Each day at the American Family Association begins with a devotional by a staff member for the purpose of getting our hearts settled and our minds prepared to do God’s work. Some devotions can have a powerful spiritual context, and some take on a more humorous tone to get the message across. We recently enjoyed one of the latter.
The young mother who shared told about another mom’s experience with a Christmas pageant. Her young children had played various roles from Mary to the shepherds to the wise men. As you can well imagine, her tale was full of hilarious anecdotes produced by the children. One that particularly brought a chuckle was when one of her children who portrayed a wise man entered the stage. He quickly took his place at the manger and loudly proclaimed, “We bring gifts for the Christ child in the form of gold, common sense and fur!”
I love hearing and seeing children in such plays and pageants because of the innocence they share with the Christ child. However, as is often the case something the child said in his performance really hit home with me. The words he used in lieu of frankincense were funny as he delivered them, but we sure could use a dose of “common sense” in our world today.
Take, for instance, the story of the young man out of Texas who was put on probation for ten years instead of jail time for vehicular homicide. He was sixteen years old in 2013 when he crashed into another vehicle leaving four dead. His blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit at the time of the accident. At his trial a psychiatrist testified that he was suffering from “Affluenza.” The doctor was asserting that the young man had been given any and everything all his life, and had never been forced to accept responsibility for his actions. His parents were affluent, and never really had taught him the consequences of his actions. Therefore, (according to his defense) he should not be held fully responsible for taking the lives of four other people.
The judge took the doctor’s diagnosis into account when he levied his verdict. He put him on court ordered probation as opposed to incarceration. The follow up to the story is that the young lad and his mother have apparently fled the country fearing he was to be arrested. It seems a YouTube video had surfaced showing the son at a party where he was drinking and presumably intoxicated which is a direct violation of his probation. Now, with his disappearance, he is being listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Several other national and local law enforcement agencies have him as a fugitive from justice. He is now eighteen years of age. When found he will likely suffer the maximum that the law allows for his crimes.
If a good dose of common sense had been brought into this mix from early on much of this tragedy could have been avoided. First, how do parents get the idea that affluence somehow gives them and their offspring a pass in life? What a disservice to our children if we do not hold them accountable for their actions beginning at a very young age. The sin nature we are all born with must be dealt with early in order for us to learn to successfully rebuff Satan as we grow into adulthood. Parents cannot excuse away a child’s behavior and expect that he/she will ever be able to stand on their own two feet spiritually or any other way. “Buying” their child out of a situation where he caused the deaths of others is showing the child that with the right power, influence, and money one does not have to pay for one’s actions.
What about applying common sense to the psychiatric profession instead of allowing so called “experts” in the field of human behavior to introduce something as absurd as “affluenza” as a real diagnosis. I really tire of a profession that comes up with excuses for bad behavior instead of identifying it for what it is…sin!
I really get disgusted with hearing those lamenting “It’s not your fault” for everything from alcoholism, to homosexuality, to murder. According to many of these “experts” nothing is one’s fault because we are victims of our surroundings or some other outside influence. Accountability is a word that has been ignored and forgotten. Let me end my tirade by stating that not all practitioners in the field of psychiatry are guilty of not holding an individual accountable. There are many psychiatrists that do very good work. In fact, it is important to note that “Affluenza” is not a universally accepted diagnosis within the field.
And what about the judge and common sense? I’m not a jurist. I do not have a degree to practice law. I may have missed something in the court proceedings that weighed heavily in the judge’s decision. However, in the desire for justice and to teach this teenager that bad behavior brings about consequences I cannot understand his verdict. It sure seems with what has happened now one has the right to ask, “How’s that decision of yours working out?”
In the end, my prayer is that this family will come to its senses and accept Jesus as Christ and Lord. Then, He will show them the way they should go. This is first and foremost a case where we have parents, child, doctor, and judge who are leaning on the world for understanding instead of the overpowering common sense found in God’s Word and a relationship with Him. Let’s agree to pray for reconciliation and regeneration in Christ for this family.