1. Amy R says

    I didn’t want to bring this up. It feels like pot-stirring or bringing in unnecessary negativity, so even though I was made aware of this information a few days ago I had no thought of bringing it to light until I read that maniacal diatribe from Mr. Pearl.

    He needs to stop telling us that his children are the standard of success. I am sure they are lovely people, but they are not the doctors, pharmacists, etc. he takes credit for in our society.

    His daughter, Rebekah, is living in total poverty while submitting to her husband who quit his job in order to study the Bible 40-50 hours per week. They have no electricity, her sixth baby was born unassisted at home and she treated her preeclampsia with bilberry and other home remedies because they couldn’t afford medical care.

    Gabriel Anast begged for money and support on his website, laying a heavy burden of guilt on his readers to reimburse him for his time teaching them. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that if he wishes to spend 40 hours per week studying, he could cut into his sleep and recreation time instead of quitting his job and forcing his wife to forego medical care for a life-threatening pregnancy complication.

    I know that Rebekah is just being faithful to the teachings she has come to believe, to submit no matter what. I also know that she is following her own mother’s example. Also on the 7xSunday boards, Rebekah has shared that when Michael Pearl moved them to TN he had no income b/c he was following God. Someone gave Debi a bushel of cabbages and sacks of animal feed corn, and that is what she fed her children that year while her husband lived out his vision and left her to fend for the kids.

    I am not above poverty. I am quite familiar with poverty in the context of a hardworking, self-sacrificing home. It can be a God-honoring situation. Unfortunately, I am also intimately familiar with child neglect and domestic abuse suffered because of someone living selfishly instead of providing for his own.

    I know this is ugly, and I’m sorry. I just want people to see that the teachings of the Pearls and the fruit of their teaching is not desirable. This is not wisdom.,24942.0.html,22007.0.html

  2. says

    Wow me too! Unbelieveable and creepy.

    I wonder if being in an isolated community is a big influence on his (lack of)perspective. It almost seems like he is the God of his own world.

  3. says

    I have literally been weeping at the lack of compassion. A poor little girl is dead. Where is the mercy and humility of Jesus?

  4. susan t says

    Found this wonderful gracious comment full of Truth at The Well Trained Mind boards… it is by Amber in SJ, when I looked it was the top of page 4… but I suppose that could change as more comments are added…. It begins with “That man is just horrifying. I would love to leave a comment on his blog but to do so would require becoming a member and that is something I would never do.” and then she writes very graciously….

  5. says

    I can not believe that. I actually had to read it twice to make sure that I wasn’t imagining it. Which of the abuse tactics does this fall into? Wow. Incredibly and tragically sad.

  6. says

    “When you pass from this life, Mr. Pearl, do you expect that the Savior will meet you with a whip around his neck to give you what you deserve? No he will meet you with his palms upraised to show the wounds he received in atoning for your sins so you wouldn’t have to feel the whip. Then he will ask you why you caused so much pain and suffering, sorrow and heartbreak in His name. I wonder what the answer will be. ”

    Susan, that was an awesome response you linked to!!! Oh my!!!

  7. says

    Amy, I am stunned to read that commentary from Michael Pearl’s daughter.

    If there is any doubt that Michael Pearl subscribes to patriocentric views, reading through the testimony of his family following his “vision” certainly ought to clear that up. This is a prime example of what it looks like, to the extreme, when the true commands of Scripture, the one anothers, are ignored in lieu of man (or woman for that matter) placing himself at the center of his universe.

  8. says

    This morning I got my weekly e-mail from Midwest Christian Outreach and it had an article titled, “Death by Pearl,” with a link to this page. Thank you for exposing this man for his abusive child-raising teachings. In January I did an article which is essentially a review of the book, “To Train Up A Child.” Today I am doing a follow-up comment with links to your blog. We need to get the word out that this is a cultic group and Mike Pearl is a cult leader.

  9. says

    Jennifer, could you please explain which link you are referring to. There are several in the comments and the one in the original post, which was obviously Pearl’s response to the Lydia Schatz situation since he posted it in the middle of all the criticism that was coming out. I am confused. Thanks.

  10. Blessed Father says

    Thank you Jennifer for bringing out the truth. For those of you that insist on crucifying the Pearls falsely….shame on you. Reading the post by Jennifer certainly shows that Mr. Pearl is saddened that his wise instruction is being blamed for someone’s lack of self-control and psychological problems. There is nothing maniacal about his response and he is grieved by this child’s senseless death.

    My wife and I have been putting the Pearl’s teachings into practice for years and the results are an incredible blessing. Discipline is NOT fun and it is hard. Raising children is NOT for the weak at heart. Our country is in the sad state of affairs it is because parents neglected to discipline their children and teach them about consequences and that they need to be responsible for their own actions. Not to mention the failure to instill Godly principals (like the Pearl’s teach) in their children. I have 10 children and they are all a blessing. Yes, they are not perfect and my two oldest are still figuring out who they are, but they love us and thank us for the discipline we gave over the years.

    Mr. Pearl’s teachings are straight from the word of God. Those of you that disagree obviously have not perused the pages of your bible recently. God chastens (disciplines) those that He loves. When I mess up, there are consequences. God chastens me. There are examples of what happens to children when they are not adequately disciplined. See what happened to the sons of Eli. We follow God’s example by doing the same with our children. “Spare the rod and spoil the child”.

    Thank you Michael and Debbie Pearl for imparting biblical wisdom and being a godly example for those of us who see the truth. These false accusations and diatribes are nothing more than a form of persecution. I am sure that when you stand before God, you will be greeted with “Well done good and faithful servant” for standing up for the truth in the face of adversity and opposition.

