Michael Pearl – Why the Words We Use to Discuss Child Abuse Matter

Michael Pearl – Why the Words We Use to Discuss Child Abuse Matter August 23, 2019
Screen cap from YouTube video explaining how to punish your socially misbehaving wife.

This morning was a startling wake up call yet again on how our words matter in the extreme when discussing child abuse. Plus we must be vigilant when people who advocate abuse change their wording to downplay what it is exactly they are promoting. They lure the unsuspecting into thinking what they promote just isn’t that bad.

Example: Michael Pearl and his book ‘To Train Up A Child’  In this latest update to the book  much of the language involving beating children has been downplayed to mere switching now. Why would that be? Because this is a book with a body count. There are a pile of dead children and emotionally damaged adults connected to the advice in the book.

After the death of each child linked to use of the book Michael and Debi Pearl did the media rounds swearing up and down that the parents didn’t use the book’s advice correctly, or they spanked a child in anger. They completely ignored the fact that in some of these cases of child abuse not only were the children beaten regularly with 1/4 plastic plumbing line, but parents did hideous things such as lock a child outside in the winter without clothing.

Now as Michael Pearl is much less involved with the ministry after having a stroke, and his wife Debi is also less involved No Greater Joy is being primarily run by a woman by the name of Megan Van Vuren. Megan has attempted to sugar coat and gloss over the ministry’s hard edges, lies and abusive advice. Megan is the one that writes the blog, edits the magazine and puts it together. Until very recently there was a post on the NGJ blog where Megan outlined her many responsibilities, yet the second we spoke of her virtually running NGJ the post disappeared from view.

The website has been edited too. It’s now considerably more difficult to find the tales such as the time Michael Pearl drove with family in the middle of the night and stopped every few miles to beat a toddler then family was having behavioral issues with. This is a newer, more hidden and secretive, and false face being shown. The rules are the same, they’re just more hidden. Which makes this all the more dangerous.

Think beating a child over and over again with hard implements does not have a life long effect? Just take a gander at NLQ friend M. Dolan Hickmon’s book “13:24: A Dark Thriller” and tell me it does not matter. The book has semi-autobiographical details of physical abuse of a child. Ask Mike and he’ll confirm it. Or just hop on Facebook and send Mike a message. He’s quite open about the lifetime of abuse he suffered at the hands of his fundamentalist Christian parents. It has left lasting scars.

As long time readers know I had my first experience with the Pearls shortly after joining a Quiverfull church. An elderly lady at the church who said my four year old daughter was too whiny and clingy gave me the book. I might not have had sense enough to run from the church, but reading the book, the early version of the book before the language was softened and made more palatable, I was horrified.

This lady seriously wanted me to beat my medically fragile child with a bleeding disorder. Can you imagine just how disastrous it would have been for me to have taken Michael Pearl’s advice? I quietly tossed the book, yet made mental note that the Pearls were dangerous lunatics.

This morning Katie Joy of Without a Crystal Ball posted about Joy Duggar Forsyth and her husband Austin Forsyth living in an RV. There is mention of Michael Pearl’s methods of discipline and Joy and Austin’s embrace of them. Katie is usually right on the money in her writing, but she downplayed the seriousness of what it is the Pearls promote by terming it ‘switching’. It’s possible she has the newer updated version of “To Train Up A Child”. I don’t think she intentionally did it, she’s just not aware of the history and extent of what the Pearls push. If you haven’t been enmeshed in Quiverfull it’s hard to comprehend the utterly disgusting and criminal levels of abuse being promoted. Which is the danger of having people who’ve never been in that particular cult writing about it.

We must always call out abuse for what it is, not whatever harmless term the abuser is using. The Pearls seek to normalize abuse.


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NLQ Recommended Reading …

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

I Fired God by Jocelyn Zichtermann

13:24 A Dark Thriller by M Dolon Hickmon

About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.

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