The Adamic Nature Of Infants and Children

Fundamentalists are huge fans of original sin and never hesitate to point out that everyone from newborns to octogenarians are prone to spiritual corruption and gross wickedness. Even a child (of unspecified age and ability) is known by his doings.

One might be inclined to wonder how it is that an infant who possesses neither speech or nor rational thought could be guilty of willful sin but apparently the little critters are just rife with it. You see, sometimes they cry when there’s (and here’s the important bit) nothing wrong. Indeed this is deception of the most base kind involving fooling another human being into paying them attention when they simply don’t deserve it. That such evil should exist in the heart of a baby is breathtaking.

Indeed, the go-to illustration for most fundy pastors when addressing the topic of the heart’s corruption generally involves some infraction of their baby or toddler. Now godless, secular, atheist psychologists might have some theory or another on things like developmental stages and cognitive ability but fundamentalists have never been much bothered by psychology…or anything else. No, the simple reality is that your little smiling cherub is a willful and premeditated liar and the truth is not him.

Heed this warning well and watch for the telltale signs of corruption.

167 thoughts on “The Adamic Nature Of Infants and Children”

    1. That’s one ADORABLE little face! Every girly, cutesy-loving, mothering instinct of mine gets majorly played every time I pull up SFL on my computer today. Could you have found a cuter little face, Darrell?

  1. Great post! I don’t understand why people refuse to recognize they cry because that’s the only way they have to communicate, besides the cooing and gurgling sounds. Will they sin? Absolutely, but they have to have some sort of understanding of right and wrong before they can start sinning. People can really be dumb.

    1. they have to have some sort of understanding of right and wrong before they can start sinning

      Yeah, that part somehow gets missed a lot.

      1. Darrell,
        I get your point, but just to clarify. You aren’t saying that they are born without a sin nature though, right?

        Either way this post could get heated.

        1. No, I’m saying exactly what I said. To wit, that pastors (and others) in fundyland seem happy to read into the actions of those too young to know what they’re doing as if they are committing sins of volition.

          Of course we’re born with a sin nature. That’s basic Christian theology. But that does not mean that every baby is secretly plotting acts of great wickedness.

        2. @ Darrell – That’s exactly how I read it. Just being clear. It is this belief in fundy land that leads to pastors teaching that you begin to spank a child from 2 weeks old onward. I specifically remember a pastor saying that you spank boys starting at 2 weeks of age and girls at 3 months. Not sure why girls got off the hook easier in his mind, but that’s what he preached.

          By the way, I believe babies with colic are demon possessed which further enforces they fact of their willful sinfulness. (tongue firmly in cheek)

        3. Read the Pearl’s teaching in “To Train Up A Child”. They don’t even believe in a sin nature and encourage you to train your child “like a mule”. I know people in this trap one friend tells her daughter to “make a happy face” any time the poor kid makes a normal face, she’s not even 2! I’m glad God opened my eyes to leading my daughter with loving training rather than trying to break her constantly. We should be informed about developmental stages because they are real and can help us have a better understanding about our precious children. Diatribe, yes. This post really dredges up bad stuff for me. Children are sinners and so are parents. When you ignore extending grace to your children, the way your Heavenly Father has extended divine grace towards you it’s a problem.

        4. I agree @Eric, I think this has definite heat potential as a post. I think this is an excuse pastors and parents in IFB churches for abuse. Yes, you can abuse your child and get results. When I was pregnant, my friend told me “It will be hard, but don’t get up with your baby at night for the first four nights, then it will sleep the whole night through from then on” She then went on to tell me that her sister-in-law (wife of the assistant pastor) did it with all five of her children!! 😯 Her insinuation was that it was “spoiling” the child to get up and feed it at night…only a few days old…Makes my blood boil right now!! πŸ‘Ώ

        5. @MKXcomm…who knows what her insinuation was, but teaching your baby to self soothe by not picking them up everytime they cry (feeding being an obvious exception) is vital to their development of the tools necessary to cope with stress/anxiety in adult life.

        6. @dreadful, I understand the teaching of self-soothing, the common thought is that it starts around 6-9 mos.

          This girl was denying her child food at night for the first four nights after it was brought home from the hospital! Merely a few days old! This is when a child needs fed every two to three hours.

        7. @MKXcomm, there is another sinister side to that awful advice to ignore your babies’ cry. If you are trying to nurse it is going to really mess up the system God set up to bring in a mother’s milk supply. That’s an aside that doesn’t apply to all mother’s obviously. Anyone who knows anything about lactation would advise against ignoring a newborn’s cry ESPECIALLY in the first four nights! It might not affect some women negatively but it could totally wreck the possibility of successful nursing for another. Where is common sense!

