Preach Jesus and carry a big stick…

You know, each time I write one of these posts (like this, or this, or this)…each time there are new stories about the children who are abused in the name of God…each time I hear of something horrific done to a little one, I pray that it will be the last. It never is, though, and it seems like it never will be.

Today’s horror can be laid at the feet of best-selling Christian novelist Lori Wick. Her son was among those arrested for abusing children deliberately and repeatedly, at church and at home, in the name of the Lord.

PTAC of Mental Harm to a Child (4 counts)

Intentional Child Abuse-Bodily Harm (4 counts)

Mental Harm to a Child (4 counts)

  • Andrea L. Wick, age 26 of Mazomanie

PTAC Intentional Child Abuse-Bodily Harm (2 counts)

  • Timothy J. Wick, age 27 of Mazomanie

Why is this related to her? Well, according to sources, it’s her money that founded the church. Her hundreds of thousands of dollars handed over to a pastor who says things like “the scripture is never wrong” and “pain is a good way to teach children.”

How is this different from Pearl, or Dobson, or Tripp? you may ask, since shamefully enough, that’s pretty standard “Christian” parenting advice these days. This pastor urges – and at least 6 other members of his church complied with – the doctrine that a SIX WEEK OLD BABY should be hit for making noise in church, being grumpy, crying when handed to someone other than the mother.

Let that sink in for a minute.

And then realize that they advocated, and used, wooden spoons. And EIGHTEEN INCH LONG sticks for this.

Here, while you think about it? Go ahead and look at these adorable photos of The Boy.

He was only 4 weeks old here - by their criteria, just 14 short days away from being big enough to be hit whenever he cried.
He was 8 weeks old here - according to them, 2 weeks past when I should have hit him with a 18" long stick.

Here’s a passage from one of Ms. Wick’s books, Cassidy, describing a good way for a father to treat a 10 week old baby:
He spoke with quiet firmness to his crying daughter, bending over her cradle but not picking her up. “We have trained you to feel that you need to be held all the time. I’m sorry we did. You are dry and fed. You do not need to be held.” He watched her cry, working to harden his heart, and eventually walked away.

Given that even though the majority of the mainstream churches teach that it’s ok to hit kids, most of them would still be appalled by the thought of hitting an infant with a stick, one assumes she had to leave her true feelings out of this.

He may actually have been older than 10 weeks here-perhaps as much as 14 weeks. Still, at what age is it ok to leave a baby to scream alone?!

Just ’cause I love The Boy…here’s one of him at the age that she suggests letting them scream while you watch and ‘harden your heart’ and walk away…

I really, truly can not wrap my mind around churches and people that condone that kind of treatment of infants.
I promise you, dear reader – I *know* what it’s like to be in that postpartum fog. I really do know what it’s like to be nursing your baby for the second time in an hour and look ahead of you and think “will this ever end?!” I know what it’s like to be handed those parenting books and to get the phone calls and to hear the sermons that tell you that the baby who is crying for no reason you can understand is really doing it to manipulate you, that he or she is learning selfishness, and that the only way to make them be a productive member of society is to never ever ever let them “win”, to hit them and call it ‘discipline’, to isolate them and call it ‘training’.

And I am sitting here with laptop in hand today to tell you this.
You are being lied to.
Let me say it again.
I don’t know their reasons, only God can (and WILL) judge their motives for spreading such wrong things in the Name.
I do know that no parenting method, no isolation, no sleep training, no ‘hardening your heart’, no strikes with a stick will make them grow up faster than they were created to grow up.
Sure, it may make them an ‘easy’ baby if by ‘easy’ you really mean ‘this child that I bore has given up hope that I will ever respond to his needs’. But you can’t hit Jesus into them.

I’d hope that everyone who reads this post is appalled at the thought of hitting a 6 week old infant.
But if you are of the persuasion that says “well, 6 months is a good time” (the Pearls) or “18 months sounds about right” (Dobson and Tripp) then I ask you to stop for a moment, and do the math. Count up your child’s life in days and weeks. Look at the lifespan that the Bible has set. And ask yourself “Do I really believe that hitting them now will bring them to a level of maturity God didn’t design them to reach until their teen years?”

