11 February 2012

Some Thoughts on Guns and YouTube Scoldings as Parenting Tools

by Phil Johnson

Several of my FaceBook friends practically demanded to know what I thought of this week's most talked-about video, in which a man shoots his daughter's computer in cold blood. What follows is a slightly-expanded version of the reply I gave on FaceBook.

he video below went viral this week. I couldn't link to the unedited version because it had too much offensive language in it, so I didn't even Tweet a link to it. But people kept asking me to comment on it. So I bleeped the profanity and uploaded an otherwise-unedited version that's more suitable for prime time. It's definitely entertaining—and in a carnal way, deeply gratifying.

But I wouldn't commend this as a model for biblical parenting:

On the one hand, Hannah certainly deserved to lose her computer privileges for a very long time. In fact, I agreed completely with everything Hannah's father said in his lecture (sans expletives, of course). I fully understand and endorse his passion. I also appreciated the thoroughness of his reprimand, right down to his defense of "the cleaning lady." He made many excellent points that Hannah seriously needs to take to heart. The high point for me was when he pointed out that she had shown disrespect to every adult in her life. What she put on FaceBook was disgraceful, irresponsible, self-destructive, and so puerile that even a teenaged girl ought to be ashamed to have written it.

Furthermore, there's about a year's supply of feel-good value in seeing the life of Hannah's computer suddenly snuffed out by hollow-point bullets—thus ending her easy ability to violate the fifth Commandment so wantonly online.

On the other hand, I cannot endorse gun violence as an appropriate teaching tool for the father of a teenaged daughter. More importantly, I think he breached the sanctity of the father-daughter relationship in the very same way she did by delivering the rebuke so publicly. As much as I enjoyed seeing him plug that computer, and as good as it must have made him feel to show her up in front of her posse (and the rest of the FaceBook world), it would have been infinitely better—and a finer example to her—if he had delivered that admonition privately.

The first principle of biblical fathering is pretty straightforward: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). Deliberately embarassing a child in public is one of the most egregious ways of violating that principle. "The discipline and instruction of the Lord" is described in Hebrews 12:5-11. "He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness" (v. 10).

I fear Hannah's father has missed an opportunity to model that kind of discipline. For his sake and hers, I hope the net effect is not merely to make her more bitter against him.

If Hannah is wise, she'll listen carefully to what her father said anyway, and she will learn an important lesson. (Because there is a graduate-level course in post-adolescent wisdom wrapped up in what he said, regardless of how he said it.) Given the circumstances that led to Hannah's discipline in the first place, it may be too much to hope for such a grown-up response from her.

But let us nevertheless hope and pray that she takes her father's counsel to heart.

Phil's signature


Connie said...

The "Biblical counselor" in me pondered all that was 'wrong' with this video/matter. The parent in me gave a restrained cheer. I decided not to link to the video on my FB pretty much for the same concerns you have voiced here, so I know many will appreciate your willingness to share/post your thoughts.

JB said...

Do we know whether or not Hannah's father is a professing Christian? If he is, then I agree completely with the essence of this post. If not, then why should we believers hold him to a parental standard he's not aware exists?

Kyle said...

Deep down inside I know it was wrong for Dad to respond publicly... although my Dad-gene wants to hive-five him for doing so. I don't pretend to understand what led to Hannah's posting, but it is worrisome how far off track her relationship is with her parents. I doubt this video will help lift the circumstances that separate this family.

Chris Anderson said...

I agree that his response was ironic (he mirrored her public disrespect, gross sarcasm, foul language, and unrestrained anger). More likely, though, her initial offense mirrored his typical behavior and spirit. My thought throughout was that the video was positively explanatory--"So THAT'S how she got that way. THAT'S the kind of dad that raises that kind of daughter." That's sad for them. And it's sobering for leaders of any kind. What's the reference for the proverb that says "The apple doesn't fall from the tree"?

Janet Festa said...

