Hmmm…My Two Cents on “No Greater Joy.”

Oh, joy. Homeschoolblogger has been boycotted. I can’t decide what to think of this little escapade. Ambivalent is a good term…”characterized by a mixture of opposite feelings or attitudes.” That is not me on most issues, but it is on this one.

It started with the murder of a child. The mother used materials from the Pearl’s minsitry, No Greater Joy. I’ve not read their books, although people keep recommending them to me. I have, however, read a great deal of their website. I do not support the Pearl’s ministry. Large portions of it make me uncomfortable. Their doctrine of faith makes no sense. Secondary issues are brought to the forefront. The scripture citations they include at the end of each point have nothing to do with the doctrinal stances they line out. I know because I looked up every single one. The review Spunky posted on Created to Be His Help Meet seems very well-done and thought out to me. No one so far has been able to calmly tell me where she errs in her assessment. They mostly seem to lump her in with some group of radical feminists who are willing to stretch anything to be against this book. That is purely anecdotal (you’ll see why I point that out if you keep reading) and proves nothing. But I cannot seem to find a reasoned defense not grounded in personal emotion and connection to this particular ministry rather than to the bible itself.

***I am editing this slightly because the above statement is an unfair representation based on obly a few discussions. I read and appreciate views from several people who have at one time or another mentioned how positively the Pearls’ ministry has affected them. They have never engaged in such attacks and they have such loving, Christ-like personalities it is hard for me to imagine they would. They have been very diplomatic in their dealings and I have the utmost respect for them. I am also not in any sort of debate forum with them and find it inappropriate to go around looking for an argument. I would, however, appreciate a calm, friendly discussion of the issues raised with fellow believers.***

Their writing is unclear, imprecise and leads easily to confusion. They are not careful about their word choice, and it does not seem there is a great deal of attention paid to definitions. The ministry seems to stand on its definition of discipline.

The first level of discipline is reproof. You can chasten your children with your words, but as we have already pointed out, words that are not backed up with constraining force are nothing more than empty suggestions—personal opinions to be rejected or obeyed as the child pleases.

But all discipline means is “to learn.” That is where we get the term “disciple” from. Jesus did not go about whipping them in order to educate them. We are disciples of Christ because we learn from him. We discipline our children becaue we want them to learn. According to Webster’s 1828 dicitonary, the first definition of discipline is “Education; instruction; cultivation and improvement…” Corporal punishment is not mentioned until definition number five…and that in a day when “the strap” was readily acceptable. The common definition of discipline refers more closely to our daily walk with our child…the modeling, instruction and guidance we give them…than it does to our correction of them. Correction is a necessary part of parenting, but it is not the central idea of discipline.

Discipline starts with a godly example and loving instruction. It does not start with the first correction of misbehavior. I appreciate that the Pearl’s do outline that good parenting begins with the parent’s relationship with their child. They do point out that without that relationship, the parent cannot deliver consequences effectively and that in such a situation, the parent should not resort to corporal punishment because it will only result in anger and rebellion in the child.

Yes, the rod is mentioned. Back in the Old Testament in Proverbs. I’m not one to pick and choose which verses I wish to follow, but we are also told in the Torah that so long as a servant gets up after a day or two and can walk after a sound thrashing, all is well. I am not against spanking per se. The problem with it is that most people deliver spankings in anger, something No Greater Joy does caution against. If you are angry, you need to calm down first. At one point, they also recommend striking yourself first to make sure that your swat is under control. This, too, is sound advice. For any consequence. A parent who is in the habit of threatening eternal groundings is no more effective than the parent who delivers spankings out of anger.

The biblical example also uses this “rod” for a consequence for wrongdoing. The Pearls’ use of the rod also lines out its use in training. What is that? “Training is what you do in the moments when all is well and you take time out to condition them to obedience.” Although it is termed “training,” and we are assured this is not “punishment,” I see know justification for laying pitfalls before our children and lying in wait for them so that we can swat them with our pipe. Nor do I view child rearing as “conditioning.” That is what the public schools are for.

I prefer to view the rod in the sense David uses it in Psalms…thy rod and thy staff comfort me. It is not the imminent threat of a physical beating that is comforting David. It is the shepherd’s rod, used to guide the sheep back into the fold. It was not used to strike the sheep, but to guide them gently. Even if we go with the model of the rod for spanking (if I remember correctly, Dr. Dobson also recommends reseving the hand for loving touch rather than spanking), it is quite a leap from this to stashing plumbing pipes in every corner and hanging one about your neck because its ubiquitous presence will keep your children in line.