      2. Isn’t that amazing! I heard a fundy deacon once say it is possible to not sin, Really? Maybe for the smart educated deacon such as himself but this little one is damned from birth. A baby cries, how selfish and sinful of him.

      1. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I have been in Fundyland so I’m not sure what the Fundies believe about Age of Accountability (AoA). I may be about to ramble, but here goes:

        If a child is born with a sin nature, and their “crying about nothing” is evidence that they are horrible people already, then pulling in Dan’s comment about a sense of right and wrong – wouldn’t it be safe to say that if a Fundy makes this unrelatable “relation” of the Adamic nature and babies, then all babies are held accountable for their actions and there is no age of accountability?

        The further I got into that, the more a realized it may not have made any sense at all.


        1. Actually it does make sense. If we are accountable from birth then there is no age of accountability. I would say that there is no need for the Law either, since if we sin not knowing that we sin then what difference is there between have the knowledge of sin or not. If the condemnation is without knowledge then what difference does knowing about it make?
          If that is the case then one can only conclude that all babies who die go to hell.

          I glad scripture says differently.

        2. I don’t think (most) fundies are making an argument that infants are devilish little beings scheming up the next 9-11, but that we are all born with a sin nature. Thus, with this sin nature we all deserve hell.
          They are correct in this matter, but may just go a little overboard on the ‘explaining.’
          They also believe that infants have a ‘free pass’ to heaven since they do not understand nor have the capability to understand God’s amazing love.
          I don’t think that this is an area where fundies are far off, but they may just ‘rant’ a little too much on the subject- hence the picturing of the devilish newborn. πŸ‘Ώ

  2. I know of couple who insist on spanking their 2 month old because of this reason. Fortunately they’re not like those crazy extreme fundamentalists who smack their kids at 2 WEEKS of age. I mean, that would be crazy! At least according to them…

  3. My favorite has always been parents threatening to spank a crying child(verbally – hopefully they understand English at that age)…to get them to stop crying! Inflicting pain on an unsuspecting toddler does wonders to quiet him down! :rolleyes: Boy, did I get ripped a new one the one time I mentioned that to a parent.

    I have a theory: all this blaming of sin on a kid who doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong can be traced back to an angry parent who needs someone or something to blame, and so he chooses the weakest target in the room. Take the baby out of the equation and it would be the wife. Take the wife out of the equation and it’s the wall, couch, TV, or any other inanimate object. But, angry parent, to quote the good Rev. Dr. Robert Jones, Sr., “No doubt the problem is with you.”

    1. I don’t want to start the spanking debate all over again. But punishing a child who is too young to understand why he/she is being hit (or whatever punushment you use) is just plain stupid.

      It reminds me of the time my car wouldn’t start, so I pounded it with my fist. I hurt my hand, and after that, the car still wouldn’t start.

        1. See what I mean?? Even former fundies are so unforgiving of each other that they have to correct obviously inocent mistakes before they get jumped on!!!

  4. You mean babies are born that way? Sorry, couldn’t resist. I always smirked when I heard these “illustrations” – simply because I always wondered why the managod couldn’t come up with a better example – preferably one that could defend itself.

  5. Even before birth! My fundie friend and her hubby busted out with the concept of original sin with the sonogram tech.

    Most normal parents are trying to make out the little blob on the screen and excitedly make out the head, hands, and watch the baby jump around. They? Were thinking about what a horrid, evil little sinner he was. oh, but children are such little BLESSINGS and GIFTS from God!!11!!

    Oh and when he was actually born, I posted what a sweet little angel he was….I was quickly correcterd by her AND several members of her cult…er….’church.’

      1. It is just the extreme ‘born in sin’ concept. Some of these people believe that we are evil, horrid and totally depraved from conception.

        It is a screwed up, perversion of what the Bible actually teaches…but that is the norm for fundies.

        1. Yep, when I was pregnant with my first, the pastor told me that when the baby kicked me and it hurt, to speak harshly to him and tell him to stop, and that if he continued to do it that the baby was sinning and I needed to give him commands in a harsh voice until he obeyed. I didn’t buy it.

          Seriously though, a baby kicking and making me uncomfortable in the womb is sinning? Really? That’s what happens to your brain when you follow the likes of Gothard who has no kids himself, I guess.

  6. Children are a parent’s mission field. And sadly some of these stories sound like “separationist” techniques aimed at the smallest family member. Love your neighbor as yourself goes right out the window for your own kids, go figure. I really think it’s a primary misunderstanding of grace and God’s Sovereignty that makes a parent think it’s heavy standards and beatings that will *make* your child become a Christian.

