I stand with James Dobson

Published 10:00 am Saturday, August 26, 2023

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I saw Carl in another city years later. He greeted me warmly. He was active in our former church, but left in a huff, or as the late, great Groucho Marx would say, “in a minute and a huff.”

The young man who taught youth on Sunday night asked me about using James Dobson’s “Preparing for Adolescence” as a curriculum for a few months. He said the book described the sex act in one paragraph, and then Dobson proceeded to write about God’s purpose and commands. I suggested we send a letter to parents telling them this and offering to discreetly provide an alternative if they wished.

A few weeks later Carl photocopied the paragraph in question, flashed it in the face of church leaders on Sunday morning and angrily said this is what our youth were studying. When I discovered this, I asked to come to his home and talk with him and his wife.

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I inquired about the letter he received, but he said he didn’t read it or lost it or he wasn’t sure what happened to it. I exhorted him that he misunderstood the church’s intention and that it was unwise to agitate the congregation. I tried to be sweet and kind and told him I wanted to go forward in Christian love.

Carl wasn’t satisfied.

“So, we’re not going to do anything about this?” he asked.

I surmised he wanted a scalp.

I then offered to host a meeting with him, the teacher and our deacon chair. He agreed to the meeting, but never showed up for it nor returned to our church.

This event was a failure because of two things. 

First, Paul explained that Christians must be gentle and not given to quarrels (2 Timothy 3:24). And this quarrel was based on a half-truth.

The captain wrote in his daily report that his “first mate was drunk today.” His first mate retaliated and wrote in his report, “Captain sober today.” Yes, the captain was sober, but the implication was that he wasn’t so on other days. Innuendo like this is the fuel for destructive gossip.

Yes, Dobson did explain in one paragraph what sex is. Of course, this was years ago before perversity was a click away. Today I’d ask, “Who do you want to explain sex to your teenagers—Dr. Dobson, or cable TV?”

I stand with Dr. Dobson.

The second failure was Carl and his wife weren’t given to “repentance and a return to the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25). The purpose of admonition is restoration, and it never happened in this case.

God’s will is that his people avoid “foolish disputes” (v. 23).

The work of ministry is harmed when we don’t.