Sovereign Grace Ministries Lawsuit, Patriarchy, and Spanking of Adult Children

Does it seem like I’m picking on Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM)?  Is Sovereign Grace Ministries the problem?  It’s just a problem with those particular leaders in SGM, right?  They are mostly located on the East Coast, so they have no effect on me and my church, right?  This is where I say a resounding:  NO!

These abuse patterns are in many churches.  We need to identify these patterns so that we will protect ourselves and others.  I am posting this video so you get the idea of the size/age of an adult.  Sometimes a visual helps.  (FYI – The mom in the video and the dating story would not apply to the rest of my post here.)

I want to break down one of the survivor’s accounts as described in the amended lawsuit.  This is very disturbing:

Responses to Lawsuit Filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries

FACTS REGARDING CARLA COE

43.  Carla Coe was repeatedly assaulted by Defendant Tomczak and his co-conspirators during a 25-year period spaning her childhood and young adulthood.  Defendant Tomczak assaulted Carla Coe with his hands, as well as with various instruments, including but not limited to, plastic and wooden sticks.

44.  On multiple occasions, including occasions after Carla Coe reached the age of majority, Defendant Tomczak forced Carla Doe to strip out of her clothing against her will, and be beaten on her bare buttocks.  Defendant Tomczak continued to engage in this forced undressing and beating of Carla Coe until she fled and escaped from the abuse.

45.  On several occasions, Defendant Tomczak imprisoned Carla Coe and denied her food for extended periods of time.

46.  Defendant Tomczak verbally admitted on one or more occasions to the individual Defendants and to the Church that he abused Carla Coe.  No one reported the beatings to the secular authority.

47.  The assaults by Defendant Tomczak and his co-conspirator’s assault primarily occurred in Maryland and Virginia.

First, let’s take a look at this “age of majority” definition:

The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized (and recognized or declared) in law. It is the chronological moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of their parents or guardian over and for them. Most countries set majority at 18. (Source - bolded by moi)

Some people not familiar with SGM and its culture may be wondering about this:   why would a 25-year old legal adult allow an adult male to treat her this way?  Why would she allow an adult male to force her to undress down to bare bottom for spankings?   Do you see that bolded phrase in the definition above?  This is unheard of in Patriarchal circles.   In the Patriarchy system, children are the property of parents, which sometimes can be extended to “men”  in the system.  The daughter essentially remains the property of her father until she is allowed to get married (husband is selected or approved by father), at which time the headship of authority is passed to her new husband.

Please note:  the lawsuit does not clearly identify Defendant Tomczak as Carla Coe’s father and because of this, I have not identified him as such.)  But . . . . I want to extrapolate more on the Patriarchy system.  Take a look at this article which explains the Patrarchy system quite well:

Children 

Under Christian Patriarchy, all children are expected to offer their parents absolute obedience while they are minors. No disobedience is accepted, and children are taught that obeying their parents is obeying God, because God has placed them under their parents’ authority.

Daughters remain under their father’s authority until married to a man he approves of, generally through a parent-guided courtship. While under her father’s authority, it is the daughter’s duty to obey him and accept his will for her as God’s will. Many in the Christian Patriarchy movement reject college for girls, and the Stay At Home Daughter movement is growing.

Sons are under their father’s authority until they become men. The point at which this occurs isn’t so clear, but it definitely occurs sometime between when they turn eighteen and when they marry. Once he becomes a man, a son no longer need to be under male authority, and he becomes the male authority for his wife and children.

Some families in Christian Patriarchy have trouble completely letting go of their sons, however, and there is in some circles the idea that even an adult son should be obedient to, or at least highly respective of, his father’s desire. This is where you get Geoff Botkin’s 200 Year Plan (also known as Multigenerational Faithfulness). by Libby Anne (Source)

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Larry Tomczak led the way in SGM in teaching parenting, even authoring a book on parenting.

Evidently, the “rod” in this book also meant other instruments:   “Defendant Tomczak assaulted Carla Coe with his hands, as well as with various instruments, including but not limited to, plastic and wooden sticks.”  I’m unclear if he mentioned those other instruments in this book.  If someone would like to check for me, I have found this book price comparison website listing available sources for the book.  Abe.com has a copy for $6.81  + $3.99 s/h – hurry, supplies are limited.

The important thing we need to understand is that while in the outside world, Carla probably would have graduated from college, might be living on her own, perhaps married, or living with friends, but most likely Carla was living at home with her parents.  She most likely did not have the freedoms that so many normal 25-yr olds have.  The life in a Patriarchal home is often sheltered from the outside world.  Most likely Carla’s circle of friends were from church where this teaching was normal.  She would have no need to question it as all of her friends were most likely in the same boat.

Former SGM member who writes at ChristianAgnostic blog said this about the how spanking was viewed at SGM:

Some folks have reacted with disbelief that a young woman in her twenties would submit to this type of treatment.  I can tell you from my own experience in SGM, that many a leader in the movement spoke about spanking children that were of age.  I remember one conversation with Mark Prater, then a care group leader at Covenant Fellowship Church, in which he praised a teaching tape that spoke about a Father spanking his son who was in his late teens.  This idea that children could be spanked at just about any age, was certainly discussed by different leaders in SGM at the time that many of the alleged abuses occurred.

The other thing to understand, is that SGM preached that to obey God, one had to unquestioningly follow those put in authority above you.  For church members, it meant obeying your pastors, even when they were wrong (no kidding-I was told this by a pastor at Covenant Fellowship in my exit interview), for wives it meant their husbands, and for children it meant their parents.  Simply questioning or disagreeing with any of these “God-given” authorities was tantamount to being in full-blown rebellion to God.  This atmosphere of unquestioning obedience is a perfect breeding ground for abuse. (Be sure to read the whole excellent article here.)

I have listened to pastors teach about spanking children, including adult children.   Their justification is that the Bible does not say when a child becomes an adult.  They assert the Bible says that adult children remain the responsibility of fathers until adult children marry.   My heart goes out to Carla.  Carla somehow got the courage to come forward and tell her story.  Her story represents many others who have experienced the abuse that continues in the Patriarchy movement.  It’s time to call it out for what it is.  The Patriarchy movement encourages abuse of children AND adults.  This is wrong.

I have been collecting more on this topic of spanking adult children.  If you have something you would like to share, I consider this place to be YOUR sounding board to sound off.  These stories must be told.  Please comment or send me your story.  ~ja

More related articles here:  Abusive pastors that beat people with sticks

104 comments on “Sovereign Grace Ministries Lawsuit, Patriarchy, and Spanking of Adult Children

  1. Pingback: Listing of Articles Related to Amended Sovereign Grace Lawsuit | Spiritual Sounding Board

  2. In order to get out of my dad’s authoritarian guilt trips about being under his “authority” at age 21, I had to “prove” to him with the Bible that there was an age of adulthood. I found that Israelite men were counted in the census at age 20, and he ended up standing down (“we’ll agree to disagree”).

    I hate prooftexting.

  3. This absolutely was taught and practiced in Sovereign Grace Ministries churches when I was there. They did advise, though, that the teenage daughters should be allowed to keep their panties on. Wasn’t that gracious of them? The whole thing just makes me ill. My husband and I were not nearly as extreme with our kids and often felt guilty that we weren’t spanking our kids as much as other people were (one of the many ways that we felt like we didn’t quite fit in). We have SO MANY regrets for how we raised our kids in that organization. Thank the Lord, they turned out fine anyway and love us.