Great to read your replies,having seen this, also. I agree with "apples don't fall far from the tree" with an obvious misrepresentation of Biblical parenting. However, so noted if not Christian he should not be held to Biblical standards. One mention overlooked is that this dad included disrespect toward her mom, and her step-mom. Cinderella, and her dad, might enjoy and truly benefit from the destruction of her electronic guardian. Praying, indeed.

Lauren said...

The father who posted the video has some interesting thoughts on his facebook page.

He never intended for it to go viral, and addresses why he did what he did. He and his daughter worked everything out and have had some teachable moments through the whole thing.

Also, I know that if I was embarrassed like that it would probably cause me to think about what I did, not make me angry. I'm not saying the way he went about it was right, but I think that it helped her think about her actions differently than she might have if she was confronted privately. Following his responses to comments and questions shows me that she was upset, but more because her computer was destroyed, not because of the public rebuke.

Anyway, he acknowledges he made mistakes in this (for example, his own use of curse words) but all in all, his daughter has been responsive to his rebuke.

Ken Brown said...

As a imperfect father of five kids - my hope is that I have appropriated God's grace and forgiveness early enough in my life that my kids are more a reflection of my spirit filled life than they are my fleshly life.

Oh but for the grace of God - that would be me squeezing off those rounds.

CGrim said...

John - just because people don't know a standard exists doesn't mean they're can't be measured by it.

Anyway, according to later posts from the guy, the daughter did apologize to some extent and she and the father read through some of the reactions to the video with her and they had a good laugh together. She remains grounded, though.

Apparently he had warned her beforehand that he would shoot the computer, so it wasn't something he did in the heat of the moment, but something he felt like he had to follow through on.

Posting it publicly on youtube was a heat-of-the-moment decision, on the other hand, and though he seems to recognize that it was unwise, once it went viral, he felt like he had to keep it up (or something).

F Whittenburg said...

I disagree with the "apple doesn't fall far from the tree" analogy applied accross the board to parents or to even this guy on rebellious children. I have heard many times people say that the preachers daughters are some of the worst sometimes.

I understand his position and actually thought that was a rather creative way to get his message accross. I have also raised a teenage daughter, who is now married to an evangelist / youth pastor and has three children of her own. She turned out great. I have been proud of her. But I can't take the credit for her outcome nor do I desire too.

I addressed the topic of rebellious children and constantly blaming the parents in a Bible study I did called "Marriage Explained: Till Death Do Us Part?" on my website christiannewbirth.


"I mainly wanted this study to be focused on the marriage union, but I just want to stop briefly and address the subject of rebellious children. They can be very destructive to a marriage if not handled properly. I have heard countless sermons about how parents are to blame if a child goes astray or is rebellious. I want to put in a word of support in for the parents. Even if parents do everything right, a child can be rebellious and go astray, because they inherited a sin nature and rebellious spirit from Adam, and the only cure for that is Jesus Christ, not better parenting." (Marriage Explained: Till Death Do Us Part?).

And yes I know about Proverbs 22:6 KJV. I will put salvation in Jesus Christ up against your best parenting skills any day for childrens correct development into adulthood.

F Whittenburg

donsands said...

Good word Phil. Well said.

"Our Lord is slow to anger toward us, and so we need to be slow as well.

Anger is good, but be angry and sin not.

That was a nice pistol. He could have used a 12 gauge, and one shell would have done the job big time. And a shotgun shell is a lot cheaper. Just sayin'.

Have a great evening and Sunday!

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I am glad you posted this article, Phil. You know what my comment was on FB; and it still bothers me that anyone would use a firearm of any sort to teach a "MORAL" lesson. The irony of this is just mind-boggling.

He shot nine rounds into this computer, a little excessive, I’d say. What if it hadn't stopped there? Who knows what the potential for damage could have been?

Also, this child seems to be very, very, spoiled. That only happens when a parent gives little Johnny, or little Mary everything they want. I have witnessed spoiled children first hand, and each and every time, without exception, it is because the parents cater to their children’s every whimper. It creates children who put constant demands on the parents, who grow up having that sense of entitlement, and not to mention, children who end up lacking respect for those less fortunate.

