Guest / Limited Access /
Thou Shalt Not Abuse: Reconsidering Spanking
Image: Veer

Dead children have a way of shocking the conscience and making us angry. Especially a dead child like Hana Grace-Rose Williams, a 13-year-old adopted from Ethiopia by Washington State parents.

Police found Hana's body starved and naked, wrapped in a sheet in her adoptive parents' backyard. They had denied her food for days, locked her in a closet, forced her to sleep in a barn, and required her to use a Porta-Potty instead of the inside toilet. She'd been repeatedly struck with a 15-inch plastic tube before she died.

Or a dead child like Lydia Schatz, a 7-year-old Liberian girl whose adoptive parents held her down for hours, beating her to death with a similar plastic tube for mispronouncing a word. Or a dead child like Sean Paddock, a 4-year-old who suffocated because his adoptive parents wrapped him too tightly in a blanket as punishment. After his death, Sean's siblings told police about their own beatings with one of those plastic tubes—a plumbing supply line.

A common theme among these deaths, besides the plastic tube, is the influence of Michael and Debi Pearl, authors of To Train Up a Child and founders of No Greater Joy Ministries. For years, their self-published book has flown quietly under the radar, selling more than 670,000 copies. According to a local district attorney, it was the Pearls' advice to use the plastic tube as a spanking instrument that gave license to Lydia Schatz's parents to beat their child.

When children die horrifically, we want to punish someone. And it has been a short trip from blaming the violence of the parents, to blaming the Pearls (who explicitly teach against the level of punishment these parents exhibited), to blaming the conservative Christian ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueA Pro-Life Plea This Election Season
Subscriber Access Only A Pro-Life Plea This Election Season
The importance of remembering real women.
RecommendedThe Key to Raising Kind Kids
The Key to Raising Kind Kids
Harvard psychologist Richard Weissbourd says it’s closer than you think.
TrendingRussia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Russia’s Plan to Ban Jehovah’s Witnesses Puts Evangelicals in a Tight Spot
Group gives Protestants competition for souls, but also an ally on religious freedom.
Editor's PickFrom Kuyper to Keller: Why Princeton’s Prize Controversy Is So Ironic
From Kuyper to Keller: Why Princeton’s Prize Controversy Is So Ironic
Former winner explains how the seminary honor that once brought the Reformed community together is now splitting it.
Christianity Today
Thou Shalt Not Abuse: Reconsidering Spanking
hide thisJanuary January

In the Magazine

January 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.