Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

Biblical Counseling — Exposing the Darkness Disguised As Light

241 Comments

Excerpt from Got Questions.org:

Secular psychology is based on the ideas that man is basically good and that the answer to his problems lies within himself. The Bible paints a very different picture of man’s condition. Man is not “basically good”; he is “dead in trespasses and sins”(Ephesians 2:1), and the unregenerate heart is “deceitful and beyond all cure” (Jeremiah 17:9). Therefore, the biblical counselor takes a drastically different approach: rather than seeking solutions to spiritual problems within one’s own mind, he seeks to confront sin, obtain wisdom from above (James 3:17), and apply the Word of God to the situation.”

 Warning:  The content in this post may cause triggers.

 

This isn’t the post I had planned to publish next.  It’s in draft, almost finished, but my mind got distracted.  I have a lot of emotions stirring and memories surfacing because of the gut-wrenching posts I’ve read lately from courageous bloggers, mostly ex-Christians, who’ve unfortunately been exposed to a biblical counseling environment.

Some attempted suicide. Some have been in therapy for years.  Some may never fully recover.

Where is the accountability?

Where is the outrage?

Why doesn’t this get the attention and exposure it should?

? ? ?

I came upon this article yesterday in the Pacific Standard.  It highlights a 24 year old undergraduate from the University of California-Los Angeles who became a member of Grace Community Church, considered the largest Protestant congregation in LA. at the time.  Its founder, John MacArthur, remains a titan in American conservative Christianity.

This is a pastor who advises parents of adult gay children to:

Alienate them.

Separate them.

Isolate them.

Refuse to have a meal with them.

Turn them over to Satan.

Photo credit: MorgueFile.com

To my knowledge, Kenneth Nally was not gay.  But he was experiencing clinical depression.  In March of 1979, he took an overdoes of his antidepressant medication.  He wanted to end his pain.  His parents found him unconscious and rushed him to a San Fernando Valley hospital, where he had his stomach pumped.  His doctor advised Kenneth’s parents that he should be admitted to a mental health facility, but apparently, neither Kenneth or his father thought that would be in Kenneth’s best interest.  After his release from hospital, Kenneth’s pastor, from Grace Community Church, invited him to stay at his home.  He accepted.

He stayed six days at Pastor MacArther’s house, spending much of his time reading the Bible and listening to tapes of MacArthur’s sermons.  Six days later he returned to his parents’ home. A week later he put a shotgun to his head and pulled the trigger.  Apparently, the only suicide note he left was a piece of paper with verses of scripture written on it.

From the article “The Rise of Biblical Counseling“:

“In their grief, the Nallys began looking into the sort of help Kenneth had been receiving at Grace. It was a form of Christian therapy known as biblical counseling. Developed in the 1960s, biblical counseling rejects conventional approaches to mental health and holds that the Bible is sufficient as a guide to treatment.

Many of its adherents think of it as a strict but hopeful alternative to what they view as the permissive and guilt-absolving premises of psychology. In biblical counseling, most psychological distress is rooted in sin, and the path to healing lies in confession and repentance.”

A year later, Kenneth’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Grace Community Church, MacArthur, and three other Grace pastors.  They believed that the “counseling” Kenneth had received from MacArthur and his ilk had “exacerbated (Kenneth’s) preexisting feelings of guilt, anxiety and depression”.

“Over the next nine years, the case wound its way through the legal system—dismissed twice in superior court, reinstated by a court of appeal, then rejected by the California Supreme Court. It was hard to prove malpractice where there was no clear practice; biblical counseling fell into a gray area between religious teaching and therapy.

By the time the Nallys took their claim to the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1989, the case had become a national cause for Christians, with thousands of churches and religious organizations expressing support for Grace. But the high court declined to hear the case. The lawsuit had run its course.

Biblical counseling had overcome its first great challenge. Now it was freer to expand without worry—and so it did. Today, it is a major force among conservative American Protestants. It is so popular, and so widespread, that in 2005 the Southern Baptist Convention’s theological seminaries—the pastoral schools of the largest Protestant denomination in the country (U.S.) —announced a “wholesale change of emphasis” in favor of biblical counseling over an earlier “pastoral care” model that had drawn in part on the behavioral sciences.”

For those who don’t know, my late husband suffered complications from a traumatic brain injury and would have bouts of major depression.  He was also subjected to biblical counseling.  He was told his problems were caused by “unconfessed sin”, therefore opening himself up to demons.

