Analyzing A Problematic Post by Pearl

Sarah at Field of Vision has started a small series of posts looking at the Pearl’s teachings and specifically their attitude towards children.  This series focuses on one particular article by Michael Pearl called, Emotional Manipulators.

Part 1: Parenting and the Power of Perspective in which she discusses how Michael Pearl assigns negative intent to a 4 year old child and her mother.

Part 2: Michael Pearl and Responding to Attention Seekers in which she discusses Michael Pearl’s diagnosis of the child and his very harsh proposed remedy.

She may post more of this series in the future, in which case I will add them to this post.

Considering Adoption Reform

Whatcom Mom had an interesting comment which I would like to highlight.

I’m hoping the readers here will have some ideas about improving adoption home study practice, based on what we have learned from the deaths of Hana Williams and Lydia Schatz and injuries to their siblings.

So you know where I’m coming from. I’m an adoptive parent of now adult daughters, one adopted as an infant from a local nonprofit agency, the other as a toddler through state foster care. I’ve been active in pre-adoptive education and post-adoption support and have had plenty of occasion to reflect on issues that arise in transracial, special needs, and international and open adoptions. I have long been concerned about adoption agencies that place especially needy and difficult children with naïve, unprepared (and maybe overconfident) families and then fail to follow up with oversight and support.

I followed the Williams trial especially closely because the family lives in my area and because I know people who have worked for, and adopted from, the agency that placed Hana and her brother Immanuel. [Read more…]

Always The Woman’s Fault?

Forgedimagination responds to an article by the Pearls in Cloistered Fruit: (Not) An Open Letter To The Pearls.   This is a rather extreme example of their teaching that everything comes down to being the fault of the woman (or in this case, women.)

A Complementarian’s Concerns With Created To Be His Help Meet

Complementarian Tim Challies analyses Debi Pearl’s book, Created To Be His Help Meet and points out his concerns with the teachings therein.

Part 1 looks at the harsh and critical spirit and the foolish counsel.

Part 2 looks at “poor theology, poor use of Scripture and far too little gospel.”

This is an excellent review to share with complementarians.

Another Interesting Quote from Pearl

My friend, Rebecca Diamond, brought this quote from Michael Pearl to my attention.  It is from his website: Rodless Training from June 1999 (emphasis mine):

“There will be times when a spanking is appropriate. But you are prevented! Then use your power as the caretaker and dispenser of all privileges and responsibilities to make his actions totally counterproductive. If you can’t spank the flesh, starve it with an embargo. Stand your ground and do not let the little fellow find satisfaction in his pursuits. Stay on duty, demanding obedience until he surrenders his will to your persistence. If there is a way to deny him access to some means of indulgence that relates to the offense, then by all means as governor of the island on which he lives deny him normal privileges until he complies.”

The reason I find this quote so interesting is that the bolded reminds me so much of the Williams Tragedy. For more posts about the Williams see here.

Michael Pearl Quote Selected as QOD on CNN’s Belief Blog

CNN’s Belief Blog chose a quote from Michael Pearl as Quote of The Day for today, Thursday Feb 23, 2012.

Quote of the Day:

It is something that is rooted in the nature of every human being. We see it across the animal kingdom all animals discipline their young they have to if the animals are going to survive. So it stands to reason that if it is wise, good and according to nature, God is going to agree with it because he’s pretty smart too.

A new controversial book titled Train Up A Child, tells parents to spank their children using wooden spoons, spatulas and even plumbing tools. Michael Pearl talks with a reporter from WVNSTV about what he says is the importance of this type of punishment.

Investigative Reports on Michael Pearl

Lauren Hensley,  Investigative Reporter for CBS TV Station WVNS West Virginia, brings us Spare the Rod Part 1: Spanking in the Name of the Lord in which she interviews Mr. Pearl.  In Spare the Rod Part 2: Local Pastors Challenge Biblical Backing she interviews local religious leaders about his teachings. Stay tuned for Part 3: The Effects of Corporal Punishment On A Child (tomorrow?).

Jill Monier, of FOX TV in Memphis Tennessee, brings us Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child? which is an in depth look at their book, To Train Up A Child.   It includes some pretty disturbing quotes.  As well as interviewing the Pearls, they interviewed Barbara King, the executive director of the Exchange Club in Memphis which offers a variety of programs to help Memphis area families breaking the cycle of abuse, and Elizabeth Stewart an adult niece who was also switched by the Pearls.

Tom Haynes, of My Fox Atlanta, brings us almost the same story in Investigators Link Book to Deaths of 3 Children.

Also, yesterday, Michael Pearl was on Dr. Drew’s show. Here is an Inside Look at that episode. Note that at the very end, Dr. Drew claims that he is still tender in the spot where Mr. Pearl spanked him.

The Vision Forum’s Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy, 16-21: Education, Transformation, and Control

Note: This is an edited and collated version of a series of posts that I made at Free Jinger in August 2011.

For much of my life, my encounters with U.S. fundamentalist Christianity were sporadic and bewildering.  I started digging into the roots of the fundamentalist mindset when I became a homeschooler and a Sunday school teacher.  As many of us have discovered, fundamentalism has become prevalent in both fields of endeavor–particularly homeschooling.

Fundamentalism, of course, is not a monolithic entity, but different fundamentalist groups share many common traits.  A particularly disturbing common trait is the fundamentalist use of exegesis.  In short, it stinks.  This incompetence exists right at the foundation: not only in interpretation, but also in basic reading comprehension.  This is a disturbing thing to see in groups that insist that they are drawing their inspiration straight from the Bible.

Here is a selection from “The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy,” which appear at the Vision Forum’s website,  I will present items 16 through 21 and examine the verses that the Vision Forum uses to support its declarations.  These items cover what the Vision Forum wants parents to do in order to educate their children.  I will use my Oxford Study Bible (New English Bible with Apocrypha), which was a gift from the Russian Orthodox seminary where I worked one summer–in other words, from a church with much more experience in the problems of living than the Vision Forum.

Preliminary thoughts: I also use the words “biblical,” “body of Christ,” “community of believers,” and so forth, but I do not mean what the Vision Forum means when they use them.  I have at least an elementary grounding in theology, exegesis, and church history, including the great mistakes and failed experiments of various communities of believers. People who are searching for answers and stumble over this stuff without having the tools needed to discern the traps–no wonder they’re taken in.

16. Education is not a neutral enterprise. Christian parents must provide their children with a thoroughly Christian education, one that teaches the Bible and a biblical view of God and the world. Christians should not send their children to public schools since education is not a God-ordained function of civil government and since these schools are sub-Christian at best and anti-Christian at worst. (Deut. 4:9; 6:6-9; Rom. 13:3-5; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:15)

17. Fathers are sovereign over the training of their children and, with their wives, are the children’s chief teachers. Christian parents are bound to obey the command personally to walk beside and train their children. Any approach to Christian education ought to recognize and facilitate the role of fathers and mothers as the primary teachers of their children. (Deut. 4:9; 6:6ff.; Ps. 78:3-8; Prov. 1:8; Eph. 6:4; [sic])

First come two short quotations from the same section of Deuteronomy.  Deut. 4:9: But take care: keep careful watch on yourselves so that you do not forget the things that you have seen with your own eyes; do not let them pass from your minds as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.  Extracted from the first discourse of Moses, in which he introduces the Law to Israel. Here are verses 7-8: What great nation has a god close at hand as the Lord our God is close to us whenever we call to him? What great nation is there whose statutes and laws are so just, as is all this code of laws which I am setting before you today? (Hint: Who is Moses talking to?) Verses 10 ff. retell the events at Mount Horeb–the story that the Jews are to pass on “to your children and to your children’s children.”  But the Vision Forum skips ahead to Deut. 6:6-9: These commandments which I give you this day are to be remembered and taken to heart; repeat them to your children, and speak of them both indoors and out of doors, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign upon your hand and wear them as a pendant on your forehead; write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. This passage is from Moses’ second discourse and comes right after the Ten Commandments and the Two Greatest Commandments.  Both passages are quoted to support Tenet 16, which begins, “Christian parents must provide their children with a thoroughly Christian education, one that teaches the Bible and a biblical view of God and the world.”  So far, so good–if we ignore the assumptions in the rest of Tenet 16.