This by NO MEANS excuses the girl for her actions. She should be punished for her wrongdoing. But for heavens sake, put the gun out of reach of the ADULTS!!! This is no way for an adult to take out his or her frustrations, while at the same time try to teach a moral lesson. Does NOT compute!

I value your opinion on this very much! Thanks!

Aaron said...

I kinda thought shooting the laptop with a handgun was somewhat anti-climatic.

"pay you. Seriously?"

That was my favorite line. He should have said..."I'll pay you when you pay rent."

rosemarie said...

Sigh. Phil do you think you could write my blog for me? I mean, you said what I wanted to say but I never got around to saying it. I am not ready to kick Mr. Jordan or his daughter under the bus. I probably wouldn't have 5x'd the laptop, but I so understood why he did it. At the very least she'd have given a factory defaults restored laptop to a charity. And if I may comment to John, God's standards are the same, saved or unsaved. While I agree we shouldn't be surprised when an unbeliever acts in an unbiblical manner, there are no secondary set of standards for the unsaved.

Keith said...

This whole situation came into focus for me when he mentioned her mother and step-mother as though both were alive. This father failed his daughter when he failed to keep his marriage together and then compounded his sin by marrying another woman. I don't mean to say that this excuses the daughter, but it explained it all for me.

You can't wreck your family and then pretend your kids should be normal.

Phil Johnson said...

Yes, the notion that unbelievers get a different standard to live by mystifies me. God Himself clearly doesn't downgrade the standards just because someone is an unbeliever. Cf. Deuteronomy 18:12.

If I understand correctly, however, the dad in the above video is at least a professing Christian.

I'm hesitant to be overly critical of him. My kids will all tell you I've blown my opportunity to respond to them in a Christlike way on more than one occasion. Thankfully, none of my parental tirades ever went viral on YouTube.

Tim Souther said...

Phil's post was right on. I'm not as down on the execution of the laptop though.
For those like John, who said, "why should we believers hold him to a parental standard he's not aware exists?, I agree. However, I don't think Phil was doing that. He's responding to believer who wanted his insight. It didn't really seem to be aimed at the father but to believers. I know it helped me to gain a better perspective of the incident.

grusy3 said...

OK, I agree with Phil there is no different standard for someone who doesn't profess Christ. Romans 2 says we have a conscience that bears witness. Also I would hope you would never use that argument with "thou shall not kill" or "thou shall not commit adultery" ect.

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Anonymous said...

Only in America!!!!

Chris Hart said...

The real disturbing part of all this is when Christians start getting queasy at the sight of a gun. Calm down. A man shooting at a laptop computer with his handgun is violence? Are you serious? Excessive? Mary are you implying that a gun in the hands of a person causes a negative mental/emotional change? If he ran over the laptop in his pick-up would he want to drive around running people over afterwards?

I spend a lot of time with my children, starting at the age of 7, in the hobby/education of firearms. This hobby is a valuble investment in my children. Please do not use the “guns are evil” argument here.

A better way this could have gone down would be to have his daughter out there with him. “okay sweeheart, for your punishment we are going to stand your laptop upright and you are going to take this 20 gauge shotgun and blow a hole in it, and then tomorrow I’m going to take you out and we’ll go bird hunting together. Now that was fun wasn’t it?”

candy said...

the way this dad might fail is if he feels guilty afterwards and buys her another computer, or if he decides to not have her pay him back.

He could have also put the computer away, and told her to feel free to use it again after she earns it back. She can pay what she owes by good solid extra work, and by earning their respect. No more FB also. I wonder if she has a phone that has all of that on it. Take the phone away too until she talks respectively. That is a biggie. Teen girls hate having their phone taken away. Take it away long enough to hurt.

Tom Chantry said...

You know, the gun thing really doesn't bug me either. I've lived in different parts of this country, and the culture varies so much that the message sent by popping the computer with a .45 is different depending on who/where you are. No violation of the 6th commandment here.

