Thursday, March 4, 2010

A bunch of my opinions...

My cousin wrote me an email after my last post, asking about my thoughts on a few things. I don't hold myself up as an expert or anything, but I thought it might be interesting to repost my reply here....

I know that the Pearls say not to correct in anger. But they tell parents to spank until they break a child's will. (Not that she was defending the Pearls)

“…then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.”

The DA in the case said the little girl was held down for hours. This isn't a case of anger out of control. Nobody could stay mad that long.

But the Pearls teach that the rod is the cleanser of the conscience:

"When a child is bound in self-blame and low self-esteem, parents are not helpless. God has given them the gift of the rod. The rod can bring repentance, but it goes much deeper than that. The rod in the hands of a righteous authority will supply the child’s soul with that moment of judgment that he feels he so deserves. Properly applied, with instruction, it will absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid"

This is simply not always true. And how long do you spank to achieve true repentance and remorse in the child? I have one kid who is usually a pretty easy going, compliant kid but there are some things you simply cannot, will not make her do. She is quite willing to die on some hills. Am I going to force an issue with her to drive her to that point?

But if I believe that it is the rod that brings repentance and the little girl will not repent is there any length that would be to far to go to make sure that she repented and made her heart right with God? I'm not saying that everyone who reads those books will be brought to that extreme of an interpretation, but I can see how in a twisted way someone could.

But it is the Spirit of God that brings repentance and renewal of the heart. Training keeps behavior under control so the children can operate in civilized society, but it can't make the child repent. If that is the goal it could very well add lying to his sins by driving him to fake it.

I do spank, but I tell them ahead of time how many times, (usually one per year, unless it was really bad, like lying or cruelty to someone smaller and/or weaker.) then we do it, I try to pray for them, and then we're done. Repentance is shown by not repeating the behavior, not by crying or going through some sorrowful routine. I'm not holding my method up as "The Way", but that's how I do it.

We know a family in our church that adopted a couple girls. These girls have major, major issues. They have gotten violent, scream, freak out, etc. etc. Spanking them would just escalate the violence. What if the parents of these girls were to follow the teaching above? The little girl in this instance was also adopted. What had she seen in her short little life?

I don't disagree with a great portion of what the Pearls say. But they hold their opinion with such... Oh, I don't know... arrogance really!

And yes, I did read Michaels post "Laughter"? I felt so sick afterward. But what really made me sick were all the agreeable comments that were below. (On the Facebook page, not the page I linked) I had read the post on another site and then clicked over thinking surely they would have gotten a bunch of heat. But no. Of course you have to become a fan in order to comment, I kind of wanted to just to say something, but I just couldn't bring myself to click that "become a fan" button. Ugh. It just makes me sick that so many Christian homeschooling families follow them!

I have never gotten into Bill Gothard. We used to be friends with a family that was really, really into him. Their son (23 years old) left home for a while to work at an orphanage they run. When he came home he and his dad got into an honest to goodness physical brawl over Cheiftain CD's and an R rated movie (It was something like a Mel Gibson. Not promiscuous) Finally he left home and they lost him. It just all kind of turned me off.

As to Quiverfull, that is a much more loosely knit group, and different things can be meant by it. I am on an email list that's called the Quiverfull newsletter. As I understand it, and as endorsed by this particular email list (I believe) being "Quiverfull" is something that a particular family would feel called to (like the mission field) and not a legal law sort of thing for the body of Christ at large. My general feeling is that children are a blessing, that raising a godly family is a work of God's kingdom, as are going into the ministry or the mission field. I do not believe that using non abortive birth control methods is a sin for everyone, though for some it may be if they know God is asking them not to but they just don't wanna. I did feel very called to having a large family. It was always something I wanted, and I would have been sad if I wasn't able to. It isn't like I'm drudging along with pregnancies and all that against my will as some have painted it. But I don't trouble myself with worrying about whether or not other people are using birth control or not. Though I do think it's interesting how the Muslims are taking over the world simply by having large families.

Patriarchy... Do you mean the magazine? I'm not sure. That's a word with a lot of different meanings to different people and some of those views I might agree with and some not. It just depends on the way it's applied. But I do think we have to remember that the family they are raised in is only part of God's plan for our children and not the whole of it and that extending our own vision for our extended family is not the goal but to prepare them to take part in their ultimate and true forever family which is the church. I don't know, the word patriarchy kind of has this idea to me of building a family dynasty where all my children go through life doing things the exact same way we did and all that, which can be a lot more about self glorification. But if what it is is just the general idea that men should lead the household and children should respect their fathers and all that, then fine, yeah..

Vision Forum... Hmm.. and the Botkins, they kind of go hand in hand. I like some of Vision Forums stuff, I get the catalog. Having a vision for the family, honoring veterans, cultivating a culture of healthy boyhood, (including weaponry :) affecting the culture for Christ, being involved in the film industry, that is all good. I haven't really read too much of the Botkins, except that we did read "So Much More " written by his daughters. I just kind of feel like they are a bit over the top. I don't think girls who go to college are feminists or that a girl has to always be patiently waiting at home for a guy to come along to marry her and not have any outside type of work or education. If I had money to send Shayleen to the community college near us, I would love to have her take some music classes. And she's trying to get a job. She has spent her whole life doing things on the home front like changing diapers, cooking, sewing, etc. I think it would be nice for her to be able to do something different for a little while before she gets married while she's able too.