  7. It is this horrid kind of teaching that sends young, ignorant couples down the path of an “us vs.them,” adversarial approach to parenting. So often it quickly spirals out of control and turns straight into abuse. That’s my experience, anyway.

      1. My experience was that of being on the receiving end of this philosophy as a child. My parents were absolutely mesmerized by Ron Williams as new Christians and parents of young children.

        Unfortunately, when I became a parent myself someone did me the “favor” of giving me the Pearl’s book as a baby shower gift. Thankfully I never held to their teachings. I did struggle with feelings of guilt that I was a weak and lazy parent for not abiding by their book. Today I thank God that simply could not keep up with their rigorous and abusive methods. I cringe at the thought of what my kids would be like if I had been able to successfully follow their teachings. Thank God for His mercy!

        1. I understand the guilt, though mine was over rejecting the teachings of Gary Ezzo, who was extremely popular in my circle.

        2. Eeesh…these constant references to “Pearl,” who is apparently a wacko of the first order, makes me think I should change my screen name! πŸ™

        3. That would be Michael and Debi Pearl. They are seriously insane, but apparently have a substantial following in Fundistan.

          In that context, “Pearl” is a pretty funny name on Stuff Fundies Like. I mean that in a good way.

          Maybe you could be “The sane, non-child-abusing Pearl.”

  8. Are you sure you didn’t sit in Mazak’s “counseling” classes? He seriously teaches this. Not that I’ve found a whole lot of his babbling credible or anything…

    1. Parents that can view their precious children in that light remind me of this passage

      “…without natural affection…5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins…” Yeah, I broke out the King Jimmy πŸ™‚

    1. πŸ˜† “Vipers in diapers” πŸ˜†

      Tramps in Pampers
      Milk Sots
      Thuggies in Huggies
      Skankies with Blankies
      Hitmen in Playpens
      Criers and Liars
      Swindlers in Swings
      Back-Stabber Babblers

  9. Of course we’re born with a sin nature. That’s basic Christian theology. But that does not mean that every baby is secretly plotting acts of great wickedness.

    Except Stewie from “Family Guy.”

  10. Although as human beings we are born with a sin nature, there are people who are incapable of sinning. To sin requires knowledge of right and wrong and a will to do the wrong instead of the right.

    Babies, those people with profound birth defects, people in comas, and many such are simply incapable of sin. They deserve our mercy, not our condemnation. They have a special place in the heart of Jesus our Lord.

    1. I figure I’m gonna get blasted here, but if those handicapped, in a coma, with severe birth defects cannot sin, is the opposite also true – that they cannot have faith? If that is so, how are they saved?
      As a Lutheran, we believe that yes, children are sinful (Ps. 51:5) and in need of salvation. Since faith is a gift (Eph. 2:8-10), we baptize infants to bring that gift of faith into their hearts. Baptism saves the infant (1 Peter 3:21). This applies to those who are handicapped mentally as well.
      Okay guys – fire away!

  11. I’m so thankful that the Lord delivered me from this kind of thinking before my son was born. He’s only 21 months old, and he’s been such a handful because of a strong personality and bad acid reflux that keeps him up at night, even with medicine. I’ve been counseled to spank him, ignore him when he screams at night, force feed him food he doesn’t want (usually because it caused reflux the last time he ate it), etc. But by the grace of God, I have survived almost two years without a full night’s sleep and have learned to work with his personality without spanking. He’s a sweet boy, a gift from God, and anyone who thinks differently can hang a millstone around their neck and jump in a lake.

    1. Kim
      been there with the acid reflux. I ignored sleep training, co slept, nursed and did attachment parenting. It was still hard, be at least we both got some sleep! He’s 7 now and just fine, well liked, well behaved.

      1. I don’t think any parent can understand the problems that come with acid reflux unless they’ve been there. I’m glad that your son is better! I was up every two hours again last night. I wish my son would co-sleep, but my bed is for jumping in, and he will only sleep in his crib . . . when he does sleep, that is.

  12. IMHO here is where the fundies are off base concerning the sin issue:

    They (fundies) think that the problems that needs to be addressed from the pulpit are the manifestations of sin. They will spend all of their time and energy preaching “do this” and “don’t do that.”

    They think that if people will change their behavior things will be great again like it was in the 1950’s.

    The problem that they need to understand is that people aren’t sinners because they sin, we sin because we are sinners.

    They needn’t preach the manifestation of the problem, they need to get to the root of it. If they would focus on that, then they would clearly see that the only solution is Jesus Christ. He alone can solve our sin problem.

    The typical fundy message is nothing more than a message advocating behavior modification. This is a damning shame.

