Scaring The Shit Out Of Your Children For Jesus

NOTE – This was originally published by the author at Freethinking For Dummies.

“We can be timid as parents to explain the wrath of God to our children because we’re afraid they’ll be too frightened and want nothing to do with him. But we are forgetting that the fear of God is a means God uses to stir up in us the desire to be forgiven by him…“Gospel fear” is a powerful weapon against unbelief. Far from being something to avoid, it is crucial to our children’s salvation and sanctification.” Link  – Mark Priestap,  a Christian Father

I have to wonder why parents think that it is ok to terrify their children into believing in, or at least, obeying a vengeful, angry god who will not hesitate to plunge young children into the bowels of hell at the slightest provocation.  So much for the “God loves me and watches over me” tripe.  Yeah, sure he watches over you and loves you so much that he will torment your innocent little ass for eternity because you said a swear word, or didn’t do what your mommy and daddy said, or thor forbid, refuse to eat your veggies.

How is this idea of a loving god who will flay your skin off and dip you in salted vinegar any different than the fairy tales that parents used to use to keep their children terrified, like the boggy man or the monster under the bed?  The fact is that its not any different at all.  The idea of a loving and merciful god who will send you straight to hell for the slightest infraction is just as much a fairy tale as anything else out there.

I remember lying awake at nights when I was 6 or 7 scared out of my wits that god was going to strike me dead because I took a cookie from the cookie jar without asking.  The fear was palpable and even now I can still feel my stomach tighten just thinking about it.

If you want your children to grow up to be good, honest people, try being honest with them about the world.  Instead of telling them that god is watching them and will be angry if they don’t go clean their room right now, try telling them that they need to clean their room if they want an extra special treat after dinner. Or if you want to play the guilt card, be honest and tell them that you will be very disappointed if they don’t clean their room.  If that doesn’t work, then it’s a time out.  Thats just as effective as scaring the living daylights out of them with visions of unending torture, and it won’t keep them lying awake at nights in mortal fear that god is going to do terrible things to them because they ate that cookie without asking.

Featured image from Wikimedia Commons


Jay is a dad, husband, and pet lover. He has a degree in Theater Arts and works as a Unix systems administrator, mainly because he has a degree in Theater Arts. He used to be a single dad, but now he is married to the perfect woman. He has two teenagers, a daughter, and a step-son. He also has an adult son. He shares his home with his wife, kids, an Australian Shepherd, and a bevy of adorable chihuahuas. He is a skeptic and humanist and tries to contribute to spreading rationality by writing about skeptical topics. You can find samples of his writing on his personal blog at Freethinking For Dummies, the JREF blog, and in Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

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  1. This is the same mentality that comes up with “this will hurt me more than you” before beating the daylights out of someone weaker. Or “I’m doing it for your own good.” Yeah, I’m with you, Jay.

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