Quoting Quiverfull: A Child’s Questions Are Always Rebellion?

Quoting Quiverfull: A Child’s Questions Are Always Rebellion? June 17, 2015

quotingquiverfullby Michael Pearl in 1995 from the first issue of No Greater Joy Magazine – Why? But Why?

Editor’s note: It’s pretty sick that the mere question of a child is considered a deficit of character. Some kids are just going to ask why or ask about different things and it has nothing to do with anything remotely like rebellion. I remember that my youngest asked me lots of questions, many that I was forced to answer that I didn’t know what the answer was, but I would find out. I always thought that her ability to always turn to me to ask questions was a healthy thing, not a rebellion. There’s nothing evil in a child wanting to know things, it’s a sign of a healthy lively growing intellect. Please don’t try to beat that out of your children.

When a child is told to do something that he doesn’t want to do, he will often ask, “Why?” It most cases the question is not prompted by a spirit of cooperative inquiry — it is prompted by a spirit of rebellion.

The question is thrown at the parent as a challenge to his or her authority, wisdom, and motive. The child’s question is actually a statement of defiance. The wise parent will know that the character of the child is better served if the question is left unanswered. The child should trust the wisdom and good intentions of the parent.

The issue is not a deficit of information but a deficit of character. The child who is perfectly compliant in spirit doesn’t need explanations. Yet, in some cases, he may delight in knowing why because he enjoys playing his part in the scheme of things. Be sensitive.

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders, cultural enforcers and those that seek to keep women submitted to men 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 and Spiritual Abuse honestly and thoughtfully.

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Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

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  • Nea

    You can actually watch him put the padlock on the fire escape -‘questions are rebellion’ – before he halfheartedly admits that just MAYBE some kids actually want information. Not that they’re due it, because kids “should trust” parents who do not act in a trustworthy manner, but JUST MAYBE the properly submissive kid deserves information instead of a whipping. Maybe!

    I’m not surprised that the guy who advocates hate, resentment, and beatings for the natural child curiosity of crawling and exploring also advocates hate and resentment for the natural child curiosity of asking questions to understand the world and the logic behind their parents’ illogical dictates. I am surprised that any child raised this way can function at all as an adult. Adulthood relies upon understanding, judgement, and critical thinking. All of which we know terrify Michael by his own description of his college experience, so he seeks to replace them all with flat random dictate enforced by violence. For everyone. Everywhere.

    And I know he points to his own kids as success stories — but there is no objective evidence that a single one of them actually CAN function as a competent, mentally healthy adult. Heck, the man’s own wife’s writing sounds like a vindictive 12-year-old, and his ‘logic’ and maturity arent much better. We’re talking about a woman who uses “ugly”‘every time she opens her mouth and tosses “lesbian” like the word “poopiehead” and a man who likes to give sex advice without the ability to say “penis,” “vagina,” or “intercourse” in lieu of childish euphemisms like “down there” and “manhood” and “some lovin’.” And neither of them can keep a coherent line of logic for the length of two paragraphs without contradicting themselves.

  • KarenH

    Oh, the Why? game. I love the Why? game. No really, I do. It’s the “But What if…” game than sends me around the bend. 🙂

    One of the big advantages of rendering oneself as a parent as someone that can be trusted to answer the Why? game faithfully is that one can resort to, “Well, climb into your carseat so I can buckle you and I’ll explain why you have to be buckled.” and the child will, generally, comply.

    I remember once participating in a parenting debate board where someone made the claim that 90% of a parent’s rules for his children were completely arbitrary and therefore expecting the parent to explain them to the child was pointless (and impossible). I told him I thought that was horrible and no wonder his children complained and questioned him (until he’d spanked it out of them–it was a spanking debate board and he was defending why parents *had* to spank). I told him that in my opinion if 90% of his rules were purely arbitrary and there WAS no easily explained reason for them, that 88% of his rules should be thrown out immediately.

  • KarenH

    I discovered–at my son’s very early years–that if I could give a logical reason for what I wanted him to do, even if he hadn’t wanted to do it, he would accept that reason and comply. He didn’t always agree with me as to still wanting to do it, but if he knew my reason for doing it made sense, he would not resist further. And I mean, a VERY early age. The first example I can give was when he was pre-verbal and after a couple nights in a row of him waking at 2 or 3am and wanting to be up and playing, I explained (out of sheer exhaustion and desperation, not with any hope of being effective) that it was dark out, that everyone was sleeping and that he had to go back to sleep until it was light out. And I showed him how to turn the music box on his little activity play box on the crib to help him fall back asleep.