I take a very firm stance that, as parents, we are called to discipline and be the authority to our children. But God never gave us His task. We are NOT the Holy Spirit. Think about it for a minute…
When your child grows, and God starts talking to them and wooing them to Himself – will you have been a clear reflection of His longsuffering, patience, and Grace? Or will they have to push through the doorway you fill, the one where you stand and drop burdens impossible to be borne on the back of your little one?

It’s wonderful that these charges are being brought against these parents – it gives me hope to see prosecutors using the law to defend the helpless. I can’t help but wonder, though – where are the Christians? Where are the public outcries, the holy anger, the overturned tables?
I know that some of you will be upset that I’m calling out other Christians in a public venue. I know that so many times, the Church is afraid to take anything public because “the world might misunderstand” or “the world doesn’t need to know” or “we’re so persecuted in the media that it’s a sin to add to it ourselves”.
The thing is, I grew up on the scripture “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”
But we, the corporate body of Christ we, don’t get to yell “persecution!” – we don’t get to make this our own personal martyr-for-Jesus-in-the-secular-godless-liberal-media-story – when we are being reviled because we condone hitting a defenseless baby. It’s not a glorious persecution for righteousness in that case, ok?

It’s time that the body of Christ takes a very public stand against this. Me? I’m starting here. Feel free to leave your link in the comments when you post to join me.

They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?”

A word about comments…

Please note: Comments are moderated, and are posted at my sole discretion. That being said, I am grateful for everyone who stops by, and I invite everyone to comment!
  • Laura

    Very well said. I agree 100%

    • Shanon P

      I have to admit that I quit reading this halfway down the page… after the second sentence about how “Christians believe this is the way to disciple…”

      I will very kindly ask you to please check out and also for two wonderful sources on how God and the Bible teach us to be parents…

      By buying into this conspiracy that it is ok to beat a child to be quiet in church you are letting the enemy win…. there will be corruption in the church just like there is corruption anywhere but just because one screwed up person does something (or even a few!) doesn’t mean we all believe that way…

      God is love… Jesus Christ is love and living in Jesus means loving… loving is not abuse… end of story…

      • Rebecca Diamond

        Thanks for sharing those links! :-) As you know, I’m another Christian who completely disbelieves the doctrine that teaches children must be hit…And I rejoice each time I see more Christians speaking up against it!

  • Lisa Easterling

    I’ll be honest, I’m in a quandary on this topic. Not about whether or not infants should be hit or ignored or treated like little manipulators–I completely disagree with those things and applaud your stand against such treatment of babies.

    We gave our preschoolers a swat on occasion, and they didn’t grow up to be violent or afraid of God (or us, for that matter). We have an extremely close-knit family and two of our sons are now amazing daddies. I have a hard time with the belief that a loving, intuitive parent spanking a child (not an infant) on the padded bottom with an open hand is akin to child abuse. I was beaten by an angry step-father, and I was spanked intentionally and correctively by a daddy who loved me more than life, so I personally know the difference–and there IS a huge difference. That difference is wrapped up in relationship, which determines intent. Our intent was never to crush our children’s spirits, but to guide their behavior.

    Simply put: Not all of us who spank(ed) our children adhere(d) to “Preach Jesus and carry a big stick”.

    So here’s my quandary. I’ve asked myself the question: If I was starting over right now with parenting, would I still spank my kids (not infants)? I honestly don’t know if I would. And not because I think it’s necessarily wrong to do so. I’ve really thought about this, especially since I am now in a season when parents come to me pretty frequently asking me how we ended up with such a close family of seriously cool people who love being around each other, are well-balanced and respectful, have a great sense of humor, and love the Lord with all their hearts. All I can do is tell them how we did it, and that it was God’s grace that brought us thus far.

