Counter Arguments

Most people, upon reading a few quotes from To Train Up A Child, will need no further convincing that there are serious problems with these teachings. However, some people will have arguments to which you will need responses. For this reason, I am posting some thoughts to prepare you to express your counter arguments.

When you are confronted by someone who has read TTUAC and defends it, you must proceed with caution. Remember that someone who has spent a long time in the dark needs a soft light which then grows slowly in intensity. A sudden, harsh light will only cause them to shut their eyes tighter and flee.

First of all, keep in mind that they will not accept any argument from a non-Christian or someone who they consider to be unbiblical, such as someone who condemns spanking. For this reason, I have compiled some links to arguments which will fill their criteria here.

Pearl followers will often insist that the quotes you show them are not in the book at all. They have, as they often express it, “eaten the meat and spit out the bones.” If you remind them that not everyone is so discerning as they and that some people choke on the bones, they may make a small step in the right direction and stop recommending the book.

Pearl and his followers are saying that we are misquoting them. Pearl says that he says, “switches” and we replace it with “tree branches.” A switch is a tree branch, but not all tree branches are switches. It is best to use Pearl’s own words so that they cannot cry, “foul.”  In the same way, use the term, “switching,” instead of “whipping” or “beating.”  When trying to communicate with someone, using the language with which they are familiar is usually helpful.

They are also accusing us of taking his quotes out of context. No matter how long of a quote you use, it will probably always be “out of context” because there is no context where his words are acceptable unless you have been almost hypnotized (for lack of a better term) by reading the whole book.   Nevertheless, I try to use large quotes in hopes of avoiding that charge as well.

Their main argument is that there is a lot of good in the Pearls’ teachings. Almost all dangerous teachings have an element of good in them. No one uses rat poison straight, they mix it with something tasty. But no matter how much good there is, once there is a tiny amount of poison mixed in you have a dangerous concoction. There is also the illustration of baking brownies with just a tiny bit of doggie doo in it.   But don’t be harsh, just gently explain that a little leaven leaveneths the whole lump.

I hope you have found this helpful.  I will be on the look out for more arguments to address and I invite your comments.


  1. Counter Arguments 2 | Why Not Train A Child? on May 20, 2010 at 11:28 am

    […] been mulling over a follow up to my Counter Arguments post for almost a month now.  Recently Crystal was kind enough to leave me a comment, letting me […]

  2. Zooey on April 23, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Very good, Linda! Thank you.

    On one point, Pearls’ critics being accused of saying “tree branch” instead of “switch”, I happen to have my own copy of TTUAC (7th printing-1996), and it says, on page 47, third paragraph from the top:
    “For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective”.
    So, Pearl followers need not complain of misquoting in this case: Those are MP’s words. (I couldn’t make this 🙁 stuff up if I tried).

    • Hermana Linda on April 23, 2010 at 11:04 am

      I noticed that when I was assembling his quotes. Apparently he forgot that part. *sigh*

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