What to Expect from a Twelve-Year-Old (TBB)

The “TBB” in the name of this post means that it is part of The Big Box series. If you’re new to Scarlet Letters, read the introductory post to see what the Big Box is all about.

Well, after recovering from last week’s disaster post, I’m pleased to report that What to Expect from a Twelve-Year-Old (hereafter referred to as 12YO) will not be a repeat of Why Satan Wants Your Firstborn. That’s not to say that 12YO didn’t have its fair share of wrongheaded ideas, just that they weren’t quite as extreme or ridiculous as the ones in Why Satan Wants Your Firstborn. And since I’m short on time (it’s Saturday night – all hail Hester’s mad time management skillz) and not in the mood for a lengthy or clever introduction, let’s get right down to business and take a look at Davis’ central thesis in 12YO: that some Biblical accounts give us specific developmental goalposts for our children.

You may be wondering what passages Davis has in mind. Well, if your first thought was Ephesians 6:1-3, then you would be wrong. Davis instead talks about Samuel, who apparently demonstrates three character qualities (total obedience, full respectfulness, and responsiveness to God) that Christian parents should expect of all three-year-olds. In other words, three-year-old Samuel (even though he’s never actually stated to be three years old at any point in the first three chapters of 1 Samuel) was placed in the Bible for the express purpose of giving Christian parents a “model” three-year-old with which to compare their child. The same apparently goes for twelve-year-old Jesus amazing the teachers in the temple (Luke 2:41-51):

Jesus is the example for twelve-year-olds so that, at age twelve, they can examine their lives and make sure before they hit their teen years that they are truly following in the steps of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately Davis never made any effort to prove this main principle (virtuous children in the Bible are age-specific developmental models for all children of the same age). He merely assumed it, then used it as the basis for the rest of the lecture. And since I can’t find anything in the accounts of either Jesus or Samuel to indicate they were intended as child development models, I have to conclude that Davis simply imposed this grid upon the accounts and ran with it ad infinitum, thus corrupting everything that followed.

But isn’t Davis right in principle, at least about Jesus? Aren’t Christians supposed to be imitators of Christ? Certainly they are. But as we’ve seen from his treatment of Samuel, Davis turns this excellent piece of general advice (imitate Christ) into an overly-specific list heavily infused with his own legalistic assumptions. In fact, Davis gets no less than seven specific character qualities out of Luke 2, which all twelve-year-olds are apparently supposed to exhibit. I won’t list all of these here, as I’ll be going through them in the rest of the post. Suffice to say that most of them sound good, until we get to Davis’ specific applications.

453px-1524_Mazzolino_twelve_year_old_Jesus_teaching_in_the_temple_anagoriaI do, however, want to look at one of the character qualities Davis claims Jesus exhibits in Luke 2. This is “full obedience” (which by this point we know really means first-time obedience). This turns out to be the central irony of 12YO, as it’s clear from Luke 2 that Mary and Joseph not only did not intend for Jesus to stay behind in Jerusalem, but were much less than pleased when they found Him in the temple after three days of searching:

Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they heard Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” (Luke 2:46-48)

In other words, it’s easy to construe Luke 2 as an act of disobedience on the part of Jesus. Davis’ only way around this is to latch on to vs. 51, which states that Jesus was “subject” to His parents when the family returned to Nazareth. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Davis, however, that this qualification may have been necessary precisely because of Jesus’ distinctly non-“subject” behavior in the rest of the account. It’s thus hard for me to hear 12YO as anything but an elaborate dance, designed to minimize behavior by Jesus that’s extremely difficult to shoehorn into Davis’ first-time obedience philosophy.

In fact, whether he realizes it or not, Davis has painted himself into a very unpleasant corner here. If anything other than first-time obedience is sin, what are to make of Jesus’ actions – since, despite Davis’ obfuscations, they clearly do not conform to first-time obedience? We can conclude nothing else but that Jesus sinned when He ran away from His parents and went to the temple. This, of course, causes a whole world of problems for Christianity. So since Davis’ ideas about obedience run directly counter to Jesus’ own teaching anyway, wouldn’t it be much safer to just ditch first-time obedience (and S. M. Davis)?

#1: Josiah, Boy of Destiny

Okay, so the title of this section was obviously inspired by this Calvin and Hobbes strip. However, I wasn’t the first one to use the word “destiny,” Davis was, because all twelve-year-olds are supposed to have a mature sense of responsibility, purpose and destiny. What this means only emerges gradually as Davis explains himself. At first it seems to mean only that twelve-year-olds should do their chores without being told, but it soon becomes clear that Davis is really after mini-adult behavior by children. We can see a good example of this in his examples of Biblical teenagers who “caught a vision” for God:

Both the Bible and history prove the astounding ability of teenagers. In 2 Chronicles 24, Joash became king at age seven, then reigned for forty years. The Bible says he did right in the sight of the Lord, he repaired the temple of the Lord. Josiah became king when he was eight years of age. 2 Kings 22:2 tells us, and he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left, he stayed right on target with what God wanted him to do. He began to seek after God at age sixteen. He decided to repair the temple of God, and the book of the law of God was found while they were repairing the temple. They brought it to the king. They read to the teenage king out of God’s law, and when they did the young sixteen-year-old king Josiah ripped his clothes and then took action…

There’s two problems here. For one, Davis is not telling the whole story about Joash. Though he may have inherited the throne at age seven, it’s highly unlikely Joash was actually running the state at such a young age; there was probably a regent involved until he became mature enough for the job. More importantly for our purposes, however, is that Davis leaves out an all-important qualifier when he says Joash “did right in the sight of the Lord” – a qualifier included in the full account in 2 Chronicles 24:

Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest. (2 Chronicles 24:3)

Reading further in the account, we learn that after Jehoiada’s death, Joash begins worshipping idols and even has Jehoiada’s son killed when he calls him on his apostasy (2 Chronicles 24:15-22). This hardly looks like “catching a vision for God”!

Josias_rexThe second problem lies in Davis’ example of King Josiah. Now certainly no one would deny that Josiah was a competent and accomplished ruler who appears to have begun his career rather early. However, I’d like to draw your attention to the seemingly tiny detail of Josiah’s age. Davis first claims that Josiah began to seek after God at age sixteen, which is true (2 Chronicles 34:3). However, the events Davis mentions concerning the book of the law did not occur when Josiah was sixteen (the rest of the Chronicles account can be read here, and the Kings version here):

In the eighteenth year of [Josiah’s] reign, when he had purged the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the Lord his God. (2 Chronicles 34:8)

Let’s do a little math. If Josiah became king at age eight, and the book of the law was discovered in the eighteenth year of his reign, how old was he? Certainly not sixteen as Davis claims – unless Josiah was ruling Judah in utero (talk about precocious) – but twenty-six. So the “teenage” king who tore his clothes when he heard the words of God’s law, was in fact not a teenager at all, but a fully grown adult.