    I think many of us as older parents feel like if we had it to do all over again we would be gentler with our children. Maybe just more intuitive, more attentive. I do believe if parents focused more on relationship than on punishment, parenting would take on a whole new face, which would in turn give our whole society a whole new face.

    I miss the days of rocking my babies and nourishing them on cue and co-sleeping and cuddling together and laughing and reading and playing. I would relive those days in a heartbeat just to feel that warmth again. Thankfully they all live pretty close by and still love mama hugs, but it will never be the same as when they were little. At the moment all I want to do is love on them, but I know it’s different being on the edge of empty nest, different from parenting a toddler who looks you square in the face and informs you that you aren’t the boss of him. :)

    I will close before this gets all rambly. I’m not sure if I’ve even made my point, but I’m hoping maybe I’ve shown a perspective that methods of discipline aren’t quite so black and white as this topic can sometimes be portrayed. Again, I believe it all goes back to relationship and doing what builds it and steering away from what damages it. I just know how our family has turned out and how they are whole and happy and in love with life and God and family. That’s really all we wanted from the beginning.

    • Rebecca Diamond

      Lisa, thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to share your thoughts – I really do appreciate it! :-)
      I’d like to go through and comment, as I really enjoy respectful dialogue on parenting, and I’m sure you must as well.

      Many parents only ever spank with the open hand, gentle swat, padded bottom. I agree that it’s far, far different from taking a stick and beating a child – while I’d argue that the difference is only one of degree, it’s still quite a few degrees of separation there. Parents who spank like that, in my experience, are doing it for a variety of reasons:

      It’s milder than what they grew up with, but they still feel sometimes you ‘have to spank’
      It’s a frustrated response to that toddler glaring at you with those big eyes and bouncing off every boundary you set
      It’s a half-hearted “I want you to stop doing that and don’t know what else to do”
      While I personally would never choose to use that as one of my parenting tools, I find that people like you aren’t out there promoting a systemic theology that preaches that a child is bound for hell without the sacred ritual of the butt-hit. 😉 There really are people out there who believe that (I grew up that way, and believe me when I say there was no such thing as a ‘gentle swat’!)
      When I speak out against spanking, I’m aware that what I say can sound like I’m trying to tarnish the memory of people like your dad, or even negate the kind of parenting those like yourselves have done, and that certainly isn’t my intent! <3
      So far, my son is 7.5, and I've found that parenting him (while it's a joy!) is definitely hard, hard work. I think when you parent with intention, it's hard work whether or not spanking is part of your toolbox. But I have also found that he's not an easy perfect child who never gives me a moment's trouble – but he is a child that can be corrected, admonished, disciplined, and discipled all without me or my husband raising a hand to him.
      I believe that love, and attachment, covers a multitude of sins. While I haven't spanked my son, I've already had my share of "oh if ONLY I could do that bit over!" – and I'm trusting that the love we show him and the Grace of God will give us the same results you've been blessed with – loving children and a close family. <3

      I think many of us as older parents feel like if we had it to do all over again we would be gentler with our children. Maybe just more intuitive, more attentive. I do believe if parents focused more on relationship than on punishment, parenting would take on a whole new face, which would in turn give our whole society a whole new face.

      While I’m still in the parenting trenches, the hope that one day our churches and our homes will focus more on relationship than punishment keeps me going! Again, thanks for stopping and sharing – I was encouraged by your comments :-)

      • Dawn

        i too appreciated your comments, and specifically the quote that you (Rebecca) drew out of LIsa’s comments. as a parent of adults (who also turned out pretty cool) and parents who chose a more gentle, non-violent approach, i have no regrets, and want parents to know today that there is another way…thanks for sharing.

  • Brenda King

    Thanks for writing this, Rebecca. I agree with you… where are the Christians in this? I know most decent Christians are appalled at this sort of behavior, but I think for the sake of our children *and* our witness to the world, we must be more vocal. The world needs to know this sort of behavior is not in the least bit about true Christianity, no matter what twisted reasoning is used.

