples with serious problems, or accept their dispute resolution services in lieu of trained professionals. Those from healthy faith backgrounds are fine with this and know that there is a place for courts.

    • Boone

      I’ve been denounced from fundy pulpits in three East TN counties for helping women get orders of protection and divorces against “God fearing” husbands. Throw in the Holiness churches and I’ve accrued quite an enemies list over the years. I’ve even had to get OP’s against preachers and elders to keep them from bothering my clients.
      I can tell you that unless I personally know the counselor very well I will never advise my clients to seek advice from from a Christian counselor and never from a preacher, even my own. As a rule they just aren’t trained to handle complex family situations.

      • Jo R

        And I’ll bet those “God-fearing husbands” are “men of good will” too. 🙄🙄🙄

        And howdy from southwestern Virginia! Thank you for taking a stand in east Tennessee. May more men like you rise up!

    • Jo R

      Holy cow, your linked blog post is TEN FREAKIN’ YEARS OLD. And this guy is STILL in the pulpit?

      That is frightening beyond words. 😱 😱 😱

    • Laura

      Mara R,

      I read the link you posted. Yup, I think Voddie is a male chauvinist big time. He is one without saying he is. He like to twist scripture to fit his narrative which is to keep women below men.

    • Mara R

      Jo R and Laura. I occasionally get ‘drive bys’ on this old post. People who are really mad at me for dissing their Voddie.

      Here’s a post about a comment left back in 2019 by someone who referred to themselves as shipwreck.

      And Shipwreck made some outlandish accusations against me. Quite funny, actually.


      (at the time i wasn’t divorced yet. but now i am. pretty sure voddie lovers will say the divorce was my fault and proves what a flaming liberal i am. okay. whatever.)

      I can only imagine how horrible the Voddie lovers have been to Sheila on Facebook. They can be horrible.

      • Jo R

        Yes, I had seen Ship Wreck’s comment but not your follow-up post response. Good work! And words!

        So, in the patriarchal system, is the husband EVER at fault?

        Silly question, I guess, since the wife could always have been more submissive and respectful. 🙄🙄🙄

  9. Nathan

    As far as spanking, there are arguments pro and con, but the idea that Voddie is perpetuating is ground in the theory that all children are born with a spark of Satan in them, and that it’s the parents job to “beat the devil out of them”.

    I disagree with the basic assumption, but even if that was true, even if Satan is inherently in ALL OF US, how is beating the **** out of each other going to motivate him to leave?

    • A2bbethany

      That’s something I did a lot of thinking about, and concluded that, approaching discipline that way is wrong. We are supposed to train up a child, like a support pole for a tree. Not hacking to be tree’s core in punishment! Our place is as a guideline and example, making unpleasant decisions for their good. But only God can do something about the natural pull to sin. We’re supposed to plant pulls towards God. Showing them they can know him and delight in him.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I don’t think logic is always the strong suit among these proponents, honestly.

      • Lydia purple

        I think much of the Christian spanking is basically a false gospel, because it either tries to deal with the sin of the child by simply hitting them and completely withholding the gospel from them or if the gospel and repentance is presented with spanking it does not make sense because if Jesus took the punishment and curse upon him (and he was beat, too, and crucified) then we don’t need to still hit or beat our children if we teach them to ask for forgiveness when they sin.

        So for me hitting a child without presenting the gospel is withholding Jesus the only one who can help them overcome their sinful nature from them. Basically forcing them to be perfect in their own strength.
        But hitting them while presenting the gospel to them is a contradiction in itself because the gospel is that Jesus suffered the punishment for us and the fear spanking brings basically makes true repentance difficult, as the goal becomes to avoid pain.

  10. Andrew

    I read the MacArther story today (and watched the video, which was revolting) and I was struck by the thought: If you merely changed the names, and details slightly – how is what they have built and did here materially different than the Pharisees of Christ’s day?

    Honestly, It appears like they are trying to replicate the Pharisees, only with updated ‘Christian’ jargon.

    Wouldn’t that similarity be enough to consider…maybe they missed the point/context of what Paul was trying to communicate?

    Lord have mercy.

  11. Bre

    I finally feel like I’ve calmed down enough to comment upon the craziness that has happened on your stuff on FB this week. Between Voddie and MacArthur and all the pushback…well I had to walk away from the Voddie post because of the people saying that you (Sheila) ignore the Biblical evidence and truth to push your “agenda” (ummm…what agenda? Unlike these hateful dudes who are stinking rich and dang-near venerated, you AREN’T rolling in the dough from your work and actually need to raise money to just do research and get into the actual academic world to help more people) and reading so much into your attitude that just ain’t there. I just got fed up. But now I am here to finally note my comments.

