How the Fundamentalist and Patriarchal Teachings Can Create Abusive Atmospheres: Part 2

So Josh Duggar saw the error of his ways 12 years ago, repented and whatever else they say he did. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. According to the teachings on how to deal with abuse in the system they prescribe to, all he needed to do was repent, ask forgiveness, and take the consequences that his authority figure (Dad) subscribed. Did you notice the lack of talk about the poor girls? Other than they forgave him. Based on my own experiences within the cultish teachings, I think those girls were told what to do and say, who they were allowed to talk to, and given an excuse for Josh that most likely involved the girls somehow bringing it on themselves (i.e. you really shouldn’t have sat on his lap, it’s inappropriate to ask your brother to scratch your back, you know you’re not to be alone in a room with a boy). They were made to feel guilty for his actions.

I can say this with certainty because I was taught the same things. Here is the link to the  teaching on how to deal with assault and abuse. I was taught these things formally in the late 1980’s, starting in 1987, through first the Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and second the ATI homeschool curriculum. However, my dad had already been teaching me my duty as the daughter of a fundamentalist patriarch through the teachings from the church they were attending at the time (1977) – Liberty Church in Pensacola, FL. These early teachings set me up to not know how to handle abuse situations from the time I was 2 years old on up. I will tell you some of the situations after I write of the teaching.

By splicing and taking out of context Bible verses, the IBLP and ATI curriculum teaches first of all that there are no victims. We are called to suffer for righteousness, as “Christ also suffered for us…” – 1Peter 2:21  “Christ wasn’t a victim, He taught us how to suffer.”Our Most Important Messages Grow Out of Our Greatest Weaknesses 

Next you have to go through the “proper chain of command” when something is wrong. First make an appeal to the offender. Then when they don’t respond (either quit abuse or ask for forgiveness) you go to their parents and other family members, then the church leaders, and finally the government. But before I can do that I have to make sure that I didn’t do or think something that brought this bad on myself. Was I out from underneath my “umbrella of protection” (my dad’s authority or any person that he’s placed in authority over me, who I have been mandated by God to obey)? While I wait for my appeal to be heard and acted on by the person harming me, there’s nothing I’m allowed to do for myself. I must make sure that I’m still following all the rules. So when I closed myself off from my offender (out of self preservation) I was told I was being rebellious, had sin in my life and now I exposed myself to the “realm and power of Satan’s control”. I was further instructed to search my heart for the root of my rebelliousness and look to the Bible for my answers. By the way, these teachings are geared towards adults, but are taught to kids as the only way to deal with offenses, along with Matthew 18 (which is taken out of context and mis-taught). 

So, was I to interpret sexual abuse/harassment/mental incest from an authority figure as designed by God for glory, or the result of having strayed into the “realm of Satan’s control”? Or was it a hole in my “umbrella”?

“As long as we are in right standing with God and with our human authorities, we are able to respond properly if there are mistakes and weaknesses in our parents, government officials, church leaders, or employers.”How to Make an Appeal  pg 4

Abuse is mistakes and weaknesses?! And who says we’re in “right standing with God”? The authority figure does. So it’s subjective and up to their whims. I’m pretty sure that Jesus said He made us ALL in right standing with God! No man can do that!

It goes on to say this: “If our intercession for them and our appeals to them don’t correct the problems, God will use any consequences for our ultimate good.” Oh, so the continued emotional incest, religious abuse and mental disturbance is for my good?!

What?!?!

Wait! There’s more: the “consequences of not being in right standing,” and we must “have the right motives,” i.e. be concerned for his reputation. I must ask myself, does this situation call for an appeal? Am I being required to do wrong? Is my life threatened? Is ministry endangered? Have I been submissive? What are his intentions? Did faults in me or my appeal cause it to be rejected? Am I called to suffer? Is it wise to flee? – Basic Seminar Follow-up Course  How to Get Under God’s Protection: The Principle of Authority,  worksheet   

Remember, we’re talking about assault and abuse here.

What about those right motives or attitudes? “Spirit of Rebellion – A person can be obedient and yet still have a spirit of rebellion. He obeys on the outside but reacts on the inside. This spirit will manifest itself by the number, purpose, manner, length, and spirit of his appeals to authority. Spirit of Resignation – An attitude of equal danger is blind obedience. When we act in blind obedience, we cease to think for ourselves or take personal responsibility for the actions that we are told to carry out. We must evaluate every command on the basis of God’s moral law. We must never do that which violates His truth.”How to Make an Appeal, page 10

Apparently, I fell under the “spirit of rebellion” category – I obeyed but I made too many appeals from the age of 11 to 14 (which is when I gave up). In these scenarios the abused can’t and won’t win. I know I didn’t, and I’ve read countless others’ stories where they didn’t come through their childhood championed.

So, how do I bring these assaults on myself? I was taught, as were all female ATI students, to not be a “stumbling block” or to cause evil by not looking boys or men in the eye, make sure to wear clothes that are baggy and long, speak quietly, demurely, be careful of what physical activity I did in front of them (bending over to pick something up, running, skipping, jumping, walking). I was to be careful so I didn’t incite any male to, basically, be attracted to me and have lustful, lascivious thoughts. My dad told me all males only want one thing from a girl – sex. At times I was pretty sure that mostly meant him towards any female (myself included) that he thought was attractive.

