“i am personally opposed to beating a child with a piece of plumbing supply line, but…..”

I remember hearing Cal Thomas, all 6 foot 9 of him, talk about how burned out he had become listening to Christians talk about being “personally opposed” to abortion “but” unwilling to take a stand against it. In fact, he had heard it so often that he was sick of hearing it and had decided that as much as he hated labels, he was now going to refer to those folks as the “personally opposed, but crowd.” Of course, Cal’s statement received a huge applause as well as much laughter, the intended pun not escaping many people.

I felt Cal’s pain. I have never been wired together as one of those sorts of people myself and I have little tolerance for them. In fact, and sometimes to my own detriment, I am just the opposite and have had to learn through the years to choose my battles wisely. At this point in life, now eligible for a senior discount most places, I can narrow those battles down and they always involve my two pet peeves.

The first one of these is when someone who is in a weaker position in life is lorded over by someone who holds the stronger position. It could be a pregnant woman who chooses to abort her child. It might be a boyfriend or husband or parent who strong arms her into that choice. It might be an older child who bullies a younger one. It might be a pastor who spiritually intimidates someone in his church. It could be a man who coerces a woman simply because he is a man and he can. It might be a smart student who mocks someone who is not quite as sharp or articulate. It could be a waitress who makes far less than minimum wage and is trying to earn a living and some embarrassing Christian leaves a Bible tract instead of a tip and says “Jesus loves you” as he walks out the door.

My second pet peeve that ranks right up there beside this one is being patronized. I am a big girl and cannot tolerate such interaction. Just yell at me or let me know you disagree with me, but whatever you do, don’t talk down to me or lead me to believe you agree with me to my face only to disagree with me privately.

And if you are taking a position in a public forum, for crying out loud, don’t dance around an issue and claim to be “personally opposed, but” to it. If you are opposed, say so. If you are in favor, say so. If you still aren’t sure and are working through what you believe, tell me. I, too, am in the process of growing. But don’t try to blur lines, make black and white issues a pretty shade of gray with confusing rhetoric, or use nice words that obscure ugly truth.

Abortion is one of those issues that can really press my hot button. It always involves a weaker person being taken advantage of by a stronger one, on a variety of levels. If a person is “personally opposed, but” to abortion, all that really means is they don’t care if someone else kills a baby, makes a profit doing so, or leaves at least 80 people wounded and bleeding in the process. Pro-abortion folk assume it is someone else’s choice, right? “Choice” sounds so good until you finish the phrase “choice to kill a baby.” Using words like “choice” or even “fetus” or “embryo” only serve to patronize those who hear them. Do pro-abortion people really think we are all that stupid?

What about wife beating? Can you refuse to beat your own wife but then still think that someone else has the right to beat his? What about owning a slave? Can you be opposed to slavery but think it is ok for someone else to own one? And can someone please explain to me how being personally opposed to child abuse but refusing to speak out against those who abuse children or who promote it or teach it or fashion an entire ministry around treating children as lesser human beings is any different? Why are children outside the womb of lesser value than those inside?

I think the Bible has a clearer picture of this. It is called “palliation of sin” and it means to make an offense or a crime or a sin seem less serious or severe. And it is a sin itself.

I would seriously like to understand the “pro-choice-as-far-as-Michael-Pearl-is-concerned” crowd. If you have an answer, please let it be something other than a “personally opposed, but” response. Seriously, I would like to get where you people are coming from and how you form your moral opinions.

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  1. says

    I don’t think I completely understand the question–and I’m sure I’m influenced by my recent post and subsequent discussion–but here are my thoughts as they stand now. I really appreciate your continued insights into these issues. Thanks for continuing to push!