In his fragile and vulnerable state of mind, he believed it.  Like the Nally’s, I didn’t learn about the extent of this biblical counseling, a.k.a. psychological abuse, until it was too late—and like Kenneth, my late husband put a shotgun to his head and pulled the trigger.  My partner was in his late 20’s.  From the article:

FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF most mental health professionals, biblical counseling is at best a murky phenomenon. Among many conservative evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, though, it is central. Since the mid-1960s, when Presbyterian pastor Jay Adams first laid out its principles, biblical counseling has become dominant in conservative Christian denominations that follow Reformed (or Calvinist) theology.

It is relied upon by conservative Presbyterians, Calvinists, Baptists, and thousands of non-denominational Christians, including those who fall under the category of Independent Fundamentalist Baptists. For millions of Americans suffering from anxiety, depression, bulimia, anorexia, bipolar or obsessive-compulsive disorder, or even schizophrenia, biblical counseling is the sole form of treatment they are likely to receive.

Indirectly, the influence of biblical counseling is wider still, and echoes of it can be heard across conservative culture. In 2012, when Adam Lanza slaughtered a school full of children in Connecticut, Fox News host and onetime GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor himself, slipped into biblical counseling territory when he laid blame for the killings in part on a society in which we “stop saying things are sinful and we call them disorders”.

And when Southern Baptist research organization LifeWay Research conducted a survey of evangelical Christians in 2013, 48 percent of self-identified evangelical, born-again, or fundamentalist Christians said they believe that conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can be treated with prayer alone.”

Book coverAnother person mentioned in the article is John Weaver — an English lecturer at Binghamton University, State University of New York (SUNY).  Weaver’s family, on his father’s side, had a history of mental illness.  Unfortunately, Weaver experienced biblical counseling firsthand.  He attended a Christian college in 2001 and sought biblical counseling at a Christian counseling center in rural New England.

Weaver recalls, on his first day of counseling, two college-age counselors took him into a room and asked him what he thought his problem was. When he suggested he might have a chemical imbalance, his counselors told him no, his problem was his pride. “They kept me in two rooms for six hours and kept telling me to repent, yelling at me and berating me,” Weaver says.”

Weaver was profoundly affected by this experience which prompted him to further investigate biblical counseling.  In November of last year, he published his findings in a book titled The Failure of Evangelical Mental Health Care: Treatments That Harm Women, LGBT Persons and the Mentally Ill.

 

Study Demon or Disorder: A Survey of Attitudes Toward Mental Illness in the Christian Church Matthew S. Stanford, Ph.D. Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76798

Photo credit: MorgueFile.com

In his study Stanford found that negative interactions included abandonment by the church, equating mental illness with the work of demons, and suggesting that the mental disorder was the result of personal sin.

“Analysis of the data by gender found that women were significantly more likely than men to have their mental illness dismissed by the church and/or be told not to take psychiatric medication.”

From Dan B. Allender, PhD, a prominent Christian therapist:

“[Biblical counseling] Must insist that the image of God is central to developing a solid view of personality; that our sinfulness, not how we’ve been sinned against, is our biggest problem; that forgiveness, not wholeness, is our greatest need; that repentance, not insight, is the dynamic in all real change.”

From Dr. Standford’s study:

“The present results suggest that while a majority of Christian churches are sympathetic to members with mental disorders far too many are not. Education and collaboration are our best tools to overcome this problem.  Ignorance is simply not an excuse for a community of believers that has been called to “bear one another’s burdens”.  While significant strides have been made towards bringing the Christian and mental health communities together, more work is clearly needed.”

To grasp the enormity of this conservative Christian movement, just Google biblical counseling.

They claim to care but they cause despair.

To those courageous bloggers and commenters who’ve cast light on these dark, abusive teachings —

Thank You!

To those who are confused, hurting and/or have been harmed…

Reach out

Photo credit: speakupreachout.org

 

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Author: NeuroNotes

Victoria predominately blogs about religion, and the brain's role in religious type experiences.

241 thoughts on “Biblical Counseling — Exposing the Darkness Disguised As Light

  1. Superb post on a horrific crime, Biblical Counseling. Christianity and christian thinking like you’ve described in your post are evil. Pure. Unadulterated, evil.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you Jeff. I really struggled writing this post. I wanted to say so much more, to share more of my own personal experiences with self-proclaimed “counselors” a.k.a., pastors, claiming to be experts on the human condition. After my partner died, I was confused. I was depressed. But if that wasn’t enough, I was also told I needed to go through a type of “deliverance” because it was likely that a “suicidal spirit” had come upon me and my infant daughter because we were both in the house when my partner took his life. I can’t even begin to tell you the fear I experienced because of this “counseling”.

