You're not the boss of me!

Why is blasphemy a sin?

By Jeff Laird

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Continued from Page One

A theme of those excuses was an attempt to claim a child might be justified in their parental blasphemy, if the parent was a bad person, or had done something wrong. "What if you hadn't done wrong, and they're just being rebellious? What if it's the typical thinks-they-know-everything kid mouthing off?" I asked. Once again, contortion and evasion. Some openly suggested it was the parent's burden to inspire respect, so if children were disrespectful, it meant the parent hadn't done enough to earn their regard.

Yeah, right.

I have every reason to believe Richard Dawkins loves his daughter, and that he tried to raise her into a functioning adult. So I don't believe, for one second, that if she'd cussed him out at age nine, because he told her to brush her teeth, that he would have stepped back to ponder his failure as a motivational figure. Nor would he have thought, "I'm far stronger, wealthier, and wiser than her, so reprimanding her would just mean my feelings were hurt." He might well have wondered where he went wrong, but he'd also have enacted consequences. Loving parents don't let their kids "blaspheme" them, because parents and children both deserve better; it's destructive for everyone involved to let it go unchecked.

Naturally, every single one of these skeptics assured me that they, themselves, were good parents who really did deserve respect from their kids, so "that's different." Respectfully, I called that out every time for what it was: baloney. It's baloney because any differences work in favor of God's approach, not against it. In the Biblical narrative, God is more forgiving, gracious, and morally superior to humanity than any parent is in relation to their offspring. We procreate our children, God actually created us. Any parent who thinks loving and caring for their children earns them the right to say, "you can't insult me or call me names," and who enforces that rule so their kids don't grow up as sociopathic monsters, has no business sneering at God for making blasphemy one of the most important sins He forbids.

One skeptic continually tried to deflect the point by bringing up rape, saying if God really cared about morals, He'd have said, "no rape" instead of "no blasphemy." I asked if he'd explicitly discussed rape with his elementary-school kids. Understandably, his answer was a little vague. Still, it opened up a point he instinctively knew all too well: Parents can't hand down an infinitely long "do and don't" list, so we set the basics early on. Then, under our guidance, we expect children to mature from rote obedience to a fuller grasp of right and wrong. A strong stance against blasphemy, in a very meaningful way, fills in the blanks where explicit commands aren't given, and sets the tone for making moral decisions in the future.

A strong stance against blasphemy fills in the blanks where commands aren't given, leading to future moral decisions.

In fact, that attitude is exactly what prevents the legalism-loophole mentality. If fundamental respect for the reason — and the person — behind the rules is the priority, then rote obedience and scratching for technicalities are both off the table.

A parent who sets good moral boundaries — grounded in respect — fully expects their child to learn how moral truths "behind" specific rules covers more than just what's overtly mentioned. For example, the conclusion "rape is immoral" is inescapable under an ethic which decries violence, adultery, and theft. Respect for God implies respect for all of His commandments, and all of their implications. Given the harsh penalties imposed on rapists in the Old Testament, it's clear the Israelites weren't confused on the moral status of that act.

So, rules against blasphemy are not only reasonable, they're vital. Good parents don't accept curses, insults, or disrespect from their children. They have a moral right to be respected, and a loving, practical desire not to raise rampant, un-teachable, anti-social monsters. A holy Creator prohibits curses, insults, and disrespect from His children, for exactly the same reasons. It's not just necessary for our obedience, and our well-being, it's part of fleshing out morality into something beyond vapid legalism.

Image Credit: Mindaugas Danys; "scream and shout"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  |  Family-Life  |  God-Father  |  Sin-Evil

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Published 9-9-2014