From a series of posts examining "multigenerational faithfulness," examining unquestioned obedience and First Time Obedience as an essential component of multigenerational faithfulness as taught by the Botkin Family.
Excerpt from PART II Addendum: Spiritualizing All Activities, First Time Obedience, Multigenerational Faithfulness and Unquestioned Obedience:
In closing this post, I would also like to state that as a consequence of trying to conform to my parents standards and eventually abandoning what was a fantasy of idolatry for me, I did suffer something I deeply regret. I learned to be easily brainwashed by anyone who was like my parents or by anyone who occupied a position that seemed parental to me. I learned to sell out my mind for the greater good to any authority that I trusted, and particularly any authority that reminded me of my parents. If I could identify the worst and most terrible consequences of my all the experiences of my life related to what I learned by trying to conform by basically denying and even attempting to destroy who God created me to be, it would be this core of idolatrous self-hatred for identifying my identity in Christ as sinful.
Learning this process and wrongfully defining it as obedience to my parents has predisposed me to errors in judgement that have resulted in being molested and raped as a child (by one whom I identified as a trusted authority figure to whom I should submit) against whom I had no recourse. As an adult, it predisposed me to submitting myself to the unjust spiritual abusers and religious authorities in a very damaging, cultic Evangelical church that preached the Gospel and laid hands on the sick and operated in the gifts of the Spirit that I believed qualified them as trustworthy. For this reason, I believe that the costs of unquestioned submission and ideals like “First Time Obedience” do far more damage than good. It is convenient for parents who believe that they are acting in the best interest of their children, but I believe that trusting and naive young girls and women very much like me have reaped terrible consequences of this type of unqualified and demanded obedience.
Please consider this following technique of self-deprecation used as a tried, tested and true technique of thought reform. I believe that just as adults who are subjected to spiritual abuse suffer these consequences, I believe that these are very similar dynamics that I learned in my own home because I did not fit the expected norm. And I believe that this made the process of religious conversion in a Bible-based cult all the easier and more familiar for me, almost seeming to offer a solution to my primary problem: my perpetual failure to earn my parents acceptance. If I have lusted after anything in my life, surely nothing has compared to the idolatrous lust I’ve followed in seeking after my parents’ approval. And the quest to satisfy that lust has hurt me far more than any other factor in my life. My parents never intended this to be so, but they didn't undertand that they were fostering idolatry in my heart. Surely they never would have done so if they had known. None of us knew.
Son of David, have mercy on me for having served them, my own lust for their acceptance and the wounds of my own heart. All I ever really desired was You and wholeness in You through your Atoning Blood. And I didn’t know any better. Please spare Your people this same pain. My heart is ever contrite before You, my Creator. Ever let Your strength be made perfect in my – Oh so many – weaknesses. Search me, know me, see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
From Biderman’s Chart of Coercison on the reFocus website:
Devaluing the IndividualConsider that this is what you are doing to your children when you demand your way and your desires for their lives, even from the time they are small and seek only to run to you and hide themselves in the comfort under the shadow of your wings. No parent desires to reduce their children into automatons or two dimensional beings with no depth of character to leave them wounded and confused. But that it what happens to many of us. We were not made for the Sabbath rest but the Sabbath rest was made for us. Yet for many of us there is only striving to meet demands of perfection wherein there is no rest for the people of God. So many of these parenting paradigms are millstones, hung around the necks of little ones. And we weep.
- Creates fear of freedom
- Creates dependence upon captors
- Creates feelings of helplessness
- Develops lack of faith in individual capabilities
Abusive leaders are frequently uncannily able to pick out traits church members are proud of and to use those very traits against the members. Those with natural gifts in the areas of music may be told they are proud or puffed up or "anxious to be up front" if they want to use their talents and denied that opportunity. Those with discernment are called judgmental or critical, the merciful are lacking in holiness or good judgment, the peacemakers are reminded the Lord came to bring a sword, not peace. Sometimes efforts are made to convince members that they really are not gifted teachers or musically talented or prophetically inclined as they believed they were. When members begin to doubt the one or two special gifts they possess which they have always been sure were God-given, they begin to doubt everything else they have ever believed about themselves, to feel dependent upon church leaders and afraid to leave the group. ("If I've been wrong about even *that*, how can I ever trust myself to make right decisions ever again?").
Unwillingness to allow members to use their gifts. Establishing rigid boot camp-like requirements for the sake of proving commitment to the group before gifts may be exercised. Repeatedly criticizing natural giftedness by reminding members they must die to their natural gifts, that Paul, after all, said, "When I'm weak, I'm strong," and that they should expect God to use them in areas other than their areas of giftedness. Emphasizing helps or service to the group as a prerequisite to church ministry. This might take the form of requiring that anyone wanting to serve in any way first have the responsibility of cleaning toilets or cleaning the church for a specified time, that anyone wanting to sing in the worship band must first sing to the children in Sunday School, or that before exercising any gifts at all, members must demonstrate loyalty to the group by faithful attendance at all functions and such things as tithing. No consideration is given to the length of time a new member has been a Christian or to his age or station in life or his unique talents or abilities. The rules apply to everyone alike. This has the effect of reducing everyone to some kind of lowest common denominator where no one's gifts or natural abilities are valued or appreciated, where the individual is not cherished for the unique blessing he or she is to the body of Christ, where what is most highly valued is service, obedience, submission to authority, and performance without regard to gifts or abilities or, for that matter, individual limitations.