On their website, No Greater Joy, the Pearls have a collection of various readers' questions and the responses from Michael and Debbi. The questions typically revolve around marriage and childcare.
One particular Pearl response has been strongly criticized on many blogs. A mother had written to No Greater Joy about the fact that her husband had molested his children. Michael Pearl had answered that the woman should indeed press charges against the husband. If his response had ended with his call for the man to serve time, few people would have had issue with him. Unfortunately his advice continued. He advised the woman to visit the husband in prison and to bring the victims of his crime, their children, on these visits. After the man had served his term, the wife was advised to welcome him back into her home and presumably her bed. Her children would, Michael reasoned, be adults and need no further protection.
Despite the fact that others had covered this particular subject, I wanted to write about it. To my surprise, I can no longer find the letter on their website! The original letter has been replaced by another one written by a mother of seven children. In this letter the Pearls take a much stronger stance against the evil of sexual abuse.
Michael writes: You husband has committed a crime against humanity. You are legally obligated to report this crime to the law. He will be jailed and stand trial; you and the girls will testify against him; he will be sentenced to about 20 years.
Oh my, I agree with Michael Pearl. On their website, the Pearls state that Michael conducts a prison ministry. Perhaps his years of contact with such men has finally convinced him that his original advice was wrong.
I would add that beyond a legal requirement to report the husband, the mother has a ethical and moral responsibility to do so.
Further, Micheal states: If he truly repents and gets saved, and you should choose to forgive him, the girls should never be forced to be in subjection to him again. He forfeited the right to be their father when he committed a crime worthy of death against them
This is much better then the first letter. The children should never be forced to live in the same household with this man again. It doesn't matter what the mother's personal feelings toward her husband are, she has to protect her daughters.
If they choose to forgive and accept him as their father, that would be a blessed thing for them. They have been hurt enough; they shouldn't have to live with the hate and anger. That would mean that his sin is continuing to follow them.
Disappointingly, the above comment is a bit vague and could be read several different ways. I am uncertain exactly what Michael means by 'accepting him as their father." Hopefully, this doesn't mean that the father would be allowed to return home if his minor children wish him to do so. Abusive people are often very manipulative and are not above using emotion and guilt against their victim. Such people should never be allowed access to vulnerable children.
Many wrongly assume that forgiveness means that the wronged individual welcomes the offender back into their life. This is not true. Forgiveness means letting go of the anger and hate that can destroy the innocent victim's life. But the wronged are not required to allow dangerous indiviuals back into their lives.
I would love to know what led to Michael's change of heart. Did he truely have an epiphany? If so, the Pearls should issue a statement on their site for the mothers who followed Michael's original advice. The skeptic in me wonders if this change in attitude is caused by the fact that the Pearls have been investigated by social service. Perhaps they are afraid that if a repeat of the Sean Paddock case reoccurs, they might be liable for their advice.
Hopefully, though, Michael has really had a change of heart and his perspective has changed. I just wish that he had written another article explaining that the older article should not be followed.