    Continued Blessings,

    Blessed Father of 10

  11. says

    Hello Blessed Father of 10,

    I don’t know how much chance you have had to read through the blog entries here for the past month regarding Michael Pearl but I would encourage you to read everything as well as the comments and the many links. I think that you will find that many of your assertions about Michael Pearl’s teachings being “the” biblical approach to raising children have been challenged by many people who also believe the Bible to be the living Word of God. I would especially encourage you to read my comments on James 3:17 that tells us what Godly wisdom looks like and the links I provided for understanding that passage of Scripture. (

  12. says

    Just wanted to note that I have clarified the timing of those responses from Michael Pearl and he DID, indeed, write the “laughing at critics” post shortly after Lydia’s death in the midst of the criticism that began pouring out online. Jennifer, he wrote the one you linked to AFTER many of us had linked to that first one. The actual date was March 1, 2010 at 2:50 in the afternoon.

  13. says

    Be sure you watch this news report, especially Part One, to see what the DA in the Lydia Schatz case is saying about the connection to Michael Pearl. I think this should put an end to the claims of hearsay. Also, as I watched it, I was amazed that Michael Pearl, in his second response, wouldn’t call what happened to Lydia abuse. Astounding!

  14. Alexander Brooks says

    This is absolutely disgusting.

    It’s like the dude’s demoniacally possessed, never mind the 1 Tim 5 issues with his own family.

    I felt myself retch a little bit.

  15. says

    I was really stunned by something I saw in the 7xSunday forum which is above and beyond what has already been discussed. I don’t know what to make of it.

    Did you notice how the members were profiled? Look in the left-hand column, where the name and photo and profile of each posting member is provided. Those who have reached a certain level of esteem are characterized as “Master” or “Adept.” Those are occult terms!

    “Masters” or “Ascended Masters” are those who have used occult practices to ascend to a higher plane. I realize the word has innocent connotations, so by itself it doesn’t bother me too much. After all, I have a “Master’s Degree!” But when I saw others being referred to as “Adept,” that’s when my goosebumps got goosebumps.

    While it is possible to refer to someone as “adept at something” without having negative connotations, to call them an “Adept” is to say that they are skilled at occult practices. You can look it up on any occult website if you’ve got the stomach to go there.

    In all fairness, I don’t know whether the 7xSunday people have any control over that, or whether it is a function of the web hosting service. But either way, it gave me the creeps!

  16. says

    Betsy, that is really a creepy insight. I had never heard this before and I am betting most people have not. Do you have any more information you could link to for us to better understand the use of these terms? Thanks.

  17. Emily says

    Blessed Father of 10: If you read the Bible much, you would know that ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ is not in it. It’s from a play written several hundred years ago.

    Michael Pearl’s books are full of blatant mistranslation. I say this as someone who can read Hebrew. He either does not have the discernment he claims, or he is molding the words to fit his own beliefs. Either way, it makes him a poor authority figure and certainly not someone to turn to for advice. From what I have read, none of his children have adult lives I would wish on my own. Nuff said.

  18. Steven says

    For those of you that haven’t cracked a Bible lately: Some verses on spanking.

    Prov 13:24: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (diligently).”
    Prov 19:18: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”
    Prov 22:15: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
    Prov 23:13: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”
    Prov 23:14: “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Shoel).”
    Prov 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”

  19. Steven says

    In any case the bible teaches moderation in just about everything (drinking, eating, spanking, even vacation time) except love. Most of us, Michael Pearl included, parent the way that we do because we love our children. And this poor girl, Lydia, died not because her parents thought they were following Mr. Pearl, but because her parents didn’t show her love in their parenting. Let’s not forget Lydia, you all do know what the Bible says about those that harm children…a mill rock and deep water ring a bell? I have reviewed many works of Mr. Pearls materials and he shows love, his own ministry is named “Joy”, and that is what he wants other parents to experience, No Greater Joy. So don’t let your non-spanking political stance tarnish a ministry that has helped millions become better parents.

  20. says

    Steven, before you accuse me or others who post here of political correctness or of not reading our Bibles, please read all the posts and comments related to this story.
    Mr. Pearl’s own words speak volumes about what he believes about raising children and they are full of self-aggrandizement and contempt for those who believe the Bible does not teach what he believes it does.

  21. says

    Steven, real truth, joy and love, cannot be “tarnished”. Neither can a ministry displaying and teaching that truth. So I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. What DOES tarnish a ministry is dark hidden secrets, sin, abuse, misinterpretation of scripture, and the consequences thereof. If this “ministry” has been “tarnished”, these are the reasons, not because they are teaching the Truth. And that is something worth worrying about.

  22. says

    You have the wrong man in your cross hairs. It was God Himself who said, “He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him betimes.” Proverbs 13:24 God also says about Himself, “For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6
    I praise God for my Godly father who loved and spanked me, and I praise God that He also chastens me. He loves me too much to leave me alone in my sin and ignorance.
    Your basic fallacy in critiquing Michael Pearl is in your assumption that he had something to do with Lydia’s death.
    If a criminal shoots a man with a gun, who goes on trial? The gun manufacturer? If a pyromaniac burns a house down with some gasoline and matches, who stands trial? The match company?
    If Mr. Schatz had actually followed God’s Word, his daughter would be alive and thriving. He totally ignored God’s numerous warnings about anger, (Be not hasty in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” Ecclesiates 7:9), His command to not kill, and the very strong warnings to not offend children. “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones who believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:6

  23. Brad Pope says

    Used a link off your web page to check out the “evil” Pearls.After some honest research we came to the conclusion that the Pearls are not nearly as extreme as they have been portrayed. It’s scary that when a child is a victim of a crime,even as horrific as Lydia’s murder,that people like you exploit the truth and lead people in the wrong direction. I even read the book in question(TTUAC)and in no way see how a sane person could blame the Pearls for this tragedy. You people are scarier than Pearls.

  24. says

    Hi Brad.

    Maybe you could give me your definition of the word “scary.” I can guarantee that little children would find me far less scary than Michael Pearl and his plumbing supply line.

    By the way, I think perhaps your neck of the woods is pretty scary. Nearly every single negative comment I have gotten on this blog shows up as an IP where you live. Are you all part of the same group?

