Michael Pearl, I’m angry.
I’m angry at how you responded to this letter.
Dear Mrs. Pearl, I don’t want you to think I am dishonoring my husband. My heart is to lift him up and be a good wife.
Something has happened over the last year that is scary. My husband has always been somewhat given to the flesh and occasionally angry, but now his anger is out of control. He often comes home from work mad—mad at me, the dog, the kids, the car, the guy next door… anything and anybody can bring on his rage.
The kids have nightmares and cry out begging him not to hurt their dog because he threatens crazy stuff when he is having a fit. We all try to have everything just right, but he still finds something wrong. We are all a nervous wreck. Sometimes I wonder if he is demon possessed, but then he still goes to church and teaches. What do I tell the children, and what can I do to lessen the anger? —Sarah
I’m angry at how you misrepresented God to this woman who was asking for help. (Original letter and response here.)
You minimize the husband’s sin
You talk about being unable to diagnose her husband, when the diagnosis is quite clear: unrighteous anger. You use what seem like weasel words that minimize his sin when you call him an “immature bully” who may feel that he is “not respected at work or at home.” You say “his sin is hidden and unidentified.” No, I think we can identify it. It is named in the Bible. He is practicing the sins that in the Bible are called reviling (or KJV railing), brawling (KJV clamour), and rage (KJV wrath). Though there may well be pornography involved, as you mention, there’s no need to dig any deeper than those three Biblical descriptions.
There’s another sin here that never gets mentioned in your entire article: hypocrisy. This is a man who causes his family to wonder if he is demon possessed, but still goes to church and teaches. This is a problem that you feel is unnecessary to address? You’re not going to mention that this man is unfit to be a leader in the church, when the Bible very clearly says otherwise? This makes me angry.
You figure she must be at fault
“Assure him of your desire to make him happy, and just ask him what you and the children are doing that makes him angry,” you say. So this inexcusable behavior is excusable because she and the children are somehow causing it? You say, “make sure you are not exacerbating the problem with antagonistic responses.”
You, sir, are a fool, in the same sense as the blind guides Jesus rebuked in Matthew 23. You’re telling the wife to give her husband justification for his brawling, reviling, and rage. There is no justification for those sins.
In your paragraph about all the wrong actions she’ll probably want to take in her “human nature,” you say she’ll want “to make him repent and admit he is wrong.” What? It’s wrong to want to get a sinning husband to repent and admit he is wrong? But you say, “this is a satisfying human emotion, but one that will end in divorce.” The only time you mention divorce is implying that it will be the wife’s fault if it happens, rather than the fault of the brawling, raging reviler. This makes me angry.
You tell her to be Wonder Woman
On the other hand, you tell the wife to stand up before his rage and name it. You tell her, “look his anger in the eye as one who has personal dignity and will not be crushed by verbal abuse and unreasonable demands on you and the children.”
I take it you have never been confronted with constant, unrelenting, unpredictable rage like what this woman is describing—rage that gives her children nightmares. You tell her to remain uncrushed when all of them live in constant fear? You then are showing your ignorance of what the Bible says about how bitter (poison) words crush the spirit. Proverbs 12:18 and Proverbs 1:21 are examples.
In regard to pornography and sexual abuse, you tell the wife to “look him in the eye as you say with dignity, ‘I am not going to take the path to hell with you. God created my body for natural use, not queer perversions.’” Are you so clueless? Are you completely unaware, after all these many years of hearing about troubled marriages, that when a man is a brawler, the wife is being abused? That when she says, “I won’t do that,” he says, “Oh yes you will,” and he does things to her that are absolutely unthinkable? Have you been hiding your head in the sand regarding what men are really doing to their wives?
You set up three artificial mutually exclusive categories. You say she has been “a victim” (which you apparently scorn), she could become an “adversary,” and she needs to be “a child of God.” You do not assure her that if she has trusted in Jesus Christ she already is a child of God. Instead you imply that only a child of God “unflinchingly and with confidence looks him in the eye and takes his verbal lashes as if they were confessions of his weakness.” If she cannot do this, she may well assume in her confused and weakened state that she must not be a child of God. Didn’t you know this?
You tell her to suffer persecution and be a martyr
Later on you offer one more category, telling her that if she follows your advice, she will be a “true martyr.” I don’t understand how you can sit there so smugly and tell a woman to stay in a relationship in which you tell her she will be martyred.
You predictably quote Jesus’ words about rejoicing when one is suffering for righteousness, suffering at the hand of revilers and evil-speakers.
And yet, at whose hands did Jesus’ New Testament followers suffer? The ones who had committed to love them and care for them? Ones who were Christian leaders? No! They suffered at the hands of ones who were opposed to Jesus Christ.