      One of the main problems I ran into while trying to recover from the ill effects of conservative Christianity was that people like us often fall through the cracks. I did seek counseling from mental health professionals years later, but it was short lived. I soon discovered that even professional counselors are reluctant to acknowledge the trauma induced by religion. Published in British Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Psychotherapies, Psychologist Marlene Winell writes:

      “Religion can and does cause great personal suffering, fractured families, and social breakdown. There are many individuals needing and deserving recognition and treatment from informed professionals. We need to let go of making religion a special case in which criticism is taboo. It is our ethical responsibility to be aware and our human obligation to be compassionate.

      Liked by 6 people

      • “We need to let go of making religion a special case in which criticism is taboo. It is our ethical responsibility to be aware and our human obligation to be compassionate.” Therein lies the biggest issue I have with religion and “faith.” We’re not suppose to question or criticize it. We MUST get over this as a society and put religious B.S. through the same scrutiny we would, and do, for other such fantastic claims. I’ll bet if Mitt Romney had said he was a follower of little green aliens that leave circles in corn fields, and he wore silly underwear to protect his privy bits from them, people would have seriously questioned his run for president in 2012. But, because he said he was Mormon, and a man of god, his “faith” was treated with deference and child’s gloves, even tough, to me, such “faith” is as silly as wearing silly under wear to protect oneself from little green alien guys. Extraordinary claims MUST be met with extraordinary scrutiny and skepticism and not unquestionable deference and blind respect. Otherwise, bullshit like “bible therapy” will continue to tear apart the minds and souls of decent human beings in need of real, sincere human compassion and empathy.

        Liked by 6 people

  2. This trend seems to be part and parcel of the Bible worship cult in American Christianity. Everything can be fixed using the Bible. Tell that to my Ford van. The emphasis on generic and general “sinfulness” as the source of all personal problems becomes the driving influence to blame the victim. A friend who used to work as an intake clerk at the local county mental health facility started keeping a little log of background information on admittees. No names, just things like educational levels, age, that kind of stuff. She found that roughly half of the admissions for severe psychiatric problems were of people from fundamentalist churches. Not a “scientific” study, just one person’s observations over a year or so. Now, this was mostly before this Biblical Counseling craze, but it’s telling. It goes both ways, not only do these types of religions seem to exacerbate psychiatric problems, but they also draw those with such problems to their churches. People desperate for relief, for answers. And they get the Bible instead. Flip a coin, maybe they could have wound up Scientologists!

    Liked by 3 people

    • “It goes both ways, not only do these types of religions seem to exacerbate psychiatric problems, but they also draw those with such problems to their churches. People desperate for relief, for answers. And they get the Bible instead.”

      Exactly Mariah. I once heard a sermon where the preacher said that the church is like a hospital and that our purpose was to bring the sick so they could be healed by the “great physician”. In all the years I was a Christian, I never saw anyone get “healed”.

      Liked by 2 people

    • “Bible worship cult” – I like it. 🙂

      About your friend’s log, I’d hesitate to draw even a hypothesis based on it without any idea of how that percentage compares to the general demographics of the area. So, how do they compare?

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      • San Diego County Mental Health main facility. Big enough?

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        • Not sample size. Demographics.

          IOW, if half of the population in the area is already fundy, then there wouldn’t even be cause to think there’s correlation, let alone causation. OTOH, if 20% are fundy, but 50% of the admissions are, then she might be onto something.

          So any idea what % of the surrounding population there is fundy?

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          • Since this is the facility that is the intake for the entire western county, an area of over 2 million people, there is a wide variety of religions and that was the situation at the time, now some 40 years ago. This is the place the police take the wildly psychotic who didn’t wind up in jail, or sometimes the ones that did but got lucky enough to get admitted instead of dying in jail as so many sadly do. While there was a larger population of fundies than I was used to in Northern California, they were still way less than 50%. Remember too, that there is also a large Catholic population that dilutes the immigrant (from other States) types. This is the bottom of California right on the Mexican border. Most of the immigrant population there came as part of the Navy. (In case you’re wondering, yes, this multigenerational native Californian is a tad xenophobic. Chalk it up to heredity!)