    Until fundies understand the extent of sin, they will continue in the tradition of Finney and Sunday to preach Christ-less, Gospel-less messages.

    Until Christ is proclaimed as the only answer; Fundy sermons will continue to be nothing more than awful, sweaty, abusive psychology lectures.

    1. People who think things were all great in the 1950s weren’t around in the 1950s, or have poor memories.

      Just ask my parents, or anybody their age, or read some newspapers from the 1950s.

      1. The attraction of the 50s is that television had not yet reached the saturation that it has today so people still went to church for entertainment and social interaction.

    2. Polished- Love love love this. Spot on friend. As you know I’ve been reading Tullian and his posts have have been challenging and inspiring me to see the gospel message in such a clear light. Your post just now reminded me of his style of writing. Good stuff.

    3. First of all, spot on. Second, Gary is right – the 50’s were just as full of sin as today, and some of it significantly worse. The oppression of non-whites comes to mind.

      1. This is one thing I have heard over and over again! That te fifties were wonderful. Why? Women knew their place, in the home! This is one of the things fundyland will never get- that some women can balance home and a job, because the husband helps in the house and doesn’t strut around like the king of the castle. Too many times the wife is told she’s the queen of the castle, but she is treated like the slave.

  13. On the one side: law, judgment, looking at children with suspicion, thinking about how evil children are, cold-heartedness, lack of affection, love that comes with strings attatched, harshness

    On the other side: grace, acceptance, looking at children with compassion, thinking about how children are gifts from God, being tender-hearted, unconditional love, gentleness.

    The first way means you can be a despot and tyrant, a demi god in your own home. The second way means you must be humble and forgiving. The first way appeals to our flesh. The second way imitates Christ.

      1. Good point. God does want us to be compassionate, merciful, and humble to ALL.

        You’d think extending grace to one’s own children would be most easy and natural (“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?”), but apparantly fundies are so leery of love and so scared that they will offend holiness by being lax toward sin, that they view their children more as offenders than lost, helpless, and needy lambs.

  14. I keep wanting to read this post title as “The Academic Nature of Infants and Children.” If that were the case, I’d completely agree. Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

  15. And yet these same fundies teach that God does not hold children under 12 accountable for their sins. My former Seminary principal was brought up in a fundy-influenced church, and as a boy he was quite certain that on his 12th birthday he’d be in big trouble with God, but before then he was fine!

    1. I’d say that type of teaching would be the exception not the rule in fundy circles. When pressed, many will admit that there probably is an age under which children are not really able to understand the Gospel and if they have to pick an age, they’ll usually pick 12 because of the bar mitvah (although in the Pentateuch, the age of adulthood was 21).

      However, I’ve never been away of any church that “lets younger kids off the hook.” Instead I’ve seen high-pressure tactics to get kids to confess their sins and pray a prayer and get saved, definitely at ages 4-12. I know many children, including myself, who worried at night whether I was truly saved or not. I never, ever thought I had a pass until I was 12.

      1. My parents had an ABC Bible memory book that we worked on when I was three years old, and E was Proverbs 20:11 – “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” I knew I was responsible for my behavior!

        1. My oldest daughter, at the age of 5 (now 29), came to me and let me know she had met Jesus. Her life bore witness to that and still does. I usually don’t put much stock in such stories but I;ve watched this one myself. God drew me to himself at age 8 but I’ve known people who were clueless untill… well… they still are. :mrgreen:

      2. I was one of those children that feared I wasn’t saved. A couple years after I walked the walk (you know, to the alter), there was a Pettit(?) revival at my church. I was around 12 then, and I had to miss one night because I was sick. I laid in bed that night and cried and cried because I didn’t know if I was going to heaven or hell.

        The next night prior to the revival service, my pastor’s wife sat down with me (at the request of my mother – who, to her credit, probably thought I was nuts) and asked me if I got to heaven, and Jesus asked my why I should be let into heaven, what my answer would be. I thought it was a trick question. I had no idea. I didn’t know anything about anything – especially not “why” I should be let into heaven (yes, “let into heaven”). I just know I prayed the prayer and didn’t feel saved.


        1. Fundies do not deal well with problems of assurance. They base assurance on the person–his answer to those “trick” questions, his feelings, the words he said in the sinner’s prayer, etc.–not on the work of Christ and the Word of God.

          Pettit “revivals” are meant to terrify people, I believe.

    2. It’s true, and until this post, I had not realized how conflicting these 2 stances are. On the one hand, children are not accountable for salvation up to a certain age (it varies from child to child, but generally somewhere between ages 6-12). On the other hand, humans are born with the sin nature and a child is known by his doings. One of my church’s favorite phrases was, “You don’t need to teach a child how to lie, or sin.” So kids are sinning from practically birth (thus the need for strong discipline early on) and yet theoretically in God’s eyes aren’t accountable for the very deeds they’re disciplined for.