  25. Jack Brooks says

    A man is known by the books he reads. You’re not going to find a lot of Eli Wiesel books in the collection of a neo-Nazi.

    No sane application of corporal punishment should cause organ failure. I gave my 9-year-old daughter a little slap on her thigh this morning, through the sheet and her PJ, because I had called for her to get up and get ready for school 3x, and when I checked in roonm she was still obstinately cureled up in bed asleep. It sure didn’t cause her any organ failure. It didn’t even leave a color.

    So don’t quote verses about ‘the rod” in this Lydia Schatz situation. The first instruction of the OT on parenting is to teach your child God’s Word, everywhere you do. That is the core of Christian discipline. Corporal punishment is only mentioned a couple of times in one book (Proverbs), and the total, over-all theme of that particular book is wisdom. The book of proverbs isn’t going to endorse disciplinary evil or stupidity.

  26. says

    Betsy Markman commented that Rebekah Pearl Anast’s forum, 7xSunday, has occult terms in the members profile section. This is telling because she and her husband could have been sure to select a forum that is not occultly marked in this manner.

    Speaking of occult terms, Rebekah Pearl Anast’s father, Michael Pearl, uses occult terms in his writings and teaches occult doctrine. One example of this is his occult doctrine that sex is worship.

    See: WARNING! Occult Doctrines in Michael Pearl’s Works

  27. Adam says

    I have viewed the Michael Pearl’s “Joy of Training” videotapes (3 part series) recently, as well as read his book “To Train Up a Child.” I found him to be very sensible, and frankly, from some of the clips on the tape, a loving father. One of the main principles he teaches is that the parents have to bring joy into the home in order to discipline properly. Having read his “response” (from the link above) and having watched his videos, I understand what he is getting at by saying he is “Laughing” at his critics. He is referring to the fact that he tries to bring joy into his home, and that the joy is there because of and through biblical discipline, and because of that his children will be successful in life. I did not see anything in Mr. Pearl’s response that indicated he is insensitive to the little girl who died. Rather, Mr. Pearl is responding to “vocal few are decrying our sensible application of the Biblical rod in training up our children. I laugh at my caustic critics, for our properly spanked and trained children grow to maturity in great peace and love.” He his responding to critics of his method of discipline (basically his whole ministry) NOT attacking a little girl. While you or I may not have expressed it exactly like Mr. Pearl did, some of you need to read a little more carefully to see what the intended audience of the article is before you calumniate the man. It seems to me that some are bringing accusations against Mr. Pearl based on additional facts and circumstances, which I cannot comment on, since I am personally unaware….however, if the issue was Mr. Pearl’s response itself, I don’t see how some of the vitriol above can be justified.

  28. says

    Adam said:

    “While you or I may not have expressed it exactly like Mr. Pearl did, some of you need to read a little more carefully to see what the intended audience of the article is before you calumniate the man.”

    Adam, I would encourage you to read the many articles on Lydia Schatz that are found on this website as well as the ones I link to. I would also encourage you to look at these two places in particular and follow their links:

    You will find that these two ladies as well as myself have been very careful to use direct quotes from Mr. Pearl. Your near accusation of calumny (a misrepresentation intended to harm another’s reputation) is out of line. Mr. Pearl’s own words condemn him.

    And, I would also note that Mr. Pearl is a public figure and as such has placed himself and his teachings under scrutiny. Add to that the fact that his ministry is a business and I have to wonder where product liability comes into play. I would also suggest that you read this article on slander, gossip, and liable in case you were thinking of going there next.

    Can anyone tell my tolerance for tolerance of Michael Pearl has waned?

  29. says

    Adam, I might also mention that in the State of Illinois where I live, beating or hitting a child and leaving any sort of mark or bruise can cause someone to be charged with child endangerment and if other children are under 18 years of age and either hear or see the beating, the perpetrator can also be charged with “witnessing.” I would be surprised if using a plumbing supply line would not leave such a mark in any circumstance. What do you think?

  30. says

    Adam, has a number of resources which are the farthest thing from calumnious. Among them, you can count my husband and myself. We sincerely wanted to know what the situation was with NGJ’s materials, and whether it was a conflict between parenting philosophies, as many were expressing, or whether there were deeper theological concerns, as a few touched on initially. We wrote a nine-part series (see sidebar at looking at Michael Pearl’s ideas about the nature of God, the person of Christ, salvation and the Christian life. We felt that the biblical thing to do would be to take it back to the cross and work outward into issues of Christian living from there.

    We were shocked and deeply disappointed to find that the problem goes much farther than questions of parenting. I’d respectfully ask you to take a read through those issues before assuming that concerned parents are misreading and misinterpreting Pearl’s teachings.

  31. Mick says

    Grow up ya’ll
    Stop nitpicking the world, it’s a tough place out there, RAISE YOUR BOYS TO BE MEN NOT A BUNCH OF SISSY LITTLE WHIMPS!!!!!!
    And your girls to be wholsome wives!!!!!

  32. Brian Richardson says

    I have three beautiful children whom I adore. I give Michael Pearl a great amount of credit for what he has taught my wife and I through personal conversations, books and newsletters. How you choose to raise your family is your business, but calling Mr. Pearl’s training model “abuse” means you have never spent time with him, read his books in their entirety, or watched a loving family who practices the same training. I won’t bore everyone with examples how literally anything can be twisted into an evil and destructive act.

  33. says

    Hi Brian and welcome to my blog.

    I believe that Mr. Pearl advocates for the sin of partiality for the manner in which he encourages people to treat their children. I am not only speaking of the extent of physical chastisement he recommends but the attitude in general. I have read To Train Up A Child several times and through many articles on his website. I’m not sure why but people seem to assume if I disagree with some guru, be it Baucham, Pearl, or whomever, I can’t possibly have read anything they wrote. I don’t think I look that dumb, but maybe it is time for a new picture on the about page!

