Posts tagged ‘Abuse’

One Perfect Parent

Turpin House

The Turpin House / Credit: Reuters

One of their only contacts with the outside world was when four of the kids were allowed to step outside their house in Perris, California to install some sod in the front yard, with their mother coldly watching from inside the front window.  A neighbor who passed by and offered a friendly greeting to the children was surprised when none of them spoke a word in return to her.  But one of the children, a 17-year-old girl, had been plotting her escape from the family compound where her parents, David and Louise Turpin, had held her and her twelve siblings, who range in age from 2 to 29, captive for years.  She ran away and called the police using a cell phone she had found in the house.

As details of the children’s living arrangements have emerged, the picture that they paint is nothing short of horrifying.  To keep their abuse from being discovered, the Turpin parents made their children stay up all night and sleep all day.  They also tortured their children by feeding them next to nothing while they ate pies in front of them, by punishing them for getting water on their wrists while washing their hands, by allowing them to shower only once a year, and by tying them up with chains and padlocks.  The couple has pleaded not guilty to the accusations and are each being held on $9 million bail.

Obviously, it is difficult to deduce and decipher the pure evil that would move two parents to commit such heinous crimes against their own children.  Then again, it is also difficult to overestimate and over-celebrate the righteous bravery of a 17-year-old girl whose phone call to the police not only led to her own rescue, but to the rescue of her brothers and sisters.

It is at a time like this in the face of a story like this that we need to be reminded that, even as some earthly parents do their worst, we have a heavenly Father who loves us well.  The Turpin children were forced to stay up in the dark.  We have a heavenly Father who invites us to walk in His light (Isaiah 2:5).  The Turpin children were deliberately starved.  We have a heavenly Father who gives us food at just the right times (Psalm 104:27).  The Turpin children were denied basic hygiene needs and baths.  We have a heavenly Father who invites us to joyfully bathe in the waters of baptism (1 Peter 3:21).  The Turpin children were tied up.  We have a heavenly Father who sent His Son to untie us from that which binds us (Luke 13:15-16).

As a pastor, I have heard story after story of people who have been hurt by their parents.  Though, thankfully, none of the stories I have encountered have been nearly as horrific as the story of the Turpins, there are many children – both young and grown – who carry around deep scars.  There are many children who need the Father to fill what their father, or mother, would not or could not give to them.  There are many children who need the Father to love them like their father, or mother, would not or could not love them.

Our Father in heaven has the love that we need.  He loves us so much, the Scriptures say, that even our worst sins need not incur His eternal wrath.  In the book of Hosea, the nation of Israel is repeatedly betraying the one true God by chasing after many false gods.  Yet, even in the midst of their deep sin, while the Father declares His displeasure, He nevertheless promises, “I will show love…and I will save them…they will be called ‘children of the living God’” (Hosea 1:7, 10).

While some earthly parents may abuse their children for no apparent reason, we have a heavenly Father who loves us in spite of our sin for just one reason – the reason of His grace.  His grace is a grace so strong that it makes us His children through His Son.

Now that’s some awesome parenting.

January 22, 2018 at 5:15 am 1 comment

Act Like Men: Sobering Lessons From Ray Rice and Janay Palmer

Ray Rice, Janay PalmerWe’ve known about it since last February. But last Monday, when TMZ released video of former Ravens running back Ray Rice hitting his then fiancée and now wife Janay Palmer in an elevator, knocking her unconscious, the flames of public outrage instantly erupted. The video was so shocking and the violence so brutal that, hours after the video was released, the Ravens terminated Rice and the NFL banned him indefinitely.

Much of the discussion surrounding the assault and the release of this video has centered on the NFL’s inept handling of this terrible tragedy. People want to know: Why was the NFL’s initial reaction to this domestic violence story so weak? Originally, Rice received only a paltry two-game suspension. Why did the NFL change its response once the video was released, considering the video gave us no new information? It just confirms what we already knew.  New information indicates that the NFL did, in fact, have a copy of this video in their possession as early as last April.  Why didn’t the NFL take swift and decisive action against Rice then?

These are important questions. But for the purposes of this blog, I want to focus on Rice himself. His brutal actions serve as clear cautions and teach us important lessons. Here are three of those lessons.

Lesson 1: Humans deserve dignity.

Time and time again, Scripture upholds the dignity every human being. The Psalmist writes:

What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:4-8)

The Psalmist extols man as the crown of God’s creation. Though on earth, he is just a little lower than heavenly beings and is called to steward and rule God’s creation. Man has preeminent dignity in God’s created order.

Part of the reason what Ray Rice did to Janay Palmer is so appalling is because it robbed her of this dignity. To knock out your soon-to-be spouse and then to drag her out of an elevator is to treat her with contempt rather than, as Solomon says, a “crown” (Proverbs 12:4). Rice treated Palmer as someone less than human. And this is unacceptable.

Lesson 2: Humans need patience.

Though we do not know the specific circumstances that led to this incident, it is not a stretch to surmise that Rice punched Palmer because he was angry with her. Something had been said or done that sent him reeling.

What Rice needed was patience.

The apostle Paul famously extols patience as part of the fruit of the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). The Greek word Paul uses for “patience” is makrothymia. This word is made up of two parts. Makros means “long” and thymos means “hot.” To be patient, then, means to take a long time to get hot. It means to keep your cool when everyone else is losing theirs.

Everyone gets frustrated. Everyone has disagreements. Everyone endures a pricked pride from time to time. What makes the difference in how these troubles turn out is how we react. Do we react in anger? Or do we take a long time to get hot?

Patience can protect your job and sustain your reputation. But most importantly, it can save your relationships. This is why, when Paul discusses how to love another person well, the very first thing he says is “Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Lesson 3: Humans value trust.

I have counseled with far too many battered women. Some have been hit many times. Others have been hit only once. Regardless of the number of times these women have been abused, one refrain remains consistent: “I don’t know if I can trust him anymore. I’m afraid he’ll do it again.”

Violence breaks trust. It breaks trusting communication because you never know if something you say will set the other off. It breaks trusting intimacy because the same hands that reach out to hold you once hit you. Violence cannot be quarantined and contained as merely “one problem” in an otherwise healthy relationship because it breaks trust in every area of a relationship. So men, let me say this as clearly as I can: Raising your hand at a lady, even just one time, is one time too many. Don’t even think about it. Go for a walk to cool off. Call a trusted friend or your pastor for counsel. Pray for strength to keep your cool. But do not raise your hand. Ever. No exceptions. No excuses.

Is there forgiveness from God for men who break this rule? Of course there is. Can breaking this rule end a man’s marriage and irreparably harm a precious daughter of God? You bet it can. So just don’t do it.

Coming to Dallas this November, and then to Chicago next May, is a Christian conference called “Act Like Men.” It’s based on Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). A man who hits a woman rejects Paul’s admonition. He does not act like a man. He acts like a brute.

So what does it mean to act like a man? It means simply this: to act like Christ. So whether you’re a famed NFL running back, an affluent businessman, or an unknown factory worker, it’s time to put down your hand and take up your cross.

September 15, 2014 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


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