But Josiah’s age causes even bigger problems for Davis (aside from casting serious doubt on his reading comprehension skills). This is because, in the end, even Josiah fails Davis’ own test. After all, Josiah was not twelve when he began to seek God, but sixteen. This turns to be a pattern with most of the historical figures Davis mentions – at least half of them were older than twelve when they accomplished whatever remarkable thing Davis praises them for. There were a few exceptions – for instance, David Farragut, who was put in command of a captured ship at age 12, and John Trumbull, who passed the entrance exam for Yale at age 7 – but by and large, most of them were in the neighborhood of 15-17 years old. Thus, Davis is, more often than not, changing the terms halfway through his own argument. In terms of maturity, there is a world of difference between a twelve-year-old and a sixteen-year-old, and Davis cannot equate the two simply because they are both “teenagers.”

What Davis also misses is the element of exceptional talent. Mary, Joseph and the teachers in the temple are “astonished” and “amazed” when they hear Jesus’ answers. In other words, far from being standard operating procedure for all twelve year olds, Jesus’ accomplishment was viewed as unusual even by His contemporaries. Thus, the Bible itself does not seem to indicate that we should expect a normal child who is not the omniscient Son of God, to reach this level of achievement by age twelve. As for the historical figures Davis mentions, history alone should teach us that most twelve-year-olds could not captain a ship like David Farragut or go to Yale like John Trumbull. This has always been the case, even in the “good old days” Davis so eagerly romanticizes. Davis can sustain his case only by failing to mention the thousands of average twelve-year-olds who did not or could not achieve these things.

#2: Creep radar

398px-C-band_Radar-dish_AntennaDavis’ next requirement for twelve-year-olds is that they have a keen sense of discernment, especially about the company they keep. Now I’ll be the first to agree that a lot of Christians could do with a big dose of discernment. That being said, however, it becomes clear by the end of this section that Davis lacks the very quality he’s encouraging in twelve-year-olds. He begins with the typical anti-peer rant we’ve come to expect from Vision Forum’s speakers:

At age twelve, who was Jesus with? Jesus was not cruising up and down Jerusalem Boulevard with the local yokels. He was not running the streets forming gangs. He was with the doctors, the experts in the Word of God, the teachers of the Word of God. He was hearing them and asking them questions and they were amazed at Him.

Davis concludes from this, as well as the account of Rehoboam, that twelve-year-olds should spend as much of their time around godly adults as possible.

Now I’m certainly not against children listening to their elders, and it is a good thing to learn from Rehoboam’s mistake and not completely eliminate older and wiser counsel from our lives. However, like the rest of his FIC-inclined friends, Davis seems to swing too far in the other direction, almost to the point of portraying peer interaction as bad in and of itself. He talked a lot about a child’s elders, but only mentioned their friends if they were “wrong friends” (peers who would lead Christian children into misbehavior). In fact I found myself wondering if children are even allowed to have friends in Davis’ world (though I doubt he intended to teach this).

Where Davis’ discernment fails, however, is not in the area of peers but in that of adults. In his zeal to condemn peer socialization and encourage children to heed adult counsel, he has failed to issue some very important warnings, most crucially the warning that not all adults are safe. Some adults are drug dealers; others are abusers; still others are child molesters or sexual predators. I imagine that if he was confronted about this omission, Davis would insist that he keeps children safe by directing them to only godly adults, who would never engage in any of the aforementioned behaviors. Unfortunately this only reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the tactics of sexual predators, who are often extremely skilled at tricking authority figures and potential victims. Boz Tchividjian elaborates:

It is critical to note that this abuse is no less prevalent in the faith community. In fact, there are studies that demonstrate that the faith community is even more vulnerable to abuse than secular environments. The Abel and Harlow study revealed that 93% of sex offenders describe themselves as “religious” and that this category of offender may be the most dangerous. Other studies have found that sexual abusers within faith communities have more victims and younger victims. This disturbing truth is perhaps best illustrated by the words of a convicted child molester who told Dr. Salter, “I considered church people easy to fool…they have a trust that comes from being Christians. They tend to be better folks all around and seem to want to believe in the good that exists in people.”[1]

#3: Questions, questions and more questions

Davis’ third requirement is that twelve-year-olds should have a hunger for truth and wisdom. Now it isn’t really a secret that the average twelve-year-old will usually ask a lot of questions, and actually Davis’ initial advice in this section isn’t that bad taken in isolation from the rest of the lecture:

How can you create in your children a hunger for truth? By sharing truths that you discover. As you discover a truth and get excited about it, your children will get excited about it. Then they will want to find and share truths with you. Discuss the messages that you hear in church, go home after this service and discuss this message. Encourage your children’s presence in adult discussions about the things of God. Let your children hear you asking wise questions. Asking questions is itself a sign of maturity.

It’s really a pity, then, that Davis doesn’t agree with himself. Near the beginning of the lecture he condemned an article about teenagers in a popular magazine, and one of his first criticisms was that it promoted twelve- to fourteen-year-olds “questioning their parents’ values.” So is questioning a sign of maturity or not? Or is only some questioning acceptable – i.e., questioning that assumes the parents have everything right? I already seriously doubted Davis’ ability to cope with a young person who had questions about big issues in Christianity. His lack consistency here makes me even less confident that he could handle such a situation.

#4: Separating the men from the boys

It was only a matter of time before first-time obedience showed up yet again, and sure enough, it is Davis’ fourth requirement for twelve-year-olds. Since I already discussed above how Jesus’ actions in Luke 2 don’t line up with first-time obedience at all, I’d like to expand upon the idea of children being mini-adults, which Davis touched on again in this section:

Obedience must not be negotiable. Before age thirteen, a child should obey concerning what to eat, what to wear, when to go to bed, with whom to associate, what books they can and cannot read, what duties they must perform, what kind of attitude they’re allowed to display. Incidentally, ideally a child should not have to be spanked after age twelve. Why? For the same reason you don’t get spanked as adults. … But by age twelve, a child should be an adult who shows true obedience and true responsibility. I didn’t say it wrong or a sin to lovingly and without anger spank a teenager, I said hopefully by that age they wouldn’t ever need it. Obedience to proper human authority is the automatic response of a heart that is tuned to gladly obey God.

