PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, and SEXUAL ABUSE IN MARRIAGE
On their website, Debi Pearl quotes a number of things which I find to be extremely damaging and not at all supportive of a true Christian relationship in a desire to serve God. For instance, in on section a woman writes that her husband is verbally and emotionally abusive, has had numerous affairs, and is hurting her daughter, yet Debi Pearl states that the woman needs to stay with her husband because God hates all divorce. Yes, God hates divorce, but he also addresses infidelity and divorce in the bible (Matthew 5, Matthew 19) as well as saying that if anyone harms His children, they are better off to hang a millstone around their neck. Debi manipulates scripture to say that God will not save the woman's child if she leaves her husband.... how audacious to declare that God, who created the earth, will not save a CHILD if her mother leaves her abusive husband! Many times in an abusive home, the abuse turns from the spouse over time to the children as well, which I am sure is not to God's pleasure. In addition, it says that the husband is an unbeliever. While Debi declares that the woman must stay with her husband because it is God's will, God in scripture says that he wishes for believers to not be yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6), but if they are, they should remain only if the unbeliever is willing. If the unbeliever is abusive and having extramarital affairs, what show of desire is there to remain yoked with the believer? (1 Corinthians 7:15-16) She goes on to say that if you get divorced and remarry, God will not be in your marriage or your life. How ignorant is she to proclaim that God will no longer love the woman and bless her life because she has left an abusive home? (Romans 8- Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ)
PHYSICAL ABUSE OF WIFE AND CHILD
Later in the answer to the letter, Michael Pearl chimes in saying that it is only abuse if the husband hits his child and a red mark remains for at least two hours. TWO HOURS. Let's say it only remains for an hour and a half... oops! not abuse? I honestly think not. The emotional effects of abuse last long beyond the physical implications. He then says to send your husband to jail (something that is not likely to happen... physical abuse of a spouse or child rarely resorts to imprisonment), and to spend the time he is in jail writing love letters and having steamy phone calls. Honestly, if you have had need to send your husband to jail for beating you and your child, how does one think that God would desire you to stay with that person? He also says "If your abusing husband fully understands that you have the power of the law behind you, he will learn to keep his hands in his pockets" which is exactly the opposite... those who have been convicted of abuse in the past are the most often repeat offenders!
SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD
One of the most horrifying recommendations the Pearls make I believe is this:
"But if your husband has sexually molested the children, you should approach him with it. If he is truly repentant (not just exposed) and is willing to seek counseling, you may feel comfortable giving him an opportunity to prove himself, as long as you know the children are safe. If there is any thought that they are not safe, or if he is not repentant and willing to seek help, then go to the law and have him arrested. Stick by him, but testify against him in court. Have him do about 10 to 20 years, and by the time he gets out, you will have raised the kids, and you can be waiting for him with open arms of forgiveness and restitution. Will this glorify God? Forever. You ask, "What if he doesn't repent even then?" Then you will be rewarded in heaven equal to the martyrs, and God will have something to rub in the Devil's face. God hates divorceâ"always, forever, regardless, without exception."
First off, the average stay of a person who has raped a child in jail is THREE YEARS. That's it. THREE YEARS. Pedophiles are also extremely highly likely to be repeat offenders. My best friend in high school's younger sister (grade school) was sexually abused by her stepfather, who had also raped his two grown daughters from a previous marriage. I also know of another Christian woman whose grandmother welcomed her husband back into her life after he had sexually abused his children, and in repeat, he sexually molested her (his granddaughter). Even if you would be lucky enough to keep the man out of your life while your children grew up, welcoming him back would open up your grandchildren to the abuse! And how would accepting that man back into your life benefit you or your children? How would you ever trust your husband? How would forcing your child to face their rapist daily be good for them? I think it would be the exact opposite... The Lord says he HATES those who commit offenses such as rape, so why do the Pearls know "better" than the Lord? (Galatians 5 says those who commit acts such as rape will not inherit the kingdom of God)
It also disturbs me that repeatedly Debi refers to her husband as righteous when in the bible, God is who is referred to as righteous, not people. No person is righteous without sin in this world, especially her husband. God's righteousness covers us through His gift of grace as we follow Him, but that does not make us without sin or Righteous in God's eyes by our own actions. (Romans 3:10-12, 6:23)
PHYSICAL ABUSE OF A CHILD
When it comes to children, there are many things about their idea of "training" children (which is biblically unsound and distorts scripture from it's original text meaning). They continually use Proverbs 22:6 justifying the idea of training a child like training a dog, when the original Hebrew word translated to English as "train" means teach or guide." They also repeatedly misuse verses in Proverbs relating to a "rod", which in the original Hebrew context refers to guidance and correction, not beating with a literal rod. In addition, there is not a single incident of a young child being hit for correction in the bible using the translation of the original text. One of their comments on their site makes me physically ill:
"Please give me a description of the switch or rod of which you so often speak. I wish you could send me one so I could see it.