    I wonder what knowledge Lori Wick and her husband had of the abuse. The article wasn’t clear on whether or not they attend the church. It did say, though, that when contacted she had no comment. No comment??!! Even if she didn’t have all the facts, why in the world wouldn’t she at least scream into the phone, “There is no way in the world I would ever condone such behavior?”

    • Brenda King

      Forgot to leave my link…

      • Mary

        I was also wondering what knowledge Lori Wick had of this, until I actually read the legal document which was posted on the web. I felt sick to read that Lori Wick and her husband are actually members of this church, and their home was one of the two meeting places for the church. Her own granddaughter was one of the children abused, possibly in her own home. The details in the document are pretty sickening. Lori’s granddaughter was hit repeatedly with a wooden spoon and later with a wooden dowel, while under one year of age. Some of these incidents were done repeatedly during church services in a church “spanking room”. Apparently any child who cried during the church service was to be taken to this room to be hit as instructed by the pastor. Lori’s son and daughter-in-law admitted that sometimes they were hitting their daughter over bruises that she had from previous spankings.

        • Rebecca Diamond

          Mary, thanks for letting me know that was online – I’m embedding it for others to see as well. It’s horrific :-(

    • Rebecca Diamond

      Exactly, Brenda – Why wouldn’t you take that chance to publicly denounce it if you didn’t agree?!
      I’m about to post the criminal complaint – I don’t see how they couldn’t have been aware of it.

  • Grace

    Thanks for the post. I agree.

  • deb

    Where are all the Christians, you ask?? They are all at home thinking they are “under attack”. (ROLL EYES NOW) They are pulling out thier Pearl books, Trip books and Ezzo books, Vision Forum books, and justifying abuse in Gods name! Even the little church up here has taught a “Sheparding a Childs Heart” class within the last year. I am so disgusted.

    This is the new way of Christian parenting. AND IT IS EVERYWHERE!!! Dig a little deeper and it is in EVERY Fundimentalist church. EVERY “bible” believing church. ETC. It is held as the only way your children will be saved….Before I became a Christian, I did not know any children who were abused, or even spanked at all for that matter. Now, in the past 4 years of being “saved” I have lost count of all the children I have come across that that are beaten/hit/spanked everyday, all in the name of God. It is appauling. And it is why I do not go to church anymore. It literally makes me sick to see all the self rightious “Men of God” pushing this trash. The women “submiting” to thier husbands and allowing this to go on are a disgrace to all women and children everywhere.

    Yes, I am ANGRY about this.

    • Rebecca Diamond

      Deb, we’re on church hiatus right now too…and I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit that it’s one of the reasons why. I do know of churches who don’t believe that Jesus wants kids to be hit – unfortunately none of them are near enough to us to attend.
      It makes me furious that people actually can look at Scripture and take away from it that they can save their children by hitting them. I mean…seriously? Why didn’t Jesus just hurl lightning bolts from Heaven, then? Why the whole Calvary thing, if spanking is all it takes to ensure righteous children?!

  • TealRose

    I am a 56 yr old grandmother, a Brit who lives in Europe. I find this whole ‘church & rearing children/spanking thing’ very, strange. As a child and as an adult, I never once heard a vicar/minister preach about raising children, except to say things like ‘love them, like Jesus did’ etc … Being rebellious, being ‘born with evil’ was never ever brought up!

    That being said, in my childhood I was spanked. By hand and with a leather slipper. From the first smack the first time they spanked me, my parents lost me. They lost my love, respect and trust. I have never respected anyone who hits another. I couldn’t trust someone that hit me. I learned only, fear, pain, anger, hate and resentment. I was a well behaved, obedient child who for some reason, they thought they should spank. I learned they didn’t love me – and the post spanking pep talk nonsense of ‘oh we love you’ meant nothing to me – they had just proved they didn’t love me. I didn’t hit anyone, least of all anyone I loved! My parents never gained my trust and respect back. Talking to my mother a year or two back, and telling her how I felt, she just said that ‘you were happy and fine’ – well I wasn’t … I seethed inside. [‘Don’t frustrate your child’ ? They failed that with the first smack.] I still feel resentful for my lost childhood.