As an aside, I do feel I must point out to Davis that some Christians actually do practice adult spanking. A proper exploration of that subject, however, would require a whole post of its own (and probably a psychiatrist too), so I won’t go down that rabbit trail today. For now, I’d like to focus only on Davis’ statement above that a twelve-year-old is an “adult,” as well as a related one he made near the beginning of the lecture:

I appreciate the wisdom of a godly man who said to a ten-year-old he was talking to one day, he said, oh, you’re ten years old. Just two more years before you become a man.

As I said above, Davis seems to be crystal clear here that the goal is for twelve-year-olds to behave like tiny adults. It’s unclear to me, however, how his description of a child’s life before age twelve or thirteen would in any way promote mature adult behavior:

Before age thirteen, a child should obey concerning what to eat, what to wear, when to go to bed, with whom to associate, what books they can and cannot read, what duties they must perform, what kind of attitude they’re allowed to display.

The parent in Davis’ ideal picture here is, essentially, controlling all aspects of their child’s existence. The child must eat when and what the parent says. All their friends must have parental approval. The parent’s even doing their level best of to regulate their child’s emotional states! Then, on their twelfth birthday, all this magically changes and the child must suddenly become a responsible adult. But how is this supposed to happen? How can a child learn responsibility if they’re never allowed to make any of their own decisions, and experience the consequences of those decisions? Certainly, under Davis’ system, they’ll probably experience the consequences of disobedience. But this is teaching conformity, not responsibility. A dog could experience the same thing – but no one would ever dream of referring to a dog who learned to sit as “responsible.” If this feels dehumanizing to you, then congratulations – you’re not alone.

497px-Albert_Roosenboom_The_young_wine_tastersThen, of course, there is the salient fact that no matter how Davis wants to spin the topic, twelve-year-olds are not adults, physically, emotionally or psychologically. Puberty happens for a reason, because in the real world (unlike in Davis’ world), it takes time for a child to transition into adulthood, even physically. In fact, I’m curious, since Davis probably doesn’t believe in psychology and thus wouldn’t accept the emotional and psychological components I mentioned above as valid, what physical milestones a child must reach to be considered an “adult.” Is an eleven-year-old girl who gets her first period now a “woman,” regardless of any other factors?

And since I’ve opened this box, I’d like to explore for a moment a disturbing, but completely logical, potential consequence of Davis’ reasoning. If twelve-year-olds are “adults,” then what’s to prevent them getting married? After all, they supposedly aren’t children anymore, and people in Jesus’ day got married around age 13 all the time. It would also be extremely easy for a layman with little or no medical knowledge to equate a girl’s first period with instant fertility, and thus assume that because their twelve-year-old “adult” daughter is menstruating, she is “marriageable” because she is supposedly able to bear children. Combine this with the fact that at least one fundamentalist health curriculum completely omits the reproductive system from its human anatomy chart, and that one betrothal advocate, Matthew Chapman, was apparently first attracted to his future wife Maranatha when she was 13 years old (he was 26), and the potential for an extremely scary scenario emerges. Perhaps it sounds ridiculous to you. But after this many Big Box lectures, I’m not sure I would be surprised.

I’d also like to note that Davis said the following in passing in this section:

A parent should work diligently to make sure that all bad attitudes, rebelliousness and disobedience are gone before a child turns thirteen. I have a friend who runs a home for rebellious girls, has a tremendous ministry turning them around. He told me the worst rebels he has ever seen are twelve-year-old girls. The second worst are fifteen-year-old girls. But the worst of all, he said, are twelve. He said, Brother Davis, a rebellious twelve-year-old is like she is totally insane. It’s like she has no sense at all. She’s almost impossible to deal with.

We should remember as we read this that Davis’ name has cropped up in connection with Hephzibah House (see this post for details). If he is talking about Hephzibah House here, then let’s just say the measures his friend took (or permitted to be taken) to “deal with” the twelve-year-old “rebels” under his “care,” are not something I would want to be holding up as a model for anybody. I certainly would not describe them as a “tremendous ministry”!

#5: Watch your mouth

This section, predictably, is about respectfulness, which in 12YO, as in other lectures, appears to be Davis’ second favorite topic after first-time obedience. And as with first-time obedience, the irony is thick here as well, as Davis tries to make Jesus’ reply to Mary in the temple into something parents of Davis’ persuasion would be pleased to hear from their child:

So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:48-49)

As someone who’s known many parents of some kind of first-time obedience bent, I can tell you that Jesus’ words here would not be considered “respectful” by any of them. It would not matter in what tone they were delivered, or with what facial expression. The parents I’ve known would hear the above as their child insulting (or at least disrespecting) them by implying their search was foolish and they really should have known better. In other words, if Mary had been a first-time obedience parent, she would have hauled Jesus out of the temple by His ear for His cheek, then spanked Him as soon as she got back to the caravan.

I also have some questions about Davis’ particular application of respectfulness to women and children:

There’s an important area of teaching that previous generations had that we’ve almost lost in our day. I’m talking about how young men should show respect to young ladies in both their actions and their speech. I remember my mother clearly teaching me as a young man, son, you always treat a girl special. You show respect to her. You never say anything lewd or off-color or suggestive, and if someone else does, you defend her. I’d say to you, I don’t think we’ve accomplished anything when we’ve gotten to the point in our day where young men and young ladies in churches and in youth groups can just talk any way they want to to each other. A century ago it was part of our culture to treat women and children with respect.

This sounds nice, but what is really being said here? Is Davis merely suggesting that boys not make lewd jokes around girls? If so, then by suggesting this, is he implying that it’s okay or somehow less objectionable for boys to make lewd jokes around other boys? Is he talking about lewd comments directed at the girl in question? Or is there something even bigger in view here, possibly the idea that frank sexual discussions of any kind should never happen in the presence of women?

Davis does have a bit of a point here – that issues of politeness and propriety can arise when discussing sexual matters in mixed company, and that our society (even the church in some cases) does seem to have an unhealthy obsession with sex. That being said, however, neither of those problems would be solved by a blanket ban on discussing sex in front of the womenfolk. Davis also may have failed to recognize that frankness is not necessarily the same as lewdness, and the idea of sex being an inherently inappropriate topic for women has led to some pretty appalling examples of preventable ignorance.

