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Question: "What does the Bible say about child abuse?"

Answer:
The Bible does not specifically use the term “child abuse.” There is no record of a single instance in the Bible where a child is being abused. What the Bible does tell us is this: children have a special place in God’s heart and anyone who harms a child is inviting God’s wrath upon Him. When Jesus’ disciples tried to keep children from coming to Him, He rebuked them and welcomed little children to His side, saying, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). Then He took the children in His arms and blessed them (v. 16).

Children are abused and mistreated in several different ways, all of which are abhorrent to God. Too many children are the victims of angry beatings and other physical abuse as their parents take out their own anger and frustration on their children. Anger is almost always sinful, and anyone who abuses a child in anger commits multiplied sins. “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins” (Proverbs 29:22). There is no place for unrighteous anger in the life of a Christian, as Paul reminds the Ephesians: "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27). Anger should be confessed to God long before it comes to the point of physical abuse against a child or anyone else.

Psychological and emotional abuse is also forbidden in Scripture. Ephesians 6:4 warns fathers not to “exasperate” or provoke their children, but to bring them up in the “training and instruction of the Lord.” Harsh, unloving discipline alienates children’s minds from their parents and renders their instructions and corrections useless. In addition, it often leads to sin against God, as it is difficult in the best of children to be angry and yet not sin. Parents can provoke and exasperate their children by placing unreasonable requirements on them, belittling them, or constantly finding fault, thereby producing wounds that are far worse than any physical beating can inflict. Colossians 3:21 tells us not to “embitter” our children so they will not become discouraged. Ephesians 4:15-19 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow rotten or destructive words to pour from our lips, especially toward the tender hearts and minds of children.

So, even though the Bible does not specifically mention child abuse, it is abundantly clear how God feels about the issue. Anyone who suspects a child is being abused has the obligation to report it to appropriate authorities.

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