    1. Abortion: Pro-choicers often use the same “strong over the weak” argument as well. Women feel pressure–be it social, economic, religious, interpersonal–to terminate their pregnancy. Very few, if any, pro-choice people are into killing babies. Rather, they dig one layer deeper than the pro-life crowd. Are they right to do so? No, because “people are people, no matter how small.” But they aren’t going to switch their framing of the issue. For them it’s not an issue of killing babies. For them it’s an issue of protecting women. But the pro-life crowd is also wrong to ignore the layer just below “save the babies.” I’m very grateful for my church’s connection to an Alternatives clinic which focuses on caring for and offering alternatives to women feeling pressure to abort. I think this fits into the whole be warm and filled concept: There is more going on than a simple black and while snapshot can give us, and I think what is so sinister and ugly in the background is the idea that “I’m personally opposed to abortion, but I’m not willing to take care of the widow/orphan/abandoned girl/hurting-young-woman-who-got-herself-into-this-mess.” Too often that’s where I am. And unless and until that becomes one of the battles I’m going to fight, I can hold opinions about the other issues but belief without action is dead. Hence the often used “but,” me thinks.

    2. The tipping thing burns me up. That is one of the battles I’ve decided to fight because I know how I can get involved and can do so. Perhaps that’s another reason: We’d love to help, but we’re unsure how to do that because we don’t know what would be helpful, we don’t fully understand the real problem, and we’d like our resources given to things that actually make a difference.

    3. I talk about these issues on my public forums from time to time. And while I “dance around” the issues, it’s not because I’m dancing. And it’s certainly not because I’m trying to blur black and white into a “pretty shade of gray.” I’m sure some of it has to do with my uncertainty and lack of firm belief on many topics. But not because I’m not opposed to evil. Not because I’m not against abuse. Not because I’m not sickened by people profiting from these despicable things. I find myself dancing uncomfortably in the corner because the connections are unclear; the cause and effect, the heart and the reason are not distinct enough for me to pin-point where the problem is and where the evil resides.

    For example, and to use the title of this post to it’s fullest: I am personally opposed to many of Michael Pearl’s teachings, but… I’m unwilling–at this time–to renounce him fully. Why? Because much of what he says is great. It’s the 10-20% of his presentation that is terrible, awful, wrong. But is it wrong because he himself is purposely trying to lead people astray, or is he just a poor communicator, or horribly misled himself? I don’t know. Worse still, I’ve seen dozens of people, in the light of recent events, blog about how shocked they were to suddenly discover the vitriol they had never read before. So is the responsibility with those who read and interpret? Considering how many people have used the Bible as an excuse to do horrible things, I find myself leaning that way as well.

    So… I’m opposed to doing evil. I’m opposed to following materials that encourage you to do evil. Yet I don’t see myself getting to a point of rejecting the Bible because people have followed (portions of) it to evil ends. Perhaps this is why the Bible is, itself, so vague. Unlike the Mishna which attempts to draw a hard line between sin and not sin, Scripture clearly denounces sin and then encourages us to look to the heart.

    4. How much is enough? Speaking of slavery, the sex trafficking world is alive and well. The drug industry continues to thrive. Religious and political extremists murder people all over the world. Domestic abuse still occurs regularly. This is not to mention the issues surrounding the medical world, taxes, food production, insurance and a myriad of other things which are also wrapped up in evil and sin and destruction. I think this ties back in to point 1: I can “take a stand” verbally, but I’m not really taking one until I do something about it. Something that really bothered me about the beginning of the movie “Hotel Rwanda”: While it is entirely about a guy who actively does something about the evil around him, the opening title card suggested we visit a website and write our congressman. …so what? That’s not doing something. That’s complaining and asking someone else to do something. Our words should match our actions. I’m okay with people voicing opinions about stuff, but their actions are where we see the outcome. But since there is so much evil in this world and our resources are so limited, we must pick our battles. That’s one reason so many people voice their opposition, but… do nothing.

    5. Moral opinions and active stances are two separate things. I believe a great number of things about a great number of topics. But I focus on a few. And often some of that focusing is influenced by my current position/pursuit. When I’m teaching Sunday School, my focus is on teaching children about the Bible and Christ. Those hours are dedicated to that endeavor. It would be wrong of me to spend that time on a different soapbox of mine–say, modesty–because that’s not the goal of that pursuit. So, too, many public forums are dedicated to subjects other than one of these more global issues. As one who believes in life-long learning, I think it’s important to raise awareness everywhere–which is why I’m happy to discuss modesty when it arises in Sunday School–while still maintaining a proper focus on the issues at hand.