And also, when we look at Jesus’ followers, did not every one of them escape the persecution when they had the chance? Which one of them was fool enough to stay in the persecution by choice? Not one! Brother Yun, the “heavenly man” of China, suffered great and intense persecution at the hand of his government. But he also escaped, over and over and over.
This wife’s life is in danger. The lives of her children are in danger. But not once do you tell her, “according to the examples in Scripture (David, Peter, Paul) and examples of godly people throughout history, you and your children should not remain in persecution. You need to escape!” Instead you tell her to stay there until her death. I’m angry about this, and this is righteous anger.
You make it clear in the rest of your response that anything is better than divorce: a life of nightmares and trauma, or even death. This makes me angry. The heart of God is not for His sheep to be abused and oppressed like this by those who claim to be shepherds of His sheep. Ezekiel 34 shows the heart of God on this matter, and I want to reflect that heart in these words.
You say, “An angry husband cannot defeat a Spirit-filled wife.” You’re right, and I’ve known many amazing women who were undefeated by their husbands, women you will never have the privilege of knowing because they walked away from your teachings. An angry husband cannot ultimately defeat a Spirit-filled wife.
But an angry husband can kill a Spirit-filled wife. Does that mean nothing to you?
You are clueless about the children
But you say, “As to your children, do not allow them to grow up thinking . . . that they are to blame and must alter their actions in unreasonable ways to quash his tirades.” Are you yet so clueless? Do you not understand that a child will alter his actions in unreasonable ways to quash the tirades of a monstrous tyrant? Of course he will! In what imaginary land is it otherwise?
I know a family whose children grew up in circumstances like what you’re describing here. They all had to deal with the (elder, Sunday school teacher) father’s constant and unpredictable rage and reviling. They were all blamed for it, because of how “wicked” they all were, especially the wife and mother who was trying to obey every order. She always tried to help the children hold to truth and didn’t pretend that what her husband was doing was acceptable. And yet all of them suffered from the confusion that a mind-manipulator exercises. None of them escaped the trauma that has needed extensive years of counseling to untangle once they finally escaped.
You said, “If you come down to his level and fight with him, they will forever hate Christianity, which is a reasonable response that has produced many emotionally driven atheists.” This arouses my righteous indignation. Do you, sir, know how many atheists have been produced with the very kinds of teachings you’re espousing here? Have you seen what happens to so many children when they grow up watching their demonic father –who teaches in the church, no less!—destroy their meek and quiet mother who tries to maintain a shred of dignity? “If my father represents God, then this is a God I want to have nothing to do with.” That has been repeated so many hundreds of times over that I’m told only ten percent of the young people who exit this form of “Christianity” still call themselves Christians. “The children will not be harmed by his anger,” you say? You live in a fantasy, and I deplore this false teaching.
I’ve done wrong too
This brings me to another reason I’m angry. I’m angry at myself that I used to listen to you and respect you regarding child-raising. I’m ashamed that I thought your wife had good advice for me about marriage. I used to read advice like this from you and thought you must know better than I did. I’m utterly disgusted with myself. But that is a “self” I’ve changed from, when several people in my life told me about the results of the Pearls’ teachings and explained that I was doing wrong to follow the Pearls. I listened and heeded.
But so many have tried to reach you, and you refuse to listen and heed. I’m aghast that after all these years, in 2017, you’re still giving destructive counsel like this. I am appalled.
A word to anyone in a destructive marriage
Michael Pearl said one important thing: “You are a child of God and are loved by God; love in return.”
This first part of that is true and needs no further explanation—one of the few statements here I agreed with unequivocally. The second part, “love in return,” I agree with, but in a very different way from what Michael Pearl espouses.
One way you can love your children best is by keeping them and yourself safe.
And perhaps one of the ways you can love your husband best is by refusing to allow him targets on which he can unleash his anger. You can love him and pray for him from a safe distance, and if he refuses to repent of his idolatry of self, you can follow the true God and move forward and away, in Him. It could well be that your children will rise up and call you blessed for doing so.
Righteous anger needs to be handled carefully. For that reason, I’m now walking away. I’m going to eat a smoothie my daughter made, and I’m going to take the dog for a walk and praise God in His creation. I’m going to remember that He is greater than all the foolish counsel in the world, and He will love and care for His children.
I pray that all those who are crying out to Him for help will also know this to be true.
Update Monday June 26, 2017: I have a post up about righteous vs. sinful anger to help distinguish, because this can be a confusing topic. You can read that here.
Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.
“You, sir, are a fool.” Amen!
I have thought those very words so very many times. My abusive stbx loved his writings (because they enable abuse) and told me that he had to leave me because I didn’t listen to them ( and Debi) well enough. I thank God that I stopped listening to Pearl’s rubbish. It nearly killed me.
