Christian Parenting for a World Gone Mad

Up till now I haven’t had anything to say about Sean Harris, that evangelical pastor who favored/favors beating sons who seem effeminate or gay. David Gibson RNS summed up his rant, his retraction, and his mystification.

Even my apology is being judged by those who are supposed to be the most tolerant as insincere. At this point nothing seems sufficient.

I don’t know the man. I can’t judge his apology as sincere or otherwise. There seemed to be some disconnect between his original speech and what he later claimed he would never do or say. So perhaps his critics are pointing to obvious gaps in the truth–in one place or the other. The issue seems to be less one of sincerity and more one of veracity. Pastor Harris regrets the criticism against him: that’s easy to get. I believe that 100%.

As for his original notion that parents exist (in part) to toughen up their children, this strikes me as the Gregg Williams approach to parenting. Except that instead of offering bounties on the players of opposing teams, the program involves cutting the knees out from under one’s own. That’s teamwork for you. Should one imitate the non-Christian attitudes of the secular culture: violence, domination, anger, radical surgery–in order to prepare one’s daughters and sons for what awaits them in the wide world? That’s not the way I would do it.

We have relatives who spank. My wife and I once had two nieces in our charge for a day. One misbehaved–not drastic, but significant. Will your dad spank me, she asked the young miss.

Oh no, you’ll go to timeout.

Timeout? What’s that?

They put you in a corner and don’t talk to you for five minutes.

The girl started crying, really bawling, as if we had just pulled out a horse whip or something.

I think that in some ways, I am a tough parent. The first night she came to live with us, I fixed macaroni and cheese from scratch–no box mixes for my child. Supervised tv-watching only. She had to learn to read to take her turn to read to us. No more sugar cereal. (“Apple Jacks are good, Dad. There’s more apple than sugar in them, right?”) I’m sure this poor little girl must have thought those social workers placed her with the Stepford Parents.

I don’t mind admitting I share with Pastor Harris grave concerns about living a Christian life in the big wide world. We part company on what makes for effective and virtuous parenting. He wants to be a good dad and guide other people to be good parents: I get that. I wouldn’t mind having a conversation based on that.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Christian Parenting for a World Gone Mad

  1. Liam says:

    Clue to Pastor Harris: When your “retraction” states emphatically “I have never suggested children or those in the LGBT lifestyle should be beaten, punched, abused (physically or psychologically) in any form or fashion” but the statement you are ostensibly retracted does more than suggest such, then your retraction has earned a credibility problem.

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