      I am still stuck with nursery duty, and it’s total hell in there. I’ve worked with inner-city kids whose parents are in jail, and those kids aren’t nearly as crazy or chaotic as church kids whose parents are in church. I have often wondered while sitting in nursery if these kids are a good example of expectation fulfillment in psychology (not sure if that’s what it’s actually called, it’s been awhile). For example, if you as a teacher expect an African-American student in your class to be dumb and juvenile, chances are the student will start acting like that. I’ve often wondered similarly if because fundies expect their kids to be bad, they do act out worse.

      1. Sendra, Having been in church for almost all of my 56 years the phenomena you describe, IMO, comes from the hypocracy of the parents. The kids sit through church and, more absorb than, listen to the message and then listen to thier parents disect the message and the pastor and the SS teacher and the music and each other. Thus, seeing no reality behind the teaching, they become vaccinated to the truth of the Gospel. Plus, Christian parents often ignore thier children at church. You’ve seen it, Johnny or Jill come up to Mommy and tug on Mommy’s dress and instead of taking a moment to say, “Just a minute Sweety” they ignore them untill thier “Adamic” nature becomes manifest and then smack them. Secular kids don’t suffer from that as often unless Mom is a telephone adict but even then she can respond to a greater degree than Church Mom.

        1. @tlorz2: Interesting. I started attending church with my brother as a teen, but it was (mostly) voluntary. My parents are basically agnostic and don’t attend church, so I never really experienced hearing messages dissected like that afterwards with family members. And I had no expectation that my parents would follow messages they never heard. That’s honestly probably why I never put much effort into inviting my unsaved parents to church – I KNEW they’d do nothing but nitpick (not necessarily over doctrinal issues, but just things like, “The Pastor talked way too long,” “It was really boring” etc.) and I didn’t want my parents to tear apart my religion.

          I had also thought that the phenomena of church kids acting out more was a matter of kids taking the message TOO closely to heart (rather than becoming vaccinated against it). For example, maybe a kid walks away from the story of David and Goliath thinking that beating others up is an appropriate/good response to those who are in your way. (How many kids are constantly hitting each other in the nursery, ugh..)

          Yes, I have noticed Christian parents sometimes not really paying attention to their kids at church, but I guess I kind of justified it in my head – like it’s so busy at church they can’t pay attention to their kids. Or this is the one time they have to not be around their kids and to meet with God or meet with other Christians outside of their house and so they’re too preoccupied to deal with their kids..

  16. Obviously babies are sinful, because the girls are born with short hair, and the boys are born without britches. Also, they speak in tongues.

  17. I always tell people that my 2-year-old dances because of his Adamic nature. My pastor (we are an SBC church) used one of these examples but it was more about his son retaliating against a nurse after having to have a catheter, that kid most certainly had a reason to act out aggresively…still probably didn’t know where it was coming from I’m sure.

  18. I always thought this was a particularly cruel teaching. I’ve never been some kind of baby-maniac, but implying some kind of devious motive to a baby crying is borderline mean at the very least. I’ve never heard anyone use that heinous illustration and remind the folks to not be spanking kids that can’t understand. It’s just begging for major abuse problems, and totally hideous of a teaching.

  19. I grew up in home w/parents who practiced the beliefs described, and saw my little sister spanked with various objects when she was still in diapers. I would like to spend about 10 minutes alone in a small room w/those who believe this way. Better yet – give them a running start and use them for target practice. It helps to get that out! Thank you for letting me share.

  20. The thinking behind this kind of teaching is what makes fundyland schizophrenic. Fundy Premise: We are all born sinful and God can’t look upon sin. OK -Then don’t pull out the “AgeofAccountability” card for me to be “comforted” by when I lost a baby! I chose to believe that God is gracious to all and that while children ARE born with a sin nature – they don’t have the objective ability to act upon it until they get older…and as a parent I can tell when those wheels start turning and it isn’t in the 1st few weeks of life πŸ™

  21. And so begins the fundie path of performance religion, they believe that you can tranin a child to perform in such a manner that they are somehow more acceptable so if, God forbid, something should happen to the child then they can be comforted that the child is in heaven because he was trained to perform in an acceptable manner prior to the Age of Accountability. Ans so the Performance Cycle of being right with God begins. Is it any wonder…

    1. george? Why do I let you type replies for me? *sigh* If you would just run it through spell check we wouldn’t look like a couple of dunces.