  4. Marge – I hate to say thank you for confirming this, because it’s not something to be thankful for, but for those who lived this out, you acknowledging it is helpful – - – so thank you. It would be easy to logically go from keeping panties on to having a dad realize daughter was not “remorseful enough” during spanking, so a dad could justify the recommendation to remove panties to “feel the pain.” It’s not much of a stretch. I definitely heard teachings of removing underwear so that there was an effective sting.

  5. Does anyone know if the Pearl’s book was a big influence in the SGM churches? It wouldn’t surprise me if it was/is.

    Again, just when you think you’ve heard everything. These descriptions are just horrible. My heart goes out to all the victims.

  6. I’m not sure if it was a big influence, Kathi, but I do remember hearing of their book (To Train Up A Child), and it might have been in the church bookstore. Of course, Larry Tomczak’s book was popular back in the 80′s. And another one was The Obedient Child by Ken Wilson. Mostly, though, I think the primary influence throughout the organization was the teaching of the pastors, and I think that their views on discipline were probably formed way back in the late 70′s/early 80′s. I’m thinking that they were greatly influenced by Bill Gothard. During my time in SGM, pastors taught parenting classes all the time, and that included very specific teaching on corporal punishment. Parents talked freely with each other about disciplining their children. It was very much the norm for parents to have a wooden spoon or something similar with them at all times in case they wanted to spank their kids.

    While we’re on the subject of child discipline and training, I wanted to mention that I decided to go take at look at Carolyn Mahaney & daughters’ blog, http://www.girltalkhome.com/blog. I was astounded to scroll through page after page of blog posts under the topic of motherhood and see that virtually every post was about the hard work of disciplining, training, and teaching children to be obedient. Now, granted, I didn’t get through all of the posts (the blog has been around for a number of years), but I didn’t see anything about loving, valuing, encouraging, having affection for, or enjoying our children. It was very, very sad.

  7. Marge – Yes, Gothard, too, was hugely influential. Gothard is interesting because he crossed the lines and appealed to homeschoolers and families who sent their kids to traditional schools. There was quite a mix. I remember at one point, he started realliy catering to homeschoolers when they started ATI. I have several friends who have been part of that group. Gothard also had patriarchal teachings.

  8. Kathi – I can’t respond to the Pearl’s connection with SGM, but they felt at home with homeschoolers and I’ve heard SGM had a large population of homeschoolers. The Pearls had an ingenious was of marketing their books. The books got spread by word of mouth and they were dirt cheap – about $2 each, so people who were sold on the ideas would often buy them by the cases and then distribute them to friends in their church or homeschool groups. If you got on their mailing list, they’d send their newsletter or magazine each month – FREE. They also went around the country giving parenting conferences. These conferences were spread by word of mouth, e-mail to homeschool groups, church groups, etc. The Pearls were very influential in homeschool groups. They had a large homeschooling family and had the right look – dresses only, full-quiver, live off the land, patriarchal, etc.

  9. The Bible does teach children to obey their parents but it does *not* teach parents to beat their children into submission! This is huge and has been completely fubared by the patriarchalists. God tells fathers not to provoke their children…..we were supposed to exercise restraint and reason with our children not bait them the way the Pearls teach.

    Another shocking little fact, the Bible does not mandate spanking. It doesn’t forbid it, either but there is enough secular evidence against the practice that someone writing an authoritative book advocating beating children should never go to print.

    When I went to Covenant Fullofit, I was handed a copy of Roy Lessin’s How to be the Parents of Happy Obedient Children which was just as horrid as the Pearls’ book. Go find Roy Lessin’s daughter she is speaking out against the torturous childhood she endured and it might be good for her story to be better known.

  10. Ok, Covenant Fullofit – - that is funny, yet not funny. I’ve never heard of the Lessin’s book. I’ll check that out. And you are absolutely right about not provoking children. Why is that verse left out of teachings? It reminds me so much of all the rules for women/wives, but not much for fathers/husbands.

  11. Sure – let’s make it three Hannahs! (I’m Julie Anne’s eldest daughter). This is a subject close to my heart, because – guess what – it happened to me. In fact, my dad had “stopped” spanking me around sixteen, and then “all of a sudden” started back up again a few years later… The timing correlates exactly when we were attending the church-who-shall-not-be-named. I don’t think this was a coincidence.

  12. Ugh, Hannah, the pain in reading your comment. It just does not leave.

    I have so many regrets, so many tears as a mom. Since you brought this here publicly (no worries – I’m fine with that because I’m an open book and I kind of invited it), I’m going to respond to you openly. I told you earlier this week that I’d be covering this subject and we’re definitely on the same page after going through so much heartache, time to help heal woulds, and lots and lots of talking. It’s very painful to read these words in print from you, Hannah, and it was immensely hard to watch that video and research this garbage knowing that we bought into these teachings – that we believed that we were being godly parents and doing the right thing. Once again, I am amazed by your unconditional love for me, that despite the horrible teachings we followed and took out on you, you have chosen the high road of forgiveness and relationship when I do not deserve it. I love you, precious daughter. ::::pass the kleenex, please:::: it’s hard to see the dang computer screen.

    And for those who read TWW, now you know why I have been in a funk. Yes, this. Ugh.

  13. Our family attended Covenant Fellowship, a church which is now located in Concordville, PA, from 1986-1996. I remember going to some classes on child rearing where Benny Phillips spoke and being stunned to hear that Benny endorsed spanking a son who was 18 years old. The church was quite into childrearing methods put forth by Gary Ezzo. Those methods have since been proven to cause failure to thrive in infants. Lord knows what long term effects it will have on the babies raised on it. The whole church was all about controlling kids. Not too long before we left the church two teenage girls who were daughters of some adults in my hometeam ran away from home. I remember thinking that the church was not teaching our children to hear from God themselves but rather was drawing lines in the sand. It was making children very rebellious. Our daughter is an artsy earth mama sort of girl. She did not fit into the PDI youth movement at all. I think our son is the sort of guy that could thrive just about anywhere but our daughter was being beat down. The youth leaders had no idea about this nor did they realize how unaccepting the kids were in the church or that there was an ‘in’ crowd. Oh, and get this, the church dissoved our hometeam after we’d been together for years and years, on the pretense that we were growing too close. It was like being told that my sister was no longer my sister. We had formed deep relationships with one another but the church pulled us all apart. I never regretted for one minute that we left that church. I have, however, regretted the many spankings I gave our children. I think our son was the sort of child that could handle it. Our daughter, however, should not have been spanked. It made her an angry, angry child who continues to be a very angry adult. I hope and pray that one day we will have a healing break through.

  14. Further confirming this: what Marge says was taught in my church, too. My last spanking was when I as 16 and it was the last because I fought back.

  15. Another book that I remember reading, besides Lessin’s, Wilson’s, and Tomczak’s, was a book by Sherree Phillips. At the time it was called “Mothers at the Heart of Life.” The title has since been changed. Dare to Discipline by Dobson was another but it wasn’t anywhere near as strong as those others.

    I read all those books, every single one of them. I wanted to raise our children right! Sadly it was all wrong.

