It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since the news of Sean Paddock’s death rocked my world.
We had been back in the U.S. for just under a year. God had already worked on my heart in ways that changed my attitude and actions towards my children. I understood the conventional wisdom about the rightness of spanking was a cultural value more than something mandated in the Bible.
And then Sean Paddock died.
Died of child abuse. Died at the hands of his adoptive parents. Died a young four-year-old boy, acting simply as four-year-old boys act.
Why did his mother, who some say always wanted to do the “right” thing, abuse her child to death? Part of the legal defense points to her own abuse as a child. Part of the legal defense and the investigation point to the influence of Michael and Debi Pearl and their book, “To Train Up A Child.”
Within many churches and home school circles, copies of this self-published book was handed out to every new parent by others who bought it at great discount by the case. I read it in the early ’90s, while babysitting for a lovely family. Just enough sounds good or Biblical–build relationships, “tie heart-strings,” nurture your children–and just enough Bible references are scattered throughout, that many parents have bought in to its harmful teachings.
Then Sean Paddock died. Slowly the few voices that had warned about the extremism of the Pearls’ teachings grew. I thought it would shock enough Christians that churches as a whole would stop promoting these teachings. But not everyone was listening. . .
And, honestly, I know there are many hundreds or thousands more who have been abused at the hands of their well-intentioned, loving and Christian parents. Perhaps others have died from the abuse, but the connection has not been made to TTUAC by the media.
Still some parents are lured by the promises of Michael and Debi Pearl of instant obedience and fewer spankings, charmed by their folksy common-sense stories, and deceived by their shiny website with faces of happy families. Some are not only sucked into their false teachings, but promote them actively to others.
Stop a moment.
Three children died of abuse at the hands of their Christian, adoptive parents.
And people STILL defend “To Train Up a Child” and the Pearls.
God have mercy.
February will always be a month for me to remember. I believe we all need to mourn these little ones and warn other parents.
““Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.””