The direction of benefits

Chapter 6 of Janet Heimlich’s terrific book Breaking Their Will: shedding light on religious child mistreatment is titled “An Obsession with Child Obedience.” The final paragraph of the chapter says:

While there is nothing wrong with encouraging children to honor their parents, scriptures and religious concepts that promote child obedience offer an unbalanced and unhealthy parent-child relationship model. That is, while theology says plenty about what children must do for parents, it is largely silent on what parents owe children. Expecting children to honor and obey “in all things” promotes the use of corporal punishment, fear, and, sometimes, physical abuse. [pp 97-8]

It’s exactly the same with “God,” you know. Humans are told to obey and worship god, but God is never told to take responsibility for its creation. Praying is begging, not telling.

It’s always the duty of the lower to suck up to the higher, never the responsibility of the higher to take care of the beings they created in the first place. That’s no doubt because god conspicuously doesn’t take care of humans (let alone other animals), but it’s crappy morality. Obviously god owes us more than we owe god.


  1. saior1031 says

    “…..promotes the use of corporal punishment, fear, and, sometimes, physical abuse. [pp 97-8]”

    Corporal punishment isn’t child-abuse? I beg to differ!!

  2. John Morales says

    Sad when Confucianism is so much more enlightened (misogynistic as it may be) than Christianity.

  3. captain corndog says

    christians are beaten children. listen to christian radio and you hear all about how greatful they are to god for shoveling shit on them, all in the name of learning an important lesson. a man with acute appendicitis is ok with the horrible pain he is going through, because he realizes that god was “taking care of him” by sending a trained physician to treat him. a family loses 3 children to an accident, but without this, they wouldn’t have been able to start an educational group committed to road safety.
    if there is one thing that sticks to my craw about god is how pitiful and useless he makes his followers. like a horrible parent.

  4. Bruce Gorton says

    Okay, Power Puff Girls wasn’t exactly a good movie, but I think the ending pretty much summed up why religion fails as morality.

    Bubbles: Do you think he’s finished?
    Mojo Jojo: No! But you are!
    [He fries the girls with fire breath]
    Mojo Jojo: [Picks the girls up and starts to climb a skyscraper] Fools! You dare to challenge me! Attempt to defeat me! Try to destroy ME! I who saved you from certain death! After all I’ve done for you, you betray me! And why? For them? The ones who hated you! Have forsaken you! Can’t you see, none of them will ever understand you as I can? For we are kindred spirits whose powers spring from the same source. So girls, do not make me destroy you! For we are smarter, we are stronger, we are invincible, we have the power, we are superior to them, AND WE SHALL RULE! All we have to do is work together. Girls, join me!
    The Girls: …NOOOOO!
    [the girls break free and attack]
    Blossom: We’d never join you! And it’s because we are stronger!
    Bubbles: Because we are invincible!
    Buttercup: Because we have the power!
    The Girls: We have to protect them from you!
    Blossom: It’s you who is to be feared!
    Bubbles: Cause you are a monster!
    Buttercup: You are evil!
    The Girls: AND YOU ARE… it!
    [the girls tag Mojo Jojo, pushing him off the building]

  5. ericmacdonald says

    I think that religious education is an infringement of children’s rights. I have thought that for a long time, and made sure that whatever was done at “Sunday School” had as little as possible to do with religion. Not always successful, of course, but the conviction that no child should be taught anything as though it were a unquestionable truth was discussed again and again with SS “teachers”. Everything had to be in terms of “we have to find out for ourselves.” None of those kids, to my knowledge, are Christians now. (Oh, yes, perhaps one, but that was her mother, not the church.)We once sent some kids to a youth weekend at a regional gathering, and had to go rescue them on the Saturday night, because they were being hot-housed with prayers for demons to depart and the rest of the the crazyness that religion breeds. One thing I cannot understand is why it is permitted for children to be home schooled, as though parents have absolute rights over their kids. All kids should be required to have a secular education, in which all beliefs are challenged. This should not be a matter of choice. If you want to see the result of religious hot-housing, just go to any psychiatric ward. Half of the people there are there because of some religious psychosis or other. Kids need protection from religion. This much should be plain to anyone who looks at things with an unjaundiced eye.

  6. shm says

    theology says plenty about what children must do for parents, it is largely silent on what parents owe children.

    This annoys me as well. It seems that it should be the other way around, So that the authority and traditions of earlier generations gets confronted by this generation, so we don’t hand down stupid traditions to our children. There are good and bad traditions, and we should of course only propagate the good ones to the next generation, and the only way to do this is by examining them. So in other words: I owe my children to identify and rectify the errors of my parents to the best of my abilities.

  7. Martin says

    Obviously god owes us more than we owe god.

    For a start, its very existence (for certain values of “exist”).

  8. karmakin says

    That’s one thing that’s fairly common in overly hierarchical ideologies. Responsibility scales inversely with power. So the people at the bottom of the pyramid have all the responsibility and the people at the top have very little.

  9. Sastra says

    It’s exactly the same with “God,” you know. Humans are told to obey and worship god, but God is never told to take responsibility for its creation.

    I sometimes ask Christians if God can be counted on to live up to His responsibilities towards us — and then I watch their confusion. They’re pulled in both directions.

    They want to say “yes” because they want to be able to point proudly to the trustworthy character of God, Who Does No Wrong and keeps His promises. Of course He meets all his obligations! But the very idea that the “relationship” between God and humanity is a two-way street feels wrong to them: it puts God on our level. God has no obligations towards us. It’s only the other way around.

    Usually I find they try some sort of have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too solution: God behaves exactly as if He were living up to the responsibilities which He doesn’t actually have but acts as though He does, a free choice done from the pure goodness of His non-Material heart. Which then deteriorates into the Euthyphro: would making a free choice to act as if He had no responsibilities also come from the pure goodness of his non-material heart — or are there limits to this? I find they try to change the subject.

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