And then to tell me, “If you do not see the wisdom in what I have said, and you reject these concepts, you are not fit to be a parent. I pity your children. They will never experience the freedom of soul and conscience that mine do.”

There is a decided misuse of anecdotes in the writing I have seen so far. Anecdotes should be used to illustrate a point, not prove it. Some citation of scripture or independent studies needs to be offered. Anecdotal evidence alone proves nothing. To see this you have to read more of the site than I am prepared to quote here. I personally always question when universal conclusions and applications are drawn based on anecdotes…and not even ones that I can verify independently. I am not accusing the Pearls of making these up, but I would like to see more careful research than some excerpts of letters chosen for publication.

They frequently engage in attacks against their opposition which I find unprofessional to say the least. When fellow Christians challenge their methods, we are told, “Church friends who have noses longer than the pews on which they perch can cause a world of trouble.” This and other comments regarding in-laws and possible “outsiders” who criticize disciplinary measures bother me deeply. Yes, there are a lot of nosy people out there, but the bible clearly states we are to be submissive to one another AS CLEARLY as it states the verses No Greater Joy quotes in defense of the rod.

But then, the Pearls did not murder this child. The mother who committed this crime may have used the materials when she chose her implements of torture, as evidenced by the pipes found around the ho
use and the bruises on the surviving children. But she did not follow the cautionary warnings, either. Also from their website:

Some parents spank their children too hard, though most do not spank them hard enough at times. The severity should be scaled to the offense and the moment. If it is training, sometimes it doesn’t even need to hurt. A rolled up newspaper that makes a lot of noise can be extremely effective to gain an immediate response. Obviously, if you ever need to punish, the spanking will have to be more painful. The painfulness is not as important as consistency. Certainty and swiftness will eliminate the need for severity.

Your own heart tells you not to do bodily harm to your children. Be calm and patient, and your reason will have time to prevail.

If you are motivated by anger, wait until you calm down. Put the child in a room to wait until you are motivated by your head, not you anger.

If ALL the advice had been followed, this child may have been swatted several times with a piece of plumbing, but it certainly would not have lead to death.

This is where I’m ambiguous on this whole thing. I do not support the Pearls ministry. I believe it to be founded on false principles. I believe that for teachers in the Word, there needs to be much greater care taken in expression, word choice, scripture interpretation and how those who disagree with them are discussed. I therefore have a hard time coming to the defense of HSB or anyone else siding with them. But then, an honest reading of the entirity of their site rather than just some pulled quotes does clearly show that they would not advocate the kind of parenting abuse in this case.

So, that’s where I stand, I guess. Firmly wishy-washy. Not going to ban HSB, any time soon. And most of the links in my sidebar will still lead you there because that is where the majority of my posting is and this double posting stuff is too tedious. I don’t think I’m going to back track and post old stuff anymore, but I may post current stuff here.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.
3John 1:4

0 thoughts on “Hmmm…My Two Cents on “No Greater Joy.”

  1. TulipGirl says:

    “But then, an honest reading of the entirity of their site rather than just some pulled quotes does clearly show that they would not advocate the kind of parenting abuse in this case.”

    Of course they wouldn’t technically support these actions, when laid out in black and white. But they do promote a “must control a child at all costs” attitude, that would fundamentally be associated with the actions that resulted in this child’s death. It’s not a leap to say that the Pearls, who suggest hosing a toddler off with cold water for pottying accidents would find swaddling an older child to restrain him within a “creative” application of their discipline approach. Except, of course, that this led to a child’s death.

    Very well written, btw.

  2. Dana says:

    Thank you for your comments. The parenting advice given seems “odd” to me to say the least. I do not understand why this has become so polarizing among Christian circles. Using “the rod” is certainly not a salvation issue, yet I have read people boycotting those who do NOT support this ministry. I feel uncomfortable with a ministry that is not open to examination. My purpose is to stand for Christ and try to examine that in the light of scripture. I am open to such examination…I do not enjoy being told I am an unfit parent if a disagree with “training” practices which, at best, I view as an abstraction loosely drawn from scripture.

