The Expository Files

 The Story Behind Johnny Bin Walker 

(Under the above title Jeff Jacoby, a columnist for the Boston Globe, wrote an excellent article that ran in that paper on December 13, 2001. Below are some excerpts from it, along with our observations.)

"Blame Lindh's permissive parents.

"It isn't the case that the parents of John Walker Lindh -- the Marin County (CA) child of privilege turned Taliban terrorist -- never drew the line with their son.

"True, they didn't do so when he was 14 and his consuming passion was collecting hip-hop CDs with especially nasty lyrics.

"And true, they didn't put their foot down when he announced at 16 that he was going to drop out of ...the elite "alternative" school where students determine their own course of study and only see a teacher once a week."

Here is the perfect example of how NOT to raise children. John Lindh Walker's parents went way beyond Dr. Spock in dealing with their son. Perhaps their thought was to give him freedom to develop and expand; but in reality they cut him loose to flounder in life without any rudder to guide him. "Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) They gave their son no training,
no discipline, and certainly no guidance in righteousness.

"They never drew the line with their son"; i.e., they in effect taught him how to be self-centered and materialistic. "...whose end is perdition, whose god is the belly, and (whose) glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." (Philippians 3:19)

"...his consuming passion was collecting hip-hop CDs with especially nasty lyrics." Again, in effect, they taught him that obscenity and trash could be a part of his life without doing him harm. "But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man." (Matthew 15:18)

"...they didn't put their foot down when he announced at 16 that he was going to drop out". Here they were teaching him that he could go through life, flitting from one thing to another, depending on what his interest was at the time; in short, there was no need to make a commitment in any way. "For which cause I suffer also these things: yet I am not ashamed; for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to
guard that which I have committed unto him against that day." (2 Timothy 1:12)

"And granted, they didn't interfere when he abruptly decided to become a Muslim after reading "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" and took to wearing long white robes and an oversized skullcap.

"On the contrary: His father was "proud of John for pursuing an alternative course" and his mother told friends that it was "good for a child to find a passion.

"Nor when he asked his parents to pay his way to Yemen so he could learn to speak "pure" Arabic.

"But the revelation that their son had enlisted in Al Qaeda and supported the Sept. 11 attacks brought no words of reproach -- or self-reproach -- to their lips. His mother ...was quite sure that "if he got involved with the Taliban he must have been brainwashed . . .. When you're young and impressionable, it's easy to be led by charismatic people."

This shows why his parents never taught John any godly principles...they had none themselves. From the 'Net I learned that his mother became a Buddhist shortly after they moved to California and later she "tried" Native American spirituality, even trying to interest John in her religious dabbling. His father, raised a Catholic, had enormous tolerance and admiration for his wife's - and son's! - religious searching but had other areas of life that
interested him.

They did not tell him that there is only ONE way to enter heaven and that is through Christ and obedience of God's laws. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). Yet his father was "proud of John for pursuing an alternative course" and his mother thought it was "good for a child to find a passion." Incidentally, John's wanting to go to Yemen to learn how to speak Arabic is in keeping with the Islamic position that only in that (original) language of the Qur'an can one truly learn what it says. And when the evidence of their son's treachery became public they could not admit that he was wrong or that they had failed their responsibility as parents; it had to be someone else's fault!

"Only once, it seems, did Frank Lindh and Marilyn Walker actually deny their son something he wanted. When he first adopted Islam and took the name Suleyman, they refused to use it and insisted on calling him John. After all, he had been named for one of the giants of our time: John Lennon." (I will just have to shake my head and let this one go without comment...rvl)

"But even in Marin County, there are times when children need to hear "No" and "Don't." They need to know that there are limits they must respect and expectations they must try to live up to. If they cannot find those limits and expectations at home, they are apt to look for them elsewhere. Newsweek calls it "truly perplexing" that Walker, who "grew up in possibly the most liberal, tolerant place in America . . . was drawn to the most... intolerant sect in Islam." There is nothing perplexing about it. He craved standards and discipline. Mom and Dad didn't offer any. The Taliban did." I would like to shake the hand of the columnist who wrote this article. His principles would make him a good neighbor. In this paragraph he clearly states a major problem of this country and its solution. "The rod and reproof give wisdom; But a child left to himself causeth shame to his mother." (Proverbs 29:15) This verse tells of the benefit to the child of a parent who guides him to know what is good and evil, correcting him if need be.
Lenience in the discipline of the uncontrolled child will bring shame to the parents.

The article goes on to relate that when Osama bin Laden's terrorists exploded the bomb next to the USS Cole in Yemen and killed American sailors, "Walker e-mailed his father that the attack had been justified, since by docking the ship in Yemen, the United States had committed "an act of war. ...but that didn't stop (his father) from wiring Walker another $1,200." Here John Walker tries to say that the terrorists acted in a murderous way because they were provoked. "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20) And his father simply goes ahead and sends him money to continue pursuing his perverse ways.

"If she and Lindh had been less concerned with flaunting their open-mindedness and more concerned with developing their son's moral judgment, he wouldn't be where he is today. Walker is responsible for his own behavior... But his road to treason and jihad didn't begin in Afghanistan. It began in Marin County, with parents who never said "No."

Here is the whole point of the article: Johnny Lindh Walker has got to answer for his association with evil and terror. He is not a child without the intellect to understand the difference between right and wrong; he is accountable before God. "For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things (done) in the body, according to what he hath done, whether (it be) good or bad." (2 Corinthians
5:10) But his parents also must answer to God for their failures; particularly in this case how they failed their son when they were suppose to be raising him. "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4) And, "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, And forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be a chaplet of grace unto thy head, And chains about thy
neck." (Proverbs 1:8-9) May we all learn from this sad case and strive to fulfill our obligations to our young people.

By Ron Lehde
 From Expository Files 9.3; March 2002