What bugs me deeply is Phil's observation, "he breached the sanctity of the father-daughter relationship in the very same way she did by delivering the rebuke so publicly. "

Turning away from this guy for a moment, my personal observation is this. My kids are 6 and under, but they embarrass me all the time. I can only imagine how they'll embarrass me when they're teenagers with FaceBook accounts. The fleshly temptation to which I sometimes succumb even now is to rebuke them loudly enough as to convince everyone what a good tough father I am - thus ameliorating my own embarrassment. I'm pretty sure that's exactly what went through that dad's head. So, yeah, I can so very much see myself rebuking one of them in a FaceBook video, and that would be returning evil for evil. In fact, admonishing my kids in a way intended to save my own face is already returning evil for evil, even if they are too young and emotionally underdeveloped to perceive it that way.

So I'm grateful for the video, in a way, even though I agree it should never have been posted. I wish the father and daughter well, but in the meantime it's good, if painful, to see sinful tendencies demonstrated in a dramatic fashion - a good chance to tell myself, "Hey! Look at that! Don't go there!"

candy said...

I think one reason that so many people applauded the video is that at least the dad did SOMEthing. Too bad it was more sensational and not as practical of a consequence.

Too often I see the following scenario:

Stop it. I said STOP it! I MEAN it! If you don't stop, I am going to count to three! ONE!.....TWOOOO!!....I MEAN it! Didn't you HEAR me! You are driving me crazy! Ok...you're really going to get it! I am going to count to three for real this time! ONE!...

Jeena said...

I find the bible is pretty clear on what the father should have done instead (Deuteronomy 21:18-21):

"18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death."

How could he possibly misunderstand that`

donsands said...

That's a good Scripture verse Jeena, but has nothing to do with this father.

A good truth for us, the Church to try and understand.
God's Word is true and right and good, even when it is difficult for us to grasp.

Thanks for sharing that. made me think a bit.

Now I shall go and worship the God who gave us those words, and the whole Holy Bible, which is His truth; which is able to edify us and encourage us, and convict us as well.

Jeena said...

@donsands, "but has nothing to do with this father" - how so? Isn't that exactly the thing she did to this father? Disrespecting her parents, rebelling and being stubborn?

donsands said...

"Isn't that exactly the thing she did to this father?"

I don't think she was a "glutton and a drunkard".

The rebellious son is also a child in Israel, a nation chosen by God and set apart, as God destroyed many other nations, and gave them prophets and kings to lead them under His sovereign rule.

This is an OT law that we need to look at a bit deeper my friend.

Phil Johnson said...

Chris Hart: " A man shooting at a laptop computer with his handgun is violence? Are you serious?"

violence |ˈvī(ə)ləns| n.
behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

gun |gən| n.
a weapon incorporating a metal tube from which bullets, shells, or other missiles are propelled by explosive force, typically making a characteristic loud, sharp noise.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

@ Chris Hart,

We live in a dumb downed society, sad to say, that just does not think any more. This, unfortunately, makes it too convenient for people to pick up a gun to solve their problems, instead of thinking things through rationally. And I am not trying to make a case for owing a gun or not owning a gun, Chris. I owned one myself at one time. Almost immediately after 911 I bought a gun from Bass Pro Shops. So the squeamishness you propose, simply does not fit my situation.

My argument is that "no one" should pick up a gun when they’re upset. Clearly this man was upset! People have been known to break with reality when they’re upset, and we never know for sure who those people will be.

This man had grounded his daughter before in the past; and obviously it did not produce the results he was hoping for, as he was still harboring past resentment/anger towards her. This is why he used a gun to make such a dramatic statement, and help demonstrate his utter intolerance for her lack of respect.

Guns typically demonstrate (unless I’m totally clueless on this matter) people’s angst, hatred, frustration, and intolerance. If you’re already teetering on the edge with pent up, unresolved anger, it should be abundantly clear that the last thing you should be doing is reaching for a gun. I don’t know too many people who use guns when they’re feverishly HAPPY, but have read about many who use guns when they’re upset and angry.

