Quoting Quiverfull: Handling a Child Abuser Husband?

Quoting Quiverfull: Handling a Child Abuser Husband? December 6, 2012

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

Michael Pearl from “Created To Be His Help Meet”

“If there is any thought that they (the children) are not safe, or if he is not repentant and willing to seek help, then go to the law and have him arrested. Stick by him, but testify against him in court. Have him do about 10 to 20 years, and by the time he gets out, you will have raised the kids, and you can be waiting for him with open arms of forgiveness and restitution. Will this glorify God? Forever. You ask, “What if he doesn’t repent even then?” Then you will be rewarded in heaven equal to the martyrs, and God will have something to rub in the Devil’s face. God hates divorce–always, forever, regardless, without exception.”

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • W. Lotus

    At least he says to go to the law for the sake of protecting the children…but the idea that a woman ought to put her life on hold while her husband serves jail time for abusing children is repugnant. If she chooses to do so, fine; that is her prerogative. But to tell her doing so will guarantee rewards in heaven (as if Pearl himself is the giver of such rewards and the one who determines who gets them) is manipulation and shows a lack of compassion.

  • Ashley

    Additionally, I doubt the grown children will feel very loved when their mother welcomes their abuser back “with open arms of forgiveness and restitution.” Children need strong mothers who will stand by them and protect them. Grown children appreciate strong mothers who won’t betray their loyalty.

  • Lisa

    I totally agree with having the abuser arrested. God gave you your children to take care of on this earth, and if one parent is harming them then the other one is called to action. I stayed in an abusive marriage for 25 years because the church (cult) I was in was of this theology that the men are always in charge, the only ones who hear The Lord, and continuously, I was told when I sought help, that I needed to just be QUIET… That I will win him to The Lord “without a word by my quiet conduct”. Another friend from this same cult, her husband molested her children for over 40 years. (She turned him in too) I don’t think I would have been strong enough to leave but my ex left us with 8 children and a house in foreclosure. He turned his back on the entire life we knew. Yet while I tried to stay in the community, tried to submit to the male leadership, ultimately we were “shunned” by name from the pulpit because I didn’t have a headship. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through but most birth pains hurt. Now I am gladly walking with The Lord. I look back and see that these people are not living under the Grace done on the cross, they are trying to be “holy” enough. They are saying by their actions that the work on the Cross was not enough and we need to add to it by doing or not doing, dressing a certain way, homeschooling, ect. Yes, scripture says that God hates divorce, however. He has allowed it because of the hardness of men’s hearts. Divorce (God’s way) is meant for the victim as a way to be free from bondage. Yes it has been abused in lots of ways as many of our freedoms have. God hates a bad marriage as much as divorce, He is big enough to see past the marriage certificate and into our hearts. God loves each of us individually, even the abuser. But He will that we suffer at the hands of an abuser in His name. As soon as you enter into a relationship with an abuser, you stop becoming who God wants you to become in order to be what the abuser says you must become. Your abuser then is a false God and God said “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Men like to be worshipped, as seen in “Vision Forum”, “No Greater Joy”, etc. I lived and breathed these doctrines but was dead in Christ.
    He died for all our sins, past, present, and future. At the same time there are consequences for our sins and our sins always hurt those around us. I do still struggle to forgive my ex and the people who my children grew up with all their lives (the cult who shunned us). But I now know that I can’t do it, I have to admit to my Savior that I don’t even want to. He knows that about me and isn’t shocked, He died for that sin too. But I now have a Savior who will help me and loves me. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world! I would rather be alone with my Savior and know I need Him, than in an entire community of self righteous people who don’t know they need a savior.

  • Nea

    If God hates divorce so much, why was it okay when Rusty Yeats got one? It’s the same situation, isn’t it? Andrea’s still alive and in jail. Why didn’t he have to stand by her? I do realize that the gender pronouns are answering my question, but I wonder how statements like “Divorce is never, ever, ever, ever right” stand up when there’s such an obvious case of divorce=bad when she needs it, but divorce=understandable when he wants it.