    I never spanked my children and they are fine adults. Discipline means to teach not to hit, and I did that as best I could. It was hard, very hard – but then that is what parenting is about.

    I don’t really understand why anyone would believe spanking is a good thing, much less the rubbish written by the Pearls and their ilk. I don’t understand how, a book that is so obviously an ‘abuse manual’ and tells parents to hit a tiny baby can be legal – freedom of speech or not.

    THIS Christian, is disgusted and wants all spanking /hitting of children to be banned. There are far kinder, safer and better ways to raise a child, teaching it right from wrong .

    • Rebecca Diamond

      I was “spanked” as a child, too, TealRose. My parents used switches, sticks, belts, wooden paddles, rulers, and even their own invention of counter surfacing material glued together (hurt like hell yet didn’t leave those pesky bruises). It took me until around 4 years old to give up on ever being ‘good enough’ for them.
      It was driven by a church culture that encouraged and demanded it, but I’ll never ever understand why two otherwise intelligent people fell for that, you know? It doesn’t take that much effort to dig into the Bible, study it out, and see that the very nature of God is against harming children.
      Sadly enough, they are still enmeshed in that (I attended church with them as a courtesy a few years ago, and walked out while their pastor was ranting about how he wished he could hit kids – along with explicit descriptions of how wonderful it was).
      I’m at the stage in my life where I’m protecting my son from all of that – I do have friends who spank, sadly enough…but anyone who believes *I* need to hit *my* kid for Jesus is out of our lives. I won’t listen to it, I won’t lend it any form of legitimacy by attending a church that preaches it, and I no longer have any relationship with people who tell me to hit my son.
      I know the damage it did to me – I don’t care what rationalizations are used, I do not believe that you hit someone you love. Therefore, I’ve never believed that anyone who hit me loved me. It’s that black and white in my world (and I’m a iNFP who normally lives in the shades of gray, let’s all get along, let me facilitate bringing people together and foster understanding land!)
      I can remember crying out to Jesus during a ‘spanking’ one day (side note: If it involves a belt, and hits in multiples of 10, let’s be honest – it’s not a “spanking”, it’s a beating. It would get you a court martial if you did it to a POW.) Anyway…I remember calling out to Him, and being told that He was the one who said I deserved it.
      It’s a testament to the faithfulness of God that I didn’t actually believe that – if I thought for one minute that God endorsed what I went through, I wouldn’t serve Him. Thankfully I know He has nothing to do with the crazy stuff people do in His name!

  • Mary Louise

    I, too, am appalled, angry, and sick to my stomach at reading about this. I had read Lori Wick’s books in the past and was never really a fan. I found the stories cloying, and contrived, portraying the “righteous” characters as unbelievable in their purity that didn’t set well with me. I have a real problem with legalism, as I have seen the damage it inflicts. This is a prime example of legalism at its worst.

    I have never heard of anything so cruel, so lacking in discernment and acuity when it comes to Scripture, and the narrow-minded blindness, not to mention egotistical and downright lacking in judgment and insight–that I simply wanted to rush there, take all the babies and children away to safety and inflict on the adults what they had been doing to these helpless victims. This just absolutely rendered me speechless. These people have absolutely lost what little sense or intelligence they had–if they think for one moment that Scripture actually supports this evil bent.