  3. Spunky says:

    Interesting thoughts Dana. I have somethings to add to this discussion and will over time. But as I am learning in my own way, those with a voice must make it crystal clear what they mean. The Pearls do not make it clear in all cases what is expected and how things will be. I read Rebekah’s response on one blog. She can recall only one time being spanked. I believe her yet on their website it is clear that one of their children at age 6 was swatted every day for 7 days 10 swats for being a liar. He hadn’t lied that day. He was being swatted for who HE WAS not what he did. Nor was there any training involved during the chastisement. He was just told at noon to bring a switch or else. That is not chastisement, or training, it is something far worse. Until the Pearls provide clarity on these and a few other places their training tips lead to the tendency to believe a switch solves all. It doesn’t. That young man needed the blood of Jesus. Where is the switch for Debi’s failure. She admitted it was her failure that led to his lying. Shouldn’t she get the switch in his place? Who will chastise her 10 switches a day for 7 days for being who she was at that time.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Actually, I think Rebekah Anast forgot some things, as described in a short article in one of the newsletters several years ago (March 2002). In this article she clearly describes being whipped at about age 3 or 4 for having a bad attitude.
    Perhaps things weren’t as wonderful as she recalls.
    How sad.

  5. Dana says:

    Thank you, Spunky. Your comments mean a lot to me as I “feel” like I have known you for awhile and I trust your judgment. I have never felt so many torn feelings over a single issue in my life, saving perhaps my conversion. I guess part of the problem is that there are a number of people whom I have respect for who state how much these resources have helped them. And I am extremely reluctant to stand against anyone in ministry.

    At the same time, the Pearls are not Christ. Their resources do not carry the weight of scripture. The funny thing is, the first thing that made me really uncomfortable with this whole thing was a comment that appears to have since been deleted, but it is still quoted here: http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/devdoordeborah/26344/#c39742

    I don’t see her point at all. You like the book, fine. Why so defensive and accusatory? The whole spiel on meta-language was also a bit troublesome. So no one can truly communicate? The words are set clearly on the page and if the author does not have the skill to communicate with perspicuity, s/he should take great care in defining and recommending what could be viewed as abusive practices. I have also received some personal attacks merely for asking a neutral question…The defense often appears to me to be almost cult-like. It was the defenses I read that eventually brought me to reading more of the website and digging deeper into the teaching because it did not seem rational. There are all kinds of books outside the bible which have been personally meaningful to me, but if you or anyone else were to challenge them I wouldn’t take it so personally. Goodness, I don’t respond to people like that when they attack me personally. Or scripture. Much less a book on child rearing.

    It also makes me uncomfortable that the Pearls’ name and specific practices not found in scripture have been able to find themselves to the forefront of the ministry rather than the name of Christ.

    And maybe it is just me, but I do not really see much slant in this article that is going around.

  6. Spunky says:

    Dana,

    I feel that constructive commentary is difficult because of the need to name call instead of looking at and discussing the issues. Name calling is a form of intimidation to deflect attention. No Christian wants to be thought of as a feminist as defined by the world. But that is what those who disagree with the some of their teachings are viewed as.

    Because of the climate that this has created people seem afraid to say anything crticial. When I wrote my review I caught (and still get) all sorts of hate mail. Someone just left a comment under one of my posts yesterday saying that I had “issues” internally and that’s why I am defensive. The only issue is what is written. Further my husband and I wrote it together. Does he have issues too?

    No, I won’t be deterred by those who seek to silence honest analysis with their attempts to make it personal or about me. This is about what is written. And anyone who goes to their website and does a simple look around can see that some of their writing is not clear and could lead to wrong assumptions about what to do.

    When I write something I am thankful for those that provide honest feedback. I don’t have all the answers. Accountability in what we say is essential for the truth of the gospel. Clarity in child training is essential in the current climate of our culture.

  7. razorbackmama says:

    Dana,

    I agree with EVERYTHING EVERYTHING EVERYTHING you have said, both in your post and in your comments. EVERYTHING. I have noticed the same exact things myself.