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            • While there was a larger population of fundies than I was used to in Northern California, they were still way less than 50%.

              That’s what I meant. Maybe your friend is onto something. 😉

              Remember too, that there is also a large Catholic population that dilutes the immigrant (from other States) types

              I don’t get your meaning here.

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  3. Reblogged this on The Benevolent Thou and commented:
    I’ve little to add to this wonderful post. It should be required reading (including its links) to all parents and expecting mothers:

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sadly, “Christian counseling” IS something of an oxymoron. To paraphrase Hamlet: there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than can be solved with Bible verses. (Of course, in all honesty, I’m not a huge fan of psychologists as a class, so I may not be the best one to comment…)

    Liked by 5 people

  5. You handle this subject so well, and with such authority, I’m always left stunned and impressed in equal measure.

    It seems the bible counselors and anti-vaccination crowd are equally insane, equally divorced from reality.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Oh, V. Well done. I know this post had to be difficult. The result is brilliant. Thank you for your bravery.

    I am convinced that if it hadn’t been for one strong, rational voice in our congregation, my mother may have been one of the casualties of Biblical Counseling. It should be criminal, the same as when churches cover up sexual abuse. This is mental abuse. I fear mental illness will have to be taken more seriously before we get anywhere near new laws though.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Madalyn, saying thank you sometimes seems so trite, but I am lost for words right now. There are so many brave people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet while blogging on WP, and I am awed. Charity no longer blogs, but she really helped me find my voice and it was because of her that I found the courage to start this blog.

      I’m so happy to know that your mother found a strong, rational voice in your congregation. There is no accountability in the church or among clergy, and what really chaps my hide is that in America, these churches/denominations get tax exempt status. Christianity is primarily to blame for the stigmatization of mental/neurological disorders.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Much love, friend. I am forever glad to have found your blog. *hugs*

        Liked by 2 people

      • Victoria, you’re too kind. I think you have it backwards…it was when I looked at your other blog a couple of years ago that inspired me! I could tell by your tone that you truly knew what you were talking about and I finally felt some validation from someone who had been through what I’ve been through.

        I’m sorry about my dragged out comment below.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hey Charity, seeing you here brought a huge smile to my face. I’ve missed you more than words can express. I just wanted to clarify that it was because of your willingness to make yourself vulnerable (on your blog) and call it as it is — your authenticity, that really inspired me to start a “personal” blog. On my other blog it was primarily posts containing research that I came upon during my deconversion and afterwords that showed me just how lacking and unlearned Christianity and its god was in understanding human nature, biology, neurology, psychology, gene expression, etc. Opening science books put my faith back into humanity. Christianity turned me against my own species and myself.

          I’ll follow up on your other comment, and please don’t apologize sharing in length. I welcome it. Again, so wonderful to see you again. I love you, girlfriend.

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          • Noel, not sure if you know/remember this but I first met you on Charity’s blog. 🙂

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            • That was a long time ago and my memory is as good as that of a goldfish. I miss her a lot.

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              • Noel, you are such an amazing person. I admire that hungry mind of yours…always studying, conversing, researching and reading.

                You are a good man (I’m such an old lady, I almost typed “young man”). I constantly hope for the best for you in life, love and work.

                Peace to you and yours.

                Liked by 2 people

                • Old lady” – It is to laugh! Ha. Ha. “Old is relative – you’re not old as long as you have relatives older than you!

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                • Noel, you are such an amazing person. I admire that hungry mind of yours…always studying, conversing, researching and reading.

                  Interesting you should say that Charity, I have known Mak since before I ever heard of WordPress (and its deluded adherents who believe it’s a good website format), and I know that what you say is true. I also know that he is a great admirer of Mark Twain, and so I found this quotation more than an apt description of our friend:
                  “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young.”
                  ~~ Mark Twain ~~

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  7. Well Victoria, as you know this hits home…in my own past bedroom…and my last marriage then divorce. These are indeed some hyper-sensitive buttons & triggers for me! No surprise again Victoria, I can’t skip over this and say nothing. LOL

    Your followers do not know that I was once married to a preacher’s/missionary’s daughter. I will name this daughter (who is also the mother of my 2 wonderful incredible kids!) Aphrodite. 😀 When Aphrodite and I met, she and her father — a seminary graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary & Columbia Theological Seminary — were having a serious falling out and to put it politely, she was a TON OF FUN at that time! Wow, did we hit it off! Fireworks everywhere, all the time! Either on our 2nd or 3rd date in 3-4 weeks came the news of our daughter! I was thrilled, she was utterly crushed. Care to guess why?

