The Original Child Protective Services

Sex Trafficking image

Photo by Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department

Operation Cross Country, an FBI sex trafficking sweep, concluded this past weekend. 105 minors were rescued, and 150 pimps and other alleged perpetrators were arrested. According to the FBI, the operation covered 76 cities. It is the seventh and largest enforcement action of this type to date.

The Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF), who carried out the operation, said that at-risk youth – often foster children or runaways – are especially vulnerable to human trafficking. Ronald Hosko of the FBI said the pimps entice them with compliments or ask whether they want to “make some money.” Staca Shehan, with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children added, “These traffickers are great at reading people. They look at these victims and quickly assess, ‘Do they need an older boyfriend? A protector? A supplier? Do they just want to feel cool?'”

In short, they look for a way “in.” Thank God for the intervention of proper law enforcement. But while we rightly celebrate the rescue of these young people, it’s an opportune moment to pause and reflect: How can we better protect children from those who would exploit them this way? Moreover, how can we best prevent it in the first place?

The answer isn’t complicated. The ancient Judeo-Christian ethic of keeping sex in marriage is the best preventative known to humankind. For the simple reason that marriage ties children to their parents. Bob Hamer who spent three years investigating the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) as an undercover FBI agent wrote in his book The Last Undercover that “the most easily conquered target is one without a strong, loving, caring father figure.” And marriage, rightly understood and faithfully observed, keeps that father in the picture.

As Anthony Weber of the Christian Apologetics Alliance noted, “The absence or dysfunction of fathers is a theme that YA [young adult] entertainment addresses over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.” When he’s missing, there will inevitably be a hole. And it’s a void that predators lie in wait to invade.

Parents tied to their children – present, involved, and alert – are a child’s first line of defense against them. Predators will look for a way in, but if parents are guarding the gate, they’re not likely to find one.

Marriage Child Protective ServicesTwo points to ponder can be drawn from this:

  1. Young men and women, if you want to do what’s best for your children, save the sex for marriage. And once married, be faithful.
  2. Once you become parents, stay present, active, and alert. You are your child’s guardian, protector, and defender.

It may take a while, but they’ll probably thank you for it one day. In the words of an ancient Hebrew proverb, “They will rise and call you blessed.”


8 Comments on “The Original Child Protective Services

  1. I have a challenge to you concerning biblical childcare. Suppose a Christian man in the first century caught his 8 year old daughter stealing a cake from a vendor. As punishment, he whips her until her backside is bleeding, in his belief that this is approved of in Proverbs 22:15. How would you go about demonstrating that the level of discipline executed on this girl was more extreme than what this Proverb had contemplated?

    I can buy that since Romans 13:1 says Christians must obey all secular laws that don’t conflict with the bible, then God is also the author of modern-day laws which criminalize the level of corporeal discipline that leaves a child bruised and bleeding.

    What I cannot buy is that God would be the author of modern secular laws that forbid the level of corporal discipline that produces bleeding, since this level of injury is explicitly endorsed by another of God’s statements, Proverbs 20:30. Could it be that modern America’s aversion to beating a child bloody, doesn’t really arise from “God’s law in our hearts”, but solely by environmental conditioning?

    You may reply that the immediate context of 20:30 shows it applies only to the judicial-criminal context, but problems still abound: a) does that mean you’d support America’s juvenile-justice system in whipping kids bloody? If not, why not? What could possibly ever be wrong with causing our justice system to more in accord with the solutions to criminal behavior God used to think were perfect solutions long ago? Can we escape God’s wrath by creating an industrial revolution that causes us to become far more liberal and sensitive to barbarity than our forbears were?

    b) Proverbs 22:15 is about child-discipline, but its immediate context has nothing to do with that subject, so the possibility that “immediate context” is irrelevant when reading the Proverbs, looms large. Therefore, the fact that injurious corporeal discipline in 20:30 appears in an immediate context of the judicial criminal system, could just as easily be merely the result of cobbling the Proverbs together by chance, as it might be the result of the Proverbs author wanting the reader to see limitations on his comments.


    • I apologize for taking some time to approve the comment. I saw it come in, but then forgot.

      I don’t know if you’re asking all those questions in pursuit of an answer, so all I’ll say to start off is that your question reveals misunderstandings about the genre of the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is not “law.” It’s wisdom literature – useful for gaining wisdom in everyday life, but not to be taken as absolute directives.

      Your comment also reveals a misunderstanding of the nature of the gospel. We do not escape God’s wrath by any means other than the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The whole message of Christianity is that we cannot earn favor with God by keeping rules. We’ve already messed them all up. Jesus is the savior. Only through him do we gain access to God.


  2. Then how is Proverbs 20:30 useful to us today? The New American Commentary, written by conservative Protestant scholars, interprets that bible passage:

    “20:30 In context this is not parental discipline but beatings administered by the king’s officers as punishment for crime.”
    Garrett, D. A. (2001, c1993). Vol. 14: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of songs (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Page 179). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

    “But most of the time, physical beating is seen as a needed discipline to keep youths in line; cf. 13:24; 22:15.”
    Murphy, R. E. (2002). Vol. 22: Word Biblical Commentary : Proverbs. Word Biblical Commentary (Page 154). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

    Would you support modern America incorporating into its judicial system the physical beatings of criminals? How could this have been a good morality for ancient Hebrews and their judicial system, but not for us today?