  34. says

    I’ve read almost every book they’ve written. I’ve given and loaned them away. I’ve read NGJ magazines since they were black-and-white newsletters. I’ve seen their videos on child-training and marriage. I even tried to put into practice their child-training and wife-submitting books. Guess what? I still think they’re wrong, un biblical, and promote abuse. Not the people, the methods themselves. Do not assume someone is ignorant just because you disagree with them.

  35. Tiffany says

    I’m grateful that someone has put something up about the Pearls. Not because I wanted them to be liars or any of that, but because someone recently recommended the Romans teaching by Michael Pearl. My insides were fighting me but I didn’t know why. I kept thinking that perhaps it was just Satan not wanting me to get to the truth. But the turning kept happening. I decided to google Michael Pearl to see if there was any blurb about who he is and what he stands for. I am so terribly sad about this little girl. Any death is horrible, but what’s worse is that someone would use God’s name to promote wrong teachings.
    I have just ordered a book by Debi Pearl that I will now be returning when it arrives.
    Thanks for your time

  36. says

    Tiffany, it is hard because we want “Christian” teachers to be teaching truth, right? Thankfully the Holy Spirit and the Bible can guide us in discerning false teaching from that which points to the amazing grace of Jesus.

  37. says

    I am rather stunned at some of the comments here.

    The Pearls’ methodology totally overlooks the finished work of the cross.

    We do not need draconian legalism to have saved kids, we need to lead them to Jesus.

    I have eight kiddos six of whom are adults, they are all really wonderful dynamic people. No wimpy boys no wimpy girls either.

    My younger ones were never spanked. My youngest has never been punished, she is a wonderful sensitive loving human being. I shudder, just shudder to think of her being subjected to such a nasty way of relating to another human being.

  38. Jenny says


    Thank you so much for posting this.

    I have often wondered why Christianity protects the monsters while while persecuting the innocent.

    Good on you for speaking up and I also commend your commentators who speak up in Lydia’s defense.
    That monster Pearl and even her parents (said loosely) will have their day to prattle on about their abusive lifestyle but little Lydia wont.

    The hatred and self righteousness spewed by Pearls faithful speaks for itself. The rancor, the lack of basic respect and in some cases, even basic grammar give a wonderful glimpse into the mindset of the whackadoos that follow Pearl to the letter.

    May God have mercy on them to the degree that they have shown mercy to the ‘least of them’, their children.

    Again, thank you for speaking out. It made my day to read your post.

  39. says

    Doesn’t it bother the defenders that Pearl promotes Pelagianism, sinless perfectionism, and that something other than the blood of Christ is sufficient to save souls? These are doctrines that are BASIC to Christianity and yet, the fact that the Pearls are teaching these heresies doesn’t seem to matter as long as the kids turn out okay.

    The problem is that the doctrine informs the training. If the training techniques are based on heretical doctrine, what can be said about the training? ESPECIALLY since the Pearls emphatically teach that theirs is the ONLY godly way to raise children.

    Never mind the very clear teaching of Christ that we are NOT to tempt our children or hang millstones around their necks- and yet, Michael Pearl teachings that parents are to do this exact thing! I wonder if some of these defenders have actually read TTUAC or any of these other books. I have, so please don’t accuse me of hating on the Pearls’ teachings without having done my homework.

  40. Harvey says

    I am not a fan of Michael Pearl nor am I an advocate for his teachings. However, it would be more accurate if you were to correctly link to Mr. Pearl’s true response to the case at hand.

    It can be found here:

    Here is what he actually writes:

    Mike’s Response

    We do not teach “corporal punishment” nor “hitting” children. We teach parents how to train their children, which sometimes requires the limited and controlled application of a spanking instrument to hold the child’s attention on admonition. Over 1,000,000 parents have applied these Biblical principles with joyful results.

    The courts have never charged NGJ Ministries with teaching abuse; quite the contrary. In a former case where a woman owned one copy of To Train Up A Child, the prosecuting attorney used that very book as testimony against her out of control methods. Likewise Ramsey, the prosecutor in the Schatz case, is quick to point out that No Greater Joy does not advocate spanking to the point of serious injury.

    If indeed these parents were abusive, and that has not yet been proven by the courts, it is regretful that our teachings were not able to turn them from their predisposition to abusive habits. Those of us who deal with substance abuse, psychological impairment, and family issues, try to make positive changes in every person, but sometimes our best efforts are too little or too late. But for the sake of our precious children, we must double our efforts and move forward.

    Michael Pearl, CEO
    No Greater Joy Ministries, Inc.

  41. says

    Harvey, I am much less interested in reading what Michael Pearl has to say in his own defense after a child was murdered by parents who were proponents of his teachings than I am what Pearl actually teaches in his writings. If you are truly interested in what his “ministry” espouses, I would encourage you to type his name into the search box on this site and follow the many links I have offered in numerous blog posts. Be sure to read what Tulip Girl and Carol at Parenting Freedom have to say. Their research and efforts to share the truth of Pearl’s views is impeccable and comprehensive.

  42. says

    Hi, Harvey!

    Looking at Michael Pearl’s statement in light of the context of Lydia Schatz’s death, I have some things I’d like to share.

    Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey is not turning a blind eye to the influences in the death of Lydia Schatz, presumably at the hand of her parents Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz. He has been DA for over 20 years and helped to institute the Child Abuse Response Team. DA Ramsey has not been timid in linking the quarter-inch plumbing supply line with Michael and Debi Pearl’s control-at-all-costs advice.

    “…the seven-year-old was held down for several hours by Elizabeth and beaten dozens of times by Kevin on the back of her body, causing massive tissue damage. “It was torture.””

    –DA Mike Ramsey

    Compare what was done by the Schatz parents to what is taught by Michael and Debi Pearl:

    “…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.”

    From To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl
    Chapter 6: Applying the Rod

    The Pearls refused to be interviewed by the Paradise Post, unless allowed editorial control over what was reported. However, Michael Pearl did submit an e-mailed statement:

    “We do not teach ‘corporal punishment’ nor ‘hitting’ children,” Michael Pearl, CEO of No Greater Joy Minstries, wrote in an emailed statement to The Post. “We teach parents how to train their children, which sometimes requires the limited and controlled application of a spanking instrument to hold the child’s attention on admonition.”