    An attempt at a long story short, after learning much more about her family, especially her Patriarchal Dad and his long dossier of Baptist & Presbyterian pastoring then longer missions in Brazil, there was no way I could let her travel home alone to break the news to her parents in Zachery, Louisiana. Everytime she thought about that ‘confession’ to her parents she broke down crying. She and I are both there at the dinner table with “Mr. Billy Graham the II” & her mother, she informs them, and 5 seconds later Mrs. Graham the II LOSES IT just bawling! After many questions by the father about what our plans were, he laid down the Law…the Biblical Law! Basically, he said if Aphrodite and I were not going to marry, continued seeing each other as the unwed father to our child, he and the family “would disown the three of us.”

    Jumping ahead four years, Aphrodite and my daughter moved to Dallas! A year later she and I married with one MAJOR issue: I did not want to become a regular church-going Dad. It seriously was NOT in my nature in the least! HAH! Not emotionally, not spiritually, damn sure not sexually or intellectually! I was determined to “stay true to myself” until my dying breath! Grrrrr, but she was a fantastic mother and she had made it her #1 mission — pun intended — to become the Winston Churchill type woman I had always dreamt of & wanted as a wife…which not surprising, went against EVERYTHING she was raised and taught to be! LOL

    Conclusion: our beautiful son came into our lives in the 3rd year of our marriage! That’s the good news. The bad news? In our 4th year came her confession of infidelity, four affairs (with coworkers & their friends) in our 4-years of marriage. Then came 6-8 months of marital church counseling where I was primarily blamed, “as the Gatekeeper” of our struggling union. I followed to the tee every single word and advice from our Church-therapist as well as her Dad. Four months later she filed for divorce, I moved out to an apartment so my kids could continue growing up in our house, and according to Texas Family Law I had no choice but to became a part-time Dad unless I wanted to drag my kids through what was likely to become a very nasty, very expensive child-custody court battle with her & her Xian Ministries family. And all this time Victoria, I had studied, read, & was told (seems like a hundred times!) throughout our Church-counseling, that I was the one — as the adultery victim — with the final choice of divorce or no divorce! I deeply wanted to remain in my kid’s lives!

    2nd conclusion 😉 — to this day, I am now less-than a part-time Dad because she & her new husband moved over 300 miles away to Houston. NONE of the biblical counseling helped keep my family together, and took me (for the most part) significantly out of my children’s lives. Is that the Christian way? Is that the Biblical way? Pffffffft!

    Many apologies Victoria for the length of my comment; but as you mentioned: this was/is a hyper-serious trigger for me! And I have much to say about its validity and destruction of marriages & homes! 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

    • 2nd conclusion 😉 — to this day, I am now less-than a part-time Dad because she & her new husband moved over 300 miles away to Houston. NONE of the biblical counseling helped keep my family together, and took me (for the most part) significantly out of my children’s lives. Is that the Christian way? Is that the Biblical way? Pffffffft!

      Actually, that is the Christian way and the Biblical way. Since you were not one of their brand/type Christians (or any other I gather), then the most important thing they could do was to get you out of the way. I believe it’s in the books of Paul where he counsels his followers to avoid the sinner and to cluster together in the Lord, which translates into cult type isolation from any non-cult influences. I never learned the Bible by chapter and verse, so I can’t give you details, but it’s typical of Paul’s works. Not assuming they were written by anyone named Paul, just that’s the attribution.

      Liked by 2 people

    • My good friend, Professor. I am gobsmacked and awed that you would share something so painfully personal on a public forum — something so raw — but I am glad you did. Thank you! I am deeply sadden that you were hurt so deeply and paid such a great price. I have to agree with Mariah when she wrote:

      “Actually, that is the Christian way and the Biblical way. Since you were not one of their brand/type Christians (or any other I gather), then the most important thing they could do was to get you out of the way. “

      I know a lot of authentically caring Christians — but they are not caring because they are Christians, and I find the more one aligns with the bible, the more tribal and less empathic/empathetic they become. They become so “heavenly minded — they are no earthly good”.