  8. Dana says:

    I agree, Spunky. It took me a long time to decide to say anything at all, and I still have chosen not to do so in a forum in which I am “known.” I have nothing to lose, really. “Just” a stay at home mom, but I take Matthew 12:36 seriously that says I will be held to account for every idle word. I also try to live by this standard, although I am not always successful:

    Jam 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

    However, I also apply it to those who profess to be in ministry. I do not see that in this discussion, unfortunately. Nor do I see it in how the Pearl’s defend their ministry from attack. Perhaps it was right of them, in a biblical sense, to not offer comment to reporters, I don’t know. But it certainly isn’t right to use the derogatory language toward fellow church members and family members of their readers who encounter difficulty with their methods. Possessed damsels, brothers and sisters in Christ described with noses longer than the pews they sit on…where is that peaceable? Where is the love of the enemy? Where is the thought of being above reproach?

    And on that note, from the introduction of the section, it sounds like a treatise on how to defend yourself from an investigation. Aren’t we to follow the laws of the land except when doing so would cause us to sin? Is it really such a central topic to our salvation to strike our children with plumbing equipment that we cannot live by the laws of our state? To strike an infant for waking up at night crying? To strike a child in a manipulated exchange in which, in my view, you have become a stumbling block…causing another to sin? (Referring to the whole notion of training).

    I do not like being in a position in which I feel like I am defining my beliefs based on the shortcomings of someone else, particularly someone in ministry. I’m still deciding what to do with this…

  9. razorbackmama says:

    I *gave up*. LOL. There was just too much, and chapter 23….OH MY GOODNESS. I’m not even sure where I was going to start with that one.

    I have been considering finishing up the chapters, but I haven’t quite decided yet….

  10. christinemm says:

    I recommend that you read the books that the Pearls wrote. I have “To Train Up a Child” right here and base my impressions on the book.

    I think some people are throwing around views about a book when they have not read it, which is not a good thing.

    I am very disturbed by the ‘training’ of “infants” as outlined on pages 6-8 of “To Train Up a Child”.

    I was curious if you have read the book by William Sears M.D. “The Complete Book of Christian Parenting”? I was interested in how he defined ‘the rod’, which is a very different interpretation than the Pearl’s recommendation of a PVA pipe.

    I appreciate your analysis and thoughts, and the eloquence and grace in which you write of this topic. Have a nice day!

  11. Dana says:

    Thank you for your thoughts. I do not currently have access to the book. My thoughts are based entirely on my assessment of the free materials they have posted online at nogreaterjoy.org. I am going through the articles and reflecting on what I find there. I do not even pretend to be able to criticize a book I have not read. Nor do I pretend to know everything taught in the book. If it teaches something different from their website or provides further explanation that makes the articles more acceptable, I’m all ears (or eyes, I guess : ).

  12. Beth says:

    Very well said Dana. I so appreciate your honesty here. As you know, the Pearls’ ministry is NOT among my favorites. I DO believe that their materials are potentially misleading to eager *seekers*, even dangerous, and in many instances even contrary to the Gospel they claim to be upholding.

    Thank you for stopping by my place to say “hi” and offer your congrats. It was so good to hear from you.

    Also, I found recently that my old HSB blog has been erased (I’m guessing b/c I wasn’t active recently enough?), deleted, just not there anymore! And my “login” name and password are obsolete as well? weird.

    So, all those blogs/articles I wrote are therefore permanently erased too! I’m *very* glad that I have copies of *most* of my HSB posts over at my blogger blog. Just fyi, that you might want to consider copying your posts if you’re not planning on keeping your HSB blog current.

  13. Kathleen F. says:

    I do not support the Pearl’s teaching or ministry. However, I found a link to “To Train Up a Child” for free. People who haven’t read the book to post comments on it can then. I will only leave the link if I have permission from this blog’s owner. It says on the webpage that there is permission to reprint.

  14. Spunky says:

    For what its worth, I’ve read the Pearls materials. I have been receiving their newsletter for over ten years and attended a weekend of workshops where Michael Pearl was the speaker. Debi was supposed to be there but had a horse accident so she was in the hotel room. It was at that conference that I began to understand more of what the Pearls teach and I began to have some serious reservations. So for me this isn’t just a knee jerk reaction to a few things I’d read elsewhere.