    Just a few meandering/jumbled thoughts, since no one else has jumped in here and this is a very important topic.

    I’m very interested in your thoughts especially since, as you point out so well in your post: I, too, have much to learn and grow in. I love reading your posts because I feel I am sharpened by you.


  2. HoppyTheToad says

    I’d like to see a discussion aimed at helping those who would like to avoid spanking but don’t know what else to do. Almost all the Christians I know use the Pearl’s methods. Their children are well behaved, but I know the ends don’t justify the means.

    The few families I know that choose not to spank much (or at all) don’t seem like good examples to me. In one of them, the mom always seems angry and snaps at her husband and kids. In the other family, the mom seems happy and relaxed but her I can see some big attitude and obedience problems in some of her kids.

    I’ve read “Grace Based Parenting” and “Heartfelt Discipline” but they seemed to lack any suggestions about what to do with very young children. (The advice seemed much more suited for those with older kids.) I need an older woman to show me how to keep the baby from climbing on the kitchen table a dozen times per day. I need someone to show me a way to keep his older brother from pestering him and being too rough.

  3. Michelle says

    Yes Hoppy exactly! I have a 8 mo and recently I’ve decided to quit spanking altogether. Fine for my older kids who are quite obedient. What to do with this new little one during the toddler years??? I’m truly at a loss. I need solid workable suggestions for that age (say 3 and under). Grand, overarching parenting philosophies that are unspecific (as edifying and true as those types of resources are) just don’t hit the mark when it comes to the nitty-gritty how-to’s. I shudder at most all of the Pearls’ suggestions and wouldn’t use those tactics but I know they are so popular because their plan is specific, detailed, and probably fairly effective in the short run. Abusive yes, but it probably takes parents years before they figure out what the long term emotional and relational effects are.

    So anyone have any solid suggestions or resources for disclipining toddlers w/o spanking?

    And Karen great post…thank you for being brave (yes, it takes bravery!) and taking a stand on so many things that are hurting “the weaker”. You have been such a help to me and so many others. Your courage gives me courage!

  4. Michelle says

    Oh and thanks for mentioning the tipping. As a veteran restaurant worker (before I was saved and before my SAHM days)I’ve known practically since day one that generally Christians were poor tippers. Everyone dreaded the Sunday shift because you got the after church croud and you wouldn’t make much. Most people don’t realize that servers are paid far UNDER minimum wage. Where we are from just a few short years ago, the going wage for a server was about 2.50 an hour. Many times when paychecks were handed out there would be zeroes in the amount space because taxes had eaten up this low hourly rate. So servers really do depend on those tips. You don’t have to overdo it if it’s not in your heart, but don’t be cheap! Especially if you’re wearing a cross around your neck and toting a bible under your arm!:)

  5. says

    Hoppy and Michelle, http://gentlechristianmothers.com/ is one place to look for alternate options to spanking.

    The major difference in parenting style is that it involves a much more intensive, interconnected way of living. While the Pearls advocate living interactively with your kids, rather than just alongside them, attached parenting has a number of qualitative differences.

    Positive touch is used very differently in attached parenting. It is not withheld when a child is crying or cranky. Rather than assuming disobedience or defiance, other contributing factors are always eliminated first. In terms of defiance, a toddler can be picked up and removed from situations where they’re not inclined to follow their parent’s lead. We’re bigger than they are.

    If a parent can anticipate well enough that a baby is going to toss their breakfast bowl on the floor to spank their hand before they do (as TTUAC advocates), they can anticipate well enough to take the bowl out of reach before it gets dumped.

    The dumping thing is a normal game, and it’s probably quite developmentally important. Small children grow into the realization that objects which go out of sight still exist. (Imagine a world where, if you need comfort and it’s not there, it has simply ceased to exist, and it suddenly makes sense why a tiny soul cries so vigourously for you. They are not manipulating their parents or their environment, they don’t understand it.)

    You can substitute objects which aren’t splattery — rattle or other toy — for the duration of the dumping game. I used to have a collection of games and songs that I used to get the spoon into the mouth in the meantime.

