Parenting, children as demons, demons wrestling with unborn babies in the womb of your pregnant wife? Say what?
“What in the name of all that is holy?”
These were the words that I uttered to Julie Anne when I ran across the post, “Parenting Means Wrestling with Demons,” by Jonathan Parnell on John Piper’s Desiring God site.
I’ll admit, I tend to not see spiritual warfare in everyday life, especially when it comes to child development, pregnancy, birthing, or parenting. I look at these things as normal life happenings. This article, however, suggests that there is a war on our children and that demons hate little children. (The intent of my article is not to focus on whether or not spiritual warfare is real or if demons exist, but to focus on how the mindset of turning normal life events into a spiritual battle may be harmful.)
The very beginning of Parnell’s article had me scratching my head. He starts with a story:
I nudged the door open with my shoulder, hands holding carryout (again). I made my way through the dark living room and set dinner on the table. I could hear the kids playing in the basement as I peeked into the bedroom to find my wife lying there, doubled over with nausea. She felt too sick to think about eating, not to mention preparing food for the rest of us, and so for the fourth time in as many nights, dad was dishing dinner for the fam.
This is how it goes in wartime, and for a few months now at our house, we’ve been in the battle zone. My wife is pregnant with our fifth child.
As many mothers could attest, sometimes it’s not so much morning-sickness as just plain sickness. She hasn’t felt well since the newest member of our family came into existence at the end of last year. But it’s okay — we get it. It comes with the territory. Nausea, in fact, is just one piece of the larger struggle. We’ve learned by now that wrestling demons isn’t supposed to be easy.
Is it me, or does Parnell sound a bit annoyed at his wife’s pregnancy sickness? He may not have intended to sound this way, but he sure comes across that way. He’s bringing home carryout (again) and his wife is unable to prepare food for the family, which leaves him dishing out dinner. . . for the fourth time, for crying out loud!
I’m more concerned about the fact that his wife has not felt well since the birth of their last child “at the end of last year.” Does this mean that they have a 3- or 4-month old and she’s pregnant again? No wonder she feels sick. There is a real physical issue going on. Is she dealing with postpartum depression? Were there concerns for her physical safety after the birth of her fourth child that she not go through another pregnancy? If she did give birth at the end of last year, her body hasn’t had much time to fully recover from birth to go through pregnancy again.
But this is nothing new. They’ve been in this battle zone before. Please help me understand how pregnancy sickness and bringing home carryout (again) equates with wrestling demons and Satan hating children. My concern is that when viewing parenting and children through the lens of spiritual warfare, a line may get blurred when a parent responds to or tries to differentiate between normal child behavior and Satan’s influence on the child or the family.
Parnell calls for a change in perspective:
This calls for a shift in our perspective as parents. If we go into the work of parenting with a Precious Moments romanticism, it won’t be long before despair sets in. It’s just too hard if we think it’s going to be easy. It’s essential to know, especially when the going gets tough, that we are fighting hell.
I would like to know if anyone actually thinks that parenting is going to be easy. I would venture to guess from the moment that baby is born, no parent thinks that it’s raising a child is going to be a cakewalk. But, to go to the extreme of fighting hell? Well, okay I guess.
From this point on, it is made clear that everything a child does is related to spiritual warfare, from peeing on the floor, to not staying in bed at night, to being rude, to even a pre-born abnormality. Forget taking parenting or child development classes. They won’t help you wrestle the demons.
Even though Parnell thinks that children are a blessing (but don’t put those blessings on a pedestal lest they become your idol and certainly don’t let them run your home), the crux of the matter is that children are born sinful and are in desperate need of a Savior.
When does this view of spiritual warfare in parenting and children cross the line?
Let’s take for example the recent disturbing news story of Justin and Marsha Harris of Arkansas. Justin is a State Senator who fostered and adopted two little girls. The oldest was sexually abused and has difficult emotional issues that need addressing. These issues were so severe that DHS reports that they tried to talk the Harrises out of adopting the two girls.
Now, the Harrises are being accused of isolating the girls from each other (because of believed demon possession and telepathic communication) and monitoring them with video devices, of having an exorcism performed on the girls, and “rehoming” the oldest to the person who sexually abused her. The Harrises also run a Christian preschool and a former teacher is reporting that Harris would perform exorcisms on misbehaving children. The teacher also reported that Marsha Harris spoke freely of the demons that possessed their two adopted girls.
This is where parents go too far with their beliefs of spiritual warfare and Satan-hating children, and it crosses the line of inappropriately responding to a child’s natural development. Misbehaving children is normal. Emotional and behavioral disturbances in a sexually abused child is normal. Pregnancy sickness is normal. Bringing home takeout dinners because a spouse is too sick to cook . . . is normal.
Should the response to normal emotional and behavior disturbances be to . . . “fight hell?”