Sunday, May 24, 2009

Life's Challenges. Rewards or Punishments?

Being a *good* parent gives one a very unique perspective on the universe. First off, there's the decisions to make, the biggies. Not just- vaginal or caesarean, breast or bottle, cloth or disposable. But the long reaching decisions that will effect our children for the rest of their lives. Like discipline. Spanking or time-outs. That kind of thing.

I was spanked as a child, with a belt. I don't consider myself abused, it wasn't that kind of trauma. I totally disapprove of it, but I've read "A Child Called 'It'" and talked to people who suffered horrifically as a child, it wasn't like that. Just good people who were spanked themselves and who spanked me because "that's how it was done".

The thing is, I was mostly spanked in anger, but occasionally spanked by a totally rational parent.

Now that I'm a parent, and in trying to be a good parent I have read *heaps* of parenting books on discipline and childrearing and thankfully found some awesome alternatives to striking my child, I see spanking much differently now than I did as a child. As a kid, I hated my parents for hurting me and was afraid of them and their anger.

Yet, it was the non-pissed off spankings that really creeped me out. Even as a kid I understood, a little bit, the desire to hit something when you were mad and a kid makes an easy target. (That is the lesson that spanking teaches, by the way. If something angers you, hit it. Especially if it is smaller than you are. How many spanking parents out their continue spanking their child when they grow stronger than they are? I wonder why? Maybe spanking parents should think on that a bit.)

But what kind of cold-hearted bastard saves up the spanking until hours later and applies it coldly and methodically. "This hurts me, more than it hurts you." Bullshit. If you truly abhor hurting your child, you'd find an alternative. If you genuinely believe the little bugger deserves every lash of that belt, then it doesn't hurt you at all. They deserve it.

Let's think about God the Father and his ability to discipline us, his children. Does he involve himself in our day-to-day lives up to the extent of rewarding us (miracles, answering our prayers, etc...) and punishing us for our misdeeds (lost job, poor health, sick kids)?

Some say yes, some say sometimes, some say no. (And all have bible verses to back them up. Convenient?)

For the sake of argument, let's say a person has 2 children and both are diagnosed as autistic.

How and more importantly why does a god-fearing person end up with two children with autism?

Maybe God decided that you deserve two kids with autism. Maybe he looked at the kind of life you lived (good or bad, and presumably the life you WILL live) and say, "Hmmmm, let's see here, yes indeed, two kids with autism will suit you just fine."

If that were the case, then I would be left wondering, maybe if I had actually stolen my neighbor's ass that I had long coveted and went for a joy ride up and down the streets with it and then denied it... hmmmm that's 3 commandments, would I then have no longer been worthy of having 2 children with autism? If I had been a bit worse, maybe God wouldn't have trusted me with their care. Maybe my children have autism because I was TOO good.

Or perhaps it was the other way. If you lead a life of sinful misdeeds, in spite of being raised by a Christian family, maybe God is using your 2 little ones to help you grow into a stronger, more productive Christian, a perfect member of his flock, tried in hardship and now obedient to his will.

If that were the case, then I would be left wondering, if I had just been a better person, neither of my kids would be like this. They could have been "normal" and not face all the challenges that autism will bring them in their lives. If only....

Or did God place the challenges of two autistic kids on your shoulders because he consulted his Book of Life and said,"Let's see.... max load for you is 500 ppsi and if I cross reference 2 children with autism... yep that's 475 ppsi, an average life is 20 ppsi, yep. You can handle that. We'll just keep her right at 495 ppsi and she can handle it, 'cause the Book of Life says so. Plus I'll be there to help her. Hope she's read the Footprints poem, I'll be carrying her through their whole lives. Heck, I might as well just sling her over my shoulder, this is gonna be a dooooozy. *snicker snicker*". (Yeah, God laughs in chocolate bars. *snerk*)

If that were the case, then I would be left wondering, how could God condemn two beautiful children to a life of autism as a challenge to me? Why were their brains allowed to be twisted and distorted and changed so that they cannot function the way "everyone else" does???? Why? Why?? Why??? Is it my fault? Am I too strong? Not strong enough? Too good? Not good enough?

That kind of self-doubt will eat a parent alive... Are the circumstances of my child's life, my fault?


Now let's consider God's ultimate discipline- hell.

In the course of parenting your child, it is very easy to become fairly angry with them. One careless bounce of a ball into a big plate glass window can lead to thousands of dollars in repair. It was just a tiny error that led to some very big consequences. If a spilled ice cream cone that costs $3.75 gets a slap on the hand, and ramming your sister with your bike gets her a $30 tetanus shot and you a slap across the face, and putting the car into neutral and letting it roll down the drive way, denting the fender for $450 in car repairs gets you 10 lashes with the belt.... how much physical trauma does breaking a window and costing $5000 in repair work get you? 20 lashes every night for a week?

Escalating punishment has to end some where or the law steps in. It is morally reprehensible for ANY parent to beat their child to death regardless of provocation.

So how does God, who bills himself as our "heavenly father" handle our punishment?

With God, one sin --> hell.

One "God dammit!"...hell.
One lie... hell.
One hint of jealousy... hell.
One bout of anger... hell.
Sex with someone else's husband...hell.
One murder... hell.

Wait a minute... a murder is the same as a lie is the same as having sex with someone's spouse is the same as saying "god dammit"????

Ever lasting punishment. 4 out of 6 of those are thought crimes. Victimless crimes. Yet God says you will burn in fire and brimstone for all eternity for just one of them one time.

Talk about the ultimate spanking.

I wonder what the punishment for burning your child alive is? I wonder what the neighbors would do to the person who had been found to keep their child burning for as long as possible, maybe cutting them down to heal a bit, not letting the flames actually consume the flesh, maybe just scalding them repeatedly in boiling water? I wonder if a parent could keep that going for a week or so?