    Really? Judge for yourself.

    “Otherwise, tell him to bend over on the bed or couch; and while he is in this position give some choice admonition. You have his undivided attention. Slowly begin to spank. . . . I found five to ten licks usually sufficient. Sometimes, with older children, usually when the licks are not forceful enough, the child may still be rebellious. . . . A general rule is to continue the disciplinary action until the child is surrendered.

    “Any spanking, to effectively reinforce instruction, must cause pain. . . 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. . . . 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.”

    From To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl
    Chapter 6: Applying the Rod

    No amount of “tying heartstrings” or “have fun with your children” advice can mask the harsh, controlling discipline the Pearls teach.

    The Pearls are quick to shift blame,

    “If indeed these parents were abusive, and that has not yet been proven by the courts, it is regretful that our teachings were not able to turn them from their predisposition to abusive habits,” he stated.

    If, indeed?! A child is dead, another one hospitalized for nearly two weeks, and the other seven children conveyed this so-called discipline was normal in their home. The Pearls’ teachings could no more turn someone away from “abusive habits,” as their very instructions set parents up for normalizing patterns that lead to abuse — “defeat totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. . . five to ten licks. . . continue the spanking. . . continue the disciplinary action until the child is surrendered.”

    I’ve heard several apologists for Michael and Debi Pearl and their parenting teachings. Usually the defense is along the lines of, “but you and any abusive parent is taking the teachings out of context!”

    Really? Seriously? In what context is ingraining in parents an attitude of “defeat them totally” okay? In what context is is okay to use an implement to strike a 4 month old? Pull a nursing baby’s hair? Hit a toddler with a toy? Whipping (the term often used by the Pearls) on bare skin; for “every transgression”? Whipping a baby who cannot sleep? Whipping a year old for crying? Whipping a 3 y/o until “totally broken?” Using a “tree branch” to spank? No matter what the “context” this advice is harmful to both parents and children.

    Other times, people defend the Pearls stating that the problems must be that a parent “disciplined in anger.” While yes, anger and rage can lead to a lack of self control, what is taught by the Pearls is harmful whether a parent is hot with anger or cold and calculating. This is an excellent reflection on that idea, Spanking in Anger Isn’t the Problem.

    We, in the Church, must shine the light on this false teaching. We cannot keep silent and allow the children Jesus welcomed into His arms to be harmed in His name. We cannot allow vulnerable parents to be led down the path of abuse, as they struggle to love and discipline their children.

    My God, have mercy on us all.

  43. says

    Lydia Schatz’s death was a result of rhabdomyolysis. Lydia’s body received repeated strikes to the point her muscle tissue started to break down. The body could not cope with the tissue breakdown. Repeated strikes, being “consistent”, is completely in line with what the Pearls teach.

    Do the Pearls say “Abuse your child!”? Absolutely not.

    Is the consistent application of their teachings abuse? Absolutely.

  44. says

    TG, thanks for taking the time, in your crazy busy life right now, to respond to Harvey. Any word on the latest trial news about the Schatz family?

  45. says

    “We, in the Church, must shine the light on this false teaching. We cannot keep silent and allow the children Jesus welcomed into His arms to be harmed in His name. We cannot allow vulnerable parents to be led down the path of abuse, as they struggle to love and discipline their children.

    My God, have mercy on us all.”

    Especially “AMEN” to this!

  46. says

    The last I heard on the trial was that it was again delayed, the next stage is supposedly commencing in February (one year after Lydia’s death.)

  47. HoppyTheToad says


    corporal punishment: physical punishment, as spanking, inflicted on a child by an adult in authority.

    hit: to deal a blow or stroke to: Hit the nail with the hammer.

  48. Jason Z says

    What does scripture really teach about using the rod to correct children? Does it give any room for it at all?

  49. Jason Z says

    Samuel M has 16 different ways to reinterpret the word “crying”.!! The fact still remains that when the rod is used on a child (as the scripture directs us to) the child will cry. It is a natural phenomenon! However if you withold the rod because of his crying, or other reasons, be it pity, timidity, religious bias, or even fear that the child should die (Proverbs 23:13) you have demonstrated that you hate the child! (Proverbs 13:24)
    My happy, healthy, children feel sorry for their disfunctional peers who do not benefit from a loving discipline from their parents.

  50. says

    Jason, so many of the things you have brought up have already been discussed in the comments here so I encourage you to go back and also follow the links on this comment as well as those on the other blog entries about Michael Pearl.

    Let me say this: loving discipline does NOT mean spanking or beating a child with a rod. In fact, the use of the rod can many times cause a parent to violate the command to not “provoke a child to anger.” I would encourage you to read these thoughts on that passage:

    Secondly, I have spent several years writing about the importance of building relationships with our children by practicing the one anothers of Scripture. Yes, they do apply to how we relate to our children. I would highly recommend Grace-Based Parenting and Families Where Grace is in Place, both excellent books on putting those into practice and extending the same grace to our children that God extends to us. Godly parenting doesn’t mean that we assume an adversarial position toward our children. It means that we recognize that we are sojouners with them and that the Lord has called us to discipline them, for His glory alone.

  51. Jason Z says

    There is an Almighty God. Creator of the Universe. Alpha and Omega. King of Kings. Powerful beyond our wildest imaginations. He gave us crystal clear instructions on how to raise, train, love, AND use the rod on our children.

    It boggles my brain then that you lift up all your highly recommended authors, comments, blogs, and your own personal experience & wisdom as being better, more wise, more “grace-filled”, and obviously trumping what GOD ALMIGHTY says.

    Human reasoning and wisdom has never compared with simple obedience to God’s Word.