      Fundamentalist/evangelicals represent the core teachings of scripture. They are the “true” believers of Christianity, IMO. I do think that your more moderate to liberal Christians tend to overlook the fact that Jesus wants them to bow down and submit to his daddy, Yahweh. Most people who call themselves Christians have never or rarely read the bible or studied it. Most atheists/agnostics know and understand the bible better than your average Christian, and it is for this reason they are unbelievers in the Abrahamic god. It’s anti-human. It’s anti-life. Based on neurological research I’ve read, those who can’t see it have deactivated neural circuitry associated with critical social assessment and negative emotions (towards their beloved god, Yahweh).

      ((huge hug))

      Liked by 2 people

      • the more a person believes an ideology is true, be it nationalistic, cultural or tribal- this person ceases to see people who are not part of that group as having the same rights they have/ desire.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you Victoria, but my pain & loss was caused — well aside from my “less-than stellar choice” in a partner/spouse — by EXACTLY what you address and reveal in this post. It was only natural that I give you and your followers a raw testimony of the far-reaching consequences of this sort of ‘teaching’. I felt obligated really. Glad you agree. 🙂

        Yes, Mariah’s point is excellent and I concur: in my 3 1/2 years at Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, MS), the old theology which is still taught today in the PCA congregations as well as the affiliated seminaries is “be in the world, but not OF the world.” Very devisive, very elitist, very (subtly) untolerant, and very unempathetic as you mentioned. Very sad and ironically, based upon the NON-canonical evidence of the personal-human, NOT the Yeshua of real-life. :/

        Of course I’m going to share my personal story for you and your incredible blog and more so YOU! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing this man. And sorry for your pain

      Liked by 3 people

    • Your followers do not know that I was once married to a preacher’s/missionary’s daughter. – I guess that’s why Baskin-Robbins makes 31 flavors, I dated a 7th-Day Adventist missionary’s daughter for nearly a year, and sex was EXTREMELY important to her!

      Liked by 1 person

      • archaeopteryx1,

        I wonder if that ‘importance’ is attributed to being taught incessantly — both in the home & at church — how negative the act, behavior, and enjoyment of it all is outside the confines of life-long monogamous marriage? It seems to me based on the evidence in her own family, in those churches that preach & teach total purity, and even throughout the secular world, that such a high intolerance for “promiscuity” ends up backfiring. As the saying goes, “you manifest in the end what you fear most!

        On a biological and genetic level, humans are designed to be attracted to each other, sometimes intensily. The real issues are comprehensive education (or the lack of) & the honorable management of the primal behavior, THEN learning how to refine it and perfect it — a completely different mindset. Aside from those points, thoroughly enjoying sexual interactions are enormously HEALTHY! We need more of it! We need more masters of the art! At least that’s what I’ve concluded. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

    • I can certainly empathize. I, too, many years ago, was the victim of infidelity, tried to make it work anyway with a promise of fidelity, didn’t work and we divorced with her getting the kids. Now, many years later, both children, now grown, have mental issues. Ex-wife and her family were/are fundamentalist Christians as well as hard-right conservative republicans, as is my daughter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Max. And my heart goes out to you!

        My daughter isn’t really challenging me much or questioning my life-choices and lifestyle right now, perhaps because she’s overly busy preparing for her wedding and trying to graduate college. My 13-year old son, however, will probably begin his baited questions pretty soon as that is what he’s been programmed to do by his private Xian school and his Mom’s church. I already know I’m a POPULAR prayer subject! LOL

        We certainly must carefully choose our battles/discussions when it comes to our own flesh-and-blood don’t we? If ever you’d like to chat about it as an observer, let me know Sir. 🙂

        Thank you again Max!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. They kept me in two rooms for six hours and kept telling me to repent, yelling at me and berating me” – Sounds a lot like what I like to call “boot-camp breakdown.”

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Victoria, this is a wonderful post. The encouragung news, though minimal, is that the ranks of religiously unaffiliated is rising, as well as the ranks of agnostics and, to a much smaller degree, atheists (http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/). Reason is becoming more acceptable even though Biblical Counseling appears to be on the rise.

    All believers, even liberal ones, share some blame for this problem. As I see it, the Christian community has a complete disconnect between its concepts of justice, mercy, and benevolence in today’s society, and its steadfast belief that the angry, warrior god of the OT was just, merciful, and omnibenevolent. I am constantly in awe of how the believer recoils from the cognitive dissonance experienced when the contradiction is pointed out.