  15. Kelly says:

    Wow…thanks for this post. I have been thinking about this issue for some time, since before the news of the murdered boy came out. I have longed to post about it on my own blog, but have not done so because I was afraid, as Spunky so aptly put it, of not being crystal clear in my meaning. I have withdrawn the majority of my posting from HSB and have focused on building my blog at another location because of the controversy…mainly because I don’t want to be identified as someone who is a “Pearl supporter.” I find myself having very ambivalent feelings toward them, as well, and for the same reasons you mentioned–lovely, respectable parents who would never abuse their children have “benefitted” from the teachings of NGJ. I would not write off my friendship with these people because of a loose association with one book / ministry.

    I have read their website and purchased their book USED so that I could read first hand what people are talking about. The one thought that constantly comes to mind when I read their words, which consistently offend me and come across as being self-righteous and unloving and dogmatic is, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” When one speaks a language that is so consistently misaligned with scripture, as well as condescending and harsh in their judgement of others, then I question the true motives of their hearts.

    I believe it was Barbara Woodhouse who wrote a book called “No Bad Dogs.” (correct me if I’m wrong) Obviously there was a behavioral approach there to idenifying and training the “badness” out of dogs. I always get the feeling that the Pearls are operating in the same way.

    Oh I have so many thoughts on this, and I think I will tackle the “rod” issue on my own blog in the near future, as I’ve been contemplating it for some time now with regard to this issue. Anyway, thanks for your post. I will link to it, because it expresses very, very well my shared thoughts on this subject, and is very well written.

  16. Kelly says:

    Wow…thanks for this post. I have been thinking about this issue for some time, since before the news of the murdered boy came out. I have longed to post about it on my own blog, but have not done so because I was afraid, as Spunky so aptly put it, of not being crystal clear in my meaning. I have withdrawn the majority of my posting from HSB and have focused on building my blog at another location because of the controversy…mainly because I don’t want to be identified as someone who is a “Pearl supporter.” I find myself having very ambivalent feelings toward them, as well, and for the same reasons you mentioned–lovely, respectable parents who would never abuse their children have “benefitted” from the teachings of NGJ. I would not write off my friendship with these people because of a loose association with one book / ministry.

    I have read their website and purchased their book USED so that I could read first hand what people are talking about. The one thought that constantly comes to mind when I read their words, which consistently offend me and come across as being self-righteous and unloving and dogmatic is, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” When one speaks a language that is so consistently misaligned with scripture, as well as condescending and harsh in their judgement of others, then I question the true motives of their hearts.

    I believe it was Barbara Woodhouse who wrote a book called “No Bad Dogs.” (correct me if I’m wrong) Obviously there was a behavioral approach there to idenifying and training the “badness” out of dogs. I always get the feeling that the Pearls are operating in the same way.

    Oh I have so many thoughts on this, and I think I will tackle the “rod” issue on my own blog in the near future, as I’ve been contemplating it for some time now with regard to this issue. Anyway, thanks for your post. I will link to it, because it expresses very, very well my shared thoughts on this subject, and is very well written.

  17. Dana says:

    Thank you so much for your thoughts, Kelly. I will look forward to your post. I have begun working on a study of the scripture’s use of the “rod,” but have too many other things going on to promise anything anytime soon. It will be interesting to read your thoughts on the subject.

    The behaviorism in their approach is pervasive and disturbing. Here is an interesting article if you have not already read it:
    http://www.aiias.edu/ict/vol_28/28cc_441-460.htm