In general the problem that I see potentially with all the things you asked about is that they represent systems that can be good and well as points to consider (whether a girl should go to college or what have you) but they hold themselves up as standards for everyone to adhere to and can cause people guilt when they don't feel like they are measuring up to the standard. Should a girl feel guilty if she would like to have a job and be able to save some money and maybe buy herself a few cute pairs of shoes? Is she worldly for wanting something like that? What if God would be happy to give her that simple pleasure, but instead of feeling the simple joy He desires for her she feels guilty? I don't know. I think Satan likes us to justify the things we ought to feel guilty over and them be overwhelmed with condemnation for little things that aren't prohibited by God. Both ways he gets to mar God's image.

I can't remember which Doug Wilson book I recommended. I don't really think he sets himself up as a "parenting system". Mainly what I really appreciate that we learned from him is that we parent in faith, doing what we know we need to out of obedience to God (like providing a Christian education or disciplining) but we need to do it with the faith that it is God who gives the increase, not our perfect parenting. That is so, so important! I forget this all the time and then I get all absorbed in worries and regrets. He also has some good things to say about raising boys in his Future Men book-teaching them to work and work hard, for moms not to coddle, that sort of stuff.

I hope I covered it all. If you had more specific questions, let me know. It gives me blogging fodder. :)
I am sure I am not the only one who has read about the recent tragic episode of child abuse performed in the name of supposed "godly child training."  How something can go so far awry is just so breathtakingly amazing to me.  And as I read it only gets more confusing.  This post is especially heartbreaking, from someone who knew the family, had chatted with the little girl, who never felt any indication of the unspeakable that was to come to this family. It is just unimaginable that anyone could think that this is a representation of the will of the God we claim to serve. That as we as parents tell our children that we are being informed by His word, to beat them, (much less spank them at all) over a reading lesson and this is what the good Lord wills for them and yet at once to tell them that this God loves them and wants a relationship with them and wants them to trust Him.  Yet he wills that they be beaten over a reading lesson? The illogic of the human mind is so baffling. And yet... 

I remember when we were new Christians, and new parents, I read the Pearls avidly. We got the news letter and the books. I was not raised in a Christian home and was very, VERY naive about the Christian community in general. I believed that anyone who claimed to be a Christian was one. And the Pearls spoke with such authority. Spank, spank well, spank often, spank hard and save your child from Hell. Well, golly.  I wanted to be a good Christian parent! I didn't want to raise children for hell, I wanted them to be raised for heaven! My motives were at least probably 90% pure. The other 10% was also feeling a little smug at how superior my children would turn out than the rest of the world, but I wasn't really even aware of that in myself. At the time anyway.

I remember, as I set in to implement this parenting paradigm how every little fault of my children (Two at the time.) stood out to me. I had to be 100% consistent. Every time.  And there took a subtle shift in my thinking-the basis of my relationship with my children was framed more on their performance than on the fact that they were my children. The book promised that if I was 100% consistent every single cotton pickin' time, my children would become the sunniest, happiest, best natured children on the block and I would be the envy of every mother who beheld them. So until I could train everyone of these little defects out of their character, I really couldn't enjoy their company. I was constantly analyzing everything they did to find some wrong heart motive that I needed to train out and was fearful I would miss something, or that I wouldn't see something and then they would be going to hell. I was so frustrated because I couldn't reach the level of perfection the book promised and since this was Christian parenting,  (and anyone who disagreed was obviously deceived at best and a lazy, pagan socialist at worst, so I knew they must be telling the truth!) then it must be me who was the failure. And thats what I finally resigned myself to being. Coming to terms more with the sovereignty of God and my other meandering doctrine path into Calvinism and covenantal parenting was what finally gave me some relief after over ten years of being enslaved to this legalistic mindset.  Thank God for His mercy. So I kind of wandered into the more legalistic, fundamentalist homeschool movement by the back door (that is false doctrine) and came out of it also through the door of doctrine. Interesting. (And folks say doctrine doesn't matter.)

Here is a post on a specific doctrinal points of the Pearls that pretty much summarizes where I was enslaved.  Now as I read it the falseness jumps out at me. But as a new Christian, and in a church that wasn't very doctrinal in it's teaching, I didn't have the discernment.  My goodness, the awesome sense of 
responsibility and failure are still so present to me, I can still feel the weight of them.  

Some have reduced this to a spanking/not spanking debate, but I don't think that gets to the heart of it. No spanking advocate endorses that level of spanking -not even the Pearls. But what does matter is the great questions of all mankind-the nature of God, the nature of our relationship with Him and with each other, His sovereignty versus our responsibility, the nature of Christian children.  

Doctrine matters.