    And it worked. It worked really well. (It also sucked SERIOUSLY come summer and the 5am sunrises, but that’s another story!! LOL)

    I just don’t understand the mindset that ACTIVELY creates discord and hard feelings and distrust between a parent and a child, all in the name of a false authority that cannot bear up under questioning.

  • Nea

    Ah, but Mikey gets to be that authority! And he gets power over both child and parent. For someone as insecure as he is, that’s heady stuff, I’m sure.

    ETA – we’ve seen him outright tell women to rely on his orders and not their “weak” feelings regarding their kids. How much of his torturing his own kids was for the pleasure of beating them and how much for the pleasure of abusing Debi that bit more?

  • KarenH

    I’m sure you’re right; I just don’t understand it (him). I consider that lack of understanding to be a blessing.

  • SAO

    If kids doubt their parents wisdom, authority or motive, beating them until they shut up won’t change their minds. All that happens is that the kid keeps his thoughts to himself and then the parent is completely baffled by the child’s “surprising” rejection, when the kid is old enough to reject them. See Alicia Pennington for an example of this.

  • Saraquill

    Why didn’t this man get a vasectomy before he married?

  • katiehippie

    Questions are rebellion to Michael because he doesn’t know the answers and doesn’t want to admit it.

  • RetroPam

    If Michael Pearl were a chain store, his answer would be “it’s company policy.”

    That’s the answer given when there is no logical answer. 😉

  • Alce Bourque

    How many atrocities have been committed by people who were ‘just following orders’ without question? Creepy.

  • Julia Childress

    There were so many times when I just loved having to explain “why” to my children. To see the light bulb come on when they came to understand something that was a mystery a second earlier was just priceless for me. To be fair, there were times when I had to play the mom card and say “because I’m the mom”, but I tried to reserve that for when I was pretty sure I was being played. Once, again, feeling sorry for the children who were raised by the little emperor.

  • pinkie

    Nazi Germany comes to mind.

  • gimpi1

    Some of us naturally want to know why. Some of us naturally don’t defer to authority. We expect rational discourse at a very early age. It’s not a defect, it’s a personality trait, and it can be a very good one. It means we’re less likely to fall for scams, we’re more likely to go into an analytical profession, and – best of all – it means we can be reasoned with. It means if you can support your statements, we can actually change our minds when presented with evidence. It means we can learn. That’s good.

    Why Mr. Pearl can’t see that, that’s another issue…

  • gimpi1

    ¥eah, that’s a pretty big red-flag there. If you don’t think you have a reason for a rule, shouldn’t you be wondering why you have the rule in the first place?

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    That’s one of the reasons I posted this, I cannot wrap my mind around someone that doesn’t understand intellectual curiosity in children is not a bad thing. I suspect some of his belief in this being rebellion is that when asked questions about things he had zero knowledge of it embarrassed Michael and he reacted to this by declaring it rebellion instead of admitting to the child that he did not know.

  • teaisbetterthanthis

    “Why” is only scary or threatening if the person asked is primarily interested in control.

    Why can’t I eat cake for breakfast? Because you need energy for school.
    Why do we have to stop at red lights? So people at the other light can have a turn to go.
    Why is Aunt Jane married to Uncle Bob and Aunt Mary is married to Aunt Leanne? Because Aunt Jane loves Uncle Bob and Aunt Mary loves Aunt Leanne.
    Why do the clouds move like that? Good question! We can go to the library and research that question after lunch.

    See? Not so hard. But actually explaining the world to children takes time and occasionally means they’re not “happy and content” by Pearl standards.

  • Astrin Ymris

    To be fair, some people do have more trouble putting their thoughts into words than others. Some people think I’m verbal because I’m good at writing, but it’s sometimes a real strain on me to find a way to articulate my intuitive reasoning, especially when I’m preoccupied with getting X accomplished within a given time frame.

    Mind you, I don’t think this means that kids are wrong for wanting to know why! It is up to the adult to go through the work of coming up with a verbal explanation, because it could be that their unexamined thinking is based on a fallacy.

    That said, when I was a school-aged child care director it did sometimes seem that certain kids were asking “Why?” about every frigging thing just to be annoying– especially on field trips when I was already stressed. *heavy sigh*

  • Tuna

    A child who is perfectly compliant in spirit won’t learn anything.

  • Tuna

    Children don’t ask questions because they doubt their parents. They ask questions because they actually want to know the answers. Not answering them is bad parenting.

  • Mermaid Warrior

    All I can think is, this is gonna result in kids who can’t think or act for themselves. Which I’m sure they consider a feature and not a bug, but they probably expect the kids to be able to function once the parents are dead, yes?

