We are very aware of the criticism that has been leveled against the Ezzo's teaching, especially on infant parenting. While criticism can be very valuable when done with a respectful tone and for the sake of improvement, it can also be very destructive when done with ulterior motive such as political or personal gain, or from mean-spirited people. Despite some claims to the contrary, the Ezzos welcome constructive criticism of their teaching. Gary Ezzo states, "As we read through critical reviews, we do so knowing that we can always learn something. By God's grace we strive to be learners. Sometimes God sends friends to effect growth in our lives. Sometimes he sends critics. We thank God for both. Whether it is to make a point more clearly or revisit an idea, something can be gained. To that end, we trust in the grace and patience of God to assist us." The Ezzos have put walking shoes on these words. The infant curriculum (Along The Infant Way--Prep For Parenting)
is now in its sixth edition and Growing Kids God's Way
is in its fifth edition. While the basic teaching has not changed, the Ezzos have consistently responded to recommendations, improving and clarifying as needed.
However, when a critic uses distortions of the truth, ad hominem attacks or outright lies to support a position, then the criticism becomes grievous. This type of tabloid reporting is all too common in the media and is particularly offensive when seen in the Christian media. The Body of Christ suffers immensely when a wayward Christian tongue slams another Christian in a public forum, and calls it justified commentary. In addition, it is important to realize that what is being promoted on the anit-ezzo sites is not honest criticism, but cynacism. There is a difference. We like the how one concerned pastor has articulated this difference:
Where criticism can be constructive, cynicism has little value in honest debate. A modern cynic typically possesses a highly contemptuous attitude and is often critical of that which is good or popular. GFI has more cynics than critics. Cynics quibble over insignificant details and offer petty and unjustified criticism. They flee the moment they are pressed for details, including simple requests for information, such as, “What page is that on?”
Cynics are also known by the fruit of contradiction. Demagoguery (the passionate appeal and practice of taking statements of opponents and ascribing new meaning contrary to what is actually intended) and duplicity (providing partial quotes and extrapolating them as representative of the whole) are the tools of their trade. They believe the pageantry of their statements serves as a sufficient substitute for the old ethic of truthfulness and accuracy in reporting. It does not take much to expose a cynic, but it does take time away from more important matters of the day such as building up the Kingdom of God.
The Apostle Peter tells us: "Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation" (I Peter 2:11). In a day and a culture where families are falling apart and mothers and fathers parent in despair, the beauty of God's moral law lived out in family relationships becomes a compelling testimony so powerful that many of those in the world who see it, actually begin to seek after God. Equipping parents for that purpose is what GFI is all about and what Gary and Anne Marie have dedicated their lives to. This is the Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo that we know and the Gary and Anne Marie that thousands, yes millions of other parents around the world appreciate.
The most vocal Ezzo cynics seem to be motivated by a strong devotion to a philosophy called attachment parenting
. While certainly not representative of the general attachment parent population, these particular cynics are vicious in their attacks, and pursuing the Ezzos seems to have become an obsession with some! This goes way beyond a difference of opinion and abandons even the pretense of journalistic integrity. These recognized attachment parenting advocates have resorted to half-truths, innuendo, repeating unfounded gossip and outright slander in their characterization of the Ezzos' teaching, and of the Ezzos personally. The Ezzos have shared their concerns about some tenants of attachment parenting (including "demand" or "cue" feeding, the practice of the "family bed" and constant "baby-wearing"), as it is generally practiced in this country. However, they also encourage parents to investigate all options, evaluate the fruit of each philosophy, and make an informed decision for their own families. The cynics have conveniently chosen to ignore this point.
Some cynics have been very purposeful in attracting the attention of large secular and Christian news organizations which have unknowingly helped them in their cause. However, we find it particularly disturbing when a Christian media source KNOWINGLY aligns itself with such activity. This clearly demonstrates how the ways of the world have infiltrated even the Christian news media. Sadly, we have found some secular news sources which use more discernment and exhibit better journalistic integrity more consistently in their reporting about the Ezzos than we have seen with some Christian sources.
Not surprisingly, the cynics have been unusually quiet with the settlement of several noteworthy libel suits brought by the Ezzos against a couple of Australian magazines and Robin Grille
, the author of the libelous articles. Mr. Grille, like many of the other cynics, is a known attachment parenting supporter. In the first suit against the publications, the Ezzos enjoyed a rapid settlement award and public retractions. A third national newsletter also ran a full retraction and apology to the Ezzos and Dr. Bucknam for an article they ran by the same author. In the most recent case (July 2005), the Australian Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Ezzos finding for evidence of nineteen imputations against Mr. Grille himself. Once the court ruling was handed down, a settlement quickly followed. Not only did the Ezzos receive libel damages, but they also received a court-read confession of wrong and a public apology
, clearly stating that US Internet sites were the source of the erroneous information. The website commonly shared by Robin Grille was www.ezzo.info, owned and operated by Steve Rein
. It is up to the Ezzos whether or not to follow with US libel suits.
Regardless, all Christians must keep in mind that a spiritual battle is being waged against the family. Satan particularly delights in dividing Christians, especially when all the world can witness our foolishness. The Christian news media and even well-known Christians are not immune. The Ezzos' ministry is a battleground ripe for engagement by the Enemy, since it promotes God-centered parenting. We must also realize that not all who claim the name of Christ are true believers. Discernment is needed, and it behooves us to remember that "...Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.
When testing the truth of another's words look at manner, method, overall attitude and possible motivation. Compare it to what God's Word says about personal integrity, relationships and conflict resolution. The Bible teaches us how to develop loving relationships. It tells us how to conduct ourselves with grace, justice, mercy and humility. That does not mean being passive, or that we should be a doormat for others to step on. Jesus was not passive, nor was He afraid to call the Pharisees on their sin. He always spoke the Truth. Likewise, we will do our best to speak the truth and not waiver in standing up to the wayward tongue of the Ezzo critics.
We know that some of this may sound confusing and perhaps it is a sad commentary on the way that some Christians treat others, especially their Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Men have done some pretty strange things to each other throughout recorded history, so this does not seem so surprising when taken into historical and spiritual context. However, it still hurts us to see this godly couple vilified when we know their heart is only to serve God in their called ministry.
Below, is a list of the most visible critics. We will address each individually:
- Steve Rein (owner of ezzo.info site)
- Dr. Matthew Aney (California pediatrician)
- Hank Hanegraaff ("Bible Answer Man," CRI)
- Kathleen Terner (CRI, CT articles)
- John MacArthur (Grace Community Church)
- Dave Maddox (Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship)
- James Dobson (Focus on the Family)
- Frank York (former employee)
- Robin Grille (Australian author named in recent successful libel suit)
- Eric Abel (former ministry partner & former employee)
As we have researched the opinions of those listed above, all we can reasonably do is to expose the facts, then pray for the Lord to intervene and soften hearts to reconcile for the sake of the Kingdom. There is much work that still needs to be done, and done in unity not division.