But the fact that a gun was used to alleviate his resentment/anger/frustrations/angst, I think is highly problematic, and very suggestive of a complete failure to think problems through rationally. Not to mention that the situation had reached a point where words/talking/discipline UTTERLY FAILED to resolve a critical problem. This is why it is so dangerous. It’s just so indicative of a total breakdown in rational thought to problem solving. This is so wrong, my friend! Frustration and guns never make for good company!

yankeegospelgirl said...

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the fact that this guy could get in serious trouble with the government (even though I'm rooting for him with everyone else). It's a good thing for him the daughter responded somewhat teachably, 'cuz she could have contacted child services and tried to sic the dogs on him. "I'm afraid of my father. Look at this video. He's violent. He disturbs me." Seriously, that's an entirely plausible scenario these days. Scary but true.

donsands said...

"Guns typically demonstrate (unless I’m totally clueless on this matter) people’s angst, hatred, frustration, and intolerance."-Mary

Not all the time. I loved shooting my shotgun. Lots of humters like to shoot skeet. It's a happy thing.

Guns are not the problem. It's just a gun.

You know I used to have two video clips from Youtube,-one from 'Shane, and another from 'Witness'-, that were short clips that showed how guns are good. And both of these clips have been deleted . One by Paramount, and the other by Turner.
Weird isn't it.
People don't like to tell people guns are good.

Tom Chantry said...

It would be so easy to derail this very good thread about parenting into a pro/con discussion of gun control.

So easy.

But so wrong.

Phil's actual points were of such value. So your kids are behaving abominably and are in need of reproof. Will you think about the impact of how you deliver that reproof, and will you make certain to demonstrate love and sacrifice - even in your discipline? Or will you give in to the fleshly desire to reprove in such a way as serves only your own momentary interests?

Good stuff - and stuff on which both the gun-toting cowboy Christian from Laredo and the latte-sipping yuppie Christian from Bridgeport can both profitably reflect.

Tom Chantry said...

I know. I said "both" an extra time in that comment. But I'm not re-typing, because I'm a Sabbatarian.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

@ donsands,

I used to skeet shoot to, Don, right out of high school. I really enjoyed it, but I was referring to people who use guns when they are angry. :)

CGrim said...

I actually wasnt all that shocked by the actual shooting-the-computer thing itself. But that may be because we used to do that sort of stuff all the time in college. (Taking old electronics out a nearby quarry and shooting them, shooting little Coleman propane tanks from a distance, etc)

sumbibazo said...

"More importantly, I think he breached the sanctity of the father-daughter relationship in the very same way she did by delivering the rebuke so publicly."

This is what bothered me watching the video. I was cringing just like I did when a pastor's wife shared unflattering details about her husband in a woman's Bible Study trying to illustrate how we are to respond Biblically as wives. hmm.

Not saying to be a hypocrite, but there's no reason to hang the dirty laundry outside for all to see.

Signing off...

A feverishly happy, city dwelling, recreational target shooting wife, who is intolerant of snakes in trees and ground hogs at the country place, who uses her gun to show violence to old hard drives, and has many family members who are feverishly happy gun owners filling their freezers by hunting 'cause it feeds their families.

oh and ...

By definition violence could be a man fishing with a pole or a carpenter renovating with a hammer.

violence |ˈvī(ə)ləns| n.
behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

I'm not that far along in my experience as a parent (our firstborn will be 10 this Friday), and I can relate to Tom's comments about public embarassment. Instead of telling them that they are embarrassing me (even though they might be doing that), I try to let my kids know when they are embarrassing themselves . Some kids need to learn to be more circumspect and learn when they should be embarrassed and ashamed. (Hannah would have benefited from remembering such a lesson before clicking "publish.")

But rather than use it as an opportunity to save our own pride and dignity, we might (by God's grace) be more like the father of the prodigal son, who took that humiliation upon himself in order to restore the relationship. There is nothing Hannah could do to undo what she did online, but she could publicly denounce her actions and words and ask for forgiveness. Her father could have administered justice to the laptop without the public display, but instead he may regret some of his words and actions and may need to do the same.