Thank you for this article and for your love and support of hurting women! I am coming out of a lot of what you did and feel helped along the way by women like you.
Oops, I realized that this blog was actually,
heresthejoy and not emotionalabusesurvivior
So, I don’t know as much about what you have been through. Thank you for who you are and what you’re doing!
This blog is everything I would want to say. How do you do that?! 🙂
I was given this book as a recommendation many years ago. This advice killed my spirit and almost my body. I got cancer from living in toxicity and abuse. No one in the church called it that. I got help. Real help. My children and I are doing well now. I am so thankful. I want to be a voice with you! I am so glad we connected. Pearl Poison is deadly. Amy
Thank you, Amy, and I’m so thankful you’re safe now!
Wow. That was very well constructed and considered. It was definitely angry, so I pray Mr. Pearl and his wife can get past that to read the completely valid points you’ve made. When I first read their letters and the article posted by Ms. Anne on Pathos a few days ago, I was saddened by both responses. Her’s missed the Character of Christ the woman so desperately needed and his was…well you’ve nailed it, mostly foolish. I greatly appreciated your take on fleeing persecution and martyrdom and deeply respect your backing it with valid scriptures.
Thank you so much for conveying what Ms. Anne should have. It’s so unfortunate that “Sarah” can’t see the responses she really needs on Pearl’s blog. It would be good for everyone to pray she runs across responses like yours so she can protect her family properly.
Yes, I hope she can. There are times when it’s right to be angry, and there’s a way to be angry that is right. Both kinds of anger see a situation that seems “wrong” and want to “correct” it, but righteous anger takes God’s perspective as He has shown Himself to be in Scriptures, and unrighteous anger comes from the flesh. As a wise friend of mine has said, unrighteous anger is uncontrolled, vindictive, and distrusting of God. Righteous anger hates what God hates and is controlled by love.
“You, sir, are a fool.”
You could have stopped right there. Sums it right up.
To be fair, I think it’s important for the reader (me) to see his response in full. Not torn apart and only bits scrutinized. How can one make an honest opinion towards this Mike Fellow, if we have not seen his full response?
I think that’s important too–that’s why I linked to it twice in the article. But maybe that wasn’t clear, so here’s the link again: http://nogreaterjoy.org/articles/39260/ (I’ve also now made a more obvious link in the blog post above.)
Thank you! I used to read the Pearl’s books and was teaching it to my daughters.
I’ve been re-teaching them for 2 years now from all the garbage they’ve taught. Sorry.
I’m so ashamed that I was so brainwashed and taught them to keep excusing their father’ abusive behavior. It sickens me.
Thank- you, Rebecca! I also read some of Pearl’s books in earlier years, but found no help from them. The teaching seemed okay at first but didn’t work out in practicality. I could not really define, in my major depression what was wrong with it. I find it refreshing to read your incites!
I often put marriage- problem solving reading in categories — 1 is for 2 emotionally healthy, committed Christian spouses, which cannot be applied in abusive marriages as I was a long time finding out.
But Pearl’s writing on this comes in the category of supporting abuse & is dangerous!!
Yes, you’re absolutely right.
[…] https://heresthejoy.com/2017/06/dear-michael-pearl-this-is-what-righteous-anger-looks-like/ […]
Where are the men in this guy’s life? The men in my small group would NEVER tolerate that kind of behavior to my wife and kids without calling me on it. One word from my wife and these guys would have me against the wall. She needs to get the pastoral leadership involved if he isn’t in associated with honorable men.
I’m very glad to hear that, but there are many churches where this kind of behavior is not only tolerated, but expected, to “keep the wife and kids in line.” I know several women who have been excommunicated or threatened with excommunication because they finally left men like this. There are far more cult-leaning type churches in Western Christianity than many people are aware, and they go under guises of looking very respectable.
If he has position in the church she will not be believed, nor will the children. I know because my father was like that. We told a few times to different people in and out of church and most refused to listen as his public persona was so stellar.
Right. That is so often the case. The abuser will tell others, “she’s unstable, she’s oversensitive, she has a mental illness, she’s always blowing things out of proportion,” etc etc. And he’s such a NICE GUY, so how could he possibly do anything like that, right? People who don’t live double lives find it very hard to grasp the people who do.
“We told a few times to different people in and out of church and most refused to listen as his public persona was so stellar.”
Successful Sociopaths are masters of camouflage.
“For Satan himself can transform himself to appear as an Angel of Light.”
— some Rabbi from Tarsus
Oh how I wish more churches responded like yours does
Thank you. I just want to hug you, this was awesome!
Hugs back to you, mrsadept! I see that you’re a homeschooler. I also homeschooled for 24 years.
