the sin of shyness and other thoughts from Voddie Baucham

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  1. Granddad says

    I could not finish listening to this! The very thought that he was going to say the shyness was a sin was too much. I didn’t want to actually hear the words.

    My daughter recounted on her blog early last year that her husband had to come home and spend a couple of hours disciplining their daughter (I think she was 6 at the time). . .and this included multiple spankings. (She stopped blogging a couple of months ago.) I found numerous references to this episode on non-Christian blogs and the comments were pretty ugly. And where did this all come from? Voddie Baucham!

    Whatever else Rev. Baucham teaches (and he does teach some really good stuff) the kind of outrageous nonsense he espouses here tarnishes the good irreparably. The combination of VF and Rev. Baucham is what prompted me to to write my article on VF’s Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy

    Folks, you and I may disagree on a few things here, but I can assure you that I find this utterly reprehensible. And I feel quite confident in saying that the majority of my Calvinistic brethren (Reformed & Presbyterian) feel the same.

  2. Jerzy says

    If he’s going to stand there and make my child do what I said, he’s going to be standing there for a very long time!
    Jesus never stood there until people did what He said.
    I weep for the children who fall under this kind of parenting.
    What a merciless piece of advice. If you’re a parent, throw it out!

  3. Pressing On says

    Whoa. That was upsetting. So much for seeking the heart of your child, and working with them towards reasonable, age-appropriate behaviors. One of mine was indeed a tough-minded little preschooler, but he was also so tender-hearted that being after him all day would have been a disaster.

  4. Kris says

    This was upsetting. So he is saying that an introvert who is typically shy, the wiring God gave them, is a sin? I have been that type of person all my life although as I’ve gotten older have come out of that some. Yes, kids need to be polite, but you don’t punish them, teach them and shyness is not a sin! This is misguided advice! The spanking often thing does not work either, it makes kids more angry. As they get older spankings are not always needed. Natural and painful consequences often take their course. But this kind of discipline is nuts….

  5. says

    I actually have liked quite a few of the things that Voddie has taught on. However, I don’t think that my children needed numerous spankings, everyday, for the majority of their lives. There were a few days where we might have hit the “5 spankings before breakfast”, but spanking is not the only form of discipline. It might be necessary at times, but even Jesus dealt with each person in the best way for their sin or personality. Maybe we should learn from that and do the same.

    I will say on the shyness that I think the sin is the idea that it’s OK to be rude to people. I’ve had extroverted and introverted children in my family. Those that naturally gravitated toward people were still taught manners. Being out going DOES NOT mean you know how to be polite and hospitable. By the same token, being an introvert DOES NOT mean it is OK to be rude and ignore people if they say hello to you. I’ve seen so many young parents allow their children to be rude in the name of shyness. I might not go so far as saying shyness is a sin, and I wouldn’t agree with spanking them until they said “hello”. However, I will say that one of the requirements of an elder is that they show hospitality. If that’s a requirement for an elder, then doesn’t it behoove us as parents to use that standard for raising our own children? They can learn to at least put their hand out, shake it, and say “hello” to someone rather than getting their own way and ignoring the individual. Shyness and introverted should not be disguised as being rude. The funny thing is, after working for several years on my most shy child she has now become our most outgoing. Let’s remember that we are all ambassadors for Christ – hospitality is the way to open doors of opportunity.

  6. says


    I don’t even know where to begin.

    As the mother of a highly sensitive child who HATES shaking hands with strange people on demand, I’m going to have to write my own post about this one. I hope you don’t mind that I use the same video, Karen.

    I was just reading this morning from the start of “The Highly Sensitive Child” and wow. I pity any sensitive child whose parents listen to this advice. If we had followed his advice with Caroline, our family relationships would have been RUINED. DESTROYED.

  7. Susan T says

    Prairie Momma –

    I would say that part of showing hospitality is having good manners and good manners are a way of showing other people we care about them and I would not expect a child to instantly be good at this with every stranger they meet. And certainly if good manners are a way of making other people comfortable, we can start with our children and make them comfortable as an example of how to do this…they tend to mirror our actions. And back to the “stranger” thing… I was always thankful my children were reserved around strangers – I figured that they couldn’t easily be taken in by strangers in other settings or when I wasn’t around.

    No – just because something is required of an elder doesn’t mean it’s required of the rest of us. Elders are called and set apart. Not everyone is an elder or deacon or teacher, etc….

    Here is an address for link I saw this morning about shy children/child development…

  8. says

    Sallie, please post a link to your article here when you have written it! I think this is a really important topic.