    Are you positively certain that God wanted modern civilization to move away from the “old way”?

    Do we today view physical beatings for criminals as fundamentally immoral because we are more educated about the dignity/worth of mankind, or because we’ve allowed ourselves to become more liberal than the bible allows?


  3. Those are a lot of questions, Barry. I don’t mind questions when the goal is to understand someone else’s reasoning or to discover the truth about a matter.

    Maybe I’m being overly skeptical, but I’m not convinced that your goal is to listen to another perspective. The short answer to your first question was in my earlier comment. The Proverbs are useful for gaining wisdom in everyday living. They are not directives to be taken as commands.

    More important, all of the Bible is presented to us as a comprehensive whole. It is put to us as God’s revelation of himself to humanity. The most full revelation is the person of Jesus Christ, and all of Scripture is to be interpreted in light of that.

    Do you believe that the New Testament texts are reliable documents about events in history? Do you believe Jesus Christ is who he claimed to be therein? And if not, what is your objective in posing the above questions?


    • I am willing to listen to another perspective. What I am not willing to do is read NT concepts of love and justice into Proverbs 20:30 to such a degree, that what the Proverb originally meant to its originally intended audience gets lost in the shuffle.

      Even assuming the Proverbs are not guarantees, the divine approval of injurious corporal punishment cannot be excised from Pr. 20:30. Does that Proverb have ANY relevance to modern-day Christians, beyond the pointless academic observation that it’s still part of canonical scripture?

      My quoting two popular yet scholarly Christian commentaries for you on the matter, which happen to support my view that God in OT days had approved of injurious corporal punishment, shows that I am trying to get to the truth about how this particular proverb can do what apostle Paul in 2nd Timothy 3:15 said the OT does (i.e., function to support doctrine or reproof or correction or instruction in righteousness).

      If you’d rather not discuss how a God of “love” (as modern Christians define “love”) could approve of the degree of injurious corporal punishment that produces bleeding via whipping, a type that most modern Christians feel is objectively immoral, say so.

      It is my opinion that the inability to realistically deal with this particular proverb by modern Christians indicates that, at the end of the day, their actions do not match their verbal acknowledgement that the OT is the word of God.


  4. Barry, you ignored my questions. It seems to me that you want to use this blog space to vent your own anger. I won’t delete your comments (at least not yet), but I’m not going to respond to this last one until you respond to my questions.

    To refresh your memory: Do you believe that the New Testament texts are reliable documents about events in history? Do you believe Jesus Christ is who he claimed to be therein? And if not, what is your objective in posing the above questions?


    • I believe neither in the “reliability” of the NT, nor that there was anything supernatural about Jesus, two concerns which have absolutely nothing to do with whether Proverbs 20:30 approves of the type of abuse associated with the treatment of children you disagree with in your post.

      My objective in posting was to find out what a Christian, who apparently doesn’t approve of child abuse, thinks of Proverbs 20:30, which approves of that degree of whipping that leaves wounds (i.e,. what most modern Christians would classify as “abuse”).

      Do you believe “stripes that wound scour away evil” (Proverbs 20:30), yes or no?


  5. Well, thanks for the straight answers. To be honest, I’m not a biblical scholar, so I’ll just give you my armchair commentary.

    I do not condone physical abuse in any way. I raised three daughters and have never been accused by anyone (other than maybe one of them when they didn’t like a decision I made) of abusing them. If anything, some of them have at times accused me of going too light on one of their sisters. To answer your question, I do not condone corporeal punishment that leaves evidence in the form of blood or bruises. I would agree with you in calling that abuse.

    But to take the verse as a proverb, as a piece of wisdom literature, I do believe there is a sense in which punishment for transgression has a dampening effect on evil. If nothing is punished in a society, then, well, anything goes. People may debate what qualifies as reasonable punishment by law or by a parent, but I don’t think any adult would go along with an “anything goes” permissiveness in society as a collective or in a family as a philosophy of raising children.

    I hope that helps.

    Also, now I’m wondering why this is an important question for you. Did you or someone you know suffer abuse at the hands of a parent? or at the hands of someone who flew under the banner of Christianity or used that proverb as cover for abuse? I would not doubt that that could happen. Many things happen that should not, and this would be an egregious failure on the part of the abuser, and something for which the abuser will have to give an account to God at some point, according to the biblical portrayal of justice.

    If so, I’m sorry for your pain and you are justified in being confused about the abusive actions. I hope you will consider separating out the character of God himself as revealed in Scripture from the actions of fallen human beings, even if those actions are done in the name of God or Christianity. People fail in many ways. This is a most egregious way to fail, and it will not go unnoticed by God.


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