#6 and #7: God’s pressure cooker

It seemed best to combine Davis’ last two character qualities as they are closely related. The sixth is that a twelve-year-old should be fully committed to the will of God for their life, and the seventh is that they should demonstrate unmistakably godly behavior. Davis is quite explicit about the first one:

Every twelve-year-old, before ever becoming thirteen, should come to a definite personal decision, I must be about my heavenly Father’s business. No wrestling about it from thirteen on, no question about it from thirteen on. The decision is final, it’s as final for a fourteen year old as it is for a forty year old. He’s gonna follow through on it.

As a Lutheran I find this little tidbit extremely interesting, as the confirmation process in the Lutheran church usually does not even begin until the child is around 13, can be anywhere from 1-3 years long, and ends with the child (usually 15-16 years old) confessing their faith in front of their congregation. Notice once again, that the age at which the child is finally asked to own their faith publicly, is similar to the actual ages of Davis’ historical figures above – 15 or 16. Not 12. There’s a very good reason for this, which is that a child younger than 12 almost always does not have the maturity to deal with all the issues surrounding a decision to publicly commit to the Christian faith.

800px-Pressure_cooker2Of course, those of us who attended AWANA and similar fundamentalist programs are all too familiar with the usual results of systems like Davis’, where children are encouraged to make faith decisions at as young an age as possible. “Pressure” is the word of the day. Speakers cajole, guilt trip and emotionally manipulate children into “praying the prayer” so they can satisfy the system’s requirements and get their “fire insurance.” Almost no attention is given to whether the child actually understands even the most basic contents of the gospel message, and in your spare time with friends, you brag to each other about who “asked Jesus into their heart” the earliest. (Extra candy and stickers to anybody who “prayed the prayer” at age two. Maturity win!) Sorry, Mr. Davis, but I’ll take confirmation any day!

Davis’ statements about “godliness” when discussing his seventh item are also quite telling:

Godliness isn’t something mystical, strange and weird. Godliness is normal human life like the God who made you meant for it to be. Life without the God who made you is strange, weird and abnormal. Godly people don’t act or look weird, ungodly people do. Godly people look normal, and have normal human relationships. It is not normal to be disobedient, disrespectful, rebellious, wild, weird and strange. Why do we have so much foolish teen rebellion in our day? Because the children were not godly by age twelve. The time to disarm and defuse the teenage time bomb is before he or she becomes a teenager.

Now I can’t argue with Davis’ statement that God originally designed humans to be godly, but the rest of the paragraph is riddled with all sorts of loaded language. What does Davis mean by “disobedient”? Failure to obey every command immediately with a smile. “Disrespectful”? Failure to say “yes, sir” and “no, sir.” “Wild” could refer to scandalous activities such as hand-holding before marriage, and since Davis never defined “weird and strange,” I can only assume they include anything he personally finds odd.

These tweaked definitions extend even to the word “normal.” Remember that Davis just spent most of 12YO holding up extraordinarily gifted people like David Farragut and John Trumbull as examples of what all teenagers are supposedly able to do. Thus, as I said before, he has already completely redefined “normal” by ignoring the average and only talking about the exception. He’s also redefined “normal” by subtly attaching it to his pet doctrines – for example, the idea that it is “normal” to only become emotionally attached to your boyfriend after you are engaged.

Davis’ statement above thus functions as a conversation-ender. You think it’s weird to not hold hands until marriage? Well, you’re wrong. I’m not weird – you are. In fact, you’re not just weird, you’re rebellious and ungodly, because if you were obedient and godly, clearly you would agree with me! Stop being so wild, strange and abnormal and get right with God!

And now, thankfully, we’ve reached the end of 12YO. It’s late, I’m tired, and I think I’ve finally paid my dues for putting this post off far longer than I should have. But there is one tiny, faint light at the end of the tunnel…and that is the fact that next week’s lecture, The Influence of Older Children on Younger Children, will be my last interaction with S. M. Davis for several weeks. My reaction:

coincidence-1

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23 comments on “What to Expect from a Twelve-Year-Old (TBB)

  1. TIA says:

    Interesting that you mention the following:
    “And since I’ve opened this box, I’d like to explore for a moment a disturbing, but completely logical, potential consequence of Davis’ reasoning. If twelve-year-olds are “adults,” then what’s to prevent them getting married? After all, they supposedly aren’t children anymore, and people in Jesus’ day got married around age 13 all the time…the potential for an extremely scary scenario emerges.”

    How ironic! In condemning the legalism and fear mongering tactics of Vision Forum, you do the same yourself. Many Bible scholars believe Mary was 14 or 15 years old when she gave birth to Jesus. While saying that everyone should get married at that age is legalistic, so is saying that no one should get married at that age. Getting married at 20 (or 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, etc.) can be “an extremely scary scenario” too.

    While I wouldn’t agree with Davis’ legalistic views, is it really a bad thing to suggest that teenagers should be mature?

    • Hester says:

      I never suggested teenagers should not be mature; I said Davis was setting the bar unreasonably high for 12yos, for reasons I explained in the rest of the post. I also never suggested it was a sin to get married young. By young, however, I mean 16, maybe a very mature 15 in very exceptional cases. Thus why all the examples I gave in the paragraph about child marriage were referring to 11-13yos, which is the age group Davis was talking about (when he wasn’t comparing apples to oranges by throwing 16yos in the mix). There’s several reasons children should not get married at 11-13yo:

      1. It’s not safe for girls below around 16 or so to carry children. Even a glance at any medical site will tell you this. That doesn’t mean something will go terribly wrong every time, but the risk is way higher. Mary, of course, would have been kept safe through the process because Jesus had to be born, but no one else has that guarantee. And in Vision Forum culture, where birth control is disallowed and refusing your husband’s sexual advances is frowned upon, the girls WILL be getting pregnant.

      2. Kids’ brains don’t stop developing until their mid-20s. So a teenager simply cannot be as mature, neurologically, as someone in their 20s. That’s a medical fact no amount of character training will change, and yes, it does affect their readiness to choose a spouse, and bear and raise children.

      3. Christians are supposed to follow the laws of the land. Age of consent in the U.S. is 16-18 years old, depending on the state, so in our society, 16 or so is viewed as the age at which a young person becomes mature enough to weigh the pros and cons of engaging in sex. Any sex that happens before that age is known as “statutory rape” and is a crime. Yes, there are parental consent laws that allow marriage before age 16, but the burden of the U.S. legal code is for kids to wait until 16 or later to have sex, so – follow the laws of the land and wait. If these kids really are as “mature” as their parents claim, they should be able to stick it out till their 16th birthday. If not, then maybe the “maturity” is lacking.