  9. says

    It is bad enough that the Church seems to insist on leaders all being extroverts. To equate introversion (at a YOUNG age, no less) with ungodliness is just cruel. I am introverted, although I am a reasonably friendly guy. This approach, had it been tried on the young me, would have been a complete disaster. Nothing like upping the anxiety level, and associating interaction with strangers with punishment to make the problem worse. Baucham seems to completely lack any ability to empathize with those who are not, like him, a strong extrovert.

  10. says

    Oh, and “You need to pay more attention to me than I pay to you” is the sort of thing an immature, life-sucking version of an extrovert says to the introverts around him. No, Voddie, the world does not revolve around you, and people do not exist to feed your need to be the center of attention. Not even your kids.

  11. Adam says

    If I may, I don’t think that Voddie is equating shyness with sin, per se. His main complaint about the shy child in the scenario that he gave is that he is disobeying his parents. His parents tell him to say hello to Dr. Baucham, and he runs and hides behind his parent’s leg.

    What is going on here is a phenomenon I have called “solus pater” [the father alone] as opposed to “sola scriptura” [scripture alone]. The Christian Patriarchy movement, because of their oversimplifications of scripture, has taken statements about the authority of parents, and not understood them in the context of the entire value system of scripture, and unintentionally forced the child into a position of idolatry. That can be most clearly seen in Voddie’s statement that the child’s world revolves around the parent. That statement is the clearest example of solus pater.

    For example, let us take Voddie’s argument that the shy child is being disobedient to his parents, and thus breaking the fifth commandment. The fifth commandment must be understood in the context of the first four commandments, which set up God as the ultimate authority over all. Hence, when the parent tells the child to contradict what God has said, and that parent seeks to make himself what the child’s world revolves around, he has forced his child to break the first commandment, and has done so by accusing him of breaking the fifth commandment. Even Paul, when he gives the command for children to obey their parents, says that they must do so “in the Lord.” However, this does not mean simply that the parent can force the child to do anything he wants, so long as it doesn’t contradict any of the commands of scripture. If the parent commands something that is contrary to the entire *value system* of scripture itself, then he is forcing the child to commit idolatry.

    Let us use another example. Let us say that a child is bothering his parent, and the parent tells him to go outside. However, the child just stays there, and doesn’t listen. The father tells him again, and, again, the child doesn’t listen. Then, the father thinks that he must spank this child, so he walks over, goes to take the child over his knee, and while he is doing that, he looks up, and to his horror is a copperhead snake right at the doorway. Had that child listened to his father, and went outside, he would have been dead. Now, the child disobeyed his parent, but for good reason. He did so in order to obey the command to protect human life, which the Bible clearly views as more important than whether or not the parent is obeyed. This, of course, has interesting implications for marriage as well, especially when it comes to some of these teachings, such as militant fecundity, which can be threatening to the life of a woman. The authority of the father must be understood, not only in terms of the actual commands given in scripture, but the value systems given in scripture. When the father sets himself up over the value system found in scripture, even if he is not asking someone to contradict a black and white command, he has sinned.

    Let us return to Voddie Baucham’s scenario. There is one fact that struck me the moment I heard all of this, and that is that Voddie Baucham used to be a football player. He is a *huge* man physically, and he is *not* someone you would want to get in a fight with in a back ally. Do you not think that a little child might be the slightest bit afraid and intimidated in such a situation? And if he is afraid, do you not think he is obeying the Biblical command to protect his own well-being by hiding behind his parent’s leg? You see, if the rod were actually used for what it was supposed to be used for, in this situation, the child would need reassurance that everything was okay, and that no one was going to harm him. Such would be the kind of discipline and teaching he would need at that moment. However, recognizing such would mean thinking of what God has said first, and not making the child’s world revolve around you.

    We also have to deal with other problems as well such as autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. There are some children who may be highly intelligent, but may have certain neurological disorders, such as autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, which makes it hard for them to interact in social situations. In such a situation, the child is not being “disobedient” or “rebellious;” the child has a disorder, and that disorder makes him unable to comply with the command itself. In such a situation, spanking the child teaches them nothing, since the treatment for autism and Asperger’s is ongoing, and not something that can be cured by spanking a child once. It would be like a parent telling a child with schizophrenia to stop having hallucinations, and then spanking him when he doesn’t stop having those hallucinations. Such is utterly foolish, and does not recognize where the child needs to be taught, and how the child needs to be taught, again, completely ignoring the rod as a tool of discipline, not a tool to get the child to do what you want him to do.

  12. says

    Susan T, that was a great article by Dr. Sears. I especially appreciated his first three points. He also makes a great distinction when he talked about his own wife as being shy (introverted as well, it sounds like), but it’s obvious she was not rude. Voddie goes too far in demanding that a child will respond to him, and as I’ve met the man myself, he IS intimidating!! I do think that we are lacking in training our children to be polite – whether they are naturally shy or not – politeness can be trained like anything else – as Dr. Sears alludes to. It just takes practice and stretching.

