Is the child-training method of No Greater Joy Ministries responsible for the death of a child? (Ebook review of NGJ’s theological basis)

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

The people responsible for the deaths of their children are those who killed their children. Even though I do not hold to the Pearl's beliefs in several areas, they do not advocate beating children to death.

The point-by-point breakdown of the oddities of the Pearl's doctrinal stance was excellent, and reveals why many of their methods are also in error.

Anne Sokol's picture

i would say, parents are responsible, but pearls kind of have fingerprints on there, the implement they recommend, their instructions to strike to a certain point of breaking a child's will . . .

if these parents had been following William and Martha Sears who don't advocate striking at all, ho actualy recommend against it, it would be much clearer that this were abberant from their teachings.

so while pearls aren't guilty, with the funny way people filter and interpret stuff, it's a little creepy . . .

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

The Pearls are not responsible for those who don't properly filter their teachings through Biblical principle and good ol' common sense. For instance, in the article http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/articles/general-view/archive/2006/june/21/t... "Too Young to Spank" , the Pearls say:

Quote:
No one advocates “hitting children,” but our angry opponents can’t seem to read. We say “switch;” they quote us saying “tree branch.” We say “spank;” they quote us as saying “beat.” They deliberately do not distinguish between the loving, compassionate, measured spankings we advocate and the out of control violence of parents reacting in anger and aggression toward helpless children.

and
Quote:
“When is a child too young to spank?” Based on my definition of “spanking,” I can answer the question. A child is too young to spank when spanking is not profitable to the child. Of course, the same applies to a child of any age.

Huh. Why don't I ever hear that quoted? I've read multiple times that the Pearls advocate spanking infants, but they are very clear that
Quote:
we cannot arbitrarily specify a suitable age and declare that it is fitting to spank a child beginning at that point. Children differ, spankings differ, circumstances differ, and parents differ.

William and Martha Sears have ideas worthy of consideration, but they do not filter their teachings through the lens of Scripture. Why would they be a better choice? You've got the Pearls on one hand with faulty doctrine, and the Sears on the other with no doctrine at all. They say asinine things http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/discipline-behavior/spanking/10-reasons... ]like
Quote:
Spanking demonstrates that it's all right for people to hit people, and especially for big people to hit little people, and stronger people to hit weaker people. Children learn that when you have a problem you solve it with a good swat. A child whose behavior is controlled by spanking is likely to carry on this mode of interaction into other relationships with siblings and peers, and eventually a spouse and offspring.

Really? http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-confused002.gif[/img ]

It is necessary and valuable to point out what is wrong with a particular teaching or method, but hyperbolizing is unproductive and distracting. The Pearls are no more responsible for the deaths of children than the Beatles are for the victims of Charlies Manson or J. D. Salinger for the Columbine massacre.

Anne Sokol's picture

I can't dig up the link to an article about another child, maybe three months ago?, who was just hospitalized (didnt' die) from kidney failure? kidney issues? because of being "spanked" the way Lydia Schatz was/per Pearls method.

I'm saying, parents are responsible for what they do. But those who are teaching the parents are also responsible, and it seems to me that one would want to be more circumspect or wise than the Pearls are being. Their advice about "spanking" with the piping or whatever it was is that these parents are all using is foolish for them to write/self-publish. My point is that we're not risking a child being killed from how someone filters/implements Sears stuff. That's the difference.

About what Sears say about spanking, some kids do learn that and tend to be more violent; some of that depends on the overall quality of the relationship. What I like about Sears is that they teach parents relationship-building ways of relating to and understanding their children. I would recommend a lot of other books that do the same thing, like Ross Campbell, Elizabeth Pantley, etc. I try to avoid teachers of parents who teach parents to rely mainly on spanking because they think it's what the Bible teaches.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I'm not in danger of getting hit by a car if I never cross the road either. Physical chastisement is a Biblical principle. To attempt to paint spanking as inherently abusive is to contradict Scripture.

We are living in an overly litigious society that all too often looks for something or someone to blame for their stupidity and evil. Are Dr. and Mrs. Sears at fault if the only advice someone takes away from them is "Don't spank"? And so if their child grows up robbing convenience stores, can we blame that on the Sears because the child was never disciplined? Of course not- because the Sears teach much more than just "Don't spank". As a matter of fact, they have an article with advice for parents who do spank. They are not to blame if parents don't apply their advice within its proper context and as part of a whole approach.

And neither are the Pearls. They teach much more about child rearing than just spanking. I quoted directly from the Pearl's website above, and you can see that they don't advocate beating a child until they experience renal failure. In their article defending 'Biblical chastisement', as well as in other places, they warn parents against using the rod in anger and only using chastisement to deal with kids' behavior.

However, their doctrinal stance is faulty, IMO, and what I've read and had questions about over the years are very nicely outlined and addressed in the .pdf that the OP links to. I don't believe Adam and Eve were blank slates. I don't believe Michael Pearl or anyone else can read the mind of God into a text that doesn't reveal His motivations. Pearl believes children are not born as sinners, and must be conditioned to accept salvation. He claims many verses as promises that are not, in fact, promises, and interprets verses about children as being doctrinally applicable to children (confusing descriptive with prescriptive). The Bible clearly identifies what is and isn't a promise, and not every 'if-then' statement in Scripture qualifies as one. Pearl plays too many word games, especially when it comes to defining what we refer to as our 'sin nature'.

The link in the OP is mostly about the Pearl's doctrinal oddities. There is a short epilogue of sorts that gives information about rhabdomyolosis, which theoretically could be caused by excessive and aggressive spanking. This kind of kidney damage is usually only seen in severe muscle trauma, such as those involved in extreme sports or the victims of car crashes. If you have spanked your child to the point where they have the same kind of muscle damage as someone who has been in a car wreck, you are IMO just flat out bonkers. Excuse the technical term.

I don't recommend the Pearl's stuff to anyone. It's too convoluted to really be of much use IMO. If you have to jump through that many hoops to get an accurate picture of what they teach, then their material is essentially worthless. But I'm not going to just stand around while people blame them for something they did not do or advocate. It lets weak, angry, and criminally minded people off the hook for their actions if they can claim they were brainwashed by the Pearls.

Let me know if the Pearls are ever prosecuted for holding a gun to someone's head while they beat their child to death. Then we'll talk about blaming the Pearls.

Anne Sokol's picture

i'm not blaming pearls either; i'm saying they are foolish teachers when it comes to teaching about spanking. and i don't agree with the premise that spanking a child is biblical. but that's a whole other issue Wink