Rom. 13:3-5: Governments hold no terrors for the law-abiding but only for the criminal.  You wish to have no fear of the authorities? Then continue to do right and you will have their approval, for they are God’s agents working for your good. But if you are doing wrong, then you will have cause to fear them; it is not for nothing that they hold the power of the sword, for they are God’s agents of punishment bringing retribution on the offender. That is why you are obliged to submit. It is an obligation imposed not merely by fear of retribution but by conscience.  An extract from Paul’s advice to the believers in Rome about how Christians ought to live in the general culture. The passage containing these verses begins, Every person must submit to the authorities in power, for all authority comes from God (13:1). Verse 6 continues the theme by requiring Christians to pay taxes. The Vision Forum cites verses 3-5 to support Tenet 16, which asserts that “education is not a God-ordained function of civil government.” Is the assumption here that because the authorities are referred to as exercising a judicial function, but not an educational function, then the educational function is not their proper sphere? The Bible doesn’t mention governments building roads either; does the Vision Forum tell people not to use public highways?

Eph. 6:4: Fathers, do not goad your children to resentment, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Extracted from Paul’s advice to believers about Christian relationships. Cited to support the Vision Forum’s assertion that education should be “Biblical.”  Certainly, but why does this mean that “Christians should not send their children to public schools?”  And how can an irreligious subject such as trig be made “Biblical?”  Does labeling a textbook “Now With More Bible Verses!”–yes, I have seen this–really turn it into “the discipline and instruction of the Lord?”  And why should it be anyway?  Is there not a time for every purpose under Heaven?

2 Tim. 3:15: . . . remember that from early childhood you have been familiar with the sacred writings which have power to make you wise and lead you to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Extracted from Paul’s attempt to encourage someone who is facing persecution. Cited by the Vision Forum, once again, to show that all education must be “Biblical” and private. Verses 16-17 explain what the Bible is for (in Paul’s view): All inspired scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, or for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man of God may be capable and equipped for good work of every kind. Yes, and public school is for teaching trig. Why does the existence of Biblical education have to obliterate the other kind?  The passage continues with a warning against the time when people will not stand sound teaching, but will follow his own whim and gather a crowd of teachers to tickle his fancy.  They will stop their ears to the truth and turn to fables. (vv. 3-4)  Something else that struck me when I first started looking into fundamentalism was the general denial of the basic tools of thought–logic, debate, fact-checking–as well as the many centuries of sound teaching that have arisen from the use of these tools. I think the common fundamentalist adherence to the King James Version above all others stems from the same source. Refusing to learn how to read the Bible in the original languages, and clinging to a translation so old that many of the words have changed meaning in our own language, enables self-serving preachers to read into the Word of God whatever they wish to see. And they teach others, who believe in good faith, because they have never been given the tools they need to ask the questions that would point out the holes in the foundation.

One more thing: I couldn’t have told you the religion of a single one of my teachers at public school. The question did not come up, ever. My American History and Literature (double period) teacher explained the currents in Christian thought in the U.S. during various periods in history because so many of the authors we studied were writing as Christians and we needed to understand where they were coming from. He did not make value judgments about Christianity, although he expected us to clearly express our own opinions in well-written essays. Not once did I ever hear a word critical of Christianity or supportive of any other religion or of a lack of religion for that matter. Not once in thirteen years.

Ps. 78:3-8, part of the introduction to a historical psalm, alludes to Moses’ instructions to Israel in the two passages from Deuteronomy quoted above. The psalm recounts the Exodus and the unfaithfulness of succeeding generations in the Promised Land. The Vision Forum cites verses 3-8 to support their assertions that “Fathers are sovereign over the training of their children” (what is this obsession with human sovereignty and dominion?) and that “the Bible presents a long-term, multi-generational vision of the progress of God’s kingdom in the world.” In a general sense, this is true–but I do not think those words mean what the Vision Forum thinks they mean. Also, why use a selection from a psalm about backsliding in the Promised Land to support the assertion that “the next generation will build upon the faith and improve upon the faithfulness of their parents?”

Prov. 1:8: Attend, my son, to your father’s instruction, and do not reject your mother’s teaching . . . Extracted from the introduction to the proverbs of Solomon. The Vision Forum stretches this verse to mean that fathers “are sovereign over the training of their children” and that fathers and mothers must be “the primary teachers of their children.” I note that Proverbs is primarily concerned with wisdom, right use of authority, and understanding of human nature. Naturally a child’s parents or other primary caregivers will be that child’s first teachers in wisdom, discernment, and justice. But, again (and again and again), what does this have to do with trig?

18. Educational methodology is not neutral. The Christian should build his educational methodology from the word of God and reject methodologies derived from humanism, evolutionism, and other unbiblical systems of thought. Biblical education is discipleship, a process designed to reach the heart. The aim is a transformed person who exhibits godly character and a trained mind, both of which arise from faith. The parents are crucial and ordinarily irreplaceable in this heart-level, relational process. (Deut. 6:5-7; Lk. 6:40; 1 Thess. 2:7-12; 2 Tim. 1:5; 2 Pet. 1:5-8)

Deut. 6:5-7: . . . and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments which I give you this day are to be remembered and taken to heart; repeat them to your children, and speak of them both indoors and out of doors, when you lie down and when you get up.  One of the Two Greatest Commandments with part of Moses’ exhortation regarding the Law, previously quoted. From this the Vision Forum makes the assumption that parents are primary in all education (yet again).

Lk. 6:40: No pupil ranks above his teacher; fully trained he can but reach his teacher’s level.  This is Jesus explaining one of His own parables (v.39): Can one blind man guide another? Will not both fall into the ditch?  The Vision Forum quotes v.40 as if it referred to antagonism between “Biblical education” and “humanism, evolutionism, and other unbiblical systems of thought.”  It is certainly arguable that the 19th-century concept of evolutionism (which is not evolutionary theory as a whole) and some of the assorted concepts that have gone by the name humanism since the Renaissance are contrary to the truths expressed in the Bible.  It is also arguable that they are not.  But not via this verse.

A final thought about “Biblical” vs. “unbiblical” home education: The 19th century Americans who many Vision Forum members and followers venerate depended on books for answers to problems of daily life, such as what to teach to children. They weren’t the books of the Bible. They used books with names like Pleasant Pages and Practical Housekeeping.  What verses, if any, these books quoted generally had to do with character. They did not attempt to connect every detail of children’s education to a Bible verse pried out of its place and stretched to fit. Trying to use the Bible as a home cyclopedia is like prying apart a car because you need a part to fix the motor in your blender. The car is supposed to be taking you somewhere.