  18. Anonymous says:

    The entire universe can talk about the right way to discipline a child until everyone is blue in the face. All forms of discipline have their controversies. I would like to ask all, which of you feels you have been perfect in your discipline, who here is 100 % satisfied that none of their punishment has ever hurt their children. lest we forget there is also mental, emotional, and verbal abuse. it has been perceived that swatting a child is physical abuse, okay what about telling little johnny bad boy, what is wrong with you, why did you do that? that discipline has been perceived to make the child feel like mommy thinks he is not good enough and the child grows up with emotional issues. what about banishing your child to his room, you leave him behind closed doors screaming and whaling with all his might that discipline has been perceived as mental abuse, it’s been said the child grows up feeling like mommy doesn’t want him because she repeatedly isolated him from her presence. we all know what verbal abuse entails and since it requires me to write more vulgar words than stupid and idiot, i will assume everyone here can imagine their own example of verbal abuse, and it rightfully has been perceived as wrong, but lets get back to “physical abuse” people are associating “swats” of the hand, which is little more than pushing the childs hand away from what they were told no about, they are also associating the tugging of little sussy’s hair to show her the pain she caused because she nearly ripped out her sisters hair, also the “swatting” of the leg or buttock, which is slightly more than a pat, and never leaves a mark , as abuse which it most certainly is not. I know from personal experience what abuse is, I was pushed to the floor and slapped across the face by my mother when i was 6 years old for asking why I had to do something, my “spankings” from my father were with his 3 inch wide leather belt with metal studs all along the sides,and more often than not my “spankings” were more than 10 licks, I was often left with huge welts and significant bruising for days, I was often told to get out of my mothers face and to leave her alone and all i was trying to do was ask for help on homework and give her a hug when she came in the door from work, I was dragged in the house by my hair by my father when i was a teenager and called names by my mother that i wouldn’t say to the actual people society perceives to deserve those names. Michael and Debi Pearl are not responsible for the misguided using their teachings for authority to abuse their children, that’s like saying God himself is responsible for the misguided using his teachings to force young girls into pedifile type relations with much older men in marriage. Last but not least, why do people feel free to attack someone’s character without talking to them directly? do people no longer feel it just to give the person they thrash in public a chance to explain away your criticisms? alot here have said of reading the Pearl’s materials but has anyone considered sharing your views of their teachings with them through letter or phone call so that they may have a chance to explain their side, before lashing out against them in public forum. oh before I forget what do you (tulipgirl) mean by “must control child at all costs” attitude? because all forms of discipline can go to far, even a mother who punishes by simply using lecture, can lecture one to many times, to the point where the child feels untrusted or belittled or unworthy.

    Laney.

  19. Dana says:

    Thank you for your thoughts, Anonymous. I have never made the claim that the Pearl’s are personally responsible for the death of this or any other child. My concern is more the belief that their teaching is the absolute word of God which leads to difficulties. Theirs is an interpretation, like anyone else’s. There are things in the materials which are fine, great even, but there are things which are concerning. Continually comparing children to animals to be conditioned and implying that if you follow this “program” you will have perfect children is the beginning of it.

    Last but not least, why do people feel free to attack someone’s character without talking to them directly? do people no longer feel it just to give the person they thrash in public a chance to explain away your criticisms? alot here have said of reading the Pearl’s materials but has anyone considered sharing your views of their teachings with them through letter or phone call so that they may have a chance to explain their side, before lashing out against them in public forum

    Their writings are public and thus open to public scrutiny. I have not called their character into question, as I know nothing about them. I only call their teaching into questions, which is a different thing.

    Don’t be so quick to assume they have not been contacted. There was a public exchange via a homeschoolblogger weblog in which Rebecca Anast attempted to explain some things and many concerns were brought up, and many letters have been written to them.