    A funny story… A while back, I was watching a documentary about releasing a captive orca whale back into the wild. Obviously you can’t just toss ’em back into the ocean, so the whale has to go through like, a rehabilitation. Within a few months, he was brought into physical fitness and had learned how to hunt and eat live fish. But what I REALLY found interesting was that they had to teach the whale to think for himself. I even read a recent article on releasing bottlenose dolphins, and it said the same thing. That sounded so weird, but since then, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. The animals in question all spent years only following commands and never being in a situation where they had to make their own decisions. Like I said, it got me thinking a lot, specifically, a lot about people. How we learn to think for ourselves, and how important it is to do that, and how funny it was that the skill is important for animals AND people.

    I got to thinking about how difficult it must be for children growing up in super controlling households, religious or not, and how it’s hard for them when they’re inevitably sent out on their own. Thinking for yourself is a skill that people take for granted, especially if they themselves weren’t raised that way. People often don’t realize how many things need to be learned, and that kids don’t just automatically grow into them.

  • Mermaid Warrior

    Yep, his whole philosophy is that kids need to see their parents as infallible. No parent can’t answer all of their kid’s questions, and he probably fears that not knowing answers will result in actual rebellion.

  • purpleprose78

    I think a good response would be to ask them why they thought I was asking them to do it. Why was my favorite question….followed by Why do I have to do it and my brother doesn’t.

  • Nea

    For some people – Pearl comes to mind – it’s not about reason. It’s about showing how “obedient” your kids are without reason, because the ultimate goal is to have a human-shaped dog, not grown an adult.

  • Nea

    Ask yourself what a fairly stupid, incurious, insecure, narcissistic sadist with a God complex would do in any given situation, and understanding him becomes like reading a large-print book.

  • Nea

    I’m willing to bet that you’re partially right.

    But I lay a lot of this on Michael Pearl’s collegiate meltdown. I can’t find a link right now, but I’ve seen it quoted a lot – how he expected to find the Bible a simple set of directions for “instruction and reproof” and found his faith shaken to the core when his college asked him to actually research the Bible as a historical document, taking into account the time period and thinking critically about various translations and the various words they used.

    The man melted like butter in the summer sun. Having to actually THINK challenged not just his faith but his world view. He could only cope by leaping into the KJV-only crowd and insist, against all logic and history, that the King James is the One True Bible and not those bits that came before.

    So yes, there is a lot that Michael does not know and thus cannot answer, and that hurts his Command Man pride. But I think more than that, exploration, curiosity, and critical thought are literally terrifying to him, a reminder that such things are hard and scary and don’t give him the facile answers that he desperately craves.

    And so, the moment, the very moment he sees that questing spirit in others, he attacks the source of his cognitive dissonance and discomfort.

  • Nea

    Michael Pearl had a fit and a meltdown when even the Bible didn’t hand him pat answers to all his questions. He’s loathed and feared education and critical thought ever since.

  • Nea

    Quite a lot, considering the body count that Pearl himself has racked up via people who followed his orders.

  • Nea

    But will parrot what they are taught. Which is what these people want – little Xeroxes, not adults.

  • Nea

    Michael Pearl can’t think for himself. Seriously. Look at how often he refers to “time tested methods” and his utter relief at discovering King James Onlyism and not having to be critical about the Bible. There isn’t an original idea the man has ever had; he just repackages what is familiar to him.

  • KarenH

    That’s an excellent way to engage, too

  • Poster Girl

    As a teacher, I get more concerned when kids AREN’T asking why. It’s what they’re supposed to do!

  • Plain English

    I see that too, Nea, Pearl’s disgust and disrespect for the young child. Pearl feels harmed by a child who asks “Why?” and his own pain dictates his next punishing move against innocence. Cowards cannot endure their own pain and harm others. The worst cowards harm their own children and torture them with scriptural excuses, verses as weapons. Pearl is one sick, mean biped.

  • Plain English

    “especially… when I was already stressed”
    This is the insight that Pearl cannot bear to face. He is never stressed because all his pain is turned to harming children (and the women unfortunate enough to face his ‘love’.)

  • Antoinette Herrera

    Because misery loves company? I wonder why he just didn’t marry in the first place, and either invest in fleshlights or a Real Doll for his sexual needs.

  • Plain English

    I feel like what is important in the “why?” is that the child/youngster be given the respect we would always and freely offer an adult. And why would we deny this basic respect and time to the child we love with all our hearts? The time to connect is integral and demonstrates, “I love you” more than any words could ever accomplish. They ask us why because they believe in us and need us to be with them. There is nothing more pressing, even if it means ten more minutes at bedtime or whenever.

