As you may have heard by now, 7-year-old Lydia Schatz was beaten to death by her parents who claim they were following the child training practices preached by Michael & Debi Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries. The autopsy on Lydia Schatz showed she died from “blunt force trauma” being whipped for several hours after mispronouncing a word during a homeschool reading lesson, and needing someone to cast the blame on, fingers are pointing to the Pearls.
Now with all the outcry, many homeschooling parents and leaders are speaking out in blasphemous fashion to create an anti-Pearl movement among the conservative Christian community.
Barbara, a staunch Pearl critic says, “No one is blaming the Pearls for a specific death but for advocating beating a child into submission, beating a child until he cannot breathe or talk, and beating a child with a piece of plumbing supply.”
Makes you wonder if Barbara has actually read any of the Pearl’s material, because if she had she would know that they absolutely do NOT advocate any of the above.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Michael Pearl -
IN DEFENSE OF BIBLICAL CHASTISEMENT:
The Bible calls it chastisement with a rod. We call it training. The spankings we give our children do not resemble punishment. We are not angry. We don’t lose control. We are not desirous to make children suffer for their misdeeds. Application of the rod is only a small but essential part of our training technique. You must first understand our position if you would fault us...
Our defense of Biblical chastisement should not be construed as a defense of all those who abuse this Christian duty. We believe the rod should not be used as a vent for parents’ anger. There is no place for vindictiveness or aggression in training children. The rod should not be applied at the end of an intolerance curve. Where the supreme motivation is anything other than the child’s good, the rod should not be used…
When state social workers molest children and abuse them, we do not stop all social work. We seek out the offenders and punish them according to their culpability. Likewise when some parents misuse their sacred trust and hurt their children in the name of spanking them, we do not abdicate our sacred duty to apply the rod as the Word of God has commanded…
WHEN IS IT ABUSE?
You are abusing the child when it starts doing harm to the child. Listen to your friends-especially to those friends that share your philosophy. Ask the opinion of people you respect. If they think you are abusive, get counsel in a hurry. Ask the opinion of your older children. If your child is broken in spirit, cowed and subdued, you have a problem. Children should be happy and cheerful, full of enthusiasm and creativity. If your children are fearful or anxious, you should get some counsel…
The Pearl’s teachings no way promotes or justifies violence against children. Rather, the book condemns such practices. If these parents actually read Michael & Debi Pearl's book, TO TRAIN UP A CHILD, they would have encountered numerous passages such as these:
Pages 50 and 51 say:
A CAUTION TO RECIPIENTS OF THE MILLSTONE AWARD
There are always some who act in the extreme. These individuals are capable of using what has been said about the legitimate use of the rod to justify ongoing brutality to their children. I can think of several right now. These abusers of their children would not in the least view themselves as such. They would call themselves "strong disciplinarians." "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which 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" (Matt. 18:6)...
FORMS OF ABUSE
The rod should never be a vent for parents' anger. In the daily course of life, many people experience anger and have an impulse to strike out. There is no place for this selfish, vindictive streak in the discipline of children. Where the supreme motivation is anything other than the child's good, it is inevitable that such behavior by the parent will assuredly create problems...
There is a political move to outlaw spanking. They say, "If you hit a child, he will grow up to be violent." They do not believe the Bible, and they judge others by their own experience. The only time they have "hit" their child, or been tempted to, is when they were angry. They are correct in saying that what they call "hitting the child" may cause him to grow up and use violence as a way of resolving conflicts. But they do not understand the Christian heart. Having never experienced it, they cannot fathom the self-restraint and love that motivates true Christians. The problem is that spanking is practiced by many people motivated by self-interest, and this is what the spanking abolitionists are seeing and reacting to...
These excerpts clearly demonstrate that the Pearl's have taken space in their magazine articles, web site and child training books to repeatedly urge parents NOT TO CAUSE CHILDREN HARM!
Even though Barbara admits to only reading a few selected quotes from the Pearl’s writings, her trusted line of defense is this: "While many people can eat the meat and spit out the bones, there are people choking on them."
That may be true, but this is no reason to get rid of the meat and blame the cow for choking, people just simply need to learn how to chew better. Further, it is irresponsible and unjust for Barbara and others to openly condemn a book that they haven't even taken the time to read. God says, "do not bear false witness against your neighbor" and those who are making these false accusations should be ashamed of themselves, but they will be held accountable on judgment day. I tried on several occasions to leave comments on Barbara's blog, but for some reason they won't get posted, I can only speculate as to why?!?!
As tragic as the recent death of this poor girl Lydia Schatz, I think it's absolutely ridiculous to blame the Pearls for what happened! Mr. & Mrs. Schatz are obviously just looking for an outlet so they don't have to take personal responsibility for their abusive and barbaric form of discipline. I mean, who even punishes a child for not pronouncing a word right, let alone beat them to death? Something is seriously wrong with the parents, and they certainly didn't learn that behavior from "To Train Up a Child." Anyone who properly implements the child training techniques outlined in that book (which is based on the Bible) have happy, obedient, loving and well-adjusted children. In fact, if these parents actually trained their 7-yr-old the right way when she was a toddler, there should be very minimal need for spankings as she got older - which is the whole point of the book.
Whoever condemns Michael & Debi Pearl clearly lacks Biblical wisdom or discernment, and should be strongly rebuked for slandering them in such a nasty fashion. If these people think the Pearls are to blame, perhaps they should also put God on trial since He is the One who inspired their teachings? The Bible repeatedly says we should discipline our children with a rod:
"He who spares his rod HATES his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly." - Proverbs 13:24
“The blueness of a wound cleanses away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.” - Proverbs 20:30
“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” - Proverbs 22:15
“Do not withhold correction from a child; For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod; And deliver his soul from hell.” - Proverbs 23:13-14
Clearly the Scriptures teach "beating a child with a rod," so should we dismiss the Bible and blame God for this Lydia's death? Of course not!
Of the one or two families who went to the extreme and violently murdered their children in an abusive rage, thousands upon thousands of families have seen the positive fruit in the Biblical child training techniques outlined by the Pearls. Furthermore, there are over a million more families who never disciplined their children and trained up terrors of society who have NO FEAR of authority while living in rebellion, killing their peers, raping women and committing every evil act under the sun.
As a Christian homeschooling mother of five who has so far successfully trained my children to be happy, loving, confident, obedient, respectful and well-grounded individuals, I still support the Pearls 100% without a doubt, and I will continue to value their timeless teachings, as well as share them with others!
Don’t be fooled by those who ignorantly seek to viciously vilify devoted believers like Michael & Debi Pearl, for these critics obviously have NOT read the manuscripts of No Greater Joy, nor applied the wisdom to their lives.
*Read => NGJ Response to the Schatz Case