  • “Have him do about 10 to 20 years” — where does that come from? Is it the wife who determines the sentence?

    I can’t imagine a parent being sentenced to 20 years unless they have actually murdered their children. Waiting until your husband murders your children so that he can spend the chidren’s childhood in prison and come home only after they have left makes no sense at all. The children are *dead.*

    Since Pearl is a child abuser, he obviously has a very high bar for “legitimate” child abuse. It doesn’t count unless the child dies.

    *** *** ***
    RE God hating divorce: where does this come from? Paul is very clear that God prefers divorce, but that if you are both Christian and you like being married you aren’t actually required to divorce. Doesn’t this come up in discussion anywhere? In this case, if your husband is abusing your kids you clearly aren’t liking being married. No escape hatch here: you are *required* to divorce. You’re only allowed to stay married if it suits you. You’re supposed to keep as many resources available for God as you can, and an unhappy marriage is distracting.

  • suzannecalulu

    Interestingly enough this quote was in context of sexual abuse of children, not so much physical abuse. To even consider taking back a man that molests his own children is repugnant.

  • mary

    Here’s an interesting view on divorce.


    Basically, what God hates is not divorce, but the abuse of spouses and children. There are several instances of mistranslations in some bible versions that would seem to say that all divorce is wrong, but what it actually says is “God hates putting away.” “Putting away” is basically abandoning a spouse while refusing to grant them a legal divorce which would free the spouse to remarry. God told Moses to require someone who wanted to ditch his wife to give her a legal divorce instead of just leaving. In the extremely conservative circles in which I grew up, divorce was almost the eighth deadly sin. This is so sad, because it forces people to stay in abusive, not to mention just unhappy, situations from which they should be free. It also flies in the face of the christian responsibility to protect the weak, helpless, and disenfranchised- the very idea of letting yourself or your kids get hurt just because you bought the “no divorce ever” lie is wrong and heartbreaking on so many levels.

    I’m not for censorship, but I’d cheerfully burn copies of “Created to be his helpmeet” like the poison it is. The idiocy there would almost be funny, except people that actually BELIEVE that @#$$#. =)

  • “Children are recognized as one of the ‘most valued and most vulnerable assets.’ They are generally incapable of defending themselves and so are easily targeted.

    “It has been recognized by courts that child victims of sexual offences suffer from long lasting damage. They suffer from emotional trauma that is often permanent. Further, as adults they ‘may become incapable of forming loving relationship, always fearful of revictimization by sexual partners. Further, the matured victim may become a sexual predator himself. It is often that an offender will report being victimized by other sexual predators as a child.’

    “It has been suggested that sexual abuse of a child, particularly sexual intercourse, by a person in authority is in a range of 3 to 5 years.”

    Examples of Canadian cases:
    ▪ father has 4 year old child give oral sex over 3.5 years — 60 months
    ▪ offender was 37 year old labourer–victim assaulted 7 year old step daughter multiple times, including oral sex and touching — 60 months
    ▪ grandfather sexually assault grand daughter, oral sex, two incidents, found to be in loco parentis — 48 months
    ▪ prior related record; touching of 9 year old son — 48 months
    ▪ sexual intercourse with daughter; causing pregnancy — 36 months
    ▪ father touching daughter, forced oral sex — 36 months
    ▪ sexual assault on 14 year old stepdaughter; multiple assuaults; full intercourse — 24 months
    ▪ progressive touching, including oral sex, of best friend’s 13 year old daughter — 21 months
    ▪ historical sexual assault (1982), sexual intercourse with step daughter — 18 months
    ▪ 7 incidents of interference on child aged 12 to 13; brother’s step-daughter; offender aged 39 to 41; touching the victim’s breasts, vagina and putting the victim’s hand on offender’s penis — 18 months
    ▪ sexual touching of grand-daughter — 18 months (conditional sentence)
    ▪ father touches 14 year old daughter in vaginal area, no digital penetration — 14 months
    ▪ touching private parts of 5 year old daughter — 13 months (conditional sentence)
    ▪ grandfather touched two adolescent children above and under their clothes–health problems — 12 months
    ▪ father putting hands down 14 year old daughters pants on 3 occasions — 12 months
    ▪ sexual assault on 6 year old grand-daughter, fondled girl’s vaginal area under her clothes–offender was 48 years old with prior record including two sex assaults — 10 months
    ▪ convicted of multiple touching of child under 14. Touching over clothes. Was in a stepfather role. — 9 months
    ▪ sexually assaulted a 13 year old girl who was the daughter of his neighbour. The offence involved digital penetration. — 9 months
    ▪ offender had touched the stomach, breast and vagina of his common law spouse’s thirteen year old granddaughter — 6 months
    ▪ sexual touching of grand-daughter aged 7 over 3 years; over low sentence — 15 months probation