    As long as the contradictions are ignored and/or dismissed, we will continue to have Biblical Counseling. It’s gonna be a long road.

    For God So Loved the World:

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hmmm, I attempted to add an image after the last line depicting the greatest of ironies. Obviously, it didn’t work.

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    • I am constantly in awe of how the believer recoils from the cognitive dissonance experienced when the contradiction is pointed out.

      Max, I posted this on Nan’s site, and it seems worth reposting here – it may lend insight into your awe:

      In his book, 1984, George Orwell coined the term doublethink, which has been defined as not just the ability to say that black is white, but “also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. Doublethink is basically the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Hmm, seems I missed this post of yours. Sorry to be so late in response.

        Yes, I read and loved the book years ago. Once I became more politically minded and began vetting information from the media, I found that the conservative leaders (especially the congressional conservatives) must have taken a lesson or two from Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and rather immersed themselves in the life of Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda. They have become masters of mangled messages–and it has worked to a great degree.

        In case you haven’t seen it, Newt Gingrich’s 1996 Memo to GOPAC; Language: A Key Mechanism of Control, is a mind-control formula for demonizing political opponents and policies and I believe it has a lot to do with the persistent, bitter personal attacks we now hear from the right. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4443.htm

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    • I share the same awe my friend.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Max, thank you for your insightful feedback. I agree with you when you wrote “All believers, even liberal ones, share some blame for this problem.” Rarely do I run into a liberal or moderate who call out the abusive behavior, and one of the reasons, I believe, is because there’s plenty of scripture that condones this behavior as noted in the 1st quote in the OP. They can’t say those scriptures are being taken out of context or being misinterpreted. They can’t say that the bible doesn’t say we are sinful, wretched, unrighteous, wicked and evil and in need of salvation — that we must submit to Yahweh, through Jesus or be condemned.

      What parent would tell their children that? An abusive parent.

      “As I see it, the Christian community has a complete disconnect between its concepts of justice, mercy, and benevolence in today’s society, and its steadfast belief that the angry, warrior god of the OT was just, merciful, and omnibenevolent. I am constantly in awe of how the believer recoils from the cognitive dissonance experienced when the contradiction is pointed out.”

      Exactly!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Max, I figured out something a long long time ago. Jesus came to save humanity from God. The God of Jesus (as he is presented in the NT) is definitely not the God of the OT, even though Jesus is quoted as telling people that they are one and the same. It probably comes from Roman distaste for the character in the OT. Of course, then they added their own take on what such a God should be. Oh well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “The God of Jesus (as he is presented in the NT) is definitely not the God of the OT,”

        Revelations 19

        11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.

        The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Revelations 19

          11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.

          Like

      • Seems I’ve missed several responses I’m finding just today. Sorry to be so late in reading yours.

        I completely agree, of course. My view on Jesus is this: The time prophesy of Isaiah predicted “an anointed one” would rise in the approximate time we now call year 1 (the birth of Jesus). Many Jews, at that time. were looking feverishly for the “annotated one” promised by Isaiah–someone who might fit the billing. I suspect that Jesus was a charismatic preacher by the time he was grown and was thus adopted as the anointed one.

        I consider Christianity to be a neo- Zoroastrian religion. When the Persian king Darius II conquered Babylon and freed the Jews, many remained in Babylon under Persian rule for about 200 years, during which time they were influenced a great deal by the predominant religion of Persians. I suspect it was the descendents of these Jews who adopted Jesus as the “Savior,” and the writers of the Gospels wrapped the Zoroastrian theme around him. The neo-Zoroastrian model was found by many to be superior to the Jewish religion because of the simple addition of the idea of a salvation in an afterlife of bliss instead of the Jewish belief in Sheol. It was an easy sell to a lot of folks, and still is.

        Liked by 3 people

        • That makes a lot of sense, Max – what you say about many captive Jews remaining in Mesopotamia after their release by the Persians, is certainly a fact. Thanks to your comment, I’ll be doing a lot more research into Zoroastrianism when i begin writing about the NT.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. As always, you provide fascinating and impactful articles and insight around a tough subject.
    We attend a “progressive” Methodist church with a kind and generous pastor. It’s a church shrinking in numbers because she welcomes and encourages individuals who identify as gay and lesbian to attend – the old traditionalists are not so keen and am so honored by her courage to stand her ground in this case. You know my background and thoughts around religion in general. If anything, this feels like Sunday dinner to us as the people there are not blinded by the Bible.

