Recently I had a conversation with two Christian ministers in a relatively small country town with a population less than 6,000 residents. They were very friendly fellows and I have nothing against them personally, but after finding out that they were talking to an Atheist they started down that old path of questioning my morals, and with the absence of God and Jesus in my life, where did I get my morals from?
I didn’t really want to get into any debate because I’m over it most of the time, but they kept at it it during our conversation (full points to them for trying their best to convert me) and so I had to, well, defend my position because there’s always something in that whole “I believe in God and the Bible so my morals are much better than yours” argument that I take personally. Maybe personally is not the right word because the topic is that of child abuse.
I need you to know that my opinion about child molestation does not come from me ever being a victim of it. Furthermore, I was not subjected to beatings or verbal abuse at the hands of my parents.
So I threw this line at the gentlemen who were questioning my moral fibre;
“When you guys go off to Christianity school to learn to be a priest, or minister or brother or whatever, I would have thought that the first thing they would have taught you is that child abuse is wrong. I mean for an organisation that is supposed to be about teaching people right from wrong, surely all those Catholic Priests who are guilty of molesting children must have missed that class…”
They agreed with me that it is a problem within many denominations of the Christian Faith. And then one of them came back with what I thought was quite a sickening question to ask;
“So how do YOU know that child abuse is wrong?”
Wow. Really? That’s how you want to play this? That thought crossed my mind but the words didn’t fall from my tongue. But without any hesitation I replied;
“Well for me, it’s simply a case of ‘do unto others as you would have done to you’.”
And I was happy with that response even when one of them came back to me laughing;
“So now you’re throwing Bible verses back at us…”
I know they knew I am a good person. And I am not accusing them of anything untoward because they truly seemed like nice guys who DO believe in the good morals that they are taught in their Bible. And really, they are just towing the party line with their hopes of converting a non-believer. And as they didn’t knock on my door but I was inside one of their churches (I was there for a baptism), it’s only fair that they get to play by their rules with their home-ground advantage.
And I’ll give them this; with all the no-goodniks that many small country towns seem to have living in them, if these guys do get someone to learn some morals and go on the straight-and-narrow rather than being a menace to society, then I have no problem with that.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately and I have had this discussion in a few Facebook groups or online forums over the years and I thought that I would put it down here in my blog so that it’s in public view. I’m pretty sure without going back and reading through all of my 146 previous posts that I have mentioned at least once that movies and songs have more than an impact for a short period of time on me.
What I mean is, you know when you watch something like Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Philadelphia, Pay It Forward or To Kill a Mockingbird and you walk out of the cinema or get off your couch at the end and think “I’m inspired and I want to change the world?” Well movies like those that reach out to you and tell you that your homophobic views should be changed, your racist views are pathetic, and that every man, woman and child on this earth IS created equal have over the years made me view this world differently and have had that positive effect on my life.
And even more so, songs have taught me good morals as well. As I mentioned in my blog post from July 2013 called How Listening to Heavy Metal Makes Me a Better Father, many of the bands that I listen to have songs about child abuse, and having read interviews with the writers of those songs who have personally been molested or have a close family member who has been, and hearing the negative impact that’s had on them, well I know that I don’t want that for my kids, nor anyone else’s child.
I touched briefly on a few bands in that post, but I thought I would share a list of songs about child abuse for you to check out.
7. Runaway Train – Soul Asylum – Album: Grave Dancers Union (1993)
I always knew that this song was about runaway children, but it wasn’t until I was much older than the youthful 19 years of age that I was back when this came out that I worked out that this was about runaways who were escaping from years of abuse rather than just being juvenile delinquents and no-good-doers.
6. Daddy – Korn – Album: Korn (1994)
Not for every listener due to Korn’s excessive use of profanities and also them being considered one of the heaviest mainstream nu-metal bands, this song deals with the vocalist and lyricist Jonathan Davis’ own experience being abused by a family friend at the age of 12.
“When I was a kid, I was being abused by somebody else and I went to my parents and told them about it, and they thought I was lying and joking around. They never did shit about it. They didn’t believe it was happening to their son…. I don’t really like to talk about that song. This is as much as I’ve ever talked about it….” – Jonathan Davis
5. Prison Sex – Tool – Album: Undertow (1993)
I have mentioned before that Tool are my ultimate favourite band. When I first heard this song I took it literally and thought it was about sex within the prison system. But after I read a few interviews with Maynard James Keenan (Tool’s singer and lyricist) I found out that this is about child abuse.
Before a live performance of Prison Sex on November 29, 1996 in Montreal, QC, Keenan had this to say:
“This song is about recognizing, identifying, the cycle of abuse within yourself. That’s the first step of the process: realization; identifying. The next step is to work through it. But this song is about the first step in the process, which is recognizing.”
4. Janie’s Got A Gun – Aerosmith – Album: Pump (1989)
Although many songs that I know that are about the topic of child abuse, many are not mainstream songs, that is, released as singles and ranking high on music charts or on rotation on commercial radio stations. Aerosmith’s classic song is a tale of a daughter who ends up shooting her father who had sexually abused her. It went to number one in Australia and as high as the number two spot in Canada and the US Rock Charts.
3. Luka – Suzanne Vega – Album: Solitude Standing (1987)
Considered one of the first mainstream songs to deal with child abuse, this song tells the tale from the point of view of the child who is very much in denial. The song is a classic that is still played on many radio stations to this day.
2. Daughter – Pearl Jam – Album: Vs. (1993)
In his book Pearl Jam – The Illustrated Story, A Melody Maker Book published by Hal Leonard Corp in 1995, writer Allan Jones quotes vocalist and lyricist Eddie Vedder as saying;
“The child in that song obviously has a learning difficulty. And it’s only in the last few years that they’ve actually been able to diagnose these learning disabilities that before were looked at as misbehaviour, as just outright rebelliousness. But no one knew what it was. And these kids, because they seemed unable or reluctant to learn, they’d end up getting the shit beaten outta them. The song ends, you know, with this idea of the shades going down—so that the neighbours can’t see what happens next. What hurts about shit like that is that it ends up defining peoples’ lives. They have to live with that abuse for the rest of their lives. Good, creative people are just fucking destroyed.”
1. Skid Row – In A Darkened Room – Album: Slave To The Grind (1991)
This song is my “Lord’s Prayer” of songs about child abuse. It’s a song that since I heard it back in 1991 I have often had it stuck in my head. This song speaks to me about this topic more than any other because it paints a picture of the darkness of the subject like no other. If you listen to no other song on this list, I think you should listen to this one and even read the lyrics which you can check out clicking here.
Now I don’t know about you, but listening to the pain that you can clearly hear being portrayed in these songs is enough for me to know that child abuse, whether it be physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse or neglect is wrong; morally wrong and criminally wrong.
I guess though, it’s only fair to share some passages relating to child abuse from the Bible as a balance;
“Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you .”
And it wouldn’t surprise me if Jonathan Davis from Korn’s parents had just read this passage when they decided not to believe their son about him being abused from a family friend;
11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”
12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.
15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.
(2 Samuel 13:11-12, 14, 20
That’s right kids, if someone abuses you, especially if it it a family member, don’t take this thing to heart.