Thoughts On “Christian” Child Abuse

The Resurgence: Father's Don't Provoke Your ChildrenAnother couple has been found guilty of murder for the death of their child after they used the “parenting” advice found in the book “To Train Up A Child” by Mike and Debi Pearl.

The New York Times headline lumps all corporal punishment under the same roof as the abusive advice of the Pearls.

A friend of the parents most recently found guilty points out “the Pearls are not professionally trained or educated in child development.”

First off let me be clear: These parents are evil and deserve the full and just punishment for  the abuse and murder of their children. How heartless, callous, cruel, and stupid must you be to consider sending your young child naked into the cold to be reasonable punishment, a good idea?

Yes, children are sinners just like you and I, and discipline is necessary to guide them into being healthy adults, but the goal is never to break the child. These are children, not horses. Discipline is about structure, structure is about direction, direction is about purpose. The goal of discipline is to grow within the child the self-discipline necessary for them to be able to accomplish their own purposes in life. Breaking a child’s will robs them of purpose and so is not a legitimate goal or form of discipline.

Parents who consider advice such as the Pearls dispense sound are doing grave disservice to their children at best, and are harming their children immeasurably at worst.

But we have to also be clear about a few others things as well:

  • Professional training in child development does not in any way make a person a legitimate expert able to dispense advice that would be any more right or effective than the destructive trash put out by the Pearls. Experience and success, or even an honest understanding of the source of ones failures, are more likely to present advice worth reading, and even if that is read, it ought to be run past your own common sense, for what is successful with one child may not necessarily be successful with another, even one in the same family.
  • Corporal punishment, spanking, is often illustrated with extreme cases where the intent is clearly harm to the child, when there is no proof that is how it primarily exists. The very fact that these isolated cases are such big news is that they are isolated. Most parents are not beating their children with plastic tubing until they “draw into a quiet shell and obey”.
  • The Bible in no way supports the ideas of breaking children down. Instead, twice in the New Testament Paul tells fathers to not provoke their children to wrath, anger, exasperation, embitterment, or discouragement (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21).

So far as we know the Pearls have not committed any crimes themselves. Freedom of speech and of the press means that in this country at least they ought to still be free to publish their drivel and silly people are still free to follow them. Not every child raised by adherents of the Pearls folly die, and some even turn out all right I’d presume. But like the leftist Democrats in the Westboro Baptist “Church” the Pearls ought to be confronted with wisdom and truth by some, and studiously ignored by all others, and parents ought to be surrounded by their family, friends, and community with good and sound advice and help and support.

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