Posted by: ramonamom | May 12, 2008

Actions Beyond Their Control? Part 3

This is the third post in which we attempt to answer the question, “Can a child with a possible neurological condition not be in control of their own sinful behavior?”  This question has been asked by a friend whom we have known for a number of years.  They have many adopted children, all adopted when the children were “older”, and they have worked hard to raise them all in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  However, they have one child who has not responded to the same discipline methods as the others and this child is causing significant turmoil in the home.  There are many other families with similar struggles, or perhaps families who struggle with their one older adopted child and have assumed those challenges are due to the age at which their child was adopted or some disorder the child has been labeled with.  Even parents with no adopted children often wonder if particular sinful behaviors could be attributed to one “psychiatric disorder” or another which their child may have.  The tendency to want to blame something other than your child for such behaviors is great.  What does God’s Word say about a person’s behavior, though?  God is very specific in His word when it comes to spelling out what are sinful behaviors and what are godly ones:

Galations 5:19-21  Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galations 5:22-23  But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law. 

What examples are there in scripture of parents who were challenged by the behavior of their children?  See Samuel 2:22-25 for the story of Eli and his two sons.  They were sinning greatly and Eli did nothing to stop them, other than a verbal reprimand.  Both sons died on the same day, as a direct result of those sinful ways. 

Are there any examples of someone with a difficult past in the Bible?  Joseph would certainly qualify for that role!  He was sold into slavery by his brothers, but yet when he was presented with the opportunity, he did not retaliate against them.  Without a doubt, he would be labeled with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome today and any sinful actions carried out (see above for examples such as strife, outbursts of anger, jealousy, etc) would be forgiven him because of his past experiences.  Those are not God’s standards, though. 

Think of a time in your own life when your mental capabilities were compromised.  I am sure we have all had situations where we were so tired we could hardly put one foot in front of the other, much less think clearly.  Or, perhaps there has been a time when you were recovering from surgery and taking pain medication which made you “loopy”.  If one of your children came to you at that point and you slugged them square in the face out of frustration or pain, would it be the pain medication or the source of your fatigue that your child would thereafter fear?  Just like the persons in the past who may have abused our adopted children, we are responsible for our own sinful actions.  Even the drug industry must realize that, as there are no warnings on medicine bottles such as, “Warning!  Do not argue while taking this medication!  Out of control rages may occur!”

Ed Welch’s third principle in his discussion of mind-body practical applications (Blame It on the Brain) is that problems with the brain or body can expose what is already in our hearts.  Rather than causing the sin, the source of your fatigue and the pain medication exposed your sinful tendencies in the example above, and your child is no different.  The neurological conditions which we are dealing with in adoptive situations are usually ones which are not medically diagnosed but rather they are a collection of specific (sinful) behaviors which a child exhibits.  Certainly they are much more prone to these particular actions because of their past, but through the saving grace of Christ Jesus they can choose to “put off” those old habits and “put on” new, godly ones. 

I hope to address specific issues which older adopted children face, such as FAS and RAD in separate posts later, but for now I will draw this series to a close.  Feel free to ask questions regarding this subject and the authors will do their best to answer them from a biblical perspective in future posts. 

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