    None of these are Pearl’s recommended 10 to 20 years.

    I haven’t been able to find a similar list for the US, but sentences seem to range from 3 to 90 years depending on the state and the offence.

    How exactly is a mother supposed to “have” the man who is sexually assaulting her children put away for 10–20 years? Move to a jurisdiction with the targeted range of sentences and/or selectively report the offences so that he isn’t put away for too long? And what is the family supposed to do while awaiting trial? Doesn’t he realize that the feared SOCIAL WORKERS are necessarily going to get involved?

    I wonder if he actually does know all this, and what he really means that a wife should “have” happen is male relatives showing up with baseball bats and having a frank discussion in which the fellow is made to understand that he should stay away from the kids? He can’t say that in writing, but he knows his audience wants nothing to do with the state and will find “creative alternatives.”

  • Remnant

    Take him back after 20 years with open arms?
    Right. Just in time for him to abuse the grandbabies.

  • suzannecalulu

    Any man sexually abusing his children or any child deserves ‘creative alternatives’

  • Saraquill

    After reading who the author was and reading the first sentence, I dearly hoped that his pants were burning merrily.

  • Sure, but the problem is getting someone to apply them. There’s lots of denial in families. The children were too appealing, someone must have misunderstood, the mother didn’t put out enough, everyone knows he’s like that so if you don’t want him touching you, don’t be alone with him.

    The advantage of the law is that — unless you’re in a small town and related to the representatives of the law — it’s supposed to be impartial, and to impose penalties on people who infringe it even if family members try to mimimize the offence. From everything I’ve heard of Quiverfull families, the mother is likely to be blamed if she asks for help within the community. If she were a good wife and mother it wouldn’t be happening; and she’s dishonouring her husband by asking for help.

    So even the creative alternatives that Pearl might have had in mind are likely to be beyond the reach of his audience.

  • B

    What I want to know is, how does the family survive without divorce and remarriage when the breadwinner is in prison for 10-20 years? If we’re talking about the quiverfull ideal, the mother has been explicitly trained to *only* be capable of homemaking, limited in her education, and she’s likely got 5+ children. There’s just not a job she can take that will cover childcare for that many. Who in her family or community is likely to be able to take in such a big group? If she were free to remarry, her family would have much better odds of pulling through.

  • My grandma tried to invite her ex-husband to a family get-together. She was shocked, I say shocked, when the aunts and uncles told her to call him up and tell him he better not show. He tried to choke one aunt to death and beat the others within an inch of their lives. His response? “Oh, I guess they still hold a grudge against me…”

  • The church will magically take care of her!

  • Nea

    The myth of the male provider is enough of a topic to chew on for a whole series of posts. The idea that The Man Will Always Take Care Of You And The Kids So Don’t Worry Your Pretty Little Head About Earning a Living overlooks an entire wealth of potential realities, and not all of them can be blamed on someone else, either. Even the most loving and protective of men can become too ill to work, become disabled, die. What is the hapless wife to do then? She’s done everything “right” and still the heaven on earth fantasy didn’t play out.

