If you blog about certain topics, it is guaranteed you will raise controversy. Issues like homeschooling, spanking, worship music, and youth ministry are a few that generate a lot of nasty exchanges.
Over the past two days, Tim Challies reviewed Debi Pearl's book Created to Be His Help Meet. I was homeschooling when this book came out, and I was shown a portion where she discussed what a woman was to do when her husband cheats on her. I was turned off by that one section and decided I wasn't interested in that book. When the controversy surrounding the Pearls' child rearing methods arose, I was very glad I had stayed away. The fact that people like the Pearls isn't really all that surprising. They are definitely dead set against worldly parenting and marriage models, and sometimes, people want something radically against the world. What I always find troublesome is the extent to which people will defend their personal gurus.
Whether it is Debi and Michael Pearl, Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp, or anyone else we care to attach ourselves to, sometimes, people get so vehement about their defense that one is almost afraid a hand is going to come right through the screen and grab her throat. I wrote some posts about Beth Moore a few years ago. I dared to write words that didn't express what a darling she is. I received hate e-mails for years. I only recently got rid of the posts, because frankly, I was tired of people still (after more than five years) coming after me about it. You don't dare question Beth Moore because she has changed a lot of lives.
I don't question whether or not someone has had her life changed by Mrs. Moore's teaching. What is troubling is the complete lack of willilngness to even consider evaluating things. When an author or public figure generates polarization like that, I prefer to stay away from dialogue about that person. I did make a few comments in Tim's posts, but I don't know why. Debi Pearl's supporters insist that anyone who doesn't agree with them simply doesn't understand, or is mean. One person even called upon Tim to reconsider because, apparently, Jesus is waiting for Tim to do so.
When we began homeschooling in 2000, my husband and I accepted an invitation to become part of a study group using Gary Ezzo's parenting methods. The couple who ran it are a very godly, loving couple, and they were strong supporters of the Ezzos over the years. My husband and I agreed to go, and we became immersed in the world of Ezzo parenting. There were quite a few families we knew who were also Ezzo-ites. Most people have the biggest issues with the Ezzo's baby material, but their other parenting material is also problematic. I'm not here to do a point by point analysis. If you want to look around the internet, you'll find plenty of information.
My husband and I finished the 16 week program, but as time went on and we tried to live out those principles, we began to see things we didn't like. We also heard a lot of criticism about the Ezzos, but we didn't listen to it. When our church hosted the Ezzos for a conference, friends of ours told us bluntly that we should not attend, and they began to tell us some things about the Ezzos that we didn't know. Their baby had suffered from extremely low weight gain while they utilized the Ezzo Babywise material. When my friend took her baby to the doctor, he said to her, "Feed this child!" Their story about their experience with the Ezzos and some of the negative press about him was troublesome to us. When we went to the couple who was teaching this material, and who had arranged to have the Ezzos come to our church, they told us the criticism was just jealousy, meannnes, and that we should ignore it. That was when we really should have stopped and thought. When we are encouraged not to investigate something thoroughly, we should be careful.
I don't remember what it was that happened at that conference specifically that made me wonder what we were doing, but sometime after that, I realized that there was a lot of spiritual pride being fostered in the Ezzo parenting circles in my church and even in my own life. We were Ezzo parents, and we were proud of the responses we got from our children. Our kids said "Yes mommy," when we asked them to do something, and our children's impeccable manners were a sure fire manifestation of a changed heart. Not.
As I had my eyes opened a little, I began to see that I was wrong about a lot of things. When I look back now, I realize I was not willing to question this parenting guru I had become attached to. Instead of fixing my eyes on Christ, and working through the issues, I went straight for automatic results. We often do that when our kids are young because we just want them to be good kids. The better goal is to have a transformed heart, even if it does mean we struggle with a child who simply wants to go his own way all the time.
It is natural to have favourite writers, preachers, and bible study leaders. I admit to having a preference for a few individuals out there. But if I am not using discernment in evaluating those people, they are becoming almost like idols to me. If I refuse to even consider evaluating, I am being foolish.
The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving (Prov. 14:8).
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice (Prov. 12:15).
I was guilty of being foolish and lacking discernment. When we read any books we must use discernment, and we also need to be willing to honestly evaluate who we are reading because every writer is a sinner and can be wrong. Any responsible Christian writer will not even flinch if people choose to evaluate his material. Any Christian writer who puts himself or herself in the public eye should expect people to evalute. If we don't want to be evaluated, perhaps we should remain silent. When writers whine about how mean people are being, I just want to say, "It comes with the territory, doesn't it?"
Christ, not our gurus, should have our utmost loyalty. He is the Word, and the Word is inerrant, sufficient, clear, and inspired. Everything we take in needs to be filtered through that lens and if it comes up short, we need not feel guilty about setting it aside. To become caught up in someone's teaching without even considering its merits and claiming that we dare not evaluate seems to me to be a clear case of being wise in our own eyes. By all means, be loyal, but don't wear blinders. If we're afraid to have our views challenged, is it because we're afraid of being wrong?