Oct 9, 2012

How To Kill Your Rebellious Child

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

It's become quite fashionable to compare the "clobber verses" in the Bible condemning homosexuality to scripture no one in the modern world would endorse. I, myself, have written extensively on the hypocrisy of shrimp munching, polyester blend wearing, homophobes. An increasing number of gay-positive, evangelical Christians have likewise taken to pointing out the socially unacceptable passages that are avoided by the vast majority of fundamentalists. But every so often some Biblical purist calls our bluff.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 is one of those scriptural passages no modern Christian could love.

18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

~ Deuteronomy 21:18-21

Yup. If your son is worthless lay-about, have him put to death.

Openly gay megachurch pastor Jim Swilley likes to point that one out as an example of the outrageous scriptural obscurities that no one would endorse today. But the Pastor Swilleys of the world are just not prepared for Charlie Fuqua, GOP candidate for the Arkansas legislature. Fuqua thinks a death penalty for rebellious youth is an idea whose time has come.

Via the Arkansas Times, here is passage from Fuqua's book God's Law.

The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. The death penalty for rebellioius children is not something to be taken lightly. The guidelines for administering the death penalty to rebellious children are given in Deut 21:18-21:

This passage does not give parents blanket authority to kill their children. They must follow the proper procedure in order to have the death penalty executed against their children. I cannot think of one instance in the Scripture where parents had their child put to death. Why is this so? Other than the love Christ has for us, there is no greater love then [sic] that of a parent for their child. The last people who would want to see a child put to death would be the parents of the child. Even so, the Scrpture provides a safe guard to protect children from parents who would wrongly exercise the death penalty against them. Parents are required to bring their children to the gate of the city. The gate of the city was the place where the elders of the city met and made judicial pronouncements. In other words, the parents were required to take their children to a court of law and lay out their case before the proper judicial authority, and let the judicial authority determine if the child should be put to death. I know of many cases of rebellious children, however, I cannot think of one case where I believe that a parent had given up on their child to the point that they would have taken their child to a court of law and asked the court to rule that the child be put to death. Even though this procedure would rarely be used, if it were the law of land, it would give parents authority. Children would know that their parents had authority and it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents.

Fuqua has also advocated expelling Muslims from the United States, as a way to cure the "Muslim problem." But I'd be willing to bet that it's not because of extremist Muslim practices like honor killings of adulteresses and rape victims. He seems mystified at the idea that this view might place him outside the mainstream.

Fuqua said Saturday that he hadn't realized he'd become a target within his own party, which he said surprised him.

"I think my views are fairly well-accepted by most people," Fuqua said before hanging up, saying he was busy knocking on voters' doors. The attorney is running against incumbent Democratic Rep. James McLean in House District 63.

I don't know. Maybe there's something in the water in Arkansas. Two Republican pols in that great state have come out swinging for slavery. And at least one of them has turned to the holy scriptures to defend it.

In two letters, [State Rep. Loy] Mauch wrote about the Bible and slavery. The Arkansas Times quotes from a letter Mauch wrote in 2009:
If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn’t there a war before 1861?

Goodness knows he could have dug deeper. You just have to flip around the Old Testament a little. The book of Exodus is a particularly rich source of wisdom on how to properly keep, beat (21:20-21), and breed (21:2-6) your slaves. I've long said that I could make a better Biblical argument for slavery than against homosexuality. But maybe I shouldn't risk giving lawmakers like Mauch and Fuqua any more ideas.

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