1 Thess. 2: 7-12: . . . although as Christ’s own envoys we might have made our weight felt; but we were as gentle with you as a nurse caring for her children. Our affection was so deep that we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but our very selves; that is how dear you had become to us! You remember, my friends, our toil and drudgery; night and day we worked for a living, rather than be a burden to any of you while we proclaimed to you the good news of God. We call you to witness, yes, and God himself, how devout and just and blameless was our conduct towards you who are believers. As you well know, we dealt with each one of you as a father deals with his children; we appealed to you, we encouraged you, we urged you, to live lives worthy of the God who calls you into his kingdom and glory.  Extracted from Paul’s assertions about his and his fellow missionaries’ conduct when they stayed with the believers in Thessalonica. I note two things here. First, Paul holds up as proof of his good intent the fact that he “worked for a living,” which did not involve accepting money from the believers. Second, Paul assumed certain things about the conduct of parents. A woman caring for her children is “gentle;” a father (tenses changed) “appeals,” “encourages,” and “urges” his children toward the right way. The Vision Forum, typically, cites this passage to support their assumptions about “educational methodology.”  Are they gentle?  Do they appeal, encourage, and urge children toward the right way?  What happens to people raised in VF families who refuse to fall into their assigned places in their parents’ multi-generational vision?

More on conduct of parents toward children when I finally get to the citations from Proverbs.

2 Tim. 1:5: I am reminded of the sincerity of your faith, a faith which was alive in Lois your grandmother and Eunice your mother before you, and which, I am confident, now lives in you.  Paul to Timothy again, this time from the beginning of the letter about bearing up in times of persecution. From this verse the Vision Forum extracts the idea that “Biblical education is discipleship.” Once again, the words are true according to general understanding, but the Vision Forum applies them in a highly specific way that requires following a lot of assumptions down a rabbit hole.  This verse is a good jumping-off point for unpacking the Vision Forum’s own words.

“Biblical education is discipleship.” Teachers described in various books of the Bible did take disciples. Discipleship is a closer relationship than studenthood: almost familial.  However, what the Vision Forum calls “Biblical education” is not the kind of education described in the Bible and their vision of discipleship is something else as well. “A process designed to reach the heart.” Hopefully, if the teacher loves his or her subject, the disciple will come to understand that love even if he or she doesn’t share it; however, “reaching the heart” has a different emotional weight in Vision Forum literature, more like “eliciting compliance.”

“The aim is a transformed person who exhibits godly character.” Paul emphasizes character formation in the other passage from this letter quoted here, but not transformation.  Transformation comes through repentance, not through a course of study. And in order to be transformed by any means, a person has to have been formed in the first place. Speaking of transformation in children is–well, it’s of a piece with the adversarial, punitive, coercive, intrusive, and blasphemous child training methods embraced by fundamentalists, in my opinion. Instead of adults repenting and being transformed, children are the targets of transformation and by implication the reservoirs of sin. More on the blasphemousness of this in a moment.

“And a trained mind.” Using the Bible as a mental training handbook leads one back to the metaphor of ripping apart a car in order to fix a blender. Courses in logic train the mind.  Playing Lotto trains the mind. Using the Bible as a mental training handbook is aiming too low. In any case, using the Bible as a set of thought-stoppers is closer to what fundamentalists do with it: training the mind to stay quietly on its blanket, never exploring the living world beyond the arbitrary boundary.

“Which arise from faith.” Faith and reason share a common kingdom, but strike out for different borders. Faith is for the things that reason cannot parse; the trained mind still has limits. On the other hand, what reason can comprehend must be the domain of reason. Even untrained, stunted reason balks at being asked to accept what it can disprove. Forcing the issue–demanding that reason be subordinated to faith in its own province–produces cognitive dissonance. Or, without the psychological jargon, it messes up a person’s head.  Unfortunately, this is a common outcome of making a child’s entire education into a faith issue, at least judging from the accounts of ex-fundamentalists.

“The parents are crucial.” Yes, every child needs parents–born, chosen, whatever.

“And ordinarily irreplaceable.” I hope not because otherwise people who lose their parents are pretty much out of–

“In this heart-level, relational process.” Stop!

“This heart-level, relational process” whose aim is “a transformed person” is not the business of human beings. It cannot be diagnosed by watching for a predefined exhibition of “godly character.” It is “a heart-level, relational process” in the control of the only One who can see into individual hearts. We can place our children in the midst of knowledge; we can appeal, encourage, and urge. We cannot reach into their hearts and transform them. We cannot put ourselves into the place of God Almighty. To believe otherwise is blasphemy.

Make disciples of our children? I certainly hope so. Train their minds? Absolutely; God gave us reason, so we should make good use of it. Teach them Scripture? Yes, of course. But that is as far as we can go. No “educational methodology” can assure us that they will always make the right choices. No amount of repetition of verses can assure “godly character.” We can train children to exhibit the right responses on demand; we can stunt their ability to think so that they don’t ask the wrong questions: we can render our children rootbound, try to clip the wings of their souls to keep them in the places we assign. Or we can trust God to do what is not possible for human beings and keep in mind that nobody else’s heart is within our dominion.

Onward! This has been quite a slog for me, so thanks to everyone who has kept reading.

2 Pet. 1:5-8: With all this in view, you should make every effort to add virtue to your faith, knowledge to virtue, self-control to knowledge, fortitude to self-control, piety to fortitude, brotherly affection to piety, and love to brotherly affection. If you possess and develop these gifts, you will grow actively and effectively in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Extracted from a discussion about how Christians ought to live while awaiting Christ’s return. “All this” is the gifts and promises of God. Once again, discussion of spiritual renewal among adults is enslaved to discussion of “educational methodology” and the “transformation” of children who do not get to consent.

So much for educational methodology. Now for the educational mandate.

19. Since the educational mandate belongs to parents and they are commanded personally to walk beside and train their children, they ought not to transfer responsibility for the educational process to others. However, they have the liberty to delegate components of that process. While they should exercise great caution and reserve in doing this, and the more so the less mature the child, it is prudent to take advantage of the diversity of gifts within the body of Christ and enjoy the help and support that comes with being part of a larger community with a common purpose. (1 Cor. 12:14ff.; Gal. 4:1,2; 6:2; Eph. 4:16)

20. The age-integrated communities of family and church are the God-ordained institutions for training and socialization and as such provide the preferred pattern for social life and educational endeavors. The modern preference for grouping children exclusively with their age mates for educational and social purposes is contrary to scriptural wisdom and example.  (Deut. 29:10-11; 2 Chron. 20:13; Prov. 22:15 with 13:20; Joel 2:16; 1 Cor. 15:33)

21. The Bible presents a long-term, multi-generational vision of the progress of God’s kingdom in the world. Christian parents need to adopt this perspective and be motivated by the generational promises of Scripture, and church shepherds need to promote this outlook within their flocks. By the grace of God, as fathers faithfully turn their hearts toward their sons and daughters and the youths respond in kind, the next generation will build upon the faith and improve upon the faithfulness of their parents. (Ps. 78:1-8; Is. 59:21; Mal. 4:6; Lk. 1:17; Gal. 6:9)

1 Cor. 12:14ff.: Selected from a discourse by Paul about spiritual gifts. The Vision Forum quote actually starts in the middle of the discourse, but Paul tends to repeat himself, so I will begin at verse 14 as well.