      4. Despite claims from people like Davis, historically, at least in the West, people did not get married at age 12. For example, the average age of marriage for women in 1890 was 22, 26 for men. It’s about the same when we look at marriage statistics from colonial times. We can see it was not normal to get married at 12-14 from incidents like Joseph Smith taking a 14yo wife in 1843, where both the bride and her parents made it clear that this was very unusual. There were laws on the books in medieval times allowing marriage at 12-14 (probably mostly for the nobility), but just because that was the bare legal minimum doesn’t mean everyone got married then, just as not everyone marries at 16 now even though that’s the age of consent. It also doesn’t mean that a marriage contracted at age 12, was consummated at age 12. There’s a reason for this, which is that most girls historically didn’t even start menstruating until 15-16 – girls reach menarche sooner now because of better access to resources and higher body fat content at a younger age. Thus, if one of the primary purposes of marriage was to produce heirs, it would have been pretty pointless for a girl to get married at 12 if she wasn’t even gonna get her period until 16. So Davis and company can make this sound “normal” all they want, but historically it just isn’t.

      5. I’d have to look up how the menarche issue relates to the ancient Jews, but keep in mind that life expectancy for the peasant class (which Mary belonged to) in those days was MUCH shorter than it is today, so if you wanted to have children at all, you had to start reproducing as soon as possible – i.e., it was a purely functional thing. We don’t have that problem today, so what’s the point?

      6. Name for me at least one net positive of a person marrying at 12, rather than at the historical average ages I listed above.

      So now a personal question for you. If your 12yo daughter (or hypothetical daughter if you don’t have one) told you she wanted marry a 26yo man, what would you say?

      • TIA says:

        I agree that Davis’ view is legalistic, but it isn’t a sin to set the bar of expectations high (otherwise God sinned by giving the Law).

        “I also never suggested it was a sin to get married young.”

        Maybe not explicitly, but you used the same kind of fear mongering language that is customary of Vision Forum.

        Again, I’m not at all suggesting that most people should get married at such a young age. I’m simply pointing out that legalism (explicit and implicit) cuts both ways.

        As to your specific points:

        1. I don’t have any problem with using wisdom regarding potential medical issues.

        2. Okay, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong to get married younger than 20. Many people aren’t ready to choose a spouse in their 30s (or 40s). Also, you are assuming that the young person would be choosing their own spouse, which need not necessarily be the case. People choosing their own spouses has lead to a 50% divorce rate in America. Compare that to the divorce rate in India where most people do not choose their own spouse. Yes, I understand that there are issues with arranged marriages as well, but choosing your own spouse is not a divine right.

        3. Some would dispute your initial assertion. And do you really think that people aren’t having sex before 16?!? They may not be getting married, but many are having sex.

        4. Again, I don’t think there is a specific age at which people should get married. I’m not at all surprised that the average age is in the mid-20s. There are many good reasons for that.

        5. I’m not pushing for any particular age.

        6. 1) Enjoying a longer marriage.
        2) Having more children.
        3) Being able to fulfill sexual desires.
        I’m not saying that any of these require marriage at such a young age, but denying the possibility of there being any advantages to young marriage is ignorant.

        If my 12 year old daughter told me she wanted to marry a 26 year old man I would almost definitely say “No” (or at least, “Wait”). My exact response would depend on the specific circumstances.

        Is it wrong for a 12 year old to want to get married? Is it wrong for a 12 year old to pick out their spouse? Consider how many people have done exactly that (ie. neighbors or church friends who grew up together).

        I’ll say again that I’m not encouraging 12 year olds to get married. Just trying to bring another perspective to the issue.

      • Hester says:

        it isn’t a sin to set the bar of expectations high

        It may not be sin, but in this case it does put needless pressure on children and set up parents for a lot of disappointment. Neither of those things are positive and we should avoid them. There are things that may not rise to the level of sin that are still bad ideas.

        Maybe not explicitly, but you used the same kind of fear mongering language that is customary of Vision Forum.

        Once again, I was not talking about 16yos in that paragraph about child marriage. I was talking about 11-13yos. And there IS the “potential for an extremely scary scenario” to emerge from a pregnancy at that age. That’s not fearmongering. That’s fact. Check any medical website and/or ask any gynecologist. The stuff I said about the health curriculum and Matthew Chapman are facts, too. I’ve personally seen the the health curriculum, and the story about the Chapmans came straight from the horse’s mouth.

        that doesn’t mean it is wrong to get married younger than 20

        You have again completely ignored my actual position here. I do not believe and I never said it was wrong to get married under age 20. I just want to limit the definition of “young marriage” to a minimum age of 16, in accord with U.S. law. You seem to want “young marriage” to mean anything under 20, but this is far too vague because it completely ignores the huge physical/psychological/emotional changes that happen between the ages of 10 and 20, all of which militate very strongly against children under 16 marrying. Thus why 12yos and 16yos are apples and oranges, as I’ve said over and over again. If you believe they’re fundamentally the same, then the burden of proof is on you to explain why. So please, at least deal with my actual position, rather than repeatedly insisting I believe something I don’t, even though I’ve explained multiple times why I don’t believe it.

        Some would dispute your initial assertion.

        Okay, I’ll modify it slightly to say that Christians don’t have to follow the law of the land when it demands they must renounce Christianity or commit an act that violates a central Christian command (like murdering someone). The age of consent meets neither of those criteria, ergo Christians should obey it and not have sex or enter into marriage before age 16. And of course people are having sex before age 16. That doesn’t make it any less illegal, esp. if it’s with someone older than the age of consent.

        denying the possibility of there being any advantages to young marriage is ignorant.

        Again, are we talking 12yos or 16yos? I don’t think we’ll make any headway until we clear that up.

        Is it wrong for a 12 year old to want to get married? Is it wrong for a 12 year old to pick out their spouse?

        No to both – as long as they’re told to wait until they’re of legal age (16 at least). I’d also like to add that most 12yos will probably change their mind by the time they get to legal age. If they haven’t, then fine, they can get married (as long as the other party is also of legal age, of course); they’re of legal age and it’s their decision. It could be a good decision or a bad one, depending on the circumstances. I think we can also both agree that children often ask for things that aren’t good for them in the long run.

        I’ll say again that I’m not encouraging 12 year olds to get married

        You sound like you are, at least in theory.

      • TIA says:

        ” I’ll say again that I’m not encouraging 12 year olds to get married

        You sound like you are, at least in theory.”