The Pearls’ writing and videos are Invaluable to anyone combating domestic abuse in ‘christian’ families and the church… Because the Pearls are so foolishly confident in the lies they teach, so blatant and unpolished in their approach… The Pearls’ lies are a bit easier to identify without the usual varnish and candy coating that so many other other more sophisticated ‘teachers’ cover them with.
The Pearls’ approach is so emotionally forceful, it seems like strength and power to the unsuspecting. It seems to provide a sort of security, when the Pearls’ lies actually do the opposite… They tear down security.
I am helping the founder of an abuse prevention organization. I told her that if she wants to understand the dynamics that make ‘christian’ abuse possible and leave it unaddressed or promote it in the church, she should read Created to Be His Help Meet.
I explained to her that it was one of the most distilled resources for identifying those sick beliefs.
Oh, Amen Amen Amen and Amen! Thank you for your voice!
“unrighteous anger is uncontrolled, vindictive, and distrusting of God. Righteous anger hates what God hates and is controlled by love.”
I have struggled with this for years. Why am I so angry?
HBOMIL, I’m hoping to do a post about righteous vs. unrighteous anger next week, if I can pull it together. It’s a very important topic. Since you’re struggling with anger, I’d recommend counseling with a counselor who understands abuse issues and can help you untangle them. I know there are a few Christian counselors who do, and I think that number may be increasing.
Amazing response. I have to admit, I read his answer and am starting to see the problems but could not fully put my finger on it. I wish I had your wisdom! You are right on.
Well, it’s a wisdom that’s readily available to anyone, I think. It’s a matter of asking the Lord to open the Scriptures to us as we read them, and also studying the literature on domestic abuse, of which there is a good bit.
It’s also a matter of doing a lot of quiet listening, without ready answers, which will often sound like platitudes to people in these situations. (Just yesterday I was with someone for a few hours who said, “Thank you for listening and not just preaching at me.” I said, “Well, I do have one thing to preach at you. Don’t give up.” She said that one was ok.) There’s a whole lot of wisdom to be gained from simply listening to the women who are experiencing or have experienced abuse, especially if we’re listening with hearts grounded in a solid grasp of Scripture and a firm knowledge of the love and power of God. And for them, just being there with them in their pain and not leaving them can speak much louder than Bible verses, especially in the early years of their coming out of the fog of abuse.
His irrational rage indeed sounds like King Saul’s demonic possession. David fled Saul and God thought highly of David.
So he attends church regularly and teaches? So does Satan.
The Pearls’ teachings are likely to ultimately drive people away from God, and I think this is intended.
This is such a blessing. Thank you!
Oh goodness. I was a child with an angry, abusive father. My mother tried to buffer as best she could, but damage was still done. I’m nearly 40, and still unraveling the damage and learning how to heal. It’s clueless at best to think that children would not be harmed by that kind of environment if you tell them that it’s wrong. What kind of make-believe world does that work in?
Thank you for saying something about it.
Praise God for your fearless willingness to say what needs said and to say it directly and without flinching!!!!!!! Pearl’s teaching kept me confused and in bondage for many years…..my mistake and weakness for heeding their advice even when my heart bled knowing scripture said different. I just wanted so bad to do the RIGHT thing!! My children and I have paid a horrific price which continues.
Shannon, I’m so sorry. I also recommended their books, for which I’m heartily ashamed.
Excellent work in analyzing the deadly mixture of truth and fiction in Michael Pearl’s response to that woman of God. Sad to point this out, but when a similar degree of devilish whimsical behaviour gets dished out to the family by an otherwise attractive & vivacious stay at home mom, the confused & overwhelmed husband often receives pretty much the same bad advice from church leaders. And most men won’t even complain due to the shame involved and they will simply suffer as a martyr for Christ’s sake. By the way Rebecca, you might want to consider adding one more World Wide Christian Patriarchy Cultic Group to your list: https://youtu.be/0VX1sv3o_B4
Yes, I’ve certainly seen this combination as well. Thank you for your comment!
[…] Friday morning I wrote and posted a response (link) to Michael Pearl’s blog post in which he answered the questions of a woman who, with her […]
[…] I hope I’ve made that abundantly clear on this blog (such as here and here and here and here and here and here) and elsewhere (such as here and here and here and here and here). If you’re in such a […]
I like your paragraph toward the end, about children leaving the faith. “If my father represents God, then this is a God I want nothing to do with.” I have seen so many of my generation leave the faith because of growing up in a toxic family system with extreme views on things. We’re seeing is strongly now, but it’s been going on a lot in recent decades. Only a small percentage of those children stay in the faith.
Yes, it is a terrible tragedy. I’ve written about that a number of times.
[…] to see my response to Michael Pearl’s terrible counsel to abused wives in June when I wrote “Dear Michael Pearl, this is what righteous anger looks like.” With only three hours from first keystroke to “Publish” (which may seem long to you but was […]