    I remember being so obnoxious thinking I knew it ALL! I had this high and mighty feeling of superiority that the way we were raising our children was hands above all my neighbors. I remember not even wanting our children to play too much with the children in the neighborhood for fear their bad habits would rub off on our children.

    Instead of teaching our children how to shine their lights into the world we sheltered them kept them from interacting in ‘the world.’ Heck, why do you think so many of us homeschooled our kids? We didn’t want them in the public schools and because we we women were supposed to be home taking care of the homes we couldn’t afford to put them in private schools. That left only one option, which resulted in even more isolation for our children.

    I wish to apologize to all the children, mine own included. We thought we were doing the right thing. I’m so very, very sorry we hurt your hearts. Please forgive us.

  16. Even in churches that did not endorse homeschooling (I’m not sure it was that widespread when I was growing up), the teachings on disciplining children were there. Of course, my parents were just abusive….and that’s hard to say….they never did the bear bottom spanking, but they did use a belt. My dad was a deacon – mom a Sunday School teacher. The last time he tried to whip me with a belt, I was 14 and fought back. I think that scared him. However, when I was 19 (and I am embarrassed that I put up with this) and in college (but living at home), I went to a friend’s house after work. It was summer, between semesters. I got off work at midnight and the friend did not have a phone and I rode there with a co-worker. About 1 o’clock, my dad showed up at the door, pushed his way in, grabbed my by the arm and dragged me out. He drove me to my car and followed me home. He sat me on a stool in the middle of the living room and began to yell. I honestly don’t remember what he said, I kind of shut down, but I remember mom sitting on the couch unusually quiet and smiling. To this day, I don’t know how he knew where I was. I’d never been there before, myself. He then grounded my indefinitely. At the time I was scared and angry and embarrassed….and looking back, I was 19 years old. And still afraid of them…..

    One of the things that messed with me during the process of breaking off ties with my parents was the verses that say, “Honor your father and mother so that it will go well with you.” Finally, someone told me that allowing them to abuse me was not honoring them…..

  17. Jeannette, I am so sorry for what you went through. So very, very sorry. We all thought we were doing the right thing.

  18. Lori, I feel a connection with you and we’ve never met. So much of your story echoes what we saw and experienced. Hannah didn’t fit into the mold, either. She’s a free spirit kind of personality and now I realize she was squelched. When she left our home abruptly, she was done – she couldn’t handle it anymore.

    Have you been able to talk to your daughter about all of this? Interestingly, this blog has been a conversation starter with my daughters. Just today I had discussion with my younger daughter about some of these topics (she doesn’t read the blog). Hannah reads it regularly, though, and although some of this brings back old hurts, it’s good – it’s solidifying our relationship. At least I think so. And I’m sure Hannah will tell me if I’m off (she’s like me – straight up).

    I’m praying especially for you and your daughter – that you will have the opportunity to work though this stuff. ~JA

  19. Lori, thank you. I believe you. My parents did not have the excuse that they were taught this as the ‘godly’ way. They were just abusive. ‘God fearing’, ‘church going’, ‘Bible reading’ and abusive. I think the most important lesson is that just because someone is a church leader doesn’t mean they are trustworthy. It’s sad, but even (or especially) in the church, it is caveat emptor – buyer beware.

  20. Lori – I think this was the mentality I picked up, too – - that we were better than everyone else because we were homeschooling. Our kids wouldn’t have to be tainted by the world, but would be protected and pure. . . yada . . yada. I had difficulty with the neighbor kids, too, and limited their play time. If both of us are saying the same thing, you know that there are many other moms who also did the same. I think it was part of the culture.

    One of the best things that happened to me was when I started accompanying for the local high school choir 4-1/2 yrs ago. Yes, I was playing the piano for “heathens” at the “government school.” I did find kids without Christ, but I also found students who were Christians, students of different faiths, and some with no faith. I found that I could show them the love of Christ when their parents were struggling, when they were having difficulty keeping up with school, when they were having a rough day. I realized that I had been missing out on connecting with people in my community – even my neighbors, because we were isolating so much. We were the ones who missed out.

    I’ve really appreciated your comments and your transparency, Lori. Your words have been helpful to me and we will never know how many people are taking your words and really digesting what you had to say because something rang true for them, too.

  21. I’m glad someone finally told you about the honoring vs allowing them to abuse, Jeannette. Your childhood on top of the abuse I’ve read earlier seems so confusing and difficult. I’m so sorry :(

  22. I did read the Pearl’s book. Back then I thought it was great and disciplined my kids according to their “book” and I never “spared” the rod. It got to the point that our oldest son was getting very, very angry. Finally, when he was 8 and we left our abusive church, is when we changed our disciplinary methods. This whole constant spanking and only using that for discipline is confusing to kids. We now use a variety of disciplinary measures but never, ever use corporal punishment.

    The Pearl’s book talked about using a little switch on babies. Just babies. They said babies could throw tantrums and they needed to know it was wrong. I disagreed with that then and still do.

    I was directed to your other site a week or two ago. Thank you for opening this site up to expose what needs to be brought out. You are a brave lady.

  23. Jeannette,

    Did your parents hit you in anger? We did not hit our kids in anger. Spanking was a very controlled ritual. We would go to the living room where we did the spanking. We would ask the child if they knew why they were getting spanked. They would tell us if they knew. If they didn’t, we would explain why. Then we would draw on scriptures and explain how it was our responsibility to spank them. We would put them over our knees and strike their bare skin. We used a Sears plastic paint stirrer. After the spanking we would tell them how much we loved them and that we did not want to have to spank them. We would pray together and the child would apologize for whatever they did wrong.

    We did not spank for childish behavior. We spanked for rebelliousness and bad attitudes. The house rule was that when you were asked to do something you did it: Immediately, Completely, and Cheerfully If you did not obey it was a spanking offense. One thing that makes me cringe now is how we would continue the spanking if the child was not receiving the spanking in a submissive manner. Oh Lord I am so sorry for that. What started out as maybe 3-5 strikes would turn into a spanking marathon. It was horrible. Who can recieve a spank to the bottom without reacting in pain and indignation? I was asking the impossible. I am so very, very sorry.

    On one occasion when I was extremely upset by something that one of our children said I told one of the children to get a switch off a tree. It was only one time and I regret it with my whole being. The child, however, remembers differently. It was remembered as being a frequent occurance. It doesn’t really matter who is right because a person’s reality is their reality. It is true for them. It is how their mind interpreted the events.

    My mother hit me in anger when I was growing up. I had purposed in my heart not to hit our children in anger. That is not to say I never did it. I know I slapped them across the face out of shear shock when some sassy flip thing came out of their mouths but we are talking less than maybe 5 times? There is something that snaps in your head when a child gets in your face and says something extremely disrespectful or sassy. I did not, however spank in anger. If I was angry I would send the child to their room until I calmed down.

    I don’t know what we could have done alternatively but obviously what we were doing did not work. I do know this: I did the best I could. I loved my children. I played with them. I cherished them. I wish I could change what happened but I can’t. All I can do now is take responsibility for my behavior and repent.

  24. Thank you Julie Anne. I sort of regretted that I put my full name out there for all to see but then I thought. “Hey, why am I afraid to speak the truth?” The truth really does set you free!