      *yeah, ok, I know we are, and your know we are, but you don’t have to let everyone else know it too, do you?* πŸ™„

  22. This is a timely post. My 3 year old has been a tyrant the last few days, and I found myself today thinking, “Oh, her sin nature is really showing itself.” Then, I took a step back and realized that, though she is sinning, she has also been through some upheaval lately moving to a new home and not having much of my attention. It really takes work on my part to stop thinking Fundy.

    1. That’s one of the dangers of thinking this way: it gives a quick and easy answer – the kid’s a sinner – instead of requiring parents to be patient and to try to look at things from the child’s point of view and see if there’s a reason for the bad behavior. Sometimes it IS rebellion, but sometimes children act out because they’re hungry, tired, confused, frightened, etc.

  23. Jack Hyles, How to Rear Infants
    The last chapter in this book covers the general subject of the discipline and punishment of children; hence, we will deal in this brief chapter only with the unique way to discipline infants. Disciplining infants is extremely difficult, but it must be done. Discipline teaches that there are limits in life and that within those limitations life can be beautiful. It must teach, however, that living outside those limitations is painful. Because of this, the parent must see to it that pain of some kind is inflicted when wrong is done-pain of loneliness, pain of being hurt because you disappointed someone you love. It may be physical pain, but the child must be taught that doing wrong hurts in some way and that the hurt that wrong brings is far greater than the enjoyment it gives. Proper discipline teaches a child to learn to accept these limitations. It must be understood that a child is going to test a parent concerning his discipline. Because of this, the parents must be consistent. The punishment for a certain crime must be consistent. Some rules to follow are:

    1. Always have the same punishment for the same crime. The child then can associate certain types of pain to certain types of deeds. He can remember that pain that follows each deed. In other words, there is a predictability and steadiness in the punishment of a child.

    2. Always inflict the punishment for the crime. If the child knows or feels that there are times when he can get by with committing the crime, and if there is at least a possibility of his escaping the punishment, he may well choose to run the risk. However, if he comes to the conclusion that punishment is always given, he will come nearer deciding against the doing of the wrong deed.

    If a child gets the idea that he has freedom of expression that will not be repressed at all, he is being given a false impression of what society will expect of him later. The parent should, by his discipline and punishment of the child, teach him what to expect in years to come. Parents must prepare him to be a law-abiding citizen. The child must be taught the boundaries of the law and the penalty received by living outside those boundaries.

    Spanking should begin by the time the child is able to walk. I’m not talking about beatings, slappings, etc. I am talking about firm, but gentle and loving spankings. There are things, for example, that will endanger a child’s life, such as crawling too close to the window or playing with the electrical plug. It would be far better for a child to receive the pain of a spanking than the pain of serious injury or death by being electrocuted or falling from the window.

    3. Develop a consistent pattern in your behavior. The infant will probably repeat his actions several times. In order to establish for sure that you are responsible, always be the same. Be sure that your response is the same so that the infant will see a predictability about it.

    When our children first learned to walk, I took them on a tour of the house. I pointed to certain objects and said, “No, no, no, no, no!” Again I pointed to the objects and said, “No, no, no, no, no!” I did this until the children associated the object with “No!” When I felt that they had associated the word “no” with objects they should not touch and things they should not do, I then proceeded to let them know that pain was associated with disobedience. I did not take a stick and hit the child; neither did I beat him with my fist, but lovingly and gently and tearfully I used the place that God has provided for spankings, and I gave him a spanking with whatever intensity I felt the crime demanded. The intensity should not be determined by the anger of the parents or the discomfort that the crime caused them. It should be commensurate with the crime. The parent should remember that the most important thing is to develop a close relationship with the child. I recall when my mother used to give me long talks. I would rather have had a spanking any day because the worst thing about the punishment was that Mother was displeased and that our fellowship was broken. When the parent and child have a sweet, close, intimate relationship, it enables the punishment of a breech of fellowship to be the worst punishment of all. This does not mean that the child should never be spanked. It means that even in spanking the child knows that Mother or Father is displeased.

    1. If you’re in any doubt about whether or not you should follow Jack Hyles’ parenting advice, just look at how his own son turned out.

      1. Of course, I don’t support the thinking in my post. I sometimes like to post the bizarre in their own words to elicit comments. It is more fun that way.

  24. *Sigh* this kind of fundy thinking is like slime- you pick it up in dark unpleasant places, it makes you stink, and it takes forever to wash off.