        Let me sum up. 12 year olds getting married, while probably not wise in most situations, is not a sin.

        Again, my main point was that Davis (and VF) often didn’t explicitly say that things were sin. They simply heap on a lot of “expectations”, “principles”, etc. with the obvious implication that anyone who didn’t tow their line was in the wrong. That is legalism.

        Similarly, making blanket statements about 12 year olds getting married is legalism. People have been doing it for centuries. The Bible does not condemn it. Remember that Mary was betrothed (ie. married) at a young age before she even found out that she would carry the Messiah.

    • Dee Parsons says:

      I am shocked that anyone would advocate for the marriage of 12 year old girls. To tie it to the time of Jesus is silly. The mortality rate for women in childbirth was horrendous. Infections added to the burden. Yeah, let’s go back to the time of Jesus and watch women die in childbirth, people die of infections, watch the rampant spread of disease and isolate the lepers.

      Add to that the slave status of many women, both literally and figuratively. Little children were made to work in harsh conditions and a good many did not survive early childhood.

      There is no way that anyone should advocate for the marriage of a 12 year old child.Times have changed, for the better.This is a straw man argument by fundamental legalists who want to continue their destructive practices and pretend it is freedom.

      If I saw parents trying to marry off their 12 year old child, I would call the authorities because I know that there would be something seriously wrong in that family.

      I am so grateful for this blog and for the commenters who come out of the woodwork and expose their dangerous thinking. Perhaps in the pushback they will see the flawed logic of their arguments.

  2. Patrice says:

    TIA doesn’t understand child development, and has deliberately avoided learning about it. He also doesn’t understand the function of law. Moreover, he obviously has a sex hang-up.

    TIA writes: “Just trying to bring another perspective to the issue.” I agree that he is “trying”. Didn’t work. He needs to work on his education and also see a therapist. After that, he might have a genuine perspective.

    • TIA says:

      “TIA doesn’t understand child development, and has deliberately avoided learning about it.”

      I guess VF is right then about college. Those psychology classes and teacher education classes obviously didn’t pay off.

      On a related note, in my teacher education class, approximately 25% of my fellow students saw no problem with teachers having “relationships” with students. We had a class about legal issues, one of which is, “Don’t have sex with students!” (should be pretty obvious, don’t you think?), but many still thought it is okay. It was really sickening. I am not at all surprised by the many stories that come out about those types of situations. Actually, I’m surprised there aren’t more of them, although that’s probably just because they aren’t made public.

      Patrice, I hope you are raking in big bucks for your over-the-Internet psychological assessments. That was quite a diagnosis you gave me! Somehow you determined my education, gender, and sexual dysfunction from just a couple of comments. Either that or you’re just making wild assumption that are wrong. Don’t quit your day job.

      • Patrice says:

        For years, I taught in one of the more wild/wooly educational arenas, art college. There were a few who thought having sex with profs was ok, yes, but two young women come to me over a prof who finagled them into relationships and when the second woman allowed me to go to the admin, the guy was fired tout de suite. The full support for the young woman allowed the first terrified young woman to come forward, too, and much learning/healing occurred. The same kind of healing could occur if patriarichal people took up the cause of those sexually abused in their midst.

        College students will poll towards freedom because they want the world to be that way. This is how it is with that age and that’s why I loved teaching them. Part of the job of a prof, which life also makes clear, is to show them that we have rules for good reasons. Most of those 25% who thought fine of prof/student sex will change their minds. Most of them said said “yes” because they wanted to be perceived as wild&free. Silly, yes, but that’s humanity at that stage.

        The “world” is not a morass of seething evil, TIA. In fact, it is much like the church. This is because evil comes from the heart and cannot be got rid of by external separation. The only way to bring it into management is to deal with yourself and others with love and clarity under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. That is both your shield and your surety. You need no other.

        Re other responses, I’d be delighted to hear from you that you don’t have an unhealthy focus on sexuality. It is an ugly sin.

        You evaded my remonstrance regarding your ignorance of child development. For the sake of God’s truth, please learn it. You harm people with your ignorance and that is displeasing to our Lord.

      • Patrice says:

        An unimportant aside to follow earlier comment. You know how the Bible always uses “he” and “man” in place for all humanity? That is what I did here, too, because you gave no indication. So if you see that as an incorrect assumption, you should maybe start with the Bible. Personally, I side with you on this one—I find the male-presumption an unnecessary dismissal of half of humanity.

  3. Hester says:

    @ TIA:

    12 year olds getting married, while probably not wise in most situations, is not a sin. …making blanket statements about 12 year olds getting married is legalism. People have been doing it for centuries. The Bible does not condemn it.

    Starting a new comment so the replies don’t nest until they become unreadably skinny.

    You are ignoring legitimate issues in light of modern understanding of psychology, medicine, etc. that make it unacceptable in our context. The ancients did not understand pregnancy complications like placenta previa. They did not understand brain development and neurology. We do. We SHOULD use our more complete knowledge to shed new light on an old subject (child marriage) and give us a better notion of whether it’s safe or not. God did, after all, create the reproductive system, the brain and the bodies of 12yos. When we have a better understanding of these things, we can make better decisions. And the FACTS about pregnancy in 11-13yos, tell us that a parent who allows their child to marry and have children at that age, is deliberately, irresponsibly and unnecessarily putting their child in harm’s way. And that IS condemned in the Bible.

    Christians are also supposed to obey the governing authorities, as I’ve pointed out many times. Thus, if it is illegal to have sexual contact with a 12yo (or facilitate someone else having sexual contact with a 12yo), that is the end of the story. Obeying the law of the land IS in the Bible, so even if child marriage isn’t condemned directly, in our context it would be because it is illegal. You can poo-poo and ignore these laws all you want, but they’re all too real and anyone who tries to actually practice child marriage in this country will find that out very quickly. Warren Jeffs did.

    And honestly, the age of consent isn’t even the only thing in the law militating against child marriage. In the U.S., a 12yo not only can’t have sex, but also can’t drink, can’t drive, can’t join the military and can’t vote. That should tell you something. There is a HUGE burden in the law against child marriage, and if Christians are supposed to obey the law, then child marriage is off-limits to them. Period. Even in countries where it is legal, you still have the medical issues to contend with, which still torpedo it’s acceptability. None of this even touches on the numerous ways child marriage is used to commodify and enslave girls around the world, which add even more problems.