And yes, we all blow it sometimes and need to repent and ask for forgiveness. Our kids might benefit from seeing how it's done. I hope Hannah and her dad are able to do that as well.

donsands said...

"So easy.

But so wrong."-Tom the Sabbath guy

You're right as rain. Rabbit paths are something I have to watch. Lo siento mi amigo.

Mary Beth, sorry I missed your point sister. Have a great week in our Savior's love and Spirit.

Robert said...


And yes, we all blow it sometimes and need to repent and ask for forgiveness. Our kids might benefit from seeing how it's done.

That is exactly what parents need to focus on. We try to do this with our kids and I've apologized to them many times. They always forgive me...same as we do after disciplining them when they apologize. That is one of the best opportunutities that a parent will ever have to present the Gospel to their children.

John Taylor said...

@Chris Hart.....I could not have said it any better. I totally agree with your comments. To bring the guns are evil argument here is just wrong. Just becasue the man shot a laptop computer does not mean he is going to lose his mind and start shooting people.

Grace and Peace,


Wilesfiles said...

While I inwardly said "yeah!" when I saw this video, I decided I would not repost it, because I don't think the dad approached this in a Gospel-Centered way.

Andrew Lindsey said...

If the sin was public, must the rebuke be private?

Chris Hart said...

The father displayed complete control and was nowhere near an emotional state of concern. I appreciate the symbolism in the video. The laptop is the pen, the gun is the sword. The daughter wrote this on some costly parchment paper provided by her father and posted it on a building in the public square. The father hears of this public display of tarnishing his name, retrieved his sword, bumped his way through the crowd and grabbed the paper to slice it down the middle. As he walks away, the crowd is shaking their heads, "such violence". My quarrel is with the degradation and feminization of the character of man. The only reason this video went viral is because the handgun. If he had simply thrown the laptop in the dumpster nobody would have hit the FWD key. We gasp at man’s aggression, at a man taking action. Society wants all men to be passive, T.V. remote in hand, doped up on Ritalin. Society would prefer this man to say ahh let the stepmother handle it. We can dig deep in our Bibles and analyze all of the better actions this father could have taken. I’m glad he took action and his daughter knows he means business. The pen is mightier than the sword. I am not comfortable with my teenage sons alone with a laptop yet, however I have full confidence in them with an assault rifle anywhere. Which weapon is more violent and splitting families like a scatter gun? a laptop or a handgun? He left his daughter alone with a laptop?? Blessings to all.

Aaron said...


Good call.


Jim Pemberton said...

Chris Hart, re: "pen and sword": very good. I don't see the pen any different than the tongue with regard to the Biblical admonitions to control it.

Violence to an object is different than violence to a person. Did Jesus respond sinfully when He overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple? I would say that was a godly and manly thing to do.

Did this man handle the situation well? I don't think I would have to have posted a video with all the ungodly things on it. The whole cussing thing reminds me of Ralphie from A Christmas Story dropping the F-bomb on his dad - the same one he learned it from. Our children inherit their sin nature from Adam through us, but we too often also teach them how to use it.

It's a godly man who can teach them how to repent of it.

Stuart Brogden said...

It is obvious from the video that the father has missed most of his opportunities and responsibilities to teach his daughter when she was 1 - 13 years old. The behaviors she exhibited do not sprout over night. His frustration is understandable, his actions not so good. Even if vicariously enjoyable.

Juggle for Jesus said...

I'm not sure anything needed to be said here, should Christians comment on everything that happens in the World ?

DJP said...

Because a bad child ALWAYS means a bad father, right?

Like with Adam?


DJP said...

Juggle - no.

Although those who comment on a particular post on a particular blog should comment thoughtfully on the contents of that post.

They also should read the comments that precede theirs — like, for instance, this one.

Anonymous said...

As a father of 4 daughters,all grown.and 11 grandchildren,3 GGchildren.I agree with you phil.I have taken similar action as far as "overkill" in disciple. But you are absolutely right. Can you Imagine Jesus making a youtube of the encounter with the woman at the well.?