A body is not a single organ, but many. Suppose the foot were to say, “Because I am a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it belongs to the body none the less. Suppose the ear were to say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it still belongs to the body. If the body were all eye, how could it hear? If the body were all ear, how could it smell? But, in fact, God appointed each limb and organ to its own place in the body as he chose. If the whole were a single organ, there would not be a body at all; in fact, however, there are many different organs, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” or the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” Quite the contrary: those parts of the body which seem to be more frail than others are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we regard as less honorable are treated with special honor.  The parts we are modest about are treated with special respect, whereas our respectable parts have no such need. But God has combined the various parts of the body, giving special honor to the humbler parts, so that there might be no division in the body, but that all its parts might feel the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all suffer together; if one flourishes, all rejoice together.

Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you a limb or organ of it. Within our community God has appointed in the first place apostles, in the second place prophets, thirdly teachers; then miracle-workers, then those who have gifts of healing, or ability to help others or power to guide them, or the gift of tongues of various kinds. Are all apostles? All prophets?  All teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues of ecstasy? Do all have the power to interpret them?

The higher gifts are the ones you should prize. But I can show you an even better way.

Paul then goes on to assert that no spiritual gift or deed of charity means anything if exercised without love and moves into a discussion about love itself–the one that begins “Love is patient, love is kind.”

The Vision Forum uses this meditation on the nature of Christian community to allow parents an out from its previously declared “educational mandate.” Parents can “delegate” teaching to other people, but they are to make sure that any teachers besides themselves are Christian.  First of all, does Paul actually say anything about an educational mandate? I note that he recognizes the gift of teaching in some, not in all, and furthermore he has no problem with that. He does not say that the people who can teach are all parents of school-age children or that all parents of school-age children can or must be teachers. It is likely that he is speaking specifically of the gift of teaching religion, but since the Vision Forum treats all education as if it were religious education, my point stands.

As for requiring all teachers to be Christian regardless of topic, Paul never speaks of it.  Paul quotes from at least one pagan poet in support of his arguments about conduct (more on this later). If he values pagan teaching about conduct, what does this imply? If we are to quote Paul, perhaps we should pay attention to what Paul is actually saying. And if we don’t want to use Paul’s words in support of religious tests for schoolteachers, we’re stuck; no other writer of the New Testament comes even this close to the topic. Or perhaps we could exercise discernment instead of trying to use the Bible as a home cyclopedia. And discernment begins with the evidence of the senses.

I already wrote about my experiences with criticism of Christianity in thirteen years of public school. In short, there was none; in fact we explored Christianity in order to better understand Christian writers. Along the way we discussed honor, self-sacrifice, charity, mercy, and many other virtues. But of course, that isn’t enough to satisfy critics who write about parents’ “liberty” to be anxious about the religious background of public school teachers. When I read the Vision Forum’s dire warnings about what could happen if parents send their children to public school, I am reminded of what Father Andrew Greeley says about certain Catholics of his acquaintance. In paraphrase: They only recognize as truth certain things said in a certain exact way. Say the same thing in a different way and it’s just meaningless mouth noise at best and anti-Christian at worst. Discernment is reduced to running down a checklist of shibboleths.

I have taken a good long look at what the Vision Forum defines as Christian and I don’t think it has anything to do with growing into the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ.  It has more to do with the bed of Procrustes, or that horrible lying fable about breaking the lamb’s leg. I may be straying, but at least I’m not crippled in the name of God.

Gal. 4:1,2: This is what I mean: so long as the heir is a minor, he is no better off than a slave, even though the whole estate is his; he is subject to guardians and trustees until the date set by his father. Extracted from Paul on life under the Law vs. life in the grace of Christ. The Vision Forum quotes this as if it were a support of the educational mandate. But it describes Paul’s opinion of life without grace.

Gal. 6:2: Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.  From another discourse in Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia, this one about living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. For once the Vision Forum gets it right. “The help and support that comes with being part of a larger community with a common purpose” is part of the Godly life and this quotation supports that assertion. But this doesn’t have anything to do with who is supposed to teach reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.

Eph. 4:16: . . . and on him the whole body depends. Bonded and held together by every constituent joint, the whole frame grows through the proper functioning of each part, and builds itself up in love.  Paul really likes the theme of the Church as the body of Christ; this extract is part of a discourse on how Christians should treat one another. Here is the rest of the broken sentence and the one to which it refers (verses 14-15): We are no longer to be children, tossed about by the waves and whirled around by every fresh gust of teaching, dupes of cunning rogues and their deceitful schemes. Rather we are to maintain the truth in a spirit of love; so shall we fully grow up into Christ. He is the head . . .  Let the one who has ears, hear.

Next we come to a set of verses that illustrate two persistent shortcomings of the Vision Forum’s treatment of the Bible: confusing description with prescription and confusing situational with universal.

Deut. 29:10-11, 2 Chron. 20:13, and Joel 2:16 all refer to the whole people of Israel gathering together: all ages, both genders, and all walks of life. In Deuteronomy, Moses is making a speech to the people who he sees standing before him, ready to receive God’s covenant. In 2 Chronicles, King Jehoshaphat is leading “the people of Judah and Jerusalem” in prayer at the Temple on the eve of battle. The passage in Joel refers to the community’s response to a plague of locusts, which is interpreted as the wrath of God; they gather together to pray, fast, weep, and repent of sin. From these verses the Vision Forum argues that “The age-integrated communities of family and church are the God-ordained institutions for training and socialization” and that these descriptions of community assemblies are “a multi-generational vision of the progress of God’s kingdom in the world.” I would argue rather that these verses illustrate how people have always sought one another’s company when something that affected the whole community was happening–but I didn’t buy my glasses from the Vision Forum.

I took the preceding three verses out of the sequence in which the Vision Forum presents them because they go together, but also because a verse in the middle of the sequence really should be considered separately. This is one of the so-called rod verses in Proverbs.

So, the next verses cited are Proverbs 22:15 “with 13:20.” Proverbs is generally accepted in mainstream churches as a collection of pragmatic observations about human nature combined with meditation on how to be the best people we can be. Proverbs 22:15, in the translation I am using, reads, Folly is deep-rooted in the hearts of children; a good beating will drive it out of them.  This is one of the (in)famous “rod verses,” which are cited in support of hitting children. (I know that there are various euphemisms applied to hitting children. But I prefer to call a spade a spade.) Hitting children is supposed to make them wiser, better people, child training experts say, pointing to this verse.

Wait a minute. Even we wishy-washy context-citing types accept that the Bible expresses unified themes about God, humanity, and so forth. So why is Paul, who knows the Hebrew Bible inside and out, talking about mothers treating children gently and fathers encouraging and urging children toward the truth? Why does he warn against provoking children to resentment?  Why does Jesus Himself threaten dire consequences to whoever makes a little child “stumble?”  And if childhood is supposed to be a faulty state out of which one must be beaten, why does Jesus say that believers must “become as little children” in order to enter the Kingdom? Even Paul, when he speaks of childhood as lacking, portrays leaving childhood as a process of growth: “putting away childish things” when one becomes an adult, not before.

Historically, apparent contradictions within the Bible have been resolved in several ways:

1. Declaring an entire book noncanonical–the fate of the Gnostic Gospels.
2. Accepting that the Bible is the human record of divine revelation and as such also a reflection of the flawed humanity of its writers.
3. Rechecking the translation.
4. Living with cognitive dissonance and trying not to think about it.