I wonder how the neighbors would treat you if you were discovered to have treated your child is such an utterly repugnant, horrific fashion. Think a good ole linching might result? A little "good for the goose is good for the gander"??

Then who steps in when God, the supposed moral compass for the universe, burns somebody alive for an eternity. Not just 1 week. No, no. An eternity.

Hell is a spanking that never ends. The most hideous, ugly kind of torture that will never ever stop. No mercy. No ending. Only misery, forever.

What parent never stops? Even a physically abusive parent who beats his child with the claw end of a hammer has to stop, because the child DIES!

With god, there is no death. A "sinner" will suffer forever.

Who am I to judge god?

I am a mother. A good one. I understand about discipline and know what is appropriate and what is inappropriate discipline.

And no child, regardless of the sin, deserves an everlasting spanking.

And as for the challenges we face in our life, they are not put here by a morally bankrupt concept invented by illiterate goatherders to explain why the sky goes flash and the clouds yell boom right before it rains.

Nobody "deserves" two kids with autism. It isn't fair. It isn't just. Their autism has nothing to do with who you are as a person. It doesn't have anything to do with your past deeds, good or bad. They weren't put here to challenge you. They weren't put here to test you.

I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair.

Then I thought, "Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair? And all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?"

So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.

~Marcus, Babylon 5


Traceytreasure said...

My parents used to make me get the paddle from the drawer in the kitchen when I was in trouble. They used a wooden paddle from a paddle ball game to spank me. Someone at their church gave them the idea. They used to spank me with it, mostly on the butt and I can remember how it used to sting. I would yell that I loved them the whole time they were beating me but it didn't make them stop.
Once, I put my hand back on my butt and I was wearing a ring on one of my fingers and the imprint of the ring was in the paddle from then on.
The paddle beatings stopped shortly after we moved up to Northern California but I will never be able to look at those toys without cringing. I think back and wonder why those beatings early on didn't keep me from wanting to get in trouble, LOTS of it.
I chose to give our kids time outs. I would never consider the same sort of punishment for our kids that my parents did for me, because I love them and that sort of punishment isn't necessary, IMO.

Beating/spanking your kids with a wooden paddle for disipline = FAIL!


Traceytreasure said...

s/b discipline....sorry!


stuart said...

I am writing this post to all atheists who have a vested interest in debunking the myth of Jesus Christ. I am sorry if it bothers anyone that I am not continue the discussions that are going on your blog. Please contact me at the email address below and I promise I will never post on your blog again.

Here's what's up. A number of fundamentalist Christian blogs have come out swinging against a new book by Stephan Huller called the Real Messiah. The most recent being:

But there are many others. The only allies he seems to have on the web are a bunch of Jewish bloggers who like him because his mother was a Frankist (see wikipedia for more about this sect).

In any event Huller's book presents evidence that a two thousand year old throne in Venice proves that Jesus was not and never claimed to be the messiah.

Huller is going to appear on CNN in two weeks as part of his promotion of the book. As a big fan of his work I wanted to alert my fellow bloggers about this interview and have as many of us who have read the book to direct questions which challenge the existence of God and the whole Christian-fascist paradigm.

If you are interested in getting more information about his appearance please contact me at If you haven't read the book here is a blog posting to familiarize yourself with his basic points when you do the phone in show:

Thanks again


Claire said...

Once children reach an age where they understand the words coming out of a parent's mouth, physical discipline shouldn't be necessary.

"Nobody "deserves" two kids with autism. It isn't fair. It isn't just. Their autism has nothing to do with who you are as a person. It doesn't have anything to do with your past deeds, good or bad. They weren't put here to challenge you. They weren't put here to test you."

Sorry, but I have to disagree with that. Children are a blessing. No matter how it may be, as a mother who "loves" her children, she will/should never see them as a punishment.
Knowing someone with autism opens up a mind incredibly. To see the incredible ability that some kids have is astonishing.
It also begs the question: how are the problems with an autistic child greater than that of other children?
Who knows, with a "normal" kid they might end up getting into alcoholism and drugs - probably an even worse situation to end up in?

I agree that the damnation thing is incredibly harsh, but what sets Christians apart from Jews is that Christians aren't damned to hell if they sin - there is a saving Grace.

"With God, one sin --> hell."
But also with God, 999999999 sins + faith in Jesus --> heaven.

*I'm NOT proselytizing with the comments above, just hurts a little when parents see their children as a punishment to them...*

Fiery said...

Interesting that you don't believe in physical punishment once a child is capable of understanding the parent's words.

Yet! You believe in eternal punishment as a right and just thing. Is not hell an eternal spanking of the very worst kind?

Good thing there isn't a hell to worry about.

Children aren't a punishment and they aren't blessings. They are children. Sometimes they are wonderful. Sometimes they are terrible. And sometimes they have hideous problems that you wouldn't wish on the nearest creationist.

Claire said...

No I agree with you in that eternal damnation is unfair. How can we be expected to live our lives in a way where we don't "sin" at all? It's humanly impossible and therefore everyone is damned to hell - which is totally contradictory to God's "loving" nature.


"This hurts me, more than it hurts you." Bullshit. If you truly abhor hurting your child, you'd find an alternative.


But then that's exactly the point...there IS an alternative offered. The alternative was that he sent his son to right the wrong and there's NOTHING that humans have to do to "redeem" themselves - other than to believe and accept the gift.
So then I don't see how it's unfair when there's a very easy alternative.

I think in the end, hell doesn't exist for both believers and non-believers because
1. If you believe, then you won't be going to "hell".
2. If you don't believe, there's no such thing as hell.

I don't think I know any Christians who believe just for the reason of not going to hell...

Anonymous said...; You saved my day again.