  52. says

    Jason, just because I (along with many,many other people) choose to have a different perspective on what I believe Scripture teaches about discipline does not mean I have exalted myself over Scripture! Did you even read the link I posted yesterday? It appears you won’t be satisfied that I hold to the authoritative Word of God until you have approved my exegesis of it! Would you agree that two believers,one who holds to infant baptism and one who holds to believer baptism can both believe in the authority of Scripture? I would love to hear your answer to that simple question.

    At risk of wasting my time, here is another really good article that touches on this same point:

  53. Mallika Aguilar says

    Some of the people in this blog have jumped to conclusion about Micheal and Debi little too harsh without the sound knowledge of the Word of God. I have read the book Created to be his helpmeet”. In their defence the book lines with the WORD of GOD. I personally am a preacher’s wife and I highly recommand the book to all the Christian women who have a desire to live a God pleasing life….

    Mallika A.

  54. says

    Mallika,I am a little puzzled by your comment. I am wondering if you could explain exactly how Created to be His Helpmeet “lines with the Word of God.” I have heard many women say this but have yet to have someone explain how the basic messages presented by Debi Pearl are based on Scripture. For example, she has created a paradigm for the types of men and explains how to determine which type you are married to and what the means in your relationship to your own husband. Where do you find those distinctions in Scripture?

    I am also wondering if you have read the many links I have provided on this blog where the Pearls’ teachings on raising children has been shown to not line up with Scripture? For example, I would be interested in knowing where Scripture teaches that “the back side” is anywhere from the back of the neck to the heels of the feet?

    Sinc eyour husband is a pastor, i would also be interested in knowing if he agrees with your assessment of the book and what denominaton you are a part of.

  55. says

    Putting a Scripture reference at the end of a sentence does not mean the point of view being expressed “lines up with the Word of God.” I don’t care how many times Scripture is quoted in a book. For as many times I have seen Scripture quoted, I have seen it misused and misapplied.

  56. Nicole says

    What ever happened to personal responsibility? The parents, and not No Greater Joy Ministries, are to blame for the cruelty they inflicted on their own child. The NGJ ministry has been a blessing to our family for over 12 years. I have never interpreted any of their material to encourage abuse. But even if all your accusations were true, if someone tells you to jump off a bridge, are you going to do it? And if you do, whose fault is it? It sounds to me like the motivation for the accusations against NGJ ministries is based upon a previous hatred, and this sad tale is just an excuse to attack.

  57. says

    Kimberly, the timing of that post was brought up in the comments. Here is what I wrote then and stand by it:

    March 27, 2010 at 7:23 am (Edit)

    Just wanted to note that I have clarified the timing of those responses from Michael Pearl and he DID, indeed, write the “laughing at critics” post shortly after Lydia’s death in the midst of the criticism that began pouring out online. Jennifer, he wrote the one you linked to AFTER many of us had linked to that first one. The actual date was March 1, 2010 at 2:50 in the afternoon.

  58. says

    “This website seems to twist whatever necessary for fodder and anger”

    Kimberly, could you please be more specific. I try very hard to comment and post on positions that have been expressed via writings and sermons, etc. Could you please tell me to what you are referring so I can clear it up? Thanks.

  59. says

    Kimberly, I am sorry that you feel this way. My hope is that conservative Christian homeschoolers (I am in this category) will wake up and stop giving credence to the fringe groups who are destroying homes and families. I am much more concerned about the individuals whose very faith in Christ has been affected by the spiritually abusive nature of the my-way-or-the-highway brand of homeschoolers than if their “movement” is harmed. Which do you believe is more worthy of protection, individual souls or the for-profit groups who are peddling paradigms at the expense of these precious ones? I am also much more concerned about the TRUE sufficiency of Scripture and how it is being maligned and misrepresented.

  60. says

    “Used for distruction”….I certainly hope so. I hope that talking about these grievous, damaging teachings WILL destroy them and keep them from hurting another child. Jesus had much worse things to say about a person who caused a little child to stumble than anything that has been said here. “Destroy the conservative homeschool movement”? What does that even mean? I am a homeschool mom and I was homeschooled my whole life. There a so many teachings rampant among conservative homeschoolers that are not from God but are used to bind and control people. I certainly hope to “destroy” the hold that these teachings have on so many families. I applaud Karen and what she’s doing here in exposing these teachings and sometimes teachers for what they are. And I don’t know why you think one website can “destroy” what you believe to be the truth anyway. If what you believe is the truth, no one can “destroy” it. Unless your truth isn’t really truth after all.

  61. stef says

    Wow… Instead of posting a bunch of stuff about him and his teachings why don’t you read it for yourself??? I was 10 when I randomly decided to read ”To Train Up A Child”{My parents never read it} and having been Strictly Disciplined(NOT the same as training!) as a child, this was the way I wanted to raise my kids when the time came. Mr. Pearls writing has so much common sense and is so straightforward that a mere child can see the wisdom behind the book. And when he say he’s laughing I understand why! This is the most ridiculous clam I’ve ever heard… Simple training and reinforcement being made into the inspiration of inhumane brutality, I sure hope you don’t read the old testament anytime soon… God only knows how that would get twisted! And look at your life; Are you happy? Are your kids happy? Is your husband happy?.. you’ll say yes but is that the Truth? When Mike calls you to look at his family for prof of his teaching… LOOK!!! They are all Unspoiled=HAPPY Content parents who teach their kids the same way they were taught[Take note I was Disciplined, I will NOT raise my Children in the misery I grew up in and I don’t think anyone who hated the way they were raised would raise their kids the same way.] All of Mikes kids are Godly successful people…

    13 years after I read that book I have a sweet baby girl that I fully intend on training up!

  62. says

    Stef, let me assure you that I have read the Pearls’ writings. I would encourage you to type “Michael Pearl into the search in my side bar and read the articles and comments. I would also encourage you to follow the many links. You will find a plethora of material,along with even some links to writings by the Pearl children which you may not have yet seen. I link to actual quotes so you will see original source documents.

    Hope this helps!