    1.) So what if his daughter says that he never beat, spanked, or abused her the way his quotes would suggest? That actually makes it even WORSE because, if he wouldn’t ever do it to his own child, it’s means that Voddie then knows that what he’s pushing is bad and wrong. And even if that isn’t how he raised his child(ren), it’s a horrific thing to publicly support with your sermons and writings. I’m sure plenty of people have heard of how the uber-conservative, ultra-fundie, and IFB groups have way too many people who’ve killed or maimed their children while following similar teachings from the Pearls, among other TERRIBLE “child training” authors. I find it hard to believe that Voddie knew nothing about those child-murders and it’s very irresponsible to promote violent, dominating child punishment techniques when you know the circles you are talking to already have issues with child abuse on this topic and may well be primed to take his teaching and run it to its horrible natural end, and it’s even more reprehensible to do so while knowing deep down, on some level, that what you are teaching is wrong.

    2.) Even if he didn’t physically or sexually abuse his own daughter, by her own words, he did hurt her. If you look up her writings, she admits that she had major relationship troubles when she married because she was, essentially, raised to be a woman-child and not a wife who was a partner. She does still seem to subscribe to male headship and church leadership, but she’s done with Biblical womanhood and seems to be edging towards the Amy Biyrd school of “can we get over gender-roles and get back to discipleship and serving in a way not based on sex, like in the Bible?.” Even if there isn’t abuse, there are still dire consequences for this line of thinking on women and girls.

    3.) I’m sorry, but no, I’m not impressed by the fact that he let his daughter go to an online Christian secondary school or get her drivers license. Like that’s supposed to convince me that he’s not a scummy human? He LET her? How benevolent of him for allowing her something as frivolous and useless as education and a smidge of freedom *hard eye roll* I mean, do those apologists hear themselves? Adult females are autonomous adults and neither husbands, nor fathers, nor men in general have any say in what they do or right to control their life and they have no devine right to control them and dispense freedoms and privileges at will. Those comments were the ones that literally made my stomach hurt. In quotes from his awful stay at home daughter movies, he literally says that his daughter is staying home to serve him. SERVE HIM. Like she is a servant or slave and he is a king. That is the epitome of entitlement. This sort of belief, in addition to not being Christ-like, is just downright nasty and treats all females like objects with no autonomy or inherent worth and vilifies women existing and people and wanting or doing anything.

    Ok. End weekly rant.

  12. Anon

    The thing that really puzzles me with the whole ‘spanking 5 times before breakfast’ thing is this – if spanking is so effective as a form of discipline, HOW COME YOU NEED TO DO IT SO OFTEN?!!!

    When I was a kid (this was early-mid 80s when the only people who didn’t smack were the ones who just let their kids go feral) smacking was only for SERIOUSLY bad behaviour when you’d ignored prior verbal warnings. Most of the time, we’d catch ‘that look’ on our parents’ faces and realise we’d gone too far and needed to start behaving or the next stage would be a smack. I think I got smacked maybe 5 times in TOTAL in my whole childhood, and most of my friends would be about the same.

    So how come all these ‘great disciplinarians’ are ‘needing’ to whack their kids 5 times in a couple of hours?!! Doesn’t sound like it’s being a terribly effective deterrent!

  13. Nathan

    One comment about Boone, who mentioned that he’s been denounced from pulpits from helping women get away from abusive husbands who were called “God fearing men”.

    First, my guess is that they’re called good Christians for the basic legalistic reasons: They go to church every Sunday, the can recite bible verses from memory, they don’t drink, smoke or swear (at least not in public, and that’s all that counts, right?), they sing, pray, wave their bibles around and let everybody in earshot know just how much they love Jesus.

    Those things are okay, although I would argue that they don’t necessarily make you ENTIRELY a good Christian. But that’s not the point. The point is this…

    None of those things, NONE OF THEM, even added together, EVER justifies abusing women and children (and men too, for that matter) or makes it okay.

    • CMT

      I think your analysis is probably right. Performing “godliness” for the right people is often enough to get a church on an abuser’s side. It makes you wonder whether folks are just really, really gullible or they actually are just as bad as the people they shield. Those pulpits denouncing people for helping protect domestic abuse victims from their “god-fearing” spouses probably don’t preach on Scriptures like Isaiah 29:13-16 or 2Tim 3:5 too often. Warnings against confusing surface performance with heart level goodness are ALL OVER the Bible, yet church leaders and attendees seem to make this mistake all the time.

  14. n

    Sheila, my memory is that in Hebrews where it says “He disciplines every one He receives” is sometimes translated “He scourges” and is the same word for what the Roman soldiers did to Jesus. And it says all discipline is grievous. So I thought that was support for physically using a rod on children calmly and in a moderate way (not harming them or leaving a mark), in order to teach them, until they reach an age where they can understand better not to go past certain boundaries like the sidewalk or the curb, lest they not notice a vehicle and get seriously harmed… things like that. And I thought since Psalm 23 mentions both rod and staff… that the rod is physical discipline and the staff is teaching and guidance, explaining why an action is wrong and talking about the heart attitude. I’d really really prefer to believe what you’re saying, but it’s not my culture or what I was taught as Christian parenting, and so I’m hoping you’ll speak to that passage as well. Thanks for all your work.