  25. Thank you. It’s therapeutic for me as well. Yea, I think if I looked in my house, I could find some Mike Pearl-recommended 1/4-inch plumbers line somewhere. It was never used for any plumbing work. :(

  26. Lori – You may have noticed that I took the liberty of removing your last name except for the initial because of the sensitive nature of this topic. Please contact me if you have any concerns. Thanks :) ~ja

  27. Julie Anne, I will pray for your family, too. I hope and pray that as we allow the Lord to remove all the layers of oppression we are clothed in we will all be set free from the many spirits that seek/sought to control us, both parents and children. May each of us seek out and come against the evil that was, and in many cases still is, in the midst of us.

  28. I, too, have so many regrets and have had to apologize to my children for being niave enough to listen to this teaching (even though I was never 100% sold out to it, I did spank my older children just not 30 and 40 times a day like the leaders; wives did.

    As with Lori P., my older children love God but they will never ever involve themselves in a church (for their own protection.) But my youngest child, Julianna, has never been spanked, rarely ever spoken to sternly, never been called out as full of sin-nature, is bar none, the most kind spirit I have ever encountered in a human being. Anyone who has met her knows this it isn’t anything I have done, she came into this world with her unique temperement, but I thank God we are in a wonderful grace-filled Christian community where we are thriving or I cringe at what would have happened to my youngest whose will and spirit were given to her by God who gave her to me to take care of and something precious that I would never be willing to deliberately break.

  29. Sorry I didn’t edit the above post. My older children were in the same youth group as Lori P’s children, we got kicked out of the church over parenting issues, my younger children, who were born after this time period are much healthier spiritually with the youngest being particularly healthy.

    That being said, my heart continues to cramp in pain and regret at what my older children endured because we were part of this church movement.

  30. This is one of the dark secrets that our church leaders have been trying to hide and here we have not only moms, but adult children confirming it. Sadly, this is only the beginning. Thank you for sharing, Hännah.

  31. It would be very interesting to do a study to see how many adult children who were involved in churches like SGM remain in church (or ever go back to church) compared to healthier church environments.

  32. Thanks, Tammy!

    A side note: I’m not convinced that I like this “reply” system. Sometimes when I hit reply, it seems like it’s going to reply in the wrong place. Also, I’m not sure I like having to scroll through all the conversations throughout the thread to see if there are new responses when there are lots of comments (although it does make sense to group them together). Feel free to leave feedback.

  33. I think we need a support group for moms who have now seen the light! It is nice to know we’re not alone, opinemine! I wish no one had to admit to this.

  34. We have one child that goes to church and one that doesn’t. You would probably be correct in guessing which did what. We are allowed to take our grandchildren to church which is a real blessing to me. The place where we go is so free and happy that the boys love to go. Not so with another church we took them to that is very legalistic. They simply refused to go t here. We felt we got more word in the other church but in the church we attend now, a Vineyard, we feel that we have the freedom to be ourselves. We don’t have to hide who we are and there are no molds we have to fit into, children included.

  35. I don’t like it, Julie Anne. I often check back to see if there are more comments by looking at the number at the top of the post, then I have to scroll down through all of the comments to try to figure out which ones are new since the last time I looked. The only drawback with the other way is that you have to indicate which comment you’re replying to, but I think overall it’s less confusing that way.

  36. Thanks for your feedback, Marge. I think when there are few comments, it works okay, but on this post, ack, it is difficult! Anyone else have an opinion?

  37. Lori – When I was working on my master’s degree – many years ago – hospitals in Southern California were investigating whether or not parents who brought their infants into the E.R. for failure to thrive were using Ezzo’s book. I never heard anything final or official from their findings, but it certainly brought that book to my attention.

  38. Wow, that comment about switches on a baby brought to my remembrance about the first time I ever spanked our daughter. We started out with her in our bed. By the time she was six months I was sooooo exhausted that we set a crib up for her in our room. She would stand up in the crib and scream and cry. We’d take her out and put her in our bed so we’d get some sleep.

    I was still not getting enough sleep. Eventually we put the crib in a separate room. I’d put our daughter to bed and then she would scream and cry and pitch a fit. She was nine months old. I called my pastor, (at the time we were in a Baptist church). The pastor gave me his daughter’s phone number. I called her and she told me that I needed to make my going into the room a negative experience. She told me to spank her. So I did. I went in there, pulled her diaper down, and gave her bottom a slap. She was astounded! I then left the room, encouraged this woman, and allowed our daughter to scream and cry. This went on for three nights, after which time our daughter realized I was not going to take her into my bed anymore. She lost her fight.

    When I think back upon that whole situation I am ashamed of myself. It is true that I WAS exhausted. I believe I was experiencing post-partum depression as well. I needed sleep! But at what cost? What did I teach my daughter? Was it a good thing or a bad thing?

    And there’s this: I was disciplining my child for wanting to be in my warm bed, where she’d been since being born. Wasn’t it my fault she was screaming and carrying on and not hers? I feel so sad right now just thinking about it.

    When we had our son I vowed that he was not going to sleep in our bed. I already knew what a zombie I’d become if he did. I would nurse him in our bed in the middle of the night but when he fell asleep he was put into his crib which was preheated with a heating pad. He seemed to fall asleep quite easily. Our daughter always struggled with sleep. She still does.

    In many ways her parenting is the exact opposite of mine. Whereas I had black and white lines drawn that WERE NOT TO BE CROSSED, I see her sending all kinds of mixed messages to her kids. She doesn’t want to spank them but I’ll hear slaps now and then from both parents. I never slapped our kids in anger. The few slaps they did get were when they were older and delivered for blatant sassiness.

    I still think the children need to be obedient! No means no! When children are disrespectful to me I expect a correction! I haven’t changed much, have I?

    My sister used a system based on natural consequences. In many ways it makes the most sense of any system I’ve seen.

  39. Sorry, folks, I was going crazy. I switched the system so that all new comments go to the bottom, so if you want to refer to someone’s comment, feel free to cut and paste a snippet of the comment or you can refer to the name/time of comment. I hope this helps for easier reading/commenting. But sorry about messing it up for this thread – yikes.

  40. Kathi: Re: hospitals investigating Ezzo. It seems I do remember that as well. Ezzos at least for a while were saying that newborns should be able to last 4 hours between feedings. My babies all could, but the majority of my babies were already over 10 pounds at birth. Some newborns need to be fed every 2 hours and so Ezzo’s schedule (one-size-fits-all-craziness) was causing babies to failure to thrive.

  41. I am praying for all of us right now because bringing back these memories is triggery and it starts feeling oppressive. Pleas, Lord, send angels of protection around these women and help them to feel your grace and forgiveness and not let legalism yet again overwhelm us with guild and remorse.

  42. Thank you, opinemine, for praying. You are right – it is bringing back very painful memories. I’m glad it’s on the table, though, so we can work through it. This is important.

  43. This discipline discussion brings back so many memories. I actually knew a couple at our church who both went to jail because they were using Ezzo’s book. Their baby died at 6 months old and weighed only 5 lbs. Very sad.