The rod we speak of is a plumbing supply line that can be bought at any hardware store or large department store. It is a slim, flexible, plastic tubing that supplies water to sinks, and toilets. Ask for "Â¼ inch supply line." They cost less than one dollar. I always give myself one swat before I swat the child to remind myself how much force to exert. It stings the skin without bruising or damaging tissue. It's a real attention-getter. Michael demonstrates its use in our new Seminar videos."
This information is found under BABIES on their website. Hitting your BABY or CHILD with SUPPLY LINE is abuse. Cut and dry abuse. In another article regarding children, he goes on to say that if you don't "discipline" your child the way that he states, not only will you have unruly whiny children who hate you, but they will not love God or be saved. I assure you, no where in God's plan of salvation does it say you must have been hit as a child in order to become a saint in His kingdom and experience his salvation. Rather God says to love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10) and whatever we do to the least of these we do also to Him (Matthew 25). Puts things into perspective... lead our child in grace and love to the Lord showing them forgiveness and gentle guidance to what they can do right, or whipping them mirroring as our Lord was crucified and despised. I doubt any adult would wish to be whipped if they did something displeasing to another person, nor do I doubt any God-honoring Christian would seek to whip our Lord.
While spanking your child and she cries and is upset about it (very obviously if you are hitting your child with supply line, they are going to be in pain and not happy about it), Michael Pearl says this:
"When she screams or flees, calmly follow through by physically subduing her. Sit on her, if you have to, and slowly explain that you will not tolerate this resistance. Explain in a normal tone (She will eventually stop screaming and listen) that you are going to give her, say, five licks for the original offense and an additional two licks for the fit. Slowly apply the five licks, counting out loud. When I say slowly, I mean with a thirty second gap between each lick and a calm explanation to the screaming child that you are not the least impressed except that you are going to spank harder and she still gets the additional two licks plus one more for her ongoing screaming. When you have finally arrived at five well- anticipated and carefully counted licks, say, âOK, your spanking is over; that is the five licks you got for hitting your brother, but now I must give you two more for trying to run away.â Give her one lick and say, âNow, that is one of the licks for running away; you have one more coming.â Give the second lick, and then calmly and slowly explain that all her licks are over now, except for the one additional lick she incurred for continuing to scream during the spanking. After you have finished, tell her that you are going to let her up now, if she stops screaming, otherwise you are going to give her one additional lick. If she stops, or at least makes a great effort to, then you have won. You may never have to go through this horrible time again. But, if she is continuing to scream in defiance, you have the option of continuing to warn and spank, or of ceasing here with a parting warning: âNext time you better not run and throw a fit; for if you do, you will only get more licks and harder ones.â "
So now it goes beyond their idea of "discipline" to punishing your child for not liking being punished! Abuse compounding abuse does not make any child happier or more willing to receive the abuse, it just further breaks their will given to them by God. (Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.) I assure you, no child likes being beaten and most will resist it to the best of their abilities. It does not make a childlove their parents or God more, it physically and emotionally scars them.
The Pearls advocate beating of an infant in numerous places throughout their book "To Train Up a Child". which in no way is biblical or even humane.
The Pearls recommend whipping infants only a few months old on their bare skin. They describe whipping their own 4 month old daughter (p.9). They recommend whipping the bare skin of "every child" (p.2) for "Christians and non-Christians" (p.5) and for "every transgression" (p.1). Parents who don't whip their babies into complete submission are portrayed as indifferent, lazy, careless and neglectful (p.19) and are "creating a Nazi" (p.45). On p.60 of the book, they recommend whipping babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them "to get up." On p.61 they recommend whipping a 12 month old girl for crying. On p.79 they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming. The Pearls recommend pulling a nursing infant's hair (p.7), and describe tripping their non-swimming toddler so she falls into deep water (p.67). They recommend ignoring an infant's bumped head when he falls to the floor, and ignoring skinned knees (p.86).
The overall character of the Pearls is abhorrent and dishonest. They have no child development credentials, no religious credentials or training, and they ignore Christ's instructions to forgive seventy times seven and be merciful. Recently they have been investigated by the Department of Human Services and goverment of Tennessee for abuse.