  20. Anonymous says:

    My statement “Michael and Debi Pearl are not responsible for the misguided using their teachings for authority to abuse their children” was not directed to the recent wildfire discussion of the woman who killed her 4 year old foster son, it was directed to all who use their teachings as justification to use more force than should be used therefore abusing their child. I accidentally left out in my first opinion “blog” that i do not feel the Pearl’s are promoting abuse.
    I have read created to be his help meet, to train up a child, and numerous NGJ magazine articles, I also have watched marriage God’s way, The Joy of training, and teaching responsibility, and i have listened to when forgiveness is a sin. I have never heard nor read a statement that what they are teaching is the absolute word of God. I have heard and read the references to scripture they provide to you for you to read for yourself to determine if you agree with their interpretation or not. which is the way many ministry leaders operate, they read you the scripture then proceed to tell you their interpretation of what they feel that scripture means.
    I see how people can interpret that the Pearl’s feel that their interpretation is the absolute word of God because they did not include a disclaimer somewhere that they do not feel that way or explain somewhere that their inclusion of references to the scripture they used is merely for you use to read for yourself and see if you agree, not to imply that they feel that their teachings are the absolute word of God.
    My understanding of their comparison of child training to animals being conditioned is that it is a simple short story for example only, just as any modern pastor does these days, they use examples from their lives or simple short relevant stories to help those listening understand how scripture relates to today.
    My understanding of the Pearl’s is that they are farmers ( country folk) and ministry leaders so it makes since to me that they would make comparisons to the life they know and experiences they’ve had to bring readers to an understanding of their teachings. I do not see their comparisons to animals as them putting their children on the same level as an animal or saying their children are no better than animals nor that it is okay for others to do so.
    You say there have been attempts to contact the Pearl’s to give them a chance to respond to your criticisms, and they have not done so. Maybe I can share why, I am not saying these are definitely their reasons but a possibility.
    My pastor Craig Groeshel, from lifechurch.tv author of Confessions of a Pastor, which is where I get my resource, has said and i am paraphrasing because in his book there is an entire chapter devoted to criticism.
    He says: the bible provides three responses to criticism listen, answer, or dismiss. Listen to criticism when it is appropriate. he references proverbs 15:31-32 (NLT) he says when criticism is constructive, when they offer suggestions to help you improve yourself you should consider listening. next is answer, he says it is wisest to answer if you think your offering a response can help the critic understand your position and to watch your attitude because simply answering can easily turn into defensiveness. finally their is dismiss. he says I am convinced that some people see only the bad side of everything. all of their silver linings have clouds. these horribly miserable individuals have the gift of dragging people down- especially themselves. I’ve chosen not to let them do that to me. if you face someone who can’t be pleased, dismiss their invalid criticism.
    Maybe they feel you and others fall under the dismiss category, or maybe they are waiting on answered prayers from God on what to say to you and others, maybe they are gathering their strength and resources to give response through their ministry and other forums available to them, maybe they have decided to sit back and let people watch their ministries success do the answering for them. Seems to me that there is an enormous controversy over their teachings now that little boy has died at the hands of his “mother”( mother is not in parenthesis because she was a foster parent but because of her actions she does not deserve the name mother) and there has been controversies before and their are others than yourself with criticism for them maybe they are overwhelmed with all of it, maybe they are sick of it and anything that comes to them resembling criticism automatically goes in the trash without consideration.

    I do apologize in advance if my entries seem attacking or anger people, I don’t mean to, my intentions are to offer my opinion and sometimes ask that others to explain their opinion further, that is all.

    Laney

  21. Anonymous says:

    I have read “To Train Up a Child” and although I have serious questions about their methods I was challenged to spend the time it takes to train my children in godliness. I do not agree with corporal punishment as a primary method of discipline but feel it is sometimes a necessity; especially with a rebellious/defiant child who cannot see how their actions hurt others. I then spend the time (1/2 hour to 2 hours) to discuss the problem, pray with them, teach them the words to speak to rebuke this spirit, and then instruct them on submitting to the “physical reminder” (2-4 “hits” with the palm of the hand or wooden spoon) of the pain they have caused others. My children receive perhaps 1, maybe 2, of these intensive disciplinary actions per year. The spanking always comes at the end of our time together and is followed by a hug when they have calmed down. One of our 4 boys has had this form of discipline only once as anything that physically hurts him deeply wounds his spirit. Although I disagree with most of the Pearls’ methodology, I will say their challenge to be fully dedicated to the training of our children was life changing for me. In addition, Debi’s book “Created to be His Help Meet” challenged me to reverence my husband in a way I had never thought of before. I agree that some of their writing is disturbing, perhaps even unbiblical, and incredibly critical of those who disagree with them but that is one of the beauties of being the body of Christ. We can agree to disagree, learn from each other regardless of where we stand, and still be fully in love with Jesus. PTL
    Char Friesen, Alberta, Canada

  22. Dana says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Char. I agree with you about the difficulties. The problem comes in with people who do not read critically or who do not know the scriptures very well. I don’t mean to insult people who follow this, but I have read of numerous families who tried to follow this method closely and found themselves feeling on the edge of abusing their children. I can see where people can get there, and am disturbed by people who claim this teaching is directly from the word of God.

    Some of it is great…there is a whole section on their website about building a relationship with your child that is wonderful. But other parts can lead down a dangerous path.

    (btw, I have read the book since posting this, but it has been awhile.)

    I neither advocate nor condemn corporal punishment. Mostly, that is because I could never responsibly tell someone their child “needed” a spanking based on something they told me on the internet. It is something a parent has to decide for themselves, but every child is different. Every child does need consequences for inappropriate behavior, but parents need to be able determine what is appropriate in any given situation.

  23. I had not heard of the Pearls until this recent death connected to their teachings. I’ve been reading a lot about them this week and thought this was well written. Thanks for continuing to question their methods.
    .-= Andrea´s last blog ..Happy Birthday to me =-.

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