Some authorities have chosen option 2 when dealing with dissonant values expressed in Proverbs and elsewhere in the Bible. I accepted this until I ran across an analysis of the original Hebrew here.  In short, the verse should read (paraphrase): Behaving as if one didn’t know any better when one actually does is a failure of adults, not children; disciplining children keeps this failure from becoming active in their hearts. IOW, discipline your children–make disciples of them, teach them–before they are old enough to get into serious spiritual trouble and they will not become “fools.” Applying this verse as if children are already “fools” and beating will make them wise amounts to reading things into the Bible that are not there. There is a long tradition in Western culture of violence toward those under our authority, with special cruelty reserved for children (see For Your Own Good by Alice Miller). Trying to find justification for a bad tradition in our holy book is a natural failing, but a failing nonetheless.

The verse that is taken “with” the above, 13:20, reads, Walk with the wise and learn wisdom; mix with the stupid and come to harm.  Once again, advice to adults is applied to children, this time to denigrate the practice of putting children in classes with their agemates “contrary to scriptural wisdom and example.” Educator Charlotte Mason also spoke against the practice of grouping children by calendar age, but on the grounds that children who are the same in age are not necessarily the same in ability or in needs, and also that they will not be mixing exclusively with their agemates as adults, which defeats the purpose of school as preparation for capable adulthood. Note that although she had the Bible read in her schools regularly (KJV even!), she did not feel the need to drag a misapplied Bible verse into her argument–and she did not justify her opinion by calling children stupid.  It is possible to reach the same conclusion by charitable and uncharitable means.  We are to choose charity.

1 Cor. 15:33: Make no mistake: “Bad company ruins good character.” Paul again, quoting the Greek poet Menander–a pagan–although he does not bother to note this in his letter, as if it weren’t an issue. What’s more, he is quoting Menander in support of an argument about Christian conduct, specifically not associating with people who say that there is no resurrection of the dead. The Vision Forum quotes this pagan poet in support of keeping children out of age-graded classrooms. Children are stupid, children are bad company, children are fools . . . I sense a theme.

Now, and last, we turn to the “multi-generational vision of the progress of God’s kingdom in the world” that the Bible is supposed to present. First the Vision Forum cites the beginning of Psalm 78 again. As I wrote above, this is a historical psalm about the Exodus and backsliding among the descendants of those who attained the Promised Land. The psalmist alludes to Moses’ charge to the witnesses at Mount Horeb, to pass on the stories of the events that formed Israel into a nation. Indeed, any culture is founded on the stories people tell. This particular story, however, is not exactly about “the next generation [building] upon the faith and [improving] upon the faithfulness of their parents.” The Bible was divided into chapters and verses relatively recently, purely as a navigational aid.  Analyzing verses in isolation puts us in the same predicament as the fabled blind men trying to describe an elephant.

Isaiah 59:21: This, says the Lord, is my covenant, which I make with them: My spirit which rests on you and my words which I have put into your mouth will never fail you from generation to generation of your descendants from now on, for evermore. The Lord has said it.   The editors of this Bible translation suggest that Isaiah 59 really is a discrete unit (this isn’t always the case with Bible chapters!) that amounts to a liturgy of repentance.  Verse 21 is the very end, the closing benediction. The initial call for repentance (verses 1-15) paints a picture of a wholly corrupt society: Your hands are stained with blood and your fingers with crime . . . no one sues with just cause, no one makes an honest plea in court . . . their schemes are harmful and leave a trail of havoc and ruin . . . all the ways they choose to walk are crooked; no one who walks in them feels safe . . . we have relapsed and forsaken our God; we have conceived lies in our hearts and repeated them in slanderous and treacherous words.  The  overarching theme is that the people do not act with justice and so no justice comes to them. Again, this is hardly about a “multi-generational vision” of each generation perfecting the next.

Malachi 4:6: He will reconcile parents to their children and children to their parents, lest I come and put the land under a ban to destroy it.  “He” is the prophet Elijah, who is prophesied to return, and the speaker is the Lord. This is the last line of the prophecy of Malachi regarding the struggle that stands before the people who have returned from Babylonian captivity. No longer able to define themselves as a people with a monarch, they must learn how to define themselves by the word of God as passed down to them in Scripture. Malachi also looks for a coming day of judgment. Lk. 1:17 alludes to Malachi’s prophecy of the return of Elijah. An angel is speaking to Zechariah about the impending birth of his son John: He will go before him as forerunner, possessed by the spirit and power of Elijah, to reconcile father and child, to convert the rebellious to the ways of the righteous, to prepare a people that shall be fit for the Lord.  Both verses are cited to support the triumphalist “multi-generational vision,” but the passages they come from describe a people in need of renewal.

And here we are at the end. The Vision Forum quotes once again from a discourse on Christian life in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. I will quote the entire passage, Gal. 2:7-10, which is the end of an appeal for mutual charity and generosity. The snippet the Vision Forum uses to support its multi-generational vision is set off in boldface.  Make no mistake about this: God is not to be fooled; everyone reaps what he sows. If he sows in the field of his unspiritual nature, he will reap from it a harvest of corruption; but if he sows in the field of the Spirit, he will reap from it a harvest of eternal life. Let us never tire of doing good, for if we do not slacken our efforts we shall in due time reap our harvest. Therefore, as opportunity offers, let us work for the good of all, especially members of the household of the faith.  Paul earlier (5:22-23) describes the harvest of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

This is what Paul exhorts the people to work for. What does the Vision Forum say it wants? It wants “the generational promises of Scripture.” But the passages it cites to prove that there are such “generational promises” turn out to be about promises to Israel conditional upon keeping the Law–the whole Law, not just the bits modern fundamentalists favor–calls for repentance and renewal, simple description of a past event, or advice about living with other people. What do the cited passages actually say about teaching children? They say to discipline our children–that is, to treat them like disciples.  They talk about being gentle with children, urging them toward the right way, and telling them good stories. Not about improving them in some kind of spiritual eugenics program. We each answer to God for our own actions. Not for the actions of our parents. Not for the actions of our children.

Thanks for reading.

A Closer Look At TTUAC and How It Relates To The Deaths of 3 Children

More bloggers are analyzing the connections between the Pearls’ book, To Train Up A Child and the deaths of 3 children who were being raised by the methods therein.

Free By His Grace tells the story of Hana “Williams” in heart wrenching detail and warns against the teachings of  TTUAC in Hana Williams: “Rebellion” or Reaction to Abuse?

QuicksilverQueen  has started a detailed Book Review of To Train Up A Child and how it relates to the deaths.  In this review she freely shares how being raised by these teachings affected her and what she was really feeling when her parents thought that she was joyously submissive.

Sadie Stein, writing for Jezebel, reports briefly on the Pearls and the deaths linked to their teachings in Another Child “Chastised” To Death.

Kathy Cassel of Cassel Crew explains her concerns with To Train Up A Child in (How Not) To Train Up a Child.  Note that she does believe in spanking but more as a last resort than as a first and/or only tool.

The Disturbing World of The Pearls in which she looks at Doublespeak and Definitions as well as some examples of his abusive teachings.
and The Disturbing World of The Pearls Part 2 in which she takes a look at their heretical Theology.


The Pearls’ Book NOT Banned in New Zealand (Working on Amazon)

New Zealand’s Censorship Compliance Unit has decided not to ban nor restrict Michael and Debi Pearl’s book, To Train Up A Child, according to this article in the Marlborough Press.  While I don’t believe in book banning, it seems to me that if a country has that policy, this book should fall into that category and I am a bit confused as to how they reached their decision.