    • CMT

      “ I’d really really prefer to believe what you’re saying, but it’s not my culture or what I was taught as Christian parenting”

      I was also told that corporal punishment was taught in the Bible (and subjected to it on that basis!) but I don’t approach my own kids that way anymore. I really empathize with your feeling of wanting to believe in a gentler way of doing things. For awhile I was afraid to because I’d been told that’s “permissive” or “worldly” and would imperil my kids’ souls!

      For me, a few things came together to change my thinking: observing my kids’ behavior, I saw that spanking didn’t seem to actually be as powerful a tool as I had been led to believe. Then I learned that behavioral science bears that out. And, as far as the Bible verses you mentioned, Psalm 23 is all about the gentleness and tenderness of the Shepherd! I’ve heard it explained that shepherds don’t hit sheep with their rod or their staff, they use them to nudge and redirect the animals out of harm’s way. I wish I could remember the source for that, it was described really well.

      People did beat their kids in biblical times, sure. They also had multiple wives, owned slaves, and did lots of other things we now know aren’t ok. Personally, I’ve now come to a place where I feel ok saying that, just because a Biblical writer referenced a cultural practice or idea to make a point, doesn’t mean we have to accept that cultural practice as divinely mandated. That might make some people uncomfortable but it has helped me a lot to approach things that way.

      • CMT

        One other thought: I think the reference you’re talking about in Hebrews is in ch12 where it quotes a bit of proverbs. Even if it is the same word as when the Roman soldiers are described “scourging” Jesus, Jesus is described as being beaten to the point of being unrecognizable. I don’t see that any parallel could be intended to how we as human parents should be disciplining our kids, and I would have some serious questions for any teacher who suggested that.

        • Lydia purple

          The passage in Hebrew 12 includes does not have a clear physical implication, both hebrew words for disciplining there יסר yasar and הוכיח hochiah have verbal disciplinary meanings yasar is the same root in Hebrew as morals and hochiah means to prove, so the implication is to prove and explain your moral argument. The words can be read as physical punishment depending on cultural context similar to how discipline can mean punishment in English but their main meaning is moral/ prove. The verse says that the gods discipline is painful, so how can a moral reprove be painful…? I read it as God not letting us of the hook, and not sugar coating our sins. He will put truth in front of us and confront our sins and not let us continue in the flesh, our flesh has to die and that is often painful. No need to be physical beaten.

    • Cynthia

      Read all of Proverbs 23, from the first verse. Then answer this question: what should someone do if they are having a dinner at Buckingham palace, but feel hungry right before the dinner starts? I assume your answer isn’t “stab themselves in the throat”, even though that is what a literal reading of the text would suggest.

      This chapter is written with language that is dramatic for emphasis, but isn’t meant to be read as literal instruction. The point is that wisdom and self-discipline are important; not that we should be beating small children.

  15. Cynthia

    I think that the “I was spanked and I turned out fine” line should be read as “I was spanked and turned out to be fine with spanking”.

    That seems to be the lasting legacy. If you have identical scenarios with young children, someone who was raised with spanking and thinks they were fine is going to be more likely to see a situation as calling for a spanking than someone who wasn’t. Spanking will feel more natural, alternative methods of discipline will feel more unnatural. So, whether a young child experiences someone inflicting pain will depend largely on what their grandparents did – not on what the child is doing, not on whether it is necessary to prevent physical or spiritual harm from coming to that child.

    We have an overall obligation to love others and treat them as we would wish to be treated. That includes our kids. That means that inflicting any sort of pain would only be okay if the purpose was to prevent some greater harm and if there wasn’t a less painful way to do that. We know that it is possible to raise good kids without spanking – Sheila and I have both done it. There is a need to honestly train people on how positive parenting works and at least get them to open their minds to rethinking parenting techniques, to make sure that we aren’t using methods that go against the Golden Rule simply out of habit.

  16. Natasha

    Voddie Baucham is a frequent contributor to FamilyLife (a ministry of Cru) in the US. He has been featured on the FamilyLife Today radio program and has resources on the FamilyLife website. It is distressing that they support his work. They also featured Doug Wilson and Mark Driscoll. I am mystified why you can’t find anything unfavorable about FL on the web. They are as bad as Focus on the Family.

    I received the obligation sex, women subordinate to men, and “the wife is to blame for any marriage problems” messages from FLToday and Weekend to Remember (US). The US WTR curriculum and the way is presented if full of “women are inferior” messages.

    I am finally in therapy and expect to be for quite a while to unravel all this stuff. When I first met with my Christian therapist (licensed), she asked if it had anything to do with Love and Respect because that stuff is garbage. I said it’s pretty much the same message.

    Thanks for your work, Sheila. You are making a difference. Pray I would find the courage to ask my husband to read The Great Sex Resue with me.


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