    So no, child marriage isn’t directly condemned in the Bible. But in light of modern medical knowledge (which God Himself built into creation BTW) and the current legal situation, it’s not hard to deduce that it’s unacceptable. Call me a legalist all day if you want. But actually listening to the general revelation of God, which is screaming at the top of its lungs that 12yos are NOT supposed to have sex and carry children, is NOT legalism.

    Also, you do realize that your logic here (X is old and the Bible does not condemn it so it must be okay) is exactly the same as that used to justify slavery in the leadup to the Civil War? (And it was shredded by Christians in the 1830s too.) I assume you wouldn’t support slavery in today’s context just because it was part of Paul’s world.

    • TIA says:

      Okay, this has obviously gotten out of hand. I have not been advocating 12 year olds having sex (although many choose to do that on their own anyway) and carrying/having children. I was discussing marriage, which, while related, is a different issue than sex and children. You seem to be assuming that I support Davis’ and VF’s position, which I have clearly labelled as legalistic a number of times.

      Yes, I understand that there are all kinds of medical and psychological issues, not to mention sex slavery and other issues. Those are real problems that need to be addressed and dealt with. But lumping everything together and not being willing to consider individual situations is not the right way to deal with it.

      Again, the “one-size-fits-all”, “This is the way everyone should think and behave” mentality is exactly what Vision Forum promoted. I don’t get why you use the same approach in arguing against them. “Thou shalt not kill”, but the Bible itself provides exceptions to that rule.

      You were the one who initially wanted “to explore for a moment a disturbing, but completely logical, potential consequence of Davis’ reasoning.” Fine, but don’t assume that I agree with either your or Davis’ assumptions.

      • Hester says:

        I have not been advocating 12 year olds having sex (although many choose to do that on their own anyway) and carrying/having children. I was discussing marriage, which, while related, is a different issue than sex and children.

        Okay, now I’m just confused. Marriage entails having sex. If sex has not occurred, the marriage has not been consummated and thus doesn’t really exist yet. This has been the historic position of the church since basically forever, which is why an annulment and a divorce are not the same thing. You also said one of the benefits of a young marriage was the fulfillment of sexual desires and having more children than you would have had otherwise. Logically, then, the marriage has to include sex and children from the beginning, or else no one is reaping the two benefits you yourself listed, thus taking away the point. Are you saying 12yos should get married and then wait until they reach legal age to have sex? If so, then why not just wait to get married until 16 in the first place?

        If you think sex isn’t necessary to have a valid marriage, then yes, I guess our assumptions ARE different. And also, in Vision Forum land where there may actually be people interested in marrying off their kids young, sex and children will most definitely be included.

        But lumping everything together and not being willing to consider individual situations is not the right way to deal with it.

        Perhaps you could give me an example of a situation in which you believe it would be appropriate for a 12yo to get married, have sex and get pregnant. I’m actually curious since you keep insisting you can find exceptions to the medical info I’ve referenced, which is pretty universal to 11-13yos.

      • TIA says:

        “Perhaps you could give me an example of a situation in which you believe it would be appropriate for a 12yo to get married, have sex and get pregnant.”

        I have never said that such a situation should be common. In fact, I have stated that it is probably not wise in most situations. The fact that you or I can’t conceive of a situation in which it might be appropriate doesn’t affect the argument. However, you seem to be implying that a 12 year old should never get married, have sex, and get pregnant. How is that any different from Davis’ methodology, other than you came to a different conclusion?

      • Hester says:

        1. Davis never actually advocated for child marriage, at least not in this lecture or any of his other lectures that I’ve heard (one of which was about courtship so he would have had ample opportunity to bring it up if he wanted). It was merely an extension of his logic that I proposed as a hypothetical scenario. So in reality, Davis may not even agree with you here. If does believe in child marriage, I imagine he knows better than to propose it as a valid idea on a CD marketed and sold to thousands of homeschooling parents.

        2. Davis proposed a principle (all virtuous children assigned a specific age in the Bible are designed to give us age-specific child development models) without offering any proof or evidence whatsoever, then ran with it. I’ve offered you medical evidence for my position, as well as multiple legal reasons why American Christians can’t practice child marriage. So I’m not just asserting an idea without giving a justification for why I’ve proposed it, which is what Davis did. As for his more general idea that 12yos should act like little adults (an idea derived from his original evidence-less principle above), I countered that with most of the same medical and psychological data I used against child marriage.

        Also, I might as well lay out my reasoning now. I have in previous comments, but I’ll be even more explicit this time. Simply put, God holds us more responsible the more we know about a given situation. The ancients basically didn’t know diddly-squat about the female reproductive system. Therefore, if they came up with an idea like child marriage (which I’ll add is never explicitly endorsed in the Bible either), God was more forgiving with them because they were too ignorant to fully know the kind of harm they were inflicting. We, on the other hand, know lots about the female reproductive system, enough to know that it’s not healthy for a 12yo to get pregnant. Therefore, if we were to come up with an idea like child marriage, in spite of the mountain of evidence that it’s not safe, we would be held much more responsible for that decision because essentially, we ought to know better. And we do. Which is part of why child marriage has been dying out in the West for the past several centuries, and there are organizations working to eliminate it in places like sub-Saharan Africa. I see no reason to keep it on life support given that we know how unhealthy it is for children.

        3. So you can’t actually imagine a situation in which a 12yo getting married would be acceptable in the real world. I’m not surprised. Neither can I. We agree on something. 😉

        Actually, we condemn behaviors with easily imaginable non-harmful outcomes all the time. Plenty of people smoked their whole life and never got lung cancer, but that doesn’t mean we advise people to smoke. There is a slight chance that maybe, possibly, an ectopic pregnancy could safely be carried to term, but we don’t advise women to do that because almost all ectopics are non-viable and will kill the mother if allowed to continue. Some people never exercise and they live to be 95 years old, but that doesn’t mean we recommend a sedentary lifestyle. It all comes down to a risk analysis. Since we don’t think twice about condemning behaviors that are far less risky than a 12yo carrying a child, I don’t see why the standard should be any different for child marriage. Whether we can construct a far-fetched, statistically anomalous non-harmful outcome in our heads is irrelevant. You can play Russian roulette with your own body, of course, but that still doesn’t make it smart. Allowing your 12yo to be exposed to sex and therefore potential pregnancy, however, is playing Russian roulette with someone else’s body, and that’s unacceptable.