I do believe in encouraging book sellers to stop selling offensive books and so does  Milli Hill at Peaceful Parenting who explains why Amazon should stop selling books which promote Child Abuse, especially To Train Up A Child. This piece includes a long quote from Debi Pearl in which she explains how one should use the switch on a child under one year old.

Note: The petition to which she links is the same one to which I link in my side bar. If you have not signed it, please sign it and share the link. Thank you.

The Schatz Story Going Mainstream

Brad Hirschfield posts in The Washington Post about the Schatz story and To Train Up A Child in a piece called, Beating children in the name of God.  He exhorts us Christians, saying:

Tragically, this is going on, it must be stopped, and it is precisely those of us for whom the Bible is a sacred and life-centering text that must take the lead in stopping it.

As is always the case, it is those closest to a tradition that should bear the greatest responsibility for it when it is being abused. We cannot simply distance ourselves from “those crazy people”, because “those crazy people” are using the same books we hold dear to commit atrocities, so who better than those who turn to (some of) the same books, to take on the responsibility of addressing the abuses committed in their name?


Jo Ashline of The Orange County Register also reports on the Pearls’ teachings and the recent controversy in Couple Claims God Wants us to Beat our Children.

I would like to respond to this quote:

During the CNN interview, Mr. and Mrs. Pearl also maintain their innocence in the beating death of Lydia and assure viewers that their training method does not promote anger or abuse, but rather a calm, methodical and effective method of spanking a child into submission.

What the Pearls and their followers fail to understand is that Lydia refused to or was unable to submit and they calmly and methodically spanked her for 7 hours until her tissues broke down.  You know how hitting meat makes it tender, right?  Well, if living flesh is hit long enough, even calmly and methodically, it gets tenderized.  The tissues break down and tiny particles of muscle tissue block the kidneys causing rhabdomyolosis. Please check that link for a more detailed explanation from Under Much Grace.  Rhabdomyolosis was the official cause of her death, by the way.

By the way, I have updated my Quotes from TTUAC page with some quotes from the NGJ website because the quotes were so disturbing to me that I thought they needed to be shared.  It is taking a lot of self control to keep myself from ranting and raving about the quotes, so I’m just going to let the quotes speak for themselves.

Recovering Grace from Bill Gothard

I was not aware that there is a site devoted to Shedding Light On The Teachings of IBLP and ATI (Bill Gothard’s Teachings.)  These sites are popping up faster than I can keep track of them, Praise the Lord.  I don’t have enough categories for all these abusive teachings, just tags, so  I’m happy to have these more organized sites to which to send people and which should pop up on search engines.

Along similar lines, Libby Anne looks at the promises made by No Greater Joy and Vision Forum and analyzes her Patriarchal parents’ inability to trust God with their children, realizing that it all boils down to A Trust Problem.

Spanking to Remove Guilt?

Back in October of 2010, Michael Pearl published an article where he claimed that he had never taught that spanking absolves a child of guilt.  He does, however, teach in that same article that they need the spanking in order to absolve themselves of guilt.

It is clear in all my writing that the forgiveness of which I speak is the parent forgiving the child. The two-year-old does not feel guilt before God. When he has willfully transgressed against his parents’ rules and he hides his misdeeds in shame, he has a psychological need to be cleansed of his guilt and restored to fellowship. This the parent can do through the proper application of the rod and reproof.

I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that point.  However, in his latest article of Feb 2011, he says that spanking can heal a child’s very soul. I don’t believe that anything or anyone but Jesus can heal our souls.

What a joy to possess the ability to instantly gain compliance and instill discipline in our children. However, the most mysterious, almost miraculous, fruit of the properly applied spanking is its ability to heal the child’s soul and create a sweetness of spirit.

I have here some quotes from other teachers which show this same doctrine about spanking being taught:

[Read more…]

In Memory of Lydia Schatz

Sunday, Feb 6, 2011 was the first anniversary of the death of Lydia Schatz.  Here are the posts I have found in memory of her so far

In memory of Lydia Schatz by ukrainiac in which she gives a brief summary of the story and links to Tulip Girl’s post.

Remembering Lydia Schatz by Tulip Girl who gives an emotional explanation of exactly what happened and how and updates with current trial information. She also reminds us of Sean Paddock who died on Feb 26, 2006.

in memory of lydia schatz by That Mom who gives a short summary and refers us to Tulip Girl and Parenting Freedom.

When Religion Becomes Cult-Like and Deadly from Parenting Freedom which contains 4 quotes from Pearl’s teachings to illustrate the dangers therein.

Mixed feelings about Created To Be His Help Meet

Elizabeth, at Virginia Is For Mothers, reviews Created To Be His Help Meet. While she got a lot of positive things out of it, she has some concerns.  I am linking to this post for 2 reasons.

1) This is a good review to share with people who got a lot out of the book and are wondering what could possibly be wrong with it.  If you share a very negative review with them, they will likely be resistant to the message therein.  This review brings up concerns from someone who, for the most part, liked the book.

2) She is interested to know what others got out of it.   I assume that she will find her way here and may be interested in the other reviews which I have collected.

By the way, she asks what we think about the allegation that Bathsheba can be blamed for enticing King David by bathing on her roof. The roof in those days was what our patios are today, it was probably enclosed and she probably did not expect anyone to be able to see her. I’m not sure if that was the usual custom or not. Also, the Bible says that it was the time when Kings go to war. I have heard many sermons teach that King David had no business in the palace at all because he was supposed to be at war leading his men. It seems to me that she thought that all the men were at war and would not be spying on her. But even if she were trying to entice him, the fault would still be his for not looking away and resisting. We can look at Joseph in his encounter with Potiphar’s wife to see how God expects a man to react to temptation.

Another Pro-Spanker speaks out against Michael Pearl

Emily shares a quote from Michael Pearl and her response to it.  Ah, but she did not share where the quote can be found.  Lest anyone insist that they do not remember Mr. Pearl ever saying such a thing, I will share the citation.  It is from an article on the No Greater Joy Website called, Angry Child and was written by Michael Pearl in August of 1998.

Edited to add:  Emily has removed her blog post so I removed the link.  Here is the quote which upset her so, “I could break his anger in two days. He would be too scared to get angry. On the third day he would draw into a quiet shell and obey.”

What Does Mr. Pearl Really Believe?

Michael Pearl has a very interesting article on his website where he responds to Pastor Raley‘s warning against his teachings in his church bulletin.  Now, in this article, Mr. Pearl says that he did not say what Pastor Raley says that he said.  I found that very interesting and so I decided to go through the articles and get to the bottom of this.

I clicked on the links where Pastor Raley cites his quotes and used CTRL F to search for them.  Here are the quotes Mr. Pearl claims that he did not write and my findings.

When a descendant of Adam reaches a level of moral understanding (sometime in his youth) he becomes fully, personally accountable to God and has sin imputed to him, resulting in the peril of eternal damnation.

When man reaches his state of moral accountability, and, by virtue of his personal transgression, becomes blameworthy, his only hope is a work of grace by God alone.”

These quotes are found in Mr. Pearl’s article, What We Believe.

If you put yourselves under my authority, you can learn the secret to getting rid of your sins.”

This was a generalization which I don’t believe that Pastor Raley meant to attribute to Mr. Pearl.

