Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sigh...more about boycotting

I've been involved in some discussion on several other blogs about this whole Pearl/boycott brouhaha. This morning, I tried unsuccessfully to post on one of them, only to find out that the comment process was either disabled or no longer working properly.

Perhaps this is a good thing. Since some of the readers of that blog have also come over here, I thought I would post my response here, and elaborate further for clarity.
You have defended them and said, "At the same time, I do not believe that those who boycott are necessarily, by participating, anti-Christian or that they have sided with Satan. There is no Biblical admonition, that I know of, against boycotts." However Jesus said...

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. --Matthew 18:15-17
Wonderful passage, and one that I have personally obeyed, all the way up to the painful and sorrowful "tell it to unto the church" part. However, it does not apply in this case. Mr. Pearl has not sinned against me personally. He has, however, written books and articles that he has distributed in the public sphere. He has set himself up to be a teacher within the Body of Christ. Therefore, the passages that would apply to dealing with teachers would be those that apply to this specific situation.

You have stated, quite publicly, your strong disagreement with me. Yet you have never come to me personally; you have never emailed me privately; you have not followed the passage you just quoted. Why not? Because
it does not apply.

We all recognize that when words are in the public sphere, it is entirely appropriate and often necessary to respond to those words in that same sphere. When I wrote book reviews, for example, my publisher did not require me to consult the author before writing the review, not did anyone feel a need to misapply the above passage before publishing the review, even if the review was partially or mostly unfavorable. Why? Because, no matter how I might disagree with the author of a book, I cannot get my knickers in a twist and claim that the author has personally sinned against me --- unless, of course, the author has actually libeled me. And that means
personally, in a way that a reasonable individual would recognize. (I say this to those sensitive types who try to scream "libel" and "he sinned against me personally" against anyone who makes strongly worded, harsh and undiplomatic blanket statements against people who share the overly-sensitive person's beliefs and practices. No, I have not been libeled if someone writes, "People who wear glasses are sinful morons.")

If you had read my words, which you quoted above, in their context, you would note that I did not "defend" the boycotters. My point was that boycotting does not violate any Scripture of which I am aware, unless --- as you did above --- one tries to read a meaning into Scripture that is not intended or attempts to misapply the Scripture.
Just to make things even more clear, I'd like to add the following:
  1. I don't really think the boycott will be effective, nor do I believe that the targets were chosen effectively. However, one of the good things that has come of the boycott is that it has brought the problematic teachings of the Pearls up for discussion. Some of that discussion has been good, thoughtful, necessary, and encouraging. I have especially been blessed by those experienced mothers who have lived out Titus 2:3-5 as they have written so beautifully of God's grace, mercy, and justice --- and how they try to discipline in a Christlike manner.
  2. Many people misapply the Matthew 18 passage. When it does apply, people try to worm out of actually obeying it. When it doesn't apply, people either try to get others to misapply it ("Did you contact President Bush privately, then meet with him and other witnesses, and finally approach his church before you wrote that letter to the editor? NO?! Well, you are in sin, brother! Repent!") or they misapply it themselves and hound public teachers with nonsense ("You hurt my husband's feelings when you said that short hair on women is a sign of rebellion. You don't even know me; how could you slander both of us like that? You are in sin. My husband and I demand that you meet with us and repent.")
  3. Not everyone who disagrees with the Pearls is a nonspanking parent or a permissive parent or someone who wants to shirk their parental duties. I've said this before; however, it is a difficult concept for many people to comprehend. Not everyone who spanks believes in adults hitting children with plastic toys, or in adults pushing toddlers into ponds, or...In addition, not every parent who chooses not to spank is raising little terrorists who run amok. It seems that a lot of parents who rely heavily on spanking simply cannot comprehend that there are other effective means of discipline.
On that last point, a few examples:

At times, the parents are simply bewildered because of their lack of parental experience. Sometimes it gets so...well, have some zealous young mom, who "has" to spank her little ones numerous times each day, ask me in all seriousness how I handle my sons who are now much bigger and stronger than I am. How do I get them to obey? These sort of moms simply cannot imagine a day without spanking, nor can they imagine that young men, raised properly, are different than toddlers.

Some parents are so convinced of their own superior parenting abilities that they cannot believe any other methods could possibly work. One of my favorite anecdotes involves a much older parent, an ardent pro-spanker, who once commented to the mother of a very strong-willed boy, "I'm so impressed with how well your son obeys you. I have noticed, in the years we've spent together, that your son is growing more and more obedient. What a testimony to how the rod works!" She simply smiled and replied, "My son has never been spanked."

"Of course he has!" argued the man. "It's obvious!"

"No, he hasn't. His father and I are opposed to spanking."

"Come on, don't be afraid. You can admit it to me. I can tell. That is an obedient boy, and you did not train him by accident. You use the rod."

"No, we never have. But, you're right --- the way we are raising him is not by accident. We're very strict."

He kept on arguing. "The results speak for themselves. You obviously spank him. Don't deny it." He was convinced, adamant, that obedience came only as a result of spankings. After all, that is how he raised his children. The only reason that some of them weren't following the Lord now was because they hadn't been spanked enough --- and that was his wife's fault. He refused to believe otherwise, no matter what this mother would say. She finally gave up. He still believes she is a liar.

1 comment:

  1. We had several very kind and makes-you-feel-good-as-a-mom comments about our four boys at church today.

    But one of them made me squirm. Not quite the same as the conversation you posted, but headed down that path. . .