Last week in a ‘good Christian family’ a 13 year old boy named Tyler was murdered. By all accounts Tyler was sweet, obedient, and compliant young man. But apparently he was not perfect. Last week he made a mistake of some kind. Because of Tyler’s mistake, his father tied him to a tree overnight as punishment. In the morning he let him go but the next night he tied him up again with his step-mother’s full knowledge. Later that day Tyler was found unconscious and all efforts to revive him failed.
I am furious about what happened to Tyler. For the last few days the Bible verses Tyler’s parents must have used to justify his actions have played over and over in my head. There’s ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’. There’s ‘children obey your parents’. There’s the one about the father taking his rebellious son outside the village to be stoned for his disobedience in the name of God. I wonder if those verses played over and over in Tyler’s head as he was tied to that tree. I wonder when he realized his young life was slipping away. I wonder if and when he stopped believing that his dad was good.
I believe God too is furious about what happened to Tyler. When the Judeans killed their children in the name of religion God was furious enough to give His chosen people over to the hand of the uncircumcised Chaldeans. He said: “They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.” God did not command Tyler’s parents to tie him to that tree. It had not even entered God’s mind that they could do this horrible abomination. It was a sin beyond God’s imagination. A sin that demands justice. I want justice for Tyler.
May God give us all eyes to see. To stand in the gap for the Tylers in this world before it’s too late. This episode was far from a momentary lapse in judgement. Parents don’t suddenly decide to tie their children to trees. Abuse, like every other sin escalates as you feed it. The rush of power and sense of control abusers get from their crimes override rationality like any other drug. Reports are that Tyler’s dad was ‘scary’ and that he made people feel uncomfortable. If you as a grown man or woman feel afraid around someone, just try to imagine how a small child must feel when trapped with that person behind closed doors.
I’m planning to start a series of posts here cataloging the symptoms of child abuse and what you should do if you suspect it may be happening. It’s not justice for Tyler, that’s in God’s hands now.
*edited on 1/20/2009 to change ‘mother’ to ‘step-mother’*