    Just one example, but a lot of the things that adults might find disruptive about babies are related to important stages of brain development, and we do well to nurture through it, sometimes in counterintuitive ways.

  6. says

    ThatMom and Luke, http://prowomanprolife.org has some interesting perspectives on women’s reproductive rights, feminism and right to life.

    Linda, I had not seen BabyDust before. Thanks. I like what she said about teaching kids to work through their internal state rather than merely hiding the problem by forcing it down inside.

    Luke, if Mike Pearl’s teaching were only 10-20% bad, we’d all be a lot better off.

    ThatMom, please pardon the long quote:

    “One of the faults of modern preaching is to preach the person of Christ without preaching His message. To disassociate Christ from His message. To preach Christ simply as a personal relationship or as the satisfaction of a need, be it accurately defined, but fail to preach His message. Jesus didn’t present Himself as a person who needed to be accepted. He didn’t do that. He didn’t prove His deity so that men would accept Him based on His person. Jesus presented a message of righteousness, and challenged people to believe what He said, and do what He said…He didn’t say ‘the rock is Me’ — He said ‘the rock is a man doing My sayings. When a man hears what I say, and does it, he’s like a man who builds his house on the rock.’ In other words, you build your house on the rock when you obey the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ…Jesus didn’t teach, you build your house on the rock by establishing a relationship with Me, He said you build your house on the rock when you do what I said to do.”

    From audio sermon: “Righteousness, Temperance and Judgment”


    Perhaps it becomes more understandable why those whose parenting is “attached,” based around a relationship focus, have been some of the first to object to the Pearls. The contrast is all the more striking for anyone who is living a lifestyle of deliberate relationship, as opposed to one which uses relationship as a component of “do what I say to do.” So yes, you can find some AP style thoughts in TTUAC, but pay attention to how they’re used, and for what purpose.

  7. says

    Hoppy and Michelle,

    I completely understand your frustration. Raising little ones requires repeated correction and diversion from wrong doing. This is one of the things that I really dislike about the Pearl method. They tell you to basically set your children up for failure when,in reality, Godly parenting is expressed in helping your children be successful.

    We all recognize those things that bring about failure in our children…not enough sleep, hunger or too much junk food, over stimulation either in real life or on a screen, being around friends who frustrate them,etc. Combine those factors with the environment in the home on any particular day…siblings with their own issues, different routine, mom or dad who are grouchy or sick etc. And then add to that the stage of development of that child, the siblings, etc. And on top of this, take into account that child’s temperament, the dynamics between that child and the rest of the family and the mom etc.

    Given all these factors, how can there be just one way to get a child to do or not do a certain behaviors? While the Pearl method might work because it is based on fear and on the assumption that there is one standard of behavior for every single person, is it what is best for each individual child and, more importantly, is it based on sound Biblical principles, intelligent understanding of human development, or even a parent’s gut instincts? As I recall, Michael Pearl, in fact, renounces any psychological development of children as “psychology” which we all know is evil! 🙂 Sure it could make life easy for a parent but is that necessarily right?It would be easier for me to open a box of macaroni and cheese than to prepare a pot roast with vegetables but is that the best idea?

    I also think parents need to get over the feelings they have when they are being judged for the behavior of their children. Sure, we have all seen parents who ignore all bad behavior and have out of control kids. But I think there is a tendency, especially within the homeschooling community, to foster expectations that aren’t realistic. There is the notion that perfectly still and “well-behaved” children are a reflection of good parenting and children, especially boys, who crash around are somehow not raised properly. I’m sorry, but seeing a family of perfectly quiet children sitting in a row for a couple hours in church creeps me out. It tells me that there has been a lot of Pearl type training at home and that individual personalities and needs have been ignored.

    As far as training kids to not do things like climb around on tables etc., again, we have to realize that they do this as they are learning new physical skills. Their bodies are wanting to practice new things. We have always had a second floor in our home and I remember how we struggled with each of the children as they learned to climb up the stairs. It began when they learned to crawl and then moved to walking up the steps. Rather than spanking them for practicing a new skill they had learned, we screwed a hook closing up high at the top of the door to the hallway that goes upstairs and used it when we couldn’t follow them. My daughter calls this “get up off your butt parenting” and I think that is just the right phrase. Parenting REQUIRES it!