    While I don’t have any kids, this mindset is how I was raised πŸ™„ . Encountering the idea of grace parenting really made me step back and re-evaluate how I interact with kids in general. Learning to interact with kids in a grace-filled manner is such a different way of thinking, it makes great sense but practicing it, esp. when a kid is misbehaving is challenging for me. There seem to be plenty of books on the concept of grace parenting but I haven’t found any “Practical Applications of Grace Parenting for Dummies” yet πŸ˜€

    1. If you ever find that book, let me know. I think I need it too!

      My dad still loves to tell how he spanked me as a child because I wouldn’t stop crying when I was told to, only to discover that my diaper pin had come unfastened and was sticking into my skin. He always laughs when he tells the story; I seethe.

    2. For books about practical applications of grace-based parenting, I’ve found that secular books work the best. They advocate patience, understanding, rewards, learning, proper discipline (without the “you must spank if you love the Lord” nonsense), etc. I can get my theology elsewhere, but it’s nice to have some clear-minded experts weigh in on practical things.

      1. I know Fundies who rail against him, despite the fact that he’s been dead for over a decade, but you could get a lot worse parenting advice than from Dr. Benjamin Spock’s “Baby and Child Care.” It’s full of good, practical, relaxed advice, and still available, new and used.

      2. I agree. I haven’t found a “Christian” parenting book yet that doesn’t rub me the wrong way (at the least). Dr. Sears is one of my favorites. He’s a Christian, but his books are secular — and very helpful and full of grace. There’s also the part where he’s raised 8 children, all of whom still talk to him (unlike Gary Ezzo’s children).

  25. When I was pregnant with our first, several friends, both SBC and IFB, recommended the BabyWise approach. I googled it intending to buy the book, but instead came across warnings that its advice was medically unsafe. Its scheduled feedings left many babies undernourished. We chose a more gentle form of parenting our babies, leaning towards attachment parenting without the baby-wearing. Our kids, while sinners, are also thoughtful, generous, sharing little people. I am so glad we didn’t fall for the Ezzo junk.

    1. Anything can be taken too far. We took the notion of slightly delayed feedings,etc. and applied to our infants. Over a very short period of time it works. Both my girls slept through the night in record time. We’ve suggested the book to other friends- with caution- and they’ve thanked us profusely.

      1. Oh.. and they were thick babies too. No malnutrition ever.

        I dunno.. maybe a hyperliteralist wouldn’t be the person to give that book took.

    2. I was horrified by the babywise thing; it seemed to me it said ‘follow this plan (don’t feed your baby when he cries) so your child isn’t a rebel.’ Maybe it was the post-partum fog I read it in (does he really think I can save my child by with holding food or ignoring his cries?) and the fact that there was a typo on the back cover; how much effort (research, understanding) could have gone into a book that had a typo on the cover? (realizing, of course, no matter how carefully I proofread this response there will be a mistake in here somewhere). It was not the method for me.

    1. Premise: Pets die.
      Conclusion: Pets are sinners.

      It’s called the Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle.

      I hope you are committing a Poe.

      1. 1. Death is the wage of sin.
        2. Pets die.
        3. Pets are sinners.

        1. Christ came to save sinners.
        2. Pets are sinners.
        3. Christ came to save pets.

        Therefore: All Dogs go to Heaven.

      2. 1. Death is the wage of sin.
        2. Artichokes die.
        3. Artichokes are sinners.
        4. Christ came to save sinners.
        5. Artichokes are sinners.
        6. Christ came to save artichokes.
        7. Artichokes go to heaven.

  26. Darrell – While I appreciate your concern for children and their wellbeing the tone of your post is neither kind nor helpful. Your post simply mocked the people that hold to the idea of infants being manipulative from birth, it did not show or encourage the grace, love, and care that Jesus taught. It also gave no clear, biblical answer to the this teaching. I am a young adult who grew up in an Independent Fundamental Bible church and am now trying to live a life centered only on Christ and the Gospel. For someone like me who is seeking to sort through my beliefs you simply muddied the waters and in the process discredited yourself.

    1. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating:

      Attempting to get your deep theology from SFL is liking getting your political views by watching Jon Stewart. That isn’t what this blog is for.

      You say “muddied the waters.” I say “rocked the boat a wee bit in hopes of starting a conversation with the SFL community.” Taking a quick look at the 110 comments on this post I’m going to say I’m succeeding.

      If you’d like a conversation that’s all deadly serious feel free to start a thread in the Theology section of the forums. I’m sure plenty of friendly folks there will be happy to chat.

    2. “Trying to Learn”:

      I call B.S.

      In ten years of speaking against Fundamentalists, I’ve received a lot of comments. I’ve had numerous people say that what I’d done (which is in the same vein as what Darrell is doing now) helped them enormously. I’ve never had a single person who was “trying to learn” tell me that I set them back.