  63. Rebecca Stone says

    I have greatly benefitted from the Pearls. They teach parents to be strict and loving–nothing new. Today’s parenting advice is often so liberal it’s useless. And many of the same people who say spanking is so horrible believe it’s okay to kill a small child in the womb–doesn’t make any sense to me. If you kill your child, you are evil or insane. Do I need to point out most parents aren’t like that? Almost everybody I know has spanked their children some time or another and they are not monsters. I spank when my children are disobedient or disrespectful. We laugh a lot and enjoy each other (they range in age from 16 yo to 9 months). The dramatic and emotional, “But Jesus wouldn’t spank, he’s all love”, to be silly. He is God the Son, the very Word of God. Do you think he didn’t inspire those passages about the rod? Also I’d recommend reading the whole Bible to find out about his character–this same Jesus drove out people from the temple with a whip, will send people to the Lake of fire, and bring torturous judgement on the world (Revelation). Do the child experts of today really know more than the Bible or the majority of spanking parents of today and yesterday? I would study the families closely of those who I take parenting advice from. How many can say, like the Pearl’s, ALL of my children are walking in righteousness and truth and teaching their children the same? How many?

  64. says

    Rebecca, I would encourage you to read the comments on this thread and do a search for Michael Pearl on this blog as you thoughts have been considered and responded to here. I would also suggest you get a copy of this book and consider the accurate way to interpret the Proverbs to which you refer. It also will challenge you to think about ALL the scripture passages that address corporal punishment, which includes punishment of adults and the overlooked use of the sharp knife! Ask yourself why you pick and choose scripture passages for raising children!

    I am currently reading this book and am blown away!

  65. Victor Hull says

    Untrained, self-proclaimed people are self-serving and twists god’s teachings to support their views. James Dobson of Focus on the Family advocates corporal punishment. But he’s a trained child psychrist and should know better.

  66. MST says

    I am a chld welfare social worker in a large city. While we do not condone spanking children, the belief is an occasional swat on the behind will not harm a child. However, beating a child with a tree branch, a belt, or any other instrument IS considered abuse!

  67. SMTA says

    How interesting that Satan is leading folks to his door through the pearls.
    They will receive their damnation at the end of their lives, but not soon enough.

  68. says

    I am a mother of three, i first came across the Pearls Materials while i was looking for the Helpmeet book on the internet. i must say that their material is quite helpful. my husband and I have used their child training material and have found them very helpful. our children are not very old, but we already see the fruits. we do not spank to hurt but as a means of training. i have not heard their claim of being sinless or using some jargon used in occultism, but if that is true, then that is very sad. I have also noted that some of his children like the one having trouble with finances with a schooling husband, that if true would be difficult for both of them i believe, and as to why they made such a decision, only they would explain, since they are a family unit that we ought to respect. Some decisions that children make once married, you cannot blame on the parents, in this case, Rebbeca’s parents, the Pearls. Am actually the sole distributor of their materials here in my country and people have particularly been very grateful for the book, To train Up a Child. Many parents have appreciated the training as explained. If you are a careful Christian, you can read almost anything, as long you are conversant with the word of God and are able like the bereans to mirror whatever you have read with the word of God. all said and done, it is very sad that some parents were a bit irresponsible and some children died in their hands, they will be entirely responsible before God for that. it is truly very saddening!
    However i note with concern the responses on this and many other blogs on this issue and my heart is saddened by the values that most of the people in the west hold. i note that spanking is actually illegal in many parts of these states, well, my very conservative opinion is that he use of the rod is IMPORTANT and ESSENTIAL for any child’s training. i do not think the Pearls advocate for abuse in their materials, any sane parent is absolutely able to tell the difference between discipline and abuse. if however you are bitter or stressed, there is a very big possibility that you will pour your frustrations on an innocent child. the singlemost influence on a child is the parent, that means that a child actually turns out mostly influenced by what happens at home. if we allow them to rule us in the name of no spanking, then they will actually do that. I pray that God will help ALL of us including the Pearls, that as we seek Him, we will only do that that pleases Him alone. The children that God has given us are under our care and God expects that we will actually bring them up in the way they should go, if we fail in this, we will be answerable as Parents before Him. the rod of correction is a good companion in this journey. if you are a wise parent, you know what am talking about. so do not blame anybody for your own mistakes.

  69. says


    Have you ever heard a Biblical argument for a non-punitive approach to discipline. When the Bible, especially Proverbs, uses the phrase “the rod” it is not referring to spanking / hitting. If you are interested in being a Berean, send me an email and I will forward you the study material that I have come across. I think you might be surprised and might think twice about using the Bible to justify hitting children, especially very young children.


  70. says

    Maggie, do you believe spanking to be a biblical command since you say it is essential? If so, could you please share how you came to that conclusion? Thanks.

  71. Tamara says

    I have listened to Mr. Pearl’s “Sin No More” message. I am surprised and befuddled to hear that people come away from that thinking he promotes “sinless perfection.” I didn’t hear that when I listened to it. I came away with the idea that when we trust Christ to forgive us, we no longer have our sins counted against us and we don’t have to walk in sin. Like, “ by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Gal. 5:16

  72. Tamara says

    Titus 3: 1-2 “Remind the people… be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”
    “and the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” 2Tim 2:24
    Just a friendly reminder….

    No one has a corner on the truth, but the Lord. We entrust ourselves to Him. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 He is beautiful and wonderful, isn’t He! So worth our hope and trust!

  73. Hervé says

    This man M. Pearl, is an evil pervert guy who mask behind a respectable face, but, inside, is a despitable evil guy. I don’t want to believe in his god. A guy i just could spit on, a pure kids mistreater.

  74. Hervé says

    I forgott… He talk about Germany… Since 2000, This is forbidden, like sweden, norway, and other evolved countries, to spank kids.

  75. Vanessa says

    Was Michael Pearl ever put to trial or sentenced? If so, can someone provide me with a link of the information?

    I am greatly disturbed by these stories and information. I feel it is my calling to more deeply research this issue and seek answers to some unanswered questions.