    I also think children often seem to be disobedient because we don’t provide enough opportunities for they to have physical activities. During the end of the first year and through about 3 1/2, we should just expect that their bodies will have to move most of the time they are awake!

    I hope that helps a little. I really do not believe there is any sort of packaged plan to offer for these sorts of things!

    Here is one little story from when one of our boys was little. Clay would take them to the part around the corner from our house to get their energy out when he came home from work. This worked great so I could fix supper in peace! But this boy, for some reason, had this thing about any sort of hair bow or barrette on a little girl. If he saw one and it was within arm’s reach, he would approach her and then, faster than you could catch him, pull it out. Of course, the girls always screamed,even if they were older, and often they cried. We learned to scan the playground for girls in hairbows before we even got out of the car because he knew what he would do. As time went on, I realized that this kid is a cause and effect person. He likes to experiment to see what will happen and still will often paint a “what if” scenario for me. I really think he liked to see the different reactions of these girls. We could have spanked him each time and I don’t think it would have make a bit of difference. He was curious and of course he grew out of it.

    I don’t know if this helps or not. I think a big part of choosing to raise our children with few or no spankings means it will be harder for us. But I don’t know why that is bad.

  8. says

    C.L. I actually can’t say how much of Pearl’s teaching is off. That is a good point. The only thing of his I’ve actually gotten through in its entirety is his “Sin No More” series. It disturbed me immensely. Of that series, I’m pretty sure 80+% of what he said was right on (I extrapolated out to his other materials, which was definitely foolish of me. Thanks for pointing that out!). Some very good encouragements to read the Bible, continue to follow Christ and stop making lame excuses. But then there was this other side… this crazy other side which was just so… wrong! I still get fired up when I talk to people about it [smile].

    I’ve only glanced at Train Up a Child. My wife has read Help Meet. I keep an eye out for what people say on their blogs as well. But, you’re right: There could easily be a lot more wrong with his teachings. But in my, admittedly, very limited experience, I found Pearl frustration/dangerous because so much of what he said was right while the parts that were wrong were really, really wrong.


  9. says

    Luke, I am so glad that you are here and discussing! I, too, am sharpened by your thinking!

    When I heard Cal Thomas coin the phrase “personally opposed, but” he wasn’t describing those people who are opposed to something but don’t know what to do or how to go about taking a stand. He was referring to those who are opposed to doing something themselves but don’t care or don’t want to say that it is wrong for someone else to do them. This is the way I am using the phrase, too.

    I have heard far too many Christians say that they are personally opposed to abortion but don’t think they should say it is wrong for someone else to have one. Many of them will even contribute to funding a crisis pregnancy center, thus “doing something” about the issue but they still believe that there are circumstances that someone might find themselves in where abortion would be ok.

    That is how I am reading what some people believe about Michael Pearl and his methods. While they would never use a piece of plumbing supply line on a child and they might even find it to be a horrible thought for someone else to do it, they still believe that other parents can choose to do so as Pearl describes and it is ok for them. And this is what troubles me. It is a “personally opposed, but” position, not because they can’t do anything about it, but because they really don’t see it as a moral evil to treat a child in that manner. And this is where I struggle. I do not know how we can apply the Word of God to our relationships with our children and come to the conclusion that that sort of “discipline” is acceptable. I just want someone to tell me how beating a child in this manner, the manner Pearl describes in his own words, falls into any category of one anothering, how it is morally acceptable, how it is not sinning against a child. Pearl’s whole attitude toward the child is appalling and I can barely read his teachings without weeping for the little ones who are treated in such a manner. Laughing and mocking at them during a spanking? Striking them repeatedly up and down their backs, which he defines as from below the waist to the ankles? I just saw pictures of slaves who were “chastised” in like manner and it was horrifying. How is the Pearl method any less horrifying?