    I still know people who use ‘Growing Kids God’s Way. It is a book from hell, in my opinion. I never had the consistency in my own life to discipline my children like this. Thank the Lord!! But…..I am guilty of many of the same things that we are discussing here. My girlfriend and I were discussing this and we both have so many regrets. There was a time I remember that my child said to me that sometimes I made him not even want to be a christian. I remember how broken hearted I was when he said that. It was my fault. I’m crying even thinking about it. I’ve apologized so many times. I spanked way too much. I used to carry a wooden spoon in my purse wherever I went. And you know, it really didn’t help. Really, it was a pretty miserable time for me when my children were growing up, I was always trying to measure up to the home school standards that I thought everyone else was. I never felt like my kids were good enough. It was a very depressing time for me. I was so glad when I was finished. I wished I would have trusted the Lord more for my children’s spiritual growth. So, so many regrets. So, so sad.

  44. I don’t have any feedback. I just wanted you to know I was praying. I can’t imagine what you and Hannah have been through.
    Ya know, it was an added blessing and honor to pray for Lori, anyway.

    Yea, I can barely manage my blogger. So, I don’t have feedback with WordPress. yea, periodically when I see a consistent “troll” on my stats, I archive my posts for a little bit and it seems to take care of it. But, I have yet to find a way to block a troll. If you have any feedback/thoughts there…let ME know! ha!

    Okay, may God bless you and Hannah and hold you close at this time.

  45. Lori P.
    Hmmm….from my perspective, it’s hard to say how often they spanked out of anger. Sometimes there was anger, sometimes it seemed very cold and calculated. Sometimes it just seemed like they were annoyed. And to be clear, it was whipping with a belt – that’s is how they described it, even. I know I’ve mentioned then here before, but it fits here, too. Just to give an idea, these are quotes that my mother actually recorded in my baby book.

    “At 2 years 10 months, she can go all day without an accident. But 75% of the time she is either stubborn or lazy and whippings with a belt don’t even help.”

    “At 15 weeks, the baby is spoiled rotten. She sometimes cries when I put her down.”

    I have to admit that reading the comments here is difficult for me, but I don’t believe that my parents were the same as you all. At least with my mother, there was sometimes an underlying malice – hmmm…to give perspective, I can remember when I was 2 and 3, doing something wrong (and I really don’t remember what the infraction was) and she would send me to the bedroom and say, “you stay in here until you are ready to tell mommy you are sorry for hurting her.” Everything was very personal….

  46. Pingback: Larry Tomczak Accused of Spanking and Depriving a Female of Food and Water | The Wartburg Watch 2013

  47. By God’s grace, I was spared such “discipline” as a child, and left the craziness of SGM before having children, and if I do have children, I hope I never will have to share in this particular form of pain. Reading this thread, I feel for those of you on both ends of this heavy handed teaching on parenting, and the wounds you carry because of it.

    I just wanted to say how beautiful it is to read this thread and see people being encouraged and encouraging one another by sharing your experiences…
    I found this simple statement from Jeanette to be very powerful:
    “Lori, thank you. I believe you.”
    Isn’t that what all of us deeply want? To be heard. And believed.

    God hears and knows each of your stories- He is a FORGIVER and a HEALER and can work all things together for good.

  48. Summer – - I, too, was influenced by GKGW – it seems so many parenting programs made the rounds of churches and homeschool circles. I have no doubt that there are many, many parents who will be thinking through these things because of the SGM lawsuit. Can anything good come out of the lawsuit? You bet. I think some of us are seeing it right here – identifying and working on healing, sharing, encouraging, praying for each other. I love this. Thanks for sharing, Summer.

  49. I know, Hester, it’s hard to wrap your head around it. For me, it was one thing to talk about it, but to see the teen looking at her mom eye-to-eye and to think this was done in our own home and condoned was a tough pill to swallow.

  50. Julie Anne,

    Zooming out to look at the broader picture, much of this comes down to taking a specific child-rearing idea and making it a formula for parents to follow. A one size fits all formula that is expected to work for all parents and all children. Our “formula” book within Neo-Calvinistic circles was Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding A Child’s Heart. It was introduced to one of our churches, and eventually became a staple of adult Sunday School. We took the class several times, including the video series. We found that our family (with special child circumstances) didn’t fit the small box.

    Now for some comedy (funny, but also not funny). My wife’s last pregnancy had complications and she was confined to pretty much bed rest. No cooking, cleaning, shopping, chores, or lifting small children. So on top of my stressful job with a long commute, I became Mr. Mom as well. I badly sprained my knee and was in a brace for four of those months. I took a step, then swung my braced leg in front of me, sweeping it back and forth to clear my path of toys as I “walked.” Thank God for hardwood floors. Toys travel pretty easy on hardwood floors. Needless to say, we had a difficult time with child rearing. We asked others for help and advice. We would get people talking to us with a bible and Tripp’s book. We had to be 100% consistent with our training (if we were only 99% consistent, our kids would pick up on that 1% and become the next Adolf Hitlers). “But we can’t,” we would say, hoping the obvious difficulties we faced would speak for themselves. “But you have to.” “But we can’t, and that’s why we’re asking for help.” “But you have to.” “But we can’t.” “But you have to.”

    It was eye opening to see intelligent, vibrant grown ups completely not being able to comprehend our circumstances. I talked to one of the dads in our mid-week home group about the problems with the child rearing formula, and he said he had no idea what we were talking about. Some months later he confessed to making child behavior an idol and was needing to change the way he looked at his children. Ya think? And we felt there was a whole church full of people with the same idol. We weren’t able to fit in with the child rearing expectations, and well, when you don’t fit in…

  51. Jeanette, I am so very, very sorry. My heart aches for you and all the little children that were spanked just for being children. We did not spank for potty accidents. That, for me, came under childish irresponsibility. BUT I have plenty PLENTY to repent for. Thank goodness I see that I was okay in at least ONE area. Lord, please keep the blinders off our eyes so we can see our sin inasmuch as we can handle it. Forgive us for harming your dear children. I’m so sorry.

  52. Steve – My husband and I attended a Shepherding Your Child’s Heart seminar at a Sovereign Grace Ministries church (Chesapeake, VA) in probably 1999. It definitely was promoted in homeschooling circles, too. I remember the book being sold in homeschool catalogs and pushed at state conferences. And there sure was the bandwagon mentality – you kind of felt like a less-than if you weren’t doing this latest and greatest parenting program.

    And you raise another good point about how to negotiate these perfect programs when you don’t have the perfect family situation at home. There are no adjustments for long-term illnesses, a troubled child, a job crisis, etc. In your case, it’s not time for a parenting program, but some genuine ol’ fashioned practical love: someone should have been bringing you meals, offered to clean your house or do laundry, take the kids for a while, etc. If the Church would have been the Church, they would have helped lighten your load so you could give attention to your wife who certainly needed your support. Some of this is so backwards. It’s a lot easier for them to focus on what you messed up on, Steve. Why don’t you get YOUR act together, brother?

  53. Julie Anne wrote: “In your case, it’s not time for a parenting program, but some genuine ol’ fashioned practical love: someone should have been bringing you meals, offered to clean your house or do laundry, take the kids for a while, etc.”