      I’ve had plenty of Fundamentalists angrily accuse me of making the waters muddy. But nobody who was ever trying to sort through things ever accused me of sewing confusion for deconstructing fundy illogic.

      The tone and verbage of your diatribe doesn’t even strike me as legit. It doesn’t sound like a seeker, it sounds like a Fundy playing a head game.

      I think you’re a fake and are trying to make Darrell feel bad.

      1. I am sorry if I seem fake and illegitimate; that was not my intention. And if I have made anyone feel bad I apologize. Please forgive me.

        1. Ok, now I feel a little bad. πŸ™‚

          I have to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re being sincere. Please accept my apology for my bluntness.

        2. Anyone who grew up in Fundieland and who now is seeking to put Christ at the center of their life is alright with me.

          I disagree that Darrell discredited himself, but that’s alright. No big deal.

        3. Satire is a truly lost art. In even shorter supply is the art of reading it. πŸ˜•

    1. The doctrine of creation always loses to the doctrine of original sin.

      Being made in the image of god has to count for something, otherwise, I don’t think that god would be interested in redeeming the human race.

  27. This post makes me sad. With so much abuse these days, to teach that innocent little children are evil, sad. πŸ˜₯

    I remember something that my mother in law said happened at her SBC, but more fundamentalist-type, church. Pastor’s son and his wife were dedicating their baby. Baby cried through out the dedication. But they said they were going to go through the dedication anyway, because they weren’t going to “let Satan ruin it.” I thought “Oh, goody. Satan got into the baby. Is her head going to start spinning around now?” πŸ™„

    I think the ones who are evil are those who claim that innocents are evil!

    1. How very true! For example, my mother discredited everything Tina Anderson said because of what Tina said Mrs. Phelps said to her. My mom said, “Mrs. Phelps is a godly lady. She’d NEVER say something like that!”, leaving me baffled since my mom never seems to have a problem believing the worst of most other people. Yup, young children are susceptible to the wiles of Satan but not pastors or pastor’s wives; they’re unassailable. They’re holy. πŸ™„

      1. BTW, I love my mom dearly and that’s why it’s so disappointing when I see her lose objectivity, wisdom, and compassion to cling to certain fundy perspectives.

  28. How can a baby learn to trust his Heavenly Father when his own parents refuse to meet his basic physical needs? Responding to a newborn’s cries teaches him that he can trust you to take care of him. What better foundation for teaching him about God when he’s older?

  29. I wish that I could subtract 50 years from my present age and start out fresh raising children again. One thing that would definitely be omitted is spanking. I don’t necessarily subscribe to everything that Dr. Spock wrote, but I do agree that spanking has no effective place in rearing children.

  30. It seems to me that spanking usually works best on children, who are more compliant by nature and don’t need it very often anyway. But then again, just a stern look will melt some of these children. Others, can’t seem to sort out the lessons of right and wrong you are trying to teach them, because of the sheer trauma of the spanking. It puts them in an emotional cyclone. I’m no expert on these matters. I have just been a child and a parent.

    I’m not totally against spanking done in a controlled and appropriate manner. I just don’t think it works well with some kids.

    1. So true. A particularly strong willed child can grow incredibly calloused if every minor infraction is met with a spanking. Spankings should never be used frivolously. Proper reproof and a hug can help those kinds of kids far more. Especially when in the midst of an “emotional cyclone”. Been there, done that.

      1. I was a very strong-willed child. Spanking typically did nothing more than raise my hackles to prove I was stronger than the spanking. My usual response to getting spanked was, “that didn’t hurt,” which, naturally, pushed my mother’s stubborn button. So I’d get another spanking. There are so many other approaches that would have impressed me in the right ways. Spanking wasn’t it.

        On the other hand, my sister got spanked about twice. She was one of those tender-hearted ones who fall apart at the very thought of punishment at all, much less a spanking. Corrective words were more than enough for her.

        Thus, spanking is not the discipline panacea that many fundy parents have been taught to believe it is.

    1. ?? Why is it a bad post?? πŸ˜•

      Are we born sinners?
      Or are we born with a predisposition to sin?
      What sin is an infant guilty of?
      What law of God has an infant broken in order to be a transgressor of the law?

      I ask these ?? in all sincerity.

  31. Thanks to the fall, we are all born with the propensity to sin… but we are not born guilty of sin – there’s a big difference.

    Babies are pure innocence. They have only one way to communicate – crying. Those who view those attempts at communication as “sinful” are sociopaths. Those who see them as adversaries to be conquered, rather than little ones in Christ to be nurtured and protected, should undergo sterilization immediately.

  32. Although fundies say they believe in original sin, they do not actually believe this. How can I be so arrogant to say this? Well, do fundies baptize their babies?

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