    I am in the process of putting the final touches on the introduction to the patriarchy/patriocentricity two series that will begin this coming week. As you know, this has been a concern I have had for many years and one that has grown as the teachings become, in my opinion, more severe and the testimonies from those who have been harmed by it are coming to light. In my research, I have sought to peel back the layers of the movement and have looked at what these teachers really believe and how they are interpreting Scripture. As I have compared their notions to Scripture, it is absolutely clear to me that there are root sins that drive their thinking and they are found, not only in the treatment of moms and daughters but in the treatment of little children as well. It is the sin of partiality and I will be spending the first two podcasts making my case for this. We are told that the sin of partiality is evil and it truly is the basis for all the other sins if you think about it. Francis Schaeffer once said that all of the 10 commandments can be summed up in the last one, that of coveting. Partiality is a form of coveting, I believe. It is desiring to BE God, ie, ruler over others, of having your own spot of dominion. It is coveting what belongs to God alone and by controlling others by fear or manipulation or whatever. And it manifests itself in ruling over children, rather than loving and nurturing and one anothering them.

    More thoughts later…just wanted to be sure you understood what I was trying to say about being “personally opposed, but.”

  10. says

    Luke, this is exactly why the Pearl teachings are so, so dangerous:

    “But in my, admittedly, very limited experience, I found Pearl frustration/dangerous because so much of what he said was right while the parts that were wrong were really, really wrong.”

    Another insight from the upcoming podcasts to chew on, this time from Shakespeare:

    “And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequence.” (Macbeth Act I, Scene III)

  11. says

    Shall we discuss Help Meet, too?

    I hope to get a full book review up one of these days but overall the book completely ignores the Biblical creation model of unity and oneness between husband and wife and defines men and women according to the Michael/Debi Pearl model. Another book that manufactures a paradigm for men and women with theories they have pulled out of thin air and completely ignores the pure teachings of Scripture, the true commands to one another.

    The big question for me is why this stuff sells. Amazing.

  12. says

    Thanks for the pro-life website link. I always appreciate reading the thoughts of others on this issue.

    This new notion, unheard of, btw, by any true Christian bio-ethicists, that women ought to be willing to die for the cause of experimentation with ectopic pregnancies is crazy. I had a lengthy e-mail exchange with the spokesperson for one medical needs sharing ministry and was left absolutely dumbfounded. I believe the Bible teaches that both the mother and the child are equally valuable and if the mother’s life is genuinely threatened, as in an ectopic pregnancy, it is morally acceptable for her to have surgery. These groups who are teaching otherwise are promoting an aberrant view and a dangerous position.

  13. Michelle says

    Thank you again for taking the time – those were excellent points you brought up and it means a lot coming from a “seasoned” mom (and grandma) who has had time to reflect. I also like what you said about the 10th Commandment. I think in myself there is a lot of pride in my parenting. I believe these kids should tow the line and do what I say “right away without delay, everytime and with a happy heart.” Geesh, God Himself isn’t that much of a control freak – thank goodness or I’d be toast! This move to grace-based parenting is truly breaking out of a paradigm. It’s refreshing to realize that things can be done another way and with good results. I’m prayerful that I don’t become too permissive but even if I do for a time I’m learning to lean on God more and be motivated by fear less. (Fear of not doing it right, fear of what others think, fear I’m messing up my kids for life, etc.) And getting back to your original post, this IS my way of making a stand on this issue. Lydia’s death shook me up big time, so much so that soon thereafter I made the decision to never spank again. A lot of people would call this threowing the baby out with the bathwater but that’s not how I see it at all. I see it as removing an obstacle that was getting in the way of me and my kids. I also saw myself in Lydia’s mother. I pray for her as I truly believe she thought she was doing the biblical thing.

    Thank you C.L for the link to Gentle Chriatian Mothers – there is good paractcal advice there. Still wondering what to do about full on defiant acts with no spanking and no time-outs but there’s time to get that figured out. 🙂

  14. says

    Michelle, that whole “happy heart” notion always confused me. How do I know what my child’s heart looks like if Scripture tells me I can’t even know my own heart?

    “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:19

    And if we are expecting our children to show a happy face, obey instantly and with no questioning EVER, we are raising hypocrites and children who are susceptible to child abusers, perverts, and wrong peer pressure.