  • revsharkie

    The “God hates divorce” bit comes from Malachi 2:16. Like most prooftexts, it takes on a rather different meaning when read in context–in this case, it’s judgment against an unfaithful husband who seeks to dismiss “the wife of [his] youth,” presumably to take up with a newer model. I don’t think Paul says God prefers divorce, although he does seem to indicate that God prefers people remain unmarried. That’s likely because he believed he and his readers were living in the last days, and if so it really wasn’t appropriate to be marrying and having children. But he says if the choice is between marriage and promiscuity, better to get married.

    As to whether someone should divorce a spouse who abuses them or their children, I think it’s important to keep in mind that in the Bible God generally comes down on the side of freedom from oppression. Abuse in these most intimate of relationships is pretty clearly oppression, and I doubt very much that God hates divorce so much that God would be okay with people remaining in situations where they are being abused.

  • I might be wrong but I don’t hear about grown children from these types of families being close their moms. Maybe stuff like this is the reason why. Not that I blame the kids, if they can escape with their lives and minds intact, they should make a run for it. But considering the wife’s whole life (besides serving a narcissistic man) is supposed to be the bearing and raising of children, it is kind of sad that this programming can actually undermine a future relationship with them. She is controlled right up to the end, I guess.

  • She say: “if he is not repentant and willing to seek help”

    A child molester is usually whatever would enable him to stay out of legal trouble and molest more children. If denying it will work, he’ll deny it. If there is clear evidence against him, his words will be repentant wether he mean it or not.
    He can be completely repentant before the wife, only to molest the children again hours later – and this time make surer they won’t tell Mom.
    In short, saying she should only report it if he is not repentant is bad advice in itself.

  • Paul is clear that it’s best to be single, but he’s not completely rigid about it. If the distractions of unfulfilled lust are greater than the distractions of looking after a spouse, by all means get married. If you are already married AND you’re both Christian AND you like being married, it’s ok not to get divorced. With these exceptions, divorce is not required.

    Ignoring this recommendation — which appears strong and unambiguous — on the basis of the “last days” argument requires some pretty astonishing assumptions.

    1) Paul was wrong about the Last Days. This is something pretty fundamental to get wrong. If he were really writing down the inerrant word of God, he wouldn’t have gotten this wrong. So clearly the writings of Paul are not divinely inspired and should not be included in the New Testament.

    2) Paul wasn’t wrong about the Last Days. Jesus said that we don’t know when the end of the world is coming. It might be tomorrow or it might not be for a long, long time. From Paul’s perspective it might as well have been the last days even though we know in hindsight that it wasn’t. The world might have been about to end that afternoon, so he acted as if it were. However, we know for sure that we are not in the Last Days and the the world is not about to end, so we can ignore Paul’s recommendations for singleness. We don’t have to act as though we might die tonight because we know we won’t. This goes directly against the teaching of Jesus, which is even worse that proposition 1).

    Unless you are prepared to argue that either Paul or Jesus (or both) were not divinely inspired, the Last Days argument just doesn’t hold. Ignoring the recommendation to remain single is major cherry-picking.

  • revsharkie

    I don’t mean to ignore his recommendation. I do sort of get the impression that a substantial portion of the church–regardless of denomination or theology–ignores it. Some churches elevate marriage to the level of “sacrament,” right up there with Baptism and Communion. Even if we don’t go that far, we do sort of assume it’s the natural order of things.

    There have been some in every generation since Jesus who believed we were living in the “last days.” One of these days someone will be right. But so far no one has been. I think I’ll go with Jesus on this one. We just don’t know.

  • But people accept the “last days” argument and they don’t conclude that Paul doesn’t belong in the Bible. How dipoles that happen?

  • … How does that happen?

  • Helen

    Domestic abusers experience extremely lax penalties in the law.

  • Helen

    It’s okay because then she’s a martyr, and didn’t Jesus say the poor were his chosen?

  • Lilah

    So the basic message is, “Your happiness means nothing. You have to go through hell in this life, so you won’t go through it in the next.” No thanks!