Today, I have decided to write about obedience as it affects child sexual abuse. Why do some fathers, uncles and close relations succeed in sexually abusing their minors? They dangle ‘Obedience’ as a strategy, and the overly obedient child succumbs to the abuse. They are told to keep the abuse a secret, and they also obey. This is because the children have been taught that they have to obey their parents and adults.
Few years ago, the supposedly ‘man of God’ in Lagos who was sleeping with his daughters used the issue of obedience to intimidate them. The girls said that when they refused to sleep with their father, that their father kept telling them about the consequences of disobeying him. He reminded them that God said “Children should obey their parents.” “I am your father, and God said you should respect and obey your father”. The man was quoted as saying.
I remember a case some years ago too when one little girl of about 8 years old was asked why she removed her pant when ‘uncle’ asked her to do so. She replied “uncle is older than me, and I have to obey him. I did not know he was about to hurt me.”
Some fathers, uncles, relatives and other adults are still using the issue of obedience to get the minors they intend to abuse or are abusing.
Report has shown that the sexual abusers observe those children who are overly ready to obey adult’s instruction. These ones are easy targets for them.
So every child needs to be taught balanced view of obedience. Obedience, even to parents, is relative. Obedience is not absolute. Even when the Holy Scriptures admonishes children to obey their parents, it states “…in union with the Lord” or within what is acceptable to the Lord.
Obedience, even to parents, is not absolute. Granted, our parents are the core of our lives. Our God-fearing parents have our best interest at heart. So obedience to such parents would always protect the children and their lives.
However, for parents who set out on a mission that is displeasing to God and men, disobedience to such parents actually would safeguard the children. The children would not have offended God by disobeying their parents but would have in actual fact pleased God by such rightful disobedience.
It is equally not disrespectful for children to shout at, insult and report an adult, even if it is the parent, who tries to sexually abuse them. When a parent or any adult for that matter leaves a path of honour, the child does no wrong in disobeying their direction.
God has given father and mother authority within the family but such authority, as all human authority, has limits; it can never overrule God’s authority. Yes, children are to obey their parents “in union with the Lord”, that is, in all things that do not conflict with God’s laws.
God equally says “honour your father and your mother which is the first command with a promise: that it may go well with you and you may live a long time on earth.” However, there is a distinction between ‘to obey’ and ‘to honour’. To obey is to do as you are told. This is relative.
To honour involves much more than obeying. It involves appreciation of our parents; showing that we are thankful for all they have done for us, and for their good guidance which we value well. We equally honour our parents when we respect them. We show this respect by what we say to them, and by the way we say them. We can honour our parents by avoiding disrespectful speeches and actions. The Holy Book teaches us that speaking abusively of one’s father and mother is a serious offence before God. In showing honour to our parents, we provide for them, assist them and give them support especially when they are old. In showing honour to our aged parents we do our best to make sure that they have what they need.
All in all, it is vital that we teach our children obedience. However, we must teach them a balanced view of obedience as so far discussed. Should a child obey an adult? Yes. Is it in all circumstances? No! A child must not always obey an adult. A child must be taught that he or she does not need to obey any adult that tells him to do what is wrong.
Please teach your children that should anyone including mom and dad ask them to do what is bad, and what God says is bad, they should never obey that person.
Let us keep identifying ways by which we can reduce child sexual abuse within our space.