  15. HoppyTheToad says

    Thanks for the links everyone. I have been to most of the gentle discipline websites mentioned before and I will look through them again. I understand the philosophy. I just need to read specific examples of dealing with children under 5 years old – especially very active boys. I have health problems and I need to save my energy to recover. I can’t keep constantly “putting out fires.”

    How can women encourage their husbands to think about this more? My husband agreed to cut way down on the spanking, but it doesn’t seem to bother his conscience like it does mine. And as I previously mentioned, almost everyone at our church, and most of our friends, are big Pearl fans. It seems “normal” to him. He doesn’t believe the Bible requires spanking, but he doesn’t see it as abuse, either.

    I, for one, would prefer to never spank. It seems to me that if I have to keep my parenting methods a secret from unbelievers, than maybe there is something wrong with them.

    Does anyone have any encouraging stories to share? If you previously spanked a lot and have given it up, what was the transition like?

  16. says

    Thanks for taking the time to clarify, Karen! I’m not sure how I missed your meaning, but I’m glad you took the time to help me see all this more clearly.

    I haven’t had time to dig through your podcasts, which bums me out because they sound so informative and important. Thanks for continuing to take the time to educate and challenge.


  17. says


    Obviously, I’ve been vocal about the whole Pearl/NGJ/TTUAC Lydia Schatz/Sean Paddock tragedies.

    And. . . honestly? I’m a bit disappointed in the “not taking a stand” posts you wrote recently. I –TOTALLY– get where you are coming from, in your Old Earth/Young Earth situation and reasoning. But to me, that is like comparing apples and oranges.

    I hoped for (expected?) something along the lines of, “We at Sonlight believe that God has entrusted to each parent the care and education of their own children, and believe that Christian parents will seek resources that assist them in training their children in the nurture and admonition in the Lord. That said, Sonlight does not supply or endorse the child training materials written by Michael and Debi Pearl and encourage parents to read those materials, as in all parenting materials, with great discernment.”

    That is both taking a stand AND respecting parents. That is staying “above the fray” AND using the rightful influence Sonlight has in homeschooling movements to “take a stand” and urge caution.

    While personally I’ll be much more forthright, direct, and confrontational about the serious problems (theologically and pragmatically) that I find in the materials published by NGJ, I understand that a company needs to be more circumspect.


  18. Michelle says

    Karen,I went to Mothering By Grace and it looks great. The article specific article that you linked too was excellent and echoed a lot of what you have said. Great point about the “happy heart”. I got to thinking about how long it sometimes takes me to get happy in my heart when I have to obey the Lord about something difficult – sometimes it takes months! To expect our kids to have a perfectly happy heart IS ridiculous now that I’m looking at it from this angle. And it is a recipe for teaching them how to be great actors, hypocrites, or eventually, white-washed-tombs.

    Hoppy keep praying for your husband and lead by gentle example – it’s worked wonders in this house even though it has required a lot of patience!

  19. says

    One couple did a chapter-by-chapter look at “Help Meet” here in 2007:


    “There could easily be a lot more wrong with his teachings.”

    Luke, we head a Christian (not homeschooling, personal equipping) conference here in Canada, and we just felt we had a responsibility to sort through Pearl’s theology of the cross and Christ, and whether/how it might relate to the parenting philosophy. My husband and myself, with the assistance of a colleague who holds an MA in theology, did a 9-part series on TTUAC and related articles.

    TTUAC’s methodology is completely illegal under Canadian law, yet the first time I mentioned it among homeschoolers, a supporter lent me four Pearl books so I could see for myself what fine books they are. TTUAC-style chastisement actively puts people at risk of having their children removed from the home. We’ve found ourselves in a place where we have a public responsibility to our faith community. Therefore, we need to be well-informed on what affects them, especially when it could affect them so adversely.

    If you look beneath what Pearl says about “read the Bible, stop making excuses,” live holy, etc., it’s the driving philosophy behind those remarks that’s really disturbing, and most closely connected, doctrinally, to how a parent could spank a child to death via his methods. The summary article we did on that portion of his teachings is here:


    I think my husband felt about the same as you. :~)

    Yeah, I would like to see more influencers doing as TulipGirl is describing. Since doing the series, we’ve been in touch with a number of people who’ve been hurt by absolutism in NGJ-focused communities. Those hurting and searching ones count too.