…age of accountability.”

I do not believe that this was meant to be a quote from Mr. Pearl either.  I think Pastor Raley meant these as “scare quotes.”

…a work of grace by God alone

This was found in Mr. Pearl’s article, What We Believe.

In the next 4 paragraphs are quibbling about whether or not he used certain words which he certainly did use in the article, In Defense of Biblical Chastisement.   Michael Pearl says,

The next paragraph attributed to me contains 118 words. The first 50 words are entirely false and certainly do not represent anything I have ever written or said. It contains words I have never employed and concepts I have never endorsed, like “To the child, a righteous parent is a surrogate god.”

It is especially interesting to me how he protests that he never used the words, “Eternal God,” when he certainly did. He says in the article,

I wrote “the higher powers” with “powers” in plural and in all lower case letters. If I had wanted to say “The Eternal God” I would have done so. I ask, why does my critic want me to say something different from what I said? Why did he find it necessary to change my words in order to find fault? His quote is a lie, his criticism slander. Why? To what end?

The quotes are there, exactly as Pastor Raley quoted them, in In Defense of Biblical Chastisement.  I think that Mr. Pearl owes Pastor Raley an apology for accusing him of lying and slander.

He also claims to have not used the word, “give,”  although he uses it 8 times in that same article.

Apparently there was some confusion as Mr. Pearl thought that his book were being referenced and in actually it was his website. It seems a bit odd to me that he forgot to check the website, especially as it will pop up in a Google search of the first quote, but maybe I’m missing something.

In the rest of the article, Pearl argues that what he said is not really what he meant and that he fails to see how anyone could possibly think that he could have meant what we accuse him of meaning.  He further insists that to even suggest that he means such things makes it obvious that we have evil intent.  Ok, he did not actually say those words, I am paraphrasing. Of course, I’m probably misunderstanding him, so I’d better stop putting words in his mouth and quit while I’m ahead. I have proven that did write the quotes which he claims to have not written. I’ll leave the rest of the article for someone else to answer.

Update:  On Dec 10, 2010 Michael added a retraction to the bottom of this article to explain that he did, indeed, write one of those quotes.  He still maintains that he did not write the rest, especially the one which was meant to be a paraphrase.

The Explaination

One-hit_wonder has posted a very impassioned explanation of why she feels so strongly about the Pearls’ teaching that she was willing to cause family strife by speaking out against them. I also want to thank her for using my TTUAC quotes and linking to me. <3

Quotes from NJG website

This Review of the Pearls is from someone who agrees with many of the Pearls’ teachings (including the concept of training) but cannot get past some of the more outrageous quotes on their website.

Secular Homeschooling Magazine

The homeschooling movement is taking notice of the Pearls. Secular Homeschooling is a rather large magazine and they have written an exposé of the Pearls and their teachings. She looks at all aspects of the Pearls and gives some advice on how to respond when offered the book at a homeschool gathering.

To Train Up a Child: The Greater Problem by Deborah Markus

Quotes from To Train Up A Child

When quoting from To Train Up A Child (written and published by Michael and Debi Pearl), we should be careful about paraphrasing. We are being accused of misquoting. Here are some quotes from the first edition of the book, which is found online here. I got the page numbers  for the 1st edition (1994) from quotes which are in circulation (originating from but I painstakingly checked each quote in the book to make sure that I am using direct quotes. Page numbers for the 17th edition (April 2006) were provided by Robbyn Peters Bennett of

The Pearls recommend switching infants only a few months old on their bare skin. They describe switching their own 4 month old daughter (1st edition p.9).

At four months she was too unknowing to be punished for disobedience. But for her own good, we attempted to train her not to climb the stairs by coordinating the voice command of “No” with little spats on the bare legs. The switch was a twelve-inch long, one-eighth-inch diameter sprig from a willow tree.

In the 17th edition (April 2006) the above quote is the same but the baby is a month older.  Also on page 9:

At five months, she was too unknowing to be punished for disobedience. But for her own good (and our peace of mind), we attempted to train her not to climb the stairs by coordinating the voice command of “No” with little spats on her bare legs. The switch was a twelve-once long, one-eighth-inch diameter sprig from a willow tree.

On p.60 of the 1st edition they recommend switching babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them “to get up.”

But what of the grouch who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then allow him to get up. If, after putting him down, you remember he just woke up, do not reward his complaining by allowing him to get up.For the sake of consistency in training, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.

This has been reworded somewhat in the 17th edition (P63)

But what about the grouchy child who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then for some reason reverse your position, allowing him to get up. For your reputation with the child, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down, there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.

On p.79 they recommend switching a 7 month old for screaming.

A seven-month-old boy had, upon failing to get his way, stiffened clenched his fists, bared his toothless gums and called down damnation on the whole place. At a time like that, the angry expression on a baby’s face can resemble that of one instigating a riot. The young mother, wanting to do the right thing, stood there in helpless consternation, apologetically shrugged her shoulders and said, “What can I do?” My incredulous nine-year-old whipped back, “Switch him.” The mother responded, “I can’t, he’s too little.” With the wisdom of a veteran who had been on the little end of the switch, my daughter answered, “If he is old enough to pitch a fit, he is old enough to be spanked.”

On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with.

After about ten acts of stubborn defiance, followed by ten switchings, he surrendered his will to one higher than himself. In rolling the wheel, he did what every accountable human being must do–he humbled himself before the “highest” and admitted that his interests are not paramount. After one begrudged roll, my wife turned to other chores.

On p.56 Debi Pearl trades blows with a 2 year old.

This time, her bottom came off the couch as she drew back to return the blow; and I heard a little karate like wheeze come from somewhere deep inside.

On p.59 (1st ed) and 62 (17th ed) they recommend spanking a 3 year old until he is “totally broken.”

She then administers about ten slow, patient licks on his bare legs. He cries in pain. If he continues to show defiance by jerking around and defending himself, or by expressing anger, then she will wait a moment and again lecture him and again spank him. When it is obvious he is totally broken, she will hand him the rag and very calmly say, “Johnny, clean up your mess.” He should very contritely wipe up the water.

On p.55 the Pearls say a mother should hit her child if he cries for her.

If a father is attempting to make a child eat his oats, and the child cries for his mother, then the mother should respond by spanking him for whining for her and for not eating his oats. He will then be glad to be dealing only with the father.

On p.46 of the 1st edition, p. 49 of the 17th, the Pearls say that if a child does obey before being spanked, spank them anyway. And “if you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher.” “Defeat him totally.”

At this point, in utter panic, he will rush to demonstrate obedience. Never reward delayed obedience by reversing the sentence. And, unless all else fails, don’t drag him to the place of cleansing. Part of his training is to come submissively. However, if you are just beginning to institute training on an already rebellious child, who runs from discipline and is too incoherent to listen, then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.

On p.80 they say

On the bare legs or bottom, switch him eight or ten licks; then, while waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If the crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If the crying is still defiant, protesting and other than a response to pain, spank him again.

On p.47 of the 1st ed. they give details of what to use for a spanking instrument.

Any spanking, to effectively reinforce instruction, must cause pain, but the most pain is on the surface of bare skin where the nerves are located. A surface sting will cause sufficient pain, with no injury or bruising. Select your instrument according to the child’s size. For the under one year old, a little, ten- to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (striped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective.

That quote is reworded in the 17th edition and is on page 50.