On to the teaching of “How God’s Authority Structure Functions”. This is the Institute’s teachings on authority structures and the “umbrella of authority.” Those of us who have shared our stories with Recovering Grace after facing sexual harassment, abuse, or assault in a family or Institute setting, or at the hands of outside authority figures, have almost universally cited the role of the Institute’s authority teachings in initial personal confusion about the abusive experience, and in later attempts to deal with the experience’s aftermath. Here it is: 1. God is the source of all authority.  2.God established a balance of power – family, church, government.  3. The basic functions of authority: punish those who do evil; praise those who do well.  4. Why every person must be under authority: for character training, for conscience’ sake, for a witness and influence.  5. When to appeal to authorities: (define their responsibilities) when they fail in their duty, when they go beyond their duty, when they ask you to do evil.  6. Prepare your appeal. (Don’t forget that right attitude and motive you must have!) 7. Present your appeal. (Now ask nicely!)  8. Either suffer for refusing to do evil or 9. Flee if forced to do evil.  There are various Bible verses used to “back up” these steps.

As an 11 – 18 year old, try understanding this and following it, then the adults that you’re appealing to not responding (remember: I was just being rebellious), so I figured I was going to have to suffer until I could flee or break up the family by contacting Child Protection Services (which my aunt did right after I turned 15), or a family member (who we never seemed to live close to long enough for me to feel safe or trust), and causing unimaginable pain and embarrassment to my parents. Another reason I didn’t contact CPS was because I didn’t think I had any true abuse to report. I hadn’t been intimately molested by my dad, it was more like feelings of sexual harassment and emotional/mental abuse. As a teen, it was hard to quantify what was happening, so when asked by  church leaders that I approached to help me or family members concerned with what they saw or heard, I said that I wasn’t being molested. Plus, with all this lack of sex education (I did get some at public school in 6th grade), helping me understand the normalcy of my body’s changes and what to expect, teamed up with deeply-ingrained submissiveness, I was vulnerable to sexual harassment/abuse. I knew that rape was penetration of me, but molestation was more murky to me.

Later, as a young 16 year old, I went to ATI’s Counseling Seminar, which was required so I could go on “ministry” trips to Russia and the inner city of Knoxville, TN. After meeting me during the week long homeschool convention that was held in Knoxville, TN (1991), Gothard pulled strings personally to get me to the counseling seminar, because he ultimately wanted me to work very closely with him. More on that later. In the seminar there was a handout called Counseling Sexual Abuse. I remember thinking, “I hope this is helpful.” It teaches about how our spirit is the most important part of ourselves and our body is the least important. Then we must ask, “What did the offender damage?” Along with, “What parts (of ourself) do we damage with bitterness and guilt?” – What?! I’m supposed to feel guilty for someone else’s actions?! Unfortunately, at that time, because of my heavily indoctrinated/brainwashed state, I took this to heart and tried to figure out how I had at 9, 10, 11, 12, etc. brought my dad’s and, later, Gothard’s attention on me – where did I go wrong?

On to #4 – “Why did God let it happen? Result of defrauding by: immodest dress, indecent exposure, being out from protection of our parents, being with evil friends.” I couldn’t figure out the dress issue since my parents bought my clothes, and indecent exposure? I was always clothed around these people! Now, the being out from protection stuff was a little more tricky, since in my house it could be anything that my dad didn’t like me doing that would put me out of “protection”. I felt for years that I needed protection from him! As for evil friends, the only friends I had were the kids involved in the ATI program. So…Again, it’s my fault that this crime/offense was perpetrated on me. I’d also like to point out the definition of defrauding: “Depriving another of his property or right by deception or artifice; injuring by withholding wrongfully what is due.” – Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary   There isn’t anything sexual in this definition, but you can see here how it’s been twisted.

What if I’m not at fault? #6 – “If abused was not at fault: God compensated physical abuse with spiritual power.” Then it gives as an example Daniel when he was made a Eunuch.  #8 – “If you had to choose…No physical abuse or mighty in Spirit – what would you choose?”

Folks, I’m not making this up!  There are numerous articles written to help us understand these crazy, made-up teachings and I’ve tagged them throughout my article. This male dominated, patriarchal system is for the sole purpose of putting weaker, innocent people under their control so that they can hide the abuse perpetrated on their victims. Not unlike Islam. It also is similar to rape culture. Here’s an excellent article written about how the “Modesty” Culture is the same as rape culture. This isn’t anything new to man, however it’s disturbing and shameful how it has penetrated into Christian teachings. As people we need to let religion, a form of control, go. Religion shouldn’t be a part of our thinking. We should see and treat people the way God does – as one with Him, as Love!

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3 thoughts on “How the Fundamentalist and Patriarchal Teachings Can Create Abusive Atmospheres: Part 2

    1. Thank you, Eliza, for your kind thoughts and words. I thank God that He not only took me out of it physically, but mentally as well. Between God and my best friend, my husband, I found my way back to who I am. We are indeed blessed!

      Liked by 1 person

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