  20. Debra says

    Hoppy –

    Can you give some examples of specific behavior you would like to curb? I like the punishment to fit the crime, so to speak. Have you listened to Love and Logic? If not, I have a link to it, it can be good.

  21. says

    “But in my, admittedly, very limited experience, I found Pearl frustration/dangerous because so much of what he said was right while the parts that were wrong were really, really wrong.”

    A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. The enemy always mixes a little bit of lies into a big batch of truth. A little rat poison mixed with a big batch of syrup will kill more rats than straight rat poison. You get the picture.

  22. says

    Hoppy, with under-5, active boys, the main thing I’ve found is ensuring their environment is suitable to their stage as much as possible. There’s baby-proofing, there’s toddler-proofing, and there’s active-child-proofing…

    That would be my first energy-saving strategy. Breakables packed up if necessary, and have furniture that can take a beating/it won’t break your heart if something gets damaged. There are limits and rules of respect, but when your energy’s low, it’s a favour to yourself to eliminate as much policing as you can.

    Following that, replace all the dangerous/un-child-friendly stuff with things they can be physically creative with. Lego, toy cars, wood blocks, washable colouring supplies, you know how that goes.

    And following that, make sure you take some time every day to play with them, rather than school-teachering them. If you engage in 15 minutes of creative play in which you let yourself relax and be inventive, they will pick up on your ideas and experiment with them for hours, days or months. I recall building my kids a Duplo giraffe once (of all things), and two years later they were still building giraffes and play-acting their African zoo.

    My grandfather used to do the same with my uncles when they were at that preschool age, and Grandma still tells me how they’d spend the whole next day experimenting with the creative play ideas formulated on the rug in front of the fireplace the evening before. He got down on the floor with them every day when he got in from work, and enjoyed his kids while she got to make supper in relative peace. That was in Britain, before homeschooling, but also before western society ceased to see value in imagination as a pastime.

    Perhaps having that kind of proactive engagement might allow your husband to take ownership of family change too. It’s definitely a parenting teamwork thing.

  23. says

    I wanted to add a thank you for all the links. I’m struggling in this area right now, and I need some positive reinforcement, especially in the area of treating my children as respectfully as I should. I shared a little about it on my blog today, and referred to several linked sites that were posted in the comments here.
    Though we cannot get involved in every “cause” to the same degree, I think the stand we take in our own home and family is just as valuable as any public stand we take, because if we *say* we do not think people should abuse their children, but we yell at our children all day long at home, then we are the worst kind of hypocrites. If we *say* we value families, but our actions show otherwise (as many politicians have done), then we make ourselves liars. I don’t think it’s wrong to take a public stand even if you have struggles, but we should also put out that we have weaknesses, and make sure no one thinks that we are “perfect” in the area that we are speaking out against.
    I feel a personal strong calling toward women’s and children’s rights in the area of human rights. I have not personally been affected by any atrocities, but as a woman I feel strongly that the only way women and children are going to gain the proper amount of respect and equal treatment with men is by stronger women taking a stand for those who are considered weaker.

  24. says

    Abby, so good to “hear” from you. I have missed you!! Are your reading Hillary’s book, btw? I will be offering it as a give away in a couple weeks.

  25. Anna says

    I know I am a little late to this thread but I stumbled on this blog and would like to recommend an excellent parenting book. Parenting the Strong Willed Child by Rex Forehand and Nicholas Long. It is not a specifically Christian book, but I find it to be both gracious and helpful. It applies many of the behavioral principles around learning that the Pearls use BUT rather than using a child’s fear of pain as a primary tool to suppress behavior, it uses the child’s natural desire to please their parent as the means to shape better behavior. There is no physical discipline involved and, as a therapist working with kids and parents (including young children), I have found the program to be effective even with very out of control children. It teaches parents ways to be more connected to their child and also to be in charge so their child does not need to constantly test limits but it does not suppress creativity and personality the way that the Pearl’s method tends to do. Hope it is helpful to somebody.


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