    Ha, ha, ha, ha. That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day. :)

  54. Big Trigger for me. This stuff really ticks me off. If you really hate your kids and want to screw them up royally…just do what Tomczak and many other Taliban-Fundamentalist parents in “church” do above. Forcing your kids to undress and beating them with sticks and other objects as a means of “correction” is child abuse folks. I (and my brothers) got it much worse than what is described above…we were beaten by our Calvary Chapel Pastor/step-dad with custom made thick wooden plank-like paddles leaving bruises on our bare lower backs, backs of legs and buttocks, we were hit in the face, kicked, grabbed violently. shoved into walls, threatened, my brother was imprisoned in a small coat closet (door closed) etc etc etc. It was a living hell. Child Abuse in the church is a hidden sin that needs to be exposed and dealt with. What Tomczak did is not biblical. We don’t stone rebellious kids to death like the Taliban any longer. We aren’t supposed to force them to be naked and beat them any longer either. Grow up Christianity! You don’t make women cover their heads anymore, you eat shellfish and you certainly don’t adhere to Pastoral Qualifications any longer…I’m quite sure you can stop beating your kids now. Wasn’t it Jesus who taught to forgive 70 times 7, to turn the other cheek, to be the Servant of all, to forgive, love, etc etc? Godly loving discipline does not include beating your kids with sticks and humiliating them and crushing their spirit. That is from the devil himself. Repent ye heathens.

  55. Julie Anne, great new digs! Love the new blog!!! It’s got that new blog smell :-)

    I updated the links at CC Abuse and will be sharing this article over there. Well done my blogging sister! Thanks again for all you are doing to create awareness about these serious issues. Keep up the good work!!!!!!

  56. Alex – Yes, you of all people definitely get this. Sorry for the trigger. Please, yes, go share the article. Let’s expose this nonsense, one blog at a time. Glad you like the new blog smell – LOL :)

  57. Oh, Julie Anne. I feel so ashamed for the way I used to spank my kids when they were younger. It was all a part of the patriarchal system. We are changing that now, thank God, and I received a lot of helpful book/link suggestions from others on The Wartburg Watch on better ways to raise children.
    Others on TWW brought up Christian Domestic Discilpine. I was stupid enough to google it (NOT recommended for the faint of heart), and spent much of yesterday afternoon shaking and sick to my stomach.
    People, this is not Christianity. No wonder Christians have become a laughing stock in the eyes of the broader culture. Instead of being known for honesty, integrity, respect for others, and love, we are becoming synonymous with abuse, dishonesty, financial impropriety, and hatred.
    These brave plaintiffs from the SGM lawsuit are admirable for fighting against this perversion. God bless them!

  58. BTDT – Yes, I have also read about Christian domestic discipline. I found it very disturbing because it goes far more than discipline, it is a complete lifestyle and I fear for some, it is a lifestyle of emotional and physical bondage and once again the patriarchy system is part if this.

    I don’t know if the victims will ever know how their lawsuit has affected others in a positive way. The lawsuit is causing others to question what they’ve gone through. We’re seeing it here. This is good.

  59. I really don’t like to be too graphic here, but I feel such a thick sick lump in my throat and want to cry hysterically after watching that reinactment video of adult spanking because it makes me feel ashamed to admit that I have been exposed to that kind of sick pornography and it makes me believe that the promoters of this diabolical doctrine are not pastors at all but merely sick evil sexual perverts who have studied how to brainwash people into fulfilling their sick sexual fantasies. I can’t even stand to think that they are redeemed at all. It’s much easier to think of these pastors as imposters. It brings me back to the days that I thought God was a pervert.

  60. I understand, Patti. As much as that video disgusted me, I think the message is a powerful one. We simply must not tolerate this any more. I remember when we had a dedication service for our children, we were told that our children were on loan to us from God. He really owns them and we were given the privilege of raising them. Somewhere, something went terribly wrong. Is this the way to treat God’s precious children?

  61. 43. Carla Coe was repeatedly assaulted by Defendant Tomczak and his co-conspirators during a 25-year period spaning her childhood and young adulthood. Defendant Tomczak assaulted Carla Coe with his hands, as well as with various instruments, including but not limited to, plastic and wooden sticks.

    44. On multiple occasions, including occasions after Carla Coe reached the age of majority, Defendant Tomczak forced Carla Doe to strip out of her clothing against her will, and be beaten on her bare buttocks. Defendant Tomczak continued to engage in this forced undressing and beating of Carla Coe until she fled and escaped from the abuse.

    Ever heard of “Erotic Flagellation”? It was a popular sexual kink among upper-class Victorians and a specialty of Victorian porn and whorehouses. There were even whole books of Victorian Porn on how to do it properly.

    This “Defendant Tomczak” sounds really kinky and looks like he was indulging his kink under cover of authority and Divine Right.

  62. Julie Anne – You said: “I have listened to pastors teach about spanking children, including adult children. Their justification is that the Bible does not say when a child becomes an adult. They assert the Bible says that adult children remain the responsibility of fathers until adult children marry.”

    The first chapter of my book deals with this issue of who is a “child” in the biblical context and in the book of Proverbs in particular.

    Let me know and i can send you the ebook. info@biblechild.com – I do have some excerpts on my blog – http://samuelmartin.blogspot.co.il/2012/03/chasten-thy-son-while-there-is-hope-and.html & http://samuelmartin.blogspot.co.il/2012/03/do-not-withhold-correction-from-child.html

    Best wishes

    Samuel Martin
    New Foundation for Biblical Research
    Jerusalem Israel
    New Foundation for Biblical Research – CenturyOne Foundationwww.centuryone.org/fba.html

  63. I realize this is a very strong comment – I suppose I can’t help myself having never grown up in this sort of “Christian Environment”. It has been said that religion, regardless of doctrine, is the, “blind leading the blind”. Reading this sort of information it seems to me that perhaps, “the weak-minded leading the weak-minded” is a better definition.

    I greatly appreciate the story of the author and maintainer of this board and how she battled “spiritual abuse” and rebuilt her relationship with her daughter. What I can’t figure out – is why you (plural) would continue to follow a “fundamentalist” version of Christianity that still promotes the sort of misogyny and fear-based leadership that leads to this sort of abuse, with all the “proof-texting” that is employed and that oddly – all of you who post here and have posted on her previous board, are perfectly well aware of and yet you *still* engage in it to combat other proof-texting! Many (but not all) of you seem to be unable to disconnect from this fear and punishment based form of your Christian religion.

    As for me – my parents were emotionally abusive and used emotional black-mail extensively. My Mother still tries. And yet, I was lucky in one respect: I had the physical wherewithal by the time I was about 14 to deflect and/or stop attempts at physical abuse, i.e., getting slapped in the face. I would not then nor would I ever, tolerate *anyone* – parent, elder, boss, etc., hitting me and to this day, I cannot imagine the lack of self-respect that would cause a “grown” child to submit to it, ever.

    Don’t get me wrong – I understand that kids develop differently, especially in the area of being able to stand up for themselves. And while I was never one of those mouthy dudes who picked fights with other kids (or adults), I’m also one that would, “fight anyone” and never back down. Mind you, not from an intelligent argument. I’ve always been able to be persuaded by a thoughtful argument. But I certainly got in some scuffles that a more intelligent person than I might have had the good sense to either back away or even run from. And to be sure, I got my **s handed to me on more than one occasion. That part of my life ended a very, very long time ago, thankfully.

