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.