    I plan on posting this on my Facebook page in the hopes that this will reach other Christian women and mothers who will in turn barrage Ms. Wick with their reactions and protests. Just maybe she will grasp a glimmer of truth…

    • Rebecca Diamond

      Mary Louise, thanks for sharing and helping spread the word! I’ll admit that I was never much a fan of her books, but then again I’m not a fan of much of what passes for “Christian literature” 😉 About the only Christian fiction I read these days is by Christa Parrish, Alison Strobel, or Mary Demuth.
      I’d rather read secular books – it’s easy to see where right and wrong are in those, and I’m not poisoning my mind with people pushing faulty theology on me 😉

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  • Bobbie Frazier

    Rebecca, Thank you for posting this, wow! I Can’t believe people are still preaching/teaching stuff like this. I read a similar book teaching stuff like this when my kids were young, they are now 15, 13, and 10 when my 15 year old son was 2 we tried the concepts in the book I was then reading that sounded similar. No or few warnings and well just a few days into those concepts I noticed a great deal of attitude in my son, mostly anger! We did spank our children when they were younger but as soon as they got to be around school age we discovered with all of them this was of little affect as well, mainly because taking away privileges works so much better. When our 15 year old would actually ask for a spaking rather than losing his video games we knew were on the right track. Also something else we have discovered with our third, our 10 year old son, my husband and I are very much into the idea of love languages and our ten year old son in high in quality time and physical touch so if we were to spank or smack him that would affect him in such a negative way, taking so much out of his love tank! I think this is such a strong heated topic and I also think you made a great point, so often women are looking for answers when they are at there wits end and peolpe offer answers that seem to be the end all. WE all have different children, I mean I have three children who are all three different! There is no cookie cutter way for all three kids! Thanks again for your thoughts!

    • Rebecca Diamond

      Bobbie, one thing that really made the “no spanking” concept of parenting click for me was comparing it to the corporate world. At no point in time would it be acceptable for my boss to hit me to help me learn, even when I really screw something up, you know?
      My goal is to help my son learn appropriate behavior, and to encourage him to make the right choices. I know far too many people who were outwardly compliant when they lived at home, because of fear of ‘the rod’. However, as soon as they got away from that influence, they became wild, out of control, and made horrendous choices, simply because they had never internalized the lessons their parents assumed were being hit into them.
      One thing that encourages me is the number of people with grown children who make statements like “if I could go back and do it again, I wouldn’t spank (or not as hard, or not as often).” It’s helped me see that I’m on the right track – I already have so many regrets as a parent that I don’t want to add that particular one to the mix! 😉
      The “love languages” books are great, aren’t they? It’s been beneficial to our parenting (and our marriage!) as well.

  • Mary

    Thank you for writing about this topic, Rebecca. I came across another legal document containing more information about the case against the pastor and his family in the Lori Wick case. It seems that it was not just some members of the church who engaged in this behavior, but it was actually required for parents to do this if they were to continue attending the church. Again, it seems impossible that Lori Wick would not have known about this. I’m not sure if you will want to post this or not, as it is so disturbing that I was actually wishing that I had not read it. I guess what I was looking for is some indication that the children are now safe. It worries me that they seem to have been left in the care of the same parents who abused them. I am just praying that the authorities know what they are doing and that there will be a good outcome for all the children involved.

    • Mary

      I’m sorry, I forgot to include the link:

    • Rebecca Diamond

      Mary, thank you for that link! – I’ll repost it now, as well as any others you find. I believe it’s really important for people to read this, and realize just how ludicrous (and scary!) the doctrine of hitting for salvation’s sake is.

  • Vicki

    I’m not a Christian but I used to be. I could never understand how anyone could call hitting someone “discipline.” This word has the same root as disciple. We’re supposed to discipline our children. To put it another way: Our children are our disciples. I’ve read the Bible many times. I don’t recall Jesus ever hitting His disciples. He taught them by his words and actions. I don’t understand why so many Christians cannot see this.

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  • Grace
  • Forgiven girl

    Wow. I used to read Lori Wick, but quit reading her books because she was too legalistic and the characters were too fake, as in “too perfect”. This makes me sick, and will never pick up one of her books again. She had to have known about this. And I have yet to read Lori Wick’s take on all of this. Hiding something maybe???

  • Renee

    my heart is sick reading this. I loved Lori Wicks books but now I don’t think I’ll ever be able to read one again.