  • Antoinette Herrera

    Shorter Michael Pearl: children who ask “Why?” threaten my authority. So of course I plan on beating the little spawn of Belial, and you should do the same to your brats.

  • Plain English

    In my own parenting, with some feelings therapy, I came to understand that my resistance to my children had to do with my own childhood pain that lived on from my parents through me. As I faced the harm that I had suffered myself and let myself grieve and rage about it (in a safe, supportive place) I realized my impatience was born inside myself, and connected to old experiences that lived in me and would otherwise have been visited on my kids.
    I believe Pearl suffers deeply and harms with almost delight so he can lessen his internal pressures. He skews scriptures to fit his sickness. He does not care what a child thinks. He hates childhood in his actions against it. Pearl is very dangerous and prides himself on his self-control as he destroys children.

  • Plain English

    Yes, and our connection with the child in the question, why? offers the first and most important grounding of that child in freedom and intelligent growth. To smack down a child because they ask why is very much a detriment to their well-being. Pearl hasn’t a clue about this, not a bit of it.

  • Plain English

    She will learn to not-be. She will learn she is not important except to punish. She will hate herself. She will remember this learning all her life.

  • Plain English

    Because there is no God!

  • Astrin Ymris

    In order to be stressed, you have to be worried about fulfilling your obligations– like having all the kids’ permission slips, making sure each teacher knows which children she’s responsible for, seeing to it that each kid has their restaurant money/lunch box, etc., etc., etc..,

    In Michael’s theology (as relayed by Debi), it’s a wife’s responsibility to make up for all of her husband’s shortfalls, while NEVER saying or doing anything that brings it to his attention that he’s failed in any way. She’s even obliged to have orgasms every time hubby demands sex, lest he feel inadequate as a lover. (I can only conclude that Debi has never had an unfaked orgasm, and thus doesn’t realize the impossibility of this demand.)

    You have to wonder how personally inadequate Michael feels in order to need his ego so thoroughly cushioned from any possible contact with failure.

  • SAO

    Many questions are because they want to know the answers, but some are protests. Why do I have to do this chore? is usually a protest, particularly when the question has been answered more than once in the past.

    I was responding to the claim, “The question is thrown at the parent as a challenge to his or her authority, wisdom, and motive. The child’s question is actually a statement of defiance. . . . the character of the child is better served if the question is left unanswered. The child should trust the wisdom and good intentions of the parent.”

  • Nea

    Don’t really need to wonder, do we? The answer is SO obvious!

  • ShaLaLa

    One, trust is earned. You don’t get to have people just “trust [your] wisdom and good intentions” because you happen to have contributed some genetic material to their cells. If you want your kids to trust your wisdom and good intentions, show them that they can!

    Two, getting your kids to just automatically believe what you say or do what authority figures tell them to without ever questioning or applying critical thinking is a BAD thing, and someone who has set himself up as an educator for his children should know that. If you are trying to raise people who will eventually become independent adults (rather than broken, dependent, listless blobs in adult bodies), you should be encouraging critical thinking and questioning.

    Seriously, I understand that the question game can become frustrating sometimes (I work with kids, so for me, it’s 4 kids playing the question game while I have 30 others who also need my attention or assistance or intervention in some way, so I understand how unending questions can test ones patience, I really do), but that’s what you sign up for when you become a parent.

    You (“you” being people like Pearl who reject birth control options and try to force that on others, while also insisting that sex is non-optional, not a “you” that includes people who are the victims of the limited options Pearl and others have worked so hard for, though those kids stand to suffer too) have decided to bring these human beings into the world, and now you have a certain obligation to them, even when it’s tiring and hard. If you don’t know the answer, say so! Then you can follow it up with “Why don’t we look it up?” or, “Why do you think that might be?” or even, “I love your curiosity about the world, and I would love to talk more about this later, maybe we can check out [whatever resource] later, but right now Inreally need to [finish x-task, shower, nap, etc.]”

    If it’s something you need your kid to do though, you should probably have a reason, and if you are normally pretty good about explaining your reasons, your kid will probably accept it if you say you’ll explain to them once you’re driving/eating/further down the road/whatever, or even if you sometimes have to tell that that its just the rule at that particular place and you’re not certain why (and if you have the time, you might engage them to answer their own question and brainstorm reasons why it might be).

    Kids aren’t generally looking to frustrate or annoy you unless you’ve created an environment where that serves some purpose for them (like its the only way to get attention).