It is most effective to strike a light rod against bare skin, where nerves are located at the surface…

The Pearls  recommend pulling a nursing infant’s hair (p.7 both editions)

One particularly painful experience of nursing mothers is the biting baby. My wife did not waste time finding a cure. When the baby bit, she pulled hair (an alternative has to be sought for baldheaded babies).

They recommend hosing off a child outside in order to clean him if he continues to soil himself. (p. 75 17th edition)

So, my suggestion was that the father explain to the boy that, now that he was a man, he would no longer be washed in the house. He was too big and too stinky to be cleaned by the babywipes. From now on, he would be washed outside with a garden hose. The child was not to be blamed. This was to be understood as just a progressive change in methods. The next dump, the father took him out and merrily, and might I say, carelessly, washed him off. What with the autumn chill and the cold well water, I don’t remember if it took a second washing or not, but, a week later, the father told me his son was now taking himself to the pot. The child weighed the alternatives and opted to change his lifestyle. Since then, several others have been the recipients of my meddling, and it usually takes no more than three cheerful washings.

Also, here are 3 quotes which I feel show some questionable doctrine:

The guilt burdened soul cries out for the lashes and nails of justice. Your child cannot yet understand that the Creator has been lashed and nailed in his place. Only the rod of correction can preserve his soul until the day of moral dawning.

The parent holds in his hand (in the form of a little switch) the power to absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, instruct his spirit, strengthen his resolve, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid.

A child properly and timely spanked is healed in the soul and restored to wholeness of spirit. A child can be turned back from the road to hell through proper spankings. “Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Prov. 23:13, 14). (p. 44)

Note: I find it ironic that he recommends using plastic plumbing line for a rod and then objects when people say that he teaches people to whip children.

Now, here are some very disturbing quotes directly from their website.  You are going to have to go read this yourself to really appreciate it and believe that I did not take quotes out of context.

This is from Question #9: “Please give examples of the kinds of things for which you used the rod, both as a training tool and as punishment, for children were under 12 months.”

We never used the rod to punish a child younger than 12 months.

For young children, especially during the first year, the rod is used very lightly as a training tool. You use something small and light to get the child’s attention and to reinforce your command.

One or two light licks on the bare legs or arms will cause a child to stop in his tracks and regard your commands.

A 12-inch piece of weed eater chord works well as a beginner rod. It will fit in your purse or pocket.

Later, a plumber’s supply line is a good spanking tool. You can get it at Wal-Mart or any hardware store. Ask for a plastic, ¼ inch, supply line. They come in different lengths and several colors; so you can have a designer rod to your own taste. They sell for less than $1.00.

A baby needs to be trained all day, everyday. It should be a cheerful, directing training, not a correction training.

When your 6-month-old baby grabs sister’s hair, while he still has a hand full of hair, swat his hand or arm and say “No, that hurts sister.” If he has already let go of her hair, then put his hand back on her hair, so as to engage his mind in the former action, and then carry on with the hand swatting and the command.

If your 10-month-old is pitching a fit because he wants to be picked up, then you must reinforce your command with a few stinging swats.

Wait one minute, and then tell the baby to stop crying. If he doesn’t, again swat him on his bare legs. You don’t need to undress him, turn him over, or make a big deal out of it. Just swat him where any skin is exposed. Continue to act as if you don’t notice the fit. Wait two minutes and repeat.

Most babies will keep it going for 3 or 4 times and then slide to a sitting position and sob it out. When this happens, it signals a surrender, so give him two minutes to get control and then swoop him up as if the fit never happen and give him a big hug, BUT don’t hold him in the manner he was demanding. Now remove yourself from the area so as to remove him from association with the past event.

Don’t ever hit a small child with your hand. You are too big and the baby is too small. The surface of the skin is where the most nerves are located and where it is easiest to cause pain without any damage to the child. The weight of your hand does little to sting the skin, but can cause bruising or serious damage internally. Babies need training but they do not need to be punished. Never react in anger or frustration. If you loose it, get your self under control before you attempt to discipline a child.

Here is another quote from the No Greater Joy website.  This quote is from an article from 1998,  Angry Child.

A proper spanking leaves children without breath to complain. If he should tell you that the spanking makes him madder, spank him again. If he is still mad…. He desperately needs an unswayable authority, a cold rock of justice. Keep in mind that if you are angry you are wasting your time trying to spank his anger away.

I could break his anger in two days. He would be too scared to get angry. On the third day he would draw into a quiet shell and obey. On the fourth day I would treat him with respect and he would respond in kind. On the fifth day the fear would go away and he would relax because he would have judged that as long as he responds correctly there is nothing to fear. On the sixth day he would like himself better and enjoy his new relationship to authority. On the seventh day I would fellowship with him in some activity that he enjoyed. On the eight day he would love me and would make a commitment to always please me because he valued my approval and fellowship. On the ninth day someone would comment that I had the most cheerful and obedient boy that they had ever seen. On the tenth day we would be the best of buddies.

(Note that the quote above was linked to Stockholm Syndrome in an article in Secular Homeschooling Magazine which makes some interesting points.)

In an article called, Training Roseanna’s Flesh, Pearl explains how and why one must control a child at all costs.

For example: a child tries to slide from your lap onto the floor. On most occasions that’s just a way of letting you know where he wants to go. Fine, but there are times when you do not want him to slide to the floor. If your little fourteen-month-old makes an attempt to dismount your lap, and you indicate that you do not want him to, and he makes a protest by jerking away or whining, then by no means can you allow him to intimidate you into compliance. For, by so doing you have allowed the authority to pass to him. You would be encouraging rebellion. YOU MUST ALWAYS BE PERCEIVED TO WIN ANY CONTEST. It is all determined by what the child thinks. If there is a seed of resistance in the child, it must never be allowed to grow. Don’t allow that spirit of rebellion to become profitable.

When the child whines and makes an issue of something that to you was otherwise irrelevant, you must then follow-through, causing the child to do what he did not want to do. This is soul training – character building – sanctification of the natural spirit in your child. This won’t make him a Christian, but it will give him a better character than most Christians possess.

If, during the course of a day, no contest arises naturally, you should arrange one. Seek opportunity to thwart the child’s will, to cause him to submit to your command. If you cause him to surrender his will to you twenty times during the course of a day, he will not disappoint you with disobedience in public. Tell him to stop, sit, don’t speak for five minutes, etc. Play the half-hour “quiet time game,” the half-hour “don’t wiggle and squirm game.” Refuse him a treat when he is wanting it badly. Give it to him only when he is joyously submitted to your timetable. You mustn’t give the appearance of being blindly arbitrary, but always maintain full control. Never allow the child to dictate your actions.

I have found an article on the No Greater Joy site where Mr. Pearl explains some of his different terminology (aka DoubleSpeak) in regard to when a child is Too Young To Spank.  Here is a quote from that page discussing a 6 month old:

So we watch him, knowing his propensity to selfish compulsion. When he seizes his bowl with intentions of dumping it, swat the offending hand with a little instrument (light wooden spoon, rubber spatula, flexible tubing less than a quarter inch in diameter, or any instrument that will cause an unpleasant sting without leaving any marks).

Note: Comments are welcome and I try to reply where appropriate but I reserve the right to delete any and all flames at my discretion.

Link to “Pearls” of Wisdom?

Just added to In-Depth Analysis links

“Pearls” of Wisdom? by Woman Uncensored includes numerous quotes from NGJ site