  76. diana says

    I was checking the news today and saw a headline about “spanking book leads to 3 children’s death”. My heart aches for them and those who loved them. It brought back memories of western TN and a small older order Mennonite community in Pleasant Hill,TN
    My family lived not too far from the Pearl’s. It was very frustrating to see his poor social skills, rudeness, and intimidation excused because he is supposed to be a “genius”. Yet,small children are allowed no slack and punished over the most minor infractions. In fact, they are set up to disobey, and then punished when they do. I would not train an animal that way let alone a tiny child.
    We were very familiar with his followers. Men generally with few marketable skills or motivation but zealous for his strong emphasis on patriarchal supremacy. The women were tired and looking for a strong spiritual leader. I don’t know any other way to describe his following.
    Our first inrtoduction to them was when Mike’s sister invited us to a video presentation of a mission in New Guinea several years ago. We attended and when we walked in no one spoke to us, no one made us feel welcome, the atmosphere was frigid. Why? Couldn’t tell you. Were they able to size us up and see that we would not fit in? Were our children too clean or well kept? I know that sounds awful, but personal hygiene was not a priority among them or their followers. I saw a recent interview and could hardly recognize Mike with his hair combed and clean clothes on. Anyway,
    As we walked out after the presentation and still no one had spoken to us, we met their youngest daughter, Shawna (sp?) who was about 10. She stuck her tongue out at my two children along with other horrible faces and disappeared. Needless to say we were not too impressed. Not too long after that someone handed me a copy of his book. I read in the back their self written description as “successful parents.. I handed the book back to the person, unread. It wasn’t until later when I heard of the content that I had to read it for myself .
    Mike and his sons carried some type of weapon on them at all times. He was intimidating and a bully to those who did not agree with him.
    If we as a Christian people were not so Biblically illiterate, or dependent on others , false teachers would not have the influence that they do.
    Their church, which has pretty much dwindled down to his family, ( could that be why he says his children are walking in righteousness?) is occultic. The occultic symbology found on their websites and in their books is fascinating and opens up a scenario that is possibly worse than I thought. Christians should understand the language of “secret societies “,but not delve too deeply so as not to be deceived. We should know our enemy and see the sharp contrast between the enemy’s methods and workers and those who follow our gentle , victorious saviour, Jesus.
    He along with Promise Keepers, Bill Gotthard, and James Dobson are not Biblically based, but are occultic. Investigate them and you will see.

  77. Monica says

    Diana, what do you mean by “occultic symbology found on their websites”? I get your point on everything else but don’t understand what you mean by that.

  78. JennG says

    Wow. This is crazy. First of all let me say how saddened I am at the loss of these little children. Secondly, I must say how absurd it is for so many Christian and educated individuals to pin the deaths of these children on Michael Pearl. To say that these people killed their children from reading Pearls book would be agnate to saying that Hitler killed the jews because he read the Bible(which he did read). I personally have read the Pearls books and NOWHERE do they condone beating or abusing children. These situations occurred because of the hearts of the people who read the books not the person who wrote the books!! Why does our society always want to find somebody else to push responsibility onto?? I was abused as a child. I have a pretty solid understanding of what abuse is. I was whipped with a horse whip, punched in the face, given bloody noses, and told I was worthless by an angry father. After growing up in the manner that I did, in a VERY unstable childhood, I was appalled at the idea of spanking my own children. However, after reading Pearls book and seeing a family that was putting into practice what he was teaching, my heart changed. What I saw was a loving environment with confident children who respected their parents. I don’t see that in many children today. I see children who are out-of-control, rebellious, and running their homes. This is just as much or more abuse. These children will grow up to be self-centered, rebellious, and will make foolish decisions because they do not understand consequences. If Michael Pearl’s strategies are implemented correctly you don’t even need to spank very hard…light taps usually do the trick. Now, that said, I do not agree with everything the Pearls teach but I don’t agree with everything anybody teaches. I do think it is completely ludicrous to blame this man, his family, or anybody else for that matter for the death of these children. We are all responsible for our own choices. These people weren’t led astray by false teaching, they were led astray by the darkness of their own hearts. I could start beating my children tomorrow and blame it on my parents….that’s what they taught me, that is how I grew up, how could I do any different?!?! NO!! I am responsible for how I raise my children, how I treat them, and how I train them. At the end of the day my parents are not responsible for how I raise my children and neither is Michael Pearl, I am. Perhaps instead of judging these people and their parenting downfalls perhaps we should be spending more time correcting our own parenting downfalls.

  79. says

    Jenn, I would encourage you to type “Michael Pearl” into the search at the top of the page and read my other articles and follow the links. You may be surprised to learn that these families, particularly the Schatz family, followed the Pearl instructions to the “t” rather than more harshly interpreting anything. I agree that we are each accountable for our own behaviors and for how we treat others. However, we are also accountable for what we teach or recommend to others. The Pearls bare much responsibility for the things they continue to teach that are destroying others and that have even led to the death of little ones.

  80. Nic says

    Have read these comments in disbelief. The comments u take from the NGJ site is not “in response” to this girls death or any other childs death. They are instead in response to people who are (as mr. Pearl calles the critics) disipline with spanking or the rod. He doesnt mention the deaths the media and apparently others have condemed to his name because he is not speaking on those at all. He is clearly speaking on how this form of disipline can raise active and good members of society. He never said his kids were doctors or the such, when he spoke he is including all fathers and mothers who choose to raise their childern in this manner as one family. United against people who abuse their children and those who employ ideas of not calling children to be trained into adults who understand consequences to actions. I wonder if anyone who is so fervently against the book and the pearls have actually read his book or spoke to his children. People who live lives as God calls them to live may seem poor to the world but they are rich in spirit and love. Praying that everyone can see the truth. Espcially about this post. its very inflamitory if u read pearls words as a response to children being abused or killed as this oringial post would have u do. But as it is instead a response to those who dont agree with his form ( and any other loving parents form) of child rearing, in is proper and well put.


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