    I also would not expect a child to be good or perfect at being hospitable when they first start out any more than I would expect a 6 year old to master algebraic equations. I also don’t think that our children should be expected to HAVE all the requirements of an elder, but I do think it’s a great list of traits and behaviors that we can aim for in training our children – whether or not they ever become elders (which our daughters never would anyway), but since GOD never said the elders were the only ones who should have those traits, we simply looked at those points as goals to work toward.

    I enjoyed your thoughts and the article link.

  13. Laura (old OR vintage) says

    American Christianity puts being an extrovert at the top of their “New List of Virtues”. This runs counter to the fact that we are all created with different personalities and gifts, and certainly runs counter to ancient, or orthodox, Christianity that placed great value on contemplation and quiet.

    Since joining a liturgical denomination, I have been refreshed by the renewed emphasis on a quieter reverence. I am an introvert (though not at all shy), and this is a good place for me. A more extroverted Christian might be more suited to the Evangelical , outgoing style.

    This is yet another example of how the more patriarchal, or fundamentalist, brothers and sisters in Christ are always trying to create new categories of “sin”, or “un-Biblical behavior”.

    I would HIGHLY recommend a book by a Presbyterian pastor named Adam McHugh called “Introverts in the Church”. It’s great stuff and really spells out the issue, which is a problem for lots of introverts in the church today. (I am not a Presbyterian, if you are curious 🙂

    Regarding a little kid hiding behind his/her parents leg, gee whiz. I think that has been done once or twice in human history! Maybe with all the weirdness happening in churches , we should be glad that they look to us for safety and not push them beyond what they can handle at a young age!

    Blessings to all!

  14. says

    This sort of stuff is an example of why I’m not pursuing a D.Min at Southern Baptist Seminary (90 minutes from my house), and am enrolling at Asbury Theological Seminary instead, even though I am a 4.5 point Calvinist.

  15. Anthea says

    Hello Karen

    Re Grandad’s comment:

    “Whatever else Rev. Baucham teaches (and he does teach some really good stuff) the kind of outrageous nonsense he espouses here tarnishes the good irreparably.”

    This reminded me of something which I wanted to ask you about. It’s a home educating question, really: If a book is recommended as part of a home ed curriculum, but you do not respect the views of the author, should you bother with the book? I am not referring to Mr Baucham, but to another author. You see, I am prepared to make an extra effort to find an alternative text for that subject area, because I cannot bear the views of tha author, and for me it “tarnishes the good irreperably”. I have read other people recommend that we “eat the meat and spit out the bones”, but given that many curriculum providers and homeschool advocates promote the idea of excellence, and Christian values, then how can I say, “This book gives great advice on X, but don’t listen to anything else the author has say about the topic.”

    BTW, the writer did not make me cautious because of anything to do with patriocentricity/spiritual abuse/theological weirdyweirdness.

    Hope this makes sense. I do know other home educating mothers, but none as experienced as you are, so I thought I’d run it by you.

  16. Anthea says


    I meant: How can I say to my children,”This book gives great advice…” etc.

    And they let me teach my children!

  17. says

    Adam, initially that is how I interpreted what he was saying but after watching a few more times think he is saying that shyness is a sin. And it fits the other things I have heard him say about women having gentle and quiet spirits. As so many do in the patriocentric world, they confuse inner peace and quiet in the spirit with an outward personality that is also quiet. Makes me wonder if a grown woman where to step behind her husband and drop her eyes and not speak to Mr. Baucham if that would be seen as sin or a virtue.

  18. says

    “This is yet another example of how the more patriarchal, or fundamentalist, brothers and sisters in Christ are always trying to create new categories of “sin”, or “un-Biblical behavior”.”

    Yes, sigh, this makes me tired.

  19. says

    Jack, so glad about this. SBTS seems to have turned into the mother ship of the SGM and patriarchy weirdness crowd. I do not believe at all that this used to be the case but the latest SGM stuff that is being ignored by their leadership is so alarming.

  20. says

    Anthea, I am not sure there is any book, save the Bible, that doesn’t have questionable parts. However, I think the “eat the meat and spit out the bones” admonition is naive. All true and good things can be found other places so trying to ignore things you already know are wrong doesn’t seem good. When kids get into high school they need to be exposed to false teachings through books like those published and sold through Summit Ministries for the purpose of identifying philosophies that contrast with being a Christian. There is plenty of time to do that later…with little ones, skip those things and come back to them later and avoid materials that bring up things your children are too young to sort through at this time. Kids are sharp and they will also ask the same questions you are asking yourself!

  21. Anthea says

    Thank you, Karen. What a prompt reply!