    And yes, that included both parents. I once told one of my parents that if he or she ever called me a liar again (this was after a series of incidents in which I hadn’t lied, was honest and was still accused of lying one too many times) that if 1.) this parent ever called me a liar to my face again I’d “slap (their) lips off” and, 2.) if this parent ever, *ever* laid hands on me again, I would, “hit (you) in the teeth with everything I got, with every bone, every muscle in my body, do you understand? And yeah, you can have me arrested. They can come get me and I will get through every single day of my jail time remembering the look of shock on your face when I knocked you flat on your **s. That will be enough satisfaction to get me through it.”. I never had to make good on that threat and I was never slapped in the face again.

    Because I was deadly serious and my parent knew it. I had resolve. I felt no allegiance otherwise to my abusers. I know a lot of you won’t be able to understand that. Most kids that age don’t have the physical presence to pull a threat like that off – I did. I did not then, nor do I know, have any “fear” of “eternal punishment” for standing up to an abusive human being. And if my Dad and I had ever gotten “into it” – he was perfectly well aware that it would have been a “Cool Hand Luke” moment for one of us. And I would have gladly played the “Luke” part just to get a few good licks in. And no – we are definitely what you’d call, “estranged” after all these years.

    Finally – with all the talk I hear and read about how “rotten” modern kids or modern teenagers are because of a lack of discipline or punishment, it seems to be completely lost on our society just how much children are expected to endure – much more than we would ever endure from another person or persons as adults. I’ll give you a hint: You look at all the kids that get processed through the juvenile court system. Some of them are young criminals, yes. But a lot of them are railroaded through the system merely because our judges, courts and our society cannot tolerate a kid who stands up for themselves and will almost always rule in favor of the parent.

    As far as this character is concerned. Yes, I’ve read about his “bootie camps” for toddlers. So weak-minded as to believe that parenting is easy – all you have to do is beat the crap out a kid and break their spirit and “voila” – “trained, obedient child”. It doesn’t work that way – at least not for long. How weak-minded do you have to be to follow a nut job like this guy? And he knew all too well that his victim, while submitting to his physical abuse, was not submitting to his “authority”. He had to keep her a prisoner lest he be accused of precisely what he is now being accused of.

    I bet you can guess what his eventual “confession” will sound like. He’ll deny everything. He’ll get a jury trial. He will lose. Then he’ll say something like, “I know Jesus has forgiven me in my heart.” and will insinuate that if his victim doesn’t forgive him fully, her “salvation” will be in question. He will do everything in his power to continue to punish her from prison because he’ll keep a lot of his followers and they will gladly subject her to “spiritual abuse” on his behalf, rather than admit what kind of creepy sheep they actually are.

    Because to admit to yourself that you followed somebody like this guy, is to admit that you ARE him.

  64. Interested Party~ I’m gonna take a stab at attempting to answer your question as to why any of us would “follow a “fundamentalist” version of Christianity that still promotes the sort of misogyny and fear-based leadership that leads to this sort of abuse”.

    First let me say that it’s a very legitimate and relevant question. And frankly, I have asked myself the very same question. I can’t answer for others but would like to give my two cents from my own experience.

    I, like you, did not grow up in a Christian home. But unlike you, I was spared of physical abuse. I was encouraged to develop a mind of my own and even not to blindly follow authority without questioning. As a young adult, I became a Christian, and simultaneously got sucked into a lot of the BS being exposed on this blog. It’s embarrassing to have once been associated with an organization that is looking a lot more like like Penn State than Jesus.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “Many (but not all) of you seem to be unable to disconnect from this fear and punishment based form of your Christian religion.” If I could sum up why I stayed in SGM so long, it would be fear. I was afraid of being rejected by friends and being excluded from the group, which is exactly what did happen when I eventually left. And even fear of going against what I thought at the time was God’s will.

    In hindsight, and I’m sure from the outside perspective, it definitely appears that only a weak-minded individual would put up with such nonsense. There was such a strong sense of “group think” inside SGM, and they made the institution of the church an idol. Rather than worshiping God, we were made to worship the structure, the rules, the leaders…

    Let me tell you, this is NOT Christianity. Sadly, in the U.S., fundamental evangelicalism has a lot of institution worship going on. I think you are right to question it and to call us out for being fools.

    For me personally, I have come very close to abandoning church altogether, and I am no longer fearful that my relationship with God is dependent on church attendance. I will never again ascribe wholeheartedly to an institution, religious or secular, so blindly. I never want to be in a place where individual opinions are not valued and conformity is expected.

    However, I have not given up on Jesus. The Jesus in the Bible is night and day from the Jesus presented on Fox News or from Westboro Baptist. The real Jesus does not condone abuse or overlook injustice. He brought me into a relationship with Him, not to conform to an institution, but to live a life that is more and more like His, and to be with Him for eternity. He called his followers to a radical life that looks very little like the church in America.

    I am appropriately skeptical of “church” but am confident in Jesus because of what he has done in my heart and in my life, and who I know him to be in the Bible. After a lot of searching, I have found a church that is evangelical but that allows for people to think for themselves, and is deeply involved with social justice and meeting the needs of the community. It is far from perfect, but it is a place that is genuinely welcoming and freeing rather than confining. And I go there not because I have to but because I want to worship Jesus there (which I can also do at home and in nature and anywhere). But I don’t go to worship the “church” and would leave in a heartbeat if I started to see that “group think” mentality creeping in.

  65. “Recovering Pharisee” – that was a great and very honest reply. Many thanks! Yes – I would go so far as to say that nearly all forms of Evangelical/Fundamentalist, “Big Church” Christianity are not Christian by any definition I’m aware of. These folks, sort of like all of the high authority (Church and Gov’t) Europeans that came before them for all of the centuries following the creation of the Christian Movement, seemed almost immediately to find the real mercy taught by Jesus – his own words, the Beatitudes, embarrassing. “Giving up our power, our money to follow a sage like Jesus? Oh sure. We have a better idea: How about we keep our money and our power and beat you over the head with the Bible to keep you in line. We don’t really like the idea of the meek inheriting the Earth. We’ll let a little money “trickle down” to the poor just to keep up appearances. And we’ll preach hellfire and damnation, and remind all of you of your “sin” every chance we get, our favorite biblical “teaching”, in order to pull it off and stay right where we are with all of you firmly under our collective thumbs.”

    If you find yourself needing to hate homosexuality but tolerate divorce in society, in your own families, maybe that part where Jesus said something about removing the plank from your own eye applies. If you need to deny another woman a right to regulate her own body parts including condemning abortion, you better start ponying up the dough to feed and cloth all the LIVING children among us or shut the hell up. If you’re going to be a true follower of Jesus the Sage, stop being embarrassed by his teaching. I get really, really tired of all the conservative “catch-22s” regarding total personal responsibility, which is a convenient canard that absolves one from their “own” responsibility to their fellow human beings.

    I really do believe this board and a few others like it, are a great stepping stone to internal peace, forgiveness (of self, not your abusers) and a higher understanding of the religion you are a part of.

    I like this guy and the movement he and others are fostering: johnshore.com

    Not sure if links are allowed here. Again, you seem like a very intelligent and introspective person and your reply was deeply appreciated! I dig the fact that you made friends and leaving your shared religious community was painful and very tough.

  66. Amen to everything you said, Interested Party. I wonder what this country would look like if Christians even spent half the time they spend picketing and swimming in politics and instead cared for the least of these as Jesus did.