        4. Honestly at this point I’m more interested in how you separated marriage from sex. It really is close to the heart of your argument, because if the 12yo is bound to someone by promise but not having sex, they aren’t married. They’re essentially engaged or in some kind of extended betrothal state. I’d also like to know how you can claim you weren’t advocating for 12yos having sex and getting pregnant, when you listed sex and children as one of the benefits of marrying young (which includes 12yos in your argument).

        5. I’d also like to hear how the argument of “child marriage is old and not explicitly condemned in the Bible, therefore it is okay,” is any different from the arguments used to prop up Southern slavery. Slavery was also old and not explicitly condemned in the Bible. In fact, slavery was not only not condemned, but regulated many times in the Bible. That could easily be taken as an implicit endorsement (which is exactly what the Southern theologians did). Therefore, if you’re willing to condemn slavery but not child marriage, you’re okay with throwing out something explicitly regulated in the Bible, but insist on clinging to something else that’s never even mentioned. That’s inconsistent.

      • Patrice says:

        That “one size fits all” doesn’t mean there are never any exceptions. The adage, “the exception proves the rule” shows that this awareness is not unusual. You are quibbling with the fundamental functions of rules/principles. Which is fine, we all need to learn how it works, but it would be more useful to present yourself with a quizzical attitude rather than with belligerence because the way you wrote defeats learning.

        And on this particular issue, the exceptions are only seen in that a rare few of those children who do end up married-with-children at 12 (or as early-mid teens) do not show long-term biological damage. It is rare exception within a bad system and doesn’t even take into account the psychological/spiritual development that those children miss, which is difficult to recover when thrust into adult situations so early.

        Thus, this is a poor issue over which to argue your exceptions case. As you have demonstrated by not coming up with one, there is no good reason in our country to disallow children to grow up. Not by the terrified VF people nor by those who are sexually attracted to children nor by those sad kids who land up preggers because they are in such desperate need for affection that they will take whatever they can get. That it sometimes happens anyway is a source of grief and we need to defend/support those children because they are in very difficult straits.

        High principles also require that we err on the side of generosity. Even if a child falls in love with a young man, it is important that we allow her immature love to deepen with time, or let it change as it will, however it turns out. The maturation process takes time, and we need to be generous in our allowance of it.

        Notice that your idea is to err on the side of generosity towards the leaders in patriarchy. This is a misapplication of the principle. Why? Because the principle is not for those who are in power, who hoist hard rules on others, but for those who are recipients. This is one of the central principles Jesus presented during his short stay on earth.

      • TIA says:

        Thanks everyone for your comments. Sorry that I came across as belligerent. Your responses were most gracious.

      • Patrice says:

        One more thing, TIA, because I am hoping that you are interested. In above comment, I wrote “…there is no good reason in our country to disallow children to grow up.” I wrote that specifically because sometimes, in deeply awry cultures, a child marrying at 12 is the least-bad solution. This was sometimes the case in the ancient times/places during which the Bible was written, remnants of which still exist in some areas of the Mid-East and Asia. This least-bad scenario is a sorrow from bottom up, but a less severe sorrow than might be. An awful situation!

        Where Biblical authors set up rules for such deeply flawed cultural systems, it’s important to recognize that they were meant for protection of vulnerable individuals, as much as possible within the givens. The underlying principle in those particular rules remain throughout time, that vulnerable people be protected/supported.

        This is what Jesus meant when he said that not even a jot of OT laws are changed. The principle does not change, ever, not one little bit. But the way it is applied will change, depending on the strengths/weaknesses of a particular society.

        This can be confusing and that’s why Jesus gave two other examples. One, he said that indulging in thoughts of adultery is committing adultery. The unchanging principle is to love faithfully from the inside out. When people take the outside rules (for eg, “it’s only when I actually go do a prostie”) and cling to them rather than the underlying principle, they will inevitably break the principle and do harm. So Jesus cut to the core.

        In the other example, that “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath”, Jesus made clear that the rule points to the principle—that humans need regular rest and to focus on our God/other-relationships. Adhering to the rule to the detriment of the human (for whatever reason) is a mistake because it destroys the reason for the underlying principle.

        I hope that helps, TIA. You responded harshly to Hester. She is one of a number of older women who have learned some things a very hard painful way and who now deeply wish to pass that knowledge on so that others don’t end up hurt. Hester consistently puts in hard effort exactly for that. It is a lovely and gracious work. Even if you do not agree with her conclusions, it is incumbent on you to be respectful of the effort and intent.

        Sorry for the wordiness, all. I hope it’s ok, Hester.

      • Hester says:

        Thanks, Patrice. And actually I’m only 23. 😉

      • Patrice says:

        Oh sweet, TIA! I wish you the very best. God be with you, my dear.

    • Patrice says:

      Really!!!?! I assumed age because of your patience, diligence and common sense. Hah, that’ll learn me!

  4. Mara says:

    TIA “Again, the “one-size-fits-all”, “This is the way everyone should think and behave” mentality is exactly what Vision Forum promoted. I don’t get why you use the same approach in arguing against them. “Thou shalt not kill”, but the Bible itself provides exceptions to that rule.”

    It is actually “Thou shalt not murder”. But let’s not split hairs.

    AFA the “one-size-fits-all” argument you keep throwing out… Seriously? With all the medical reasons that a 12 year old shouldn’t get pregnant and you are going to say that Hester saying so is exactly the same thing VF is promoting?
    You are so far out in left field on this it is painful.

    There is no reasonable situation for a 12 year old to get married and have children. Not one. Not even the most adverse poverty. It is sin-sick cultures and the greed and/or perversion of men that produces this situation and makes this situation acceptable or needful or desirable for any twelve year old girl. Let the children grow up first before you commit them to a life that they aren’t even old enough to understand. Marrying them off at 12 will not solve poverty, greed, perversion, or any other sin.

    The pressure* for 12 year olds to marry reminds me of back when my puppy wasn’t even a year old yet. The neighborhood strays were already sniffing her tail. We took her in to get fixed, literally to save her from those wild dogs. What can we do to save our 12 year old girls from wild wild sinful men with no moral compass, who think sex with a child is okay?

    Sex with a child is not okay. It is statutory rape. And there are good, solid, logical reasons this was made a law in our land.

    (*Yes, I know TIA. You are not pressuring for a particular 12 year old to get married. But you ARE pressuring very much to try to make room for it in certain circumstances. And I’m telling you that you are wrong. It’s never right in any circumstance.)

  5. Hester says:

    Thanks everybody for your responses. This discussion has actually helped me refine and articulate my thinking on this issue. That being said, I have a lot to do this weekend so I should probably let this conversation wind down now.

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