    Ironically, they wouldn’t be using the book for a few years, but another mother is emigrating, so we are chatting through which books she’d like to pack up for her move abroad. And when I looked at the choices for a couple of years down the road, I was a bit gobsmacked to find that author on there. I don’t want to mention who it is, because it is about what *I* am/am not happy to present to the our children as admirable. Your advice confirmed my motherly instincts. Isn’t it great to have that at our disposal?

  22. Anthea says

    Jack, you are SO lucky to be at Asbury! Isn’t that where the mighty Craig Keener is teaching? What he doesn’t know about NT culture and the Bible … I have his IVP guide to the NT, which for a laywoman like me is an invaluable reference for all those questions that come up.

  23. Aly k says

    Thank you for posting this. I was a shy child. I’m not necessarily an introvert, though. I love being around people, it just takes me a while to warm up to them. Once I am comfortable I talk a lot if a conversation interests me but I’m still not all that good with small talk. My parents handled my shyness very well. I don’t remember them ever punishing it. But they gently encouraged me to overcome my fears. I have a couple children who have the same tendencies and I do not punish them for it. And it irritates me to no end when people comment on it right in front of them. It breaks my heart that some moms (especially homeschooling moms) will see this and start disciplining their little ones for it.

    And as a “reformed” Christian it pisses me off to no end that these neo-reformed, calvanistas are giving reformed theology a bad name. I do not identify with these people at all and am appalled by most of what they say.

  24. Granddad says

    @Aky k

    It ticks me off as well. I have gotten in a few heated on-line discussions with folks who have developed an extremely distorted view of Reformation theology. And I really get angry when someones says, “You believe, such-and-such.” First of all, how can you tell me what I believe, and second, I believe no such thing.

    Doug Wilson, Doug Phillips, Voddie Baucham, Kevin Swanson, etc. do not speak for most Calvinists (reformed, Presbyterian, Baptist). As you said, these guys really give us “regular Calvinists” a bad name.

  25. H says

    I was such a shy child. While my parents did encourage me to come out of my shell and be more comfortable interacting with people, they certainly never forced me. I’ll never forget the day my mother told me I didn’t have accept unwanted embraces from family friends. My mother heard my discomfort and took it seriously, allowing me the freedom to set boundaries I felt comfortable with. I felt safe knowing she cared more abut me than the opinions of other people. I would have been devastated if my parents tried to spank me into unwanted social interaction and I cringe to think of what children who actually live through this must feel. How are they not terrified at the inability to say no?

  26. says

    In the past couple of days we have discussed the concept of shyness among children and the notion some have that this is either bad behavior or sin itself and needs to be corrected. This discussion is so great because it really showed how uniquely we are each created. As people were sharing their own experiences as growing up as introverts and the horror they would have felt being expected to become more extrovert in their behaviors, I had to laugh. I had just the opposite experience! I was born an extrovert and being an only child, I saw the world as my stage and everyone as my audience! And I always wanted to pull anyone onto that stage with me! I LOVE people! My mom who was very much an introvert really struggled with my personality and I was repeatedly told that extroverted behavior was bad behavior. This has only been reinforced by the patriocentrists out there who tell us that a woman having a “gentle and quiet spirit” means having a personality to match and condemning outgoing and, dare I say, natural leadership (take charge) propensities! So often natural personality differences and spiritual giftings are labeled as sin when in fact they are not. The solution? I think perhaps it has been podcasts! :0

  27. Anthea says

    I tell my children, “If we were all the same, life would be borin’ .” We NEED different sorts of people in the world.

    BTW, I taught secondary school for 12 years (!) and guess what? Despite all the jiggery pokery of PHSE lessons and assemblies and group drama and all that supposedly wonderful socialisation that my children are missing — all the children took after their parents! Schools can’t do what people think they can do.

    Moreover, there is a common misunderstanding that quietness = weakness or inadequacy. Most of the quieter children I taught were reflective, observant and very strong. They had other things to do besides talking. As a gobby East Londoner, I rather liked having that sort of child around.

  28. says

    “Moreover, there is a common misunderstanding that quietness = weakness or inadequacy. Most of the quieter children I taught were reflective, observant and very strong.”


    As someone who is strongly introverted (but not shy), I will say something when I have something to say. I’m busy thinking and reflecting which is why I’m usually pretty quiet in something like a Bible study. When I’ve finished synthesizing everything I’m processing, I’ll usually open my mouth and say something profound. Otherwise my mind is too busy to be answering every little question that the leader throws out there.

    (Do you sense some background story to this answer? Yes.)

  29. says

    I laughed. That is the only way I could handle his absurd claims. As influenced as my parents were by the homeschool/patriarchal culture, thankfully endless spanking was not one of them.


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