  67. Julie Anne wrote: “In your case, it’s not time for a parenting program, but some genuine ol’ fashioned practical love: someone should have been bringing you meals, offered to clean your house or do laundry, take the kids for a while, etc.”

    MORMONS have a reputation for doing just that. According to my writing partner, that’s the reason they’re growing in his part of the country.

  68. “I remember being so obnoxious thinking I knew it ALL! I had this high and mighty feeling of superiority that the way we were raising our children was hands above all my neighbors. I remember not even wanting our children to play too much with the children in the neighborhood for fear their bad habits would rub off on our children.” — Lori P

    And your neighbors noticed that you were Too Good For Them.

    “And Tommy ain’t a bloody fool — You Bet That Tommy Sees!” — Rudyard Kipling

  69. Pingback: The God of the Mundane by Matt Redmond and A Story of Spanking Adult Children | The Wartburg Watch 2013

  70. Yes, Headless Unicorn Guy, but the good news is that I saw the error of my ways and begged the forgiveness of each one of them after I left the PDI (which became a SGC) church I had been going to. Whether they forgave me or not I do not know but I tried. The best way to win forgiveness is to change your behavior. I’d like to hope I became a better Christian and the change was visable. I am certainly more real and my sins are a lot more out in the open. In PDI churches, in order to fit into the cookie cutter mold you really couldn’t be yourself (or at least I couldn’t). I wouldn’t have liked me, either back then. Not only did we stifle others, we were stifled ourselves….

    One time, when my husband and I were assistant children’s leaders, I had a very, very graphic vision about the wife of one of guys who was leading Children’s Church the next morning. I called the man and described the vision, which was of his wife losing consciousness and dying. Unbeknownst to me, she was home with what turned out to be an appendicitis attack. Her husband did listen to me after much begging. He did indeed have to drive her to the emergency room that morning where she did lose consciousness. Had he gone to church she could have died. Do you know what I was told? It was only my job to sound the trumpet. It was not my job to make sure the guy stayed home and it was completely NOT my job to tell him to do so. I acted out of the chain of command. In other words, I was under man first, God second.

    We stepped down after that incident, citing that we had way too much sin in our lives to have such a high position. Bunch of bull crap. That was the last time I operated ‘in the gifts’ before we left the church.

  71. @Jeannette Your story reminds me of a family who stayed in my house for a time….Their 3-year-old had recently started potty training. Of course, she would have accidents. Her mother got very angry about this, and even threatened to spank her if she had another accident, as if she were doing it on purpose. :P It made me very angry to hear this. In fact, after I witnessed all sorts of things done in the name of “discipline” by these people, I finally reported them to Social Services. The same day, unbeknownst to me, the father was officially charged with choking one of the children. I know that parenting can be difficult, being a parent myself of a boy. But things like belting or spanking for potty training accidents or the various other things going on–It’s just too far. :(

  72. Interested Party,

    I really don’t think your words or the tone that is being conferred to me is productive. You may not know how indoctrinated people are within this paradigm, you don’t know how difficult it is to realize how wicked a system into which you invested so many years of your life. How much your children suffered during their childhood, I know.

    This is a time for tender encouraging words and nurturing friendships because the wounds are fresh and healing must take time before the scars can form and their strength tested.

  73. Interested Party, I put your comment in moderation until I can discuss it with my support team – not because it affected me personally (it did hurt), but because the tone of your comment directed to me might prevent other from sharing here. My primary purpose of this site is to be a safe place for those who have gone through spiritual abuse. I understand you are saying we are abusers, but at the same time we have been victims first and we must get through that first.

    It’s very difficult to own up to what you’ve done, to do it publicly, and then get attacked with condemning words. Believe me, the pain of knowing what we did is already bad enough. I have to live with the consequences of our choices the rest of my life. Hannah and I have discussed this issue quite a bit and how it has affected her. I have heard her pain and allow her to vent. It’s the very least I can do. I understand your anger and yes, Hannah has every right to pursue legal action against us if she wants. As I said above, I do not deserve to have any relationship with her, yet she has chosen to forgive me and wants us to maintain our relationship.

    It was not apparent in your response that you have anger towards a system of abuse that taught this way of parenting. This was a system that made parents feel they were in sin and would be doing more destruction to the souls of children by not spanking (regardless of age). There was such an emphasis on obedience to parents and to God that common sense never entered the picture. If you have anger towards me, and not the system, then I think you are missing something very important.

    Please feel free to vent your anger at me via e-mail so we can maintain this place as a safe place. I responded publicly because I know some people saw your comment.

    You are welcome to address my comment above publicly, but if the tone becomes one in which others would feel shamed and not safe here, I won’t post it publicly.

  74. I understand your concerns, Julie Anne, even if I disagree with them and I will address in an email to you.

  75. HUG – when I had my last 2 babies, my Mormon neighbors spontaneously brought our family a meal. It says a lot, doesn’t it?

    Definitely says more than “I’ll Pray For You(TM).”

  76. I called the man and described the vision, which was of his wife losing consciousness and dying. Unbeknownst to me, she was home with what turned out to be an appendicitis attack. Her husband did listen to me after much begging. He did indeed have to drive her to the emergency room that morning where she did lose consciousness. Had he gone to church she could have died.

    First, I know what said wife went through. Six years ago, I had a severe diverticulitis attack that put me in the hospital with life-threatening peritonitis and left me with a semi-colon. The effect was similar to a burst appendix, but in a different portion of the large intestine.

    Do you know what I was told? It was only my job to sound the trumpet. It was not my job to make sure the guy stayed home and it was completely NOT my job to tell him to do so. I acted out of the chain of command. — Lori P

    i.e. INSUBORDINATION!!!

    Just like that crooked homeowner’s association at the last place I lived. Obsessed with INSUBORDINATION among the rabble.

    Just like a bureaucracy slipping imperceptibly from Lawful Neutral through Lawful Stupid into Lawful Evil like a slow-boiling frog.

    Just like Chin Dynasty Legalism, where The System Is Everything and you or me Nothing.

    “So what if she die? I shall have Saved Her Soul.”
    – paraphrase of the Inquisitor from Mark Twain’s “Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

  77. I’ll say this again: When I first heard of “Defendant Tomczak” and the 25-year-old, my first thought was “Adult Spanking = Sexual Kink.”

    Like Driscoll’s Visions (“I See Things…”), I get the distinct aroma of a kink coming out in a Christianese-acceptable form.

  78. Insubordination, if only the occasion were such that I was at liberty to laugh but, no. If Lori was getting a word that turned out to be spot on, she wasn’t responding to intestional gas but she was responding to the lead of the Holy Spirit, last time I checked, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, like God (rolling my eyes and slapping myself upside the head.)

    Now, who is subordinate in this story?

  79. Just happened upon this post through facebook (having never heard of SGM) and the comments here bring me to tears. Sending love, light and healing to all involved <3

  80. Pingback: Julie Anne: Uncovering the Abuse I Enabled | Spiritual Sounding Board

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  82. Why doesn’t the Mom in the video simply put the girl across her knee instead of needlessly complicating the confrontation with the repeated commands to “lift your skirt”? If she’s determined to exercise maternal authority by spanking her daughter’s bottom, why on earth doesn’t she just go ahead and do it?

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