Sadness Concentrate

I wanted to write something upbeat and entertaining this afternoon—maybe a holiday gift guide (though there are already plenty floating around the ‘net) or a weekend anecdote. However, I can’t seem to shake a concentrated sadness, so I’m sitting down with a steaming mug of chai to hear it out and send it gently on its way.

A couple of my grade school friends had their first babies within the last year and have formed a moms’ support group based largely on the teachings of Michael & Debi Pearl. These teachings mandate that a wife acknowledge her husband as her lord (yes, really) and submit unquestioningly to his desires and opinions; if her hobbies, relationships, or spiritual life prevent her from meeting her husband’s every need, she must give them up (and obviously, a career is out of the question). These teachings also instruct parents to dominate their children through manipulation and violence in order to produce automatic obedience and have already resulted in at least two brutal deaths. Unbelievably, many parents are willing to accept this call to cruelty because it touts itself as godly.

I recently saw a glowing article in a conservative magazine of how my old friends get together regularly to read this poisonous ideology and discuss how to implement it within their growing families, and it sends my stomach into a tailspin. If my friends are devoutly following the Pearls’ teaching, then their infants already know the sting of a stick against their tender skin. I can’t help thinking about those sweet babies this afternoon, about how innocent they are to the fact that their mothers are studying up on how best to “break their wills.”

The subject of child abuse gives me an itchy trigger finger, but a diatribe from me isn’t going to set anything right, and it would only mask my authentic reaction… which is heartbreaking empathy. I know something about what those little ones are going to endure, and I have an idea of the regret my friends will experience when (if) they let themselves realize what horror they were willing to perpetrate simply because an author claimed it was God’s will. I can only imagine what my friends will go through as well in giving up their individuality in order to stroke their husbands’ egos until death do them part. There is so much pain in store for those families, but I’m in no position to convince them of it. All I can do is sit here with my sadness sipping chai before I send it off in search of stray miracles.

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  1. Oh man.
    That just about breaks my heart.
    I could never imagine…doing that….to my baby.

    Love that last sentence.

  2. Michael Pearl is one of a handful of teachers I’m not the slightest bit hesitant to say is satanic. And Lydia Schatz is a martyr and a saint.

    “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me. … And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” –Mark 9:37, 42.

  3. I am so sorry, Bethany. I know you wish you could share your wisdom with these parents. What really breaks my heart is that I know many of these parents honestly want to do right by their kids – they want to be good parents. I just wish these mamas would tap into that mother bear that awakens inside us and say NO. NO, I will not hit my INFANT. I just can’t imagine. I would love to see Amazon stop carrying their books, too, along with those idiot Ezzo ones as well.

  4. I wish your friends had the strength to hear what you have to tell.

  5. {{love}}
    with you, friend.

  6. That’s a hard place to be in. (((Hugs)))

  7. Beka – You and me both… and thank you.

    Eric – It makes more sense to me now why I always felt growing up that God was evil. I didn’t call it “evil” — I just thought my perception of good was out of whack — but teachings like that truly are evil cloaked in “godliness.”

    Sam – I know too that they’re trying to do the right thing. All of we parents are. I wish I could shout out my advice and have my old friends listen, but people quickly build up defenses to controversial issues and burrow further into them. This article gives an amazing, rare perspective of a mom who raised her children according to the Pearls’ advice and later realized the damage it caused… and even she admits that she wouldn’t have listened if people had warned her about it.

    Liz – Me too. The problem is that they’re old friends… or more accurately, former friends. I would just come across as an unwelcome and socially challenged assvice-giver. ::sigh::

    Rain and Ruth – Hugs back. Thank you.

  8. I hear you! It is so hard to watch people make the same mistakes I made, the same mistakes my parents made, and know that they are not in the place to hear you. It’s like Elizabeth Esther said in one of her blogposts, we are lying bleeding on the ground underneath the cliff, screaming up at the people above us “don’t jump!!!”

  9. I haven’t heard of the Pearls, but yikes. So much legalism on their site, so little Gospel.

  10. YM – I don’t remember that EE quote, but it sums this feeling up perfectly. Fortunately, there are people like her who are more comfortable than I am speaking up about stuff like this.

    Darius – I’m glad you agree. I wasn’t sure whether to link to their site or not, but it’s always helpful to know who you’re up against.

  11. Bethany, I understand your sadness. I have said many prayers, had multiple conversations and shed a few tears in relation to the Pearls. Our aim is not to break a child’s will or beat the devil out of them as they have been quoted as saying – it’s to raising our children to choose to listen to us and God out love.

  12. Thank you for speaking out.
    And I agree totally with Eric’s post.

  13. love, so much love from me to you. and admiration. and gratitude.

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