Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Parenting, Discipline, and Authority

This is the fourth post in my series on Biblical patriarchy. It has been on the back burner for a while, but recent events have brought it back to my mind again. I'll start with this meme, which has been circulating on Facebook. (I don't know who created the image.):

In Biblical households, this concept of respect is given additional emphasis, because one of the 10 Commandments is to "Honor thy father and thy mother." (Whether this is the 4th or 5th Commandment, depends on whether you use the Jewish, Catholic, or Protestant enumeration.)

Now, discipline in Christian homes can vary widely. Within Biblical Patriarchy homes, however, parenting is often authoritarian.

One of the most dangerous parenting books out there, which I have often seen discussed, is the Pearl's "To Train up a Child." I can not ever recommend that book to any parent, and so these links go back to Libby Anne's blog, "Love, Joy, Feminism" on Patheos. The methods are a guidebook to abuse, even beating infants!,  that have killed several children.

My own parents favored Dr. James Dobson from Focus on the Family. An aunt showed me the book she had used, possibly from Dr. Spock, that seemed to fit with my parents own philosophies. It had a section similar to Libby Anne's explanation of the Pearls, on the importance of not giving in to children's defiance. That book differs from the Pearls, in that it said not to spank children under the age of two.

When my youngest brothers were born, they weren't spanked while I was in the house. (I left for university when they were 1 and 2 years old.)

I am reminded of all of this when I read the comments to local news articles about the situation in South Carolina, and other stories about racism. So many of the commenters were raised in ways similar to this Biblical Patriarchy, that they assume authority must be obeyed.

Anthony de Mello highlights the dangers of belief in authority in his book, Heart of the Enlightened. One of the stories tells of a doctor examining a patient, and telling the wife "I'm sorry, your husband is no more."
The patient began to protest, "I'm still here." To which the woman told her husband, "The doctor knows more than you."