    The essence of this is heartbreaking and I know it impacts you at the core. Reading Professor Taboo’s comment was heartbreaking.
    Just know that I forever hold you in my heart, dear friend and love your brave voice. xo

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Michelle. That is awesome about the progressive church environment and your generous pastor. I’m disappointed, but not at all surprised of the shrinking numbers. That is the price you pay when you label your gathering and church “Christian”.

      “You know my background and thoughts around religion in general. If anything, this feels like Sunday dinner to us as the people there are not blinded by the Bible.”

      Yes, I do, dear friend. Humans are pretty much the most social species. I do think in time, we will have more places to congregate without the need to give credit to an ancient religion whose god condoned crimes against humanity. Won’t it be awesome when we can give full credit, for the innate goodness we have, to humanity? Your pastor seems completely in touch with her humanity.

      Love you, girlfriend. xx

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Harrowing piece, Victoria, but bravely presented. I have just been researching the British torture of Kenyans associated with the so-called Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s. Suspects were rounded up, detained and sent to concentration camps without trial – sometimes for many years. The camps for those who would not yield were successively brutal. They housed many thousands of men, and to a lesser extent women. The aim of course was to break the detainees, make them confess oaths they had made to support the cause of the Land Freedom Army, and then when they were so cleansed of their bestial infamy, welcomed back into the bosom of civilised Jim Crow Kenya. Those who did not confess were called and treated like animals, while British power and rule were extolled, and the brutality meted out. This was mostly physical abuse and outright torture, but I do not see much difference in the bible bashing boot camp – the aim is to crush the spirit and remodel the victim in the propagandists’ bizarre likeness. Hate masquerading as holy joy. It makes my imaginary god weep.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Victoria there is nothing for me to add here, you have done so well.
    I don’t know how prevalent this is around here but I know the attitude towards people with mental health problems isn’t a good one.
    Religion teaches men they are born sinful, I teach men they just are but with potential for error or great things. Who is the better teacher?

    Liked by 4 people

    • I always appreciate what you bring to the table, Noel, and thank you! In this day and age, with the abundann information at our fingertips, there is simply no excuse for the superstitious behavior that is so prevalent, and especially among the religious who are predominately responsible for the stigmatization of mental disorders. Even people who sit in the highest court in America keep the superstition alive and in doing so, fuel the stigma of mental illness.

      “In a recent interview in New York magazine, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia acknowledged his belief in Satan.

      Scalia said that “I even believe in the Devil…..Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person.”
      http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/scalia-and-satan-why-do-people-still-believe-in-the-devil-131009.htm

      Over half of Americans “absolutely believe in Satan” and demons. So long as this belief remains, attitudes and behaviors as noted in the OP, will flourish and continue to do a great disservice to humanity.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I read this Scalia story and thought to myself, you guys are in a bit of trouble. Satan may someday interfere with his judgement

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I missed so much on this blog. Such great comments.

        Over half of Americans “absolutely believe in Satan” and demons. So long as this belief remains, attitudes and behaviors as noted in the OP, will flourish and continue to do a great disservice to humanity.

        Your words are square on with mine. I think you will like these two quotes:

        “The Graveyard of History is strewn with the bleached bones of dead gods, each and every one laid low by the Broadsword of Disbelief. And for whom shall the requiem play next? It shall play for thee, dear Yahweh, and for all of our gods du jour. For the forgotten gods of antiquity were once the living gods of today, and the living gods of today shall tomorrow be the forgotten gods of antiquity.

        “It must be understood, therefore, that universal empathy, peace, and love, can be achieved only through reason, and reason shall reign only when the gravediggers have no more gods to bury.”

        and . . .

        “The greatest fear of mankind is not an eternal Hell, but an indifferent universe. We fear that we are truly alone in a cosmos that cares not a whit for us. We fear that on a scale of cosmological time, we may be little more than a momentary growth of lichen on an outcrop of stone deep in the cold northern regions, and that all of our prayers, tears, bobbing heads, and lamentations will not entice the universe to say, ‘I am here, and I love you.’ “

        Liked by 3 people

        • “Where is the graveyard of dead gods? What lingering mourner waters their mounds?”
          — H. L. Menken —

          Liked by 2 people

          • Perfect! Thanks. I’ve read some of Menken’s work back in college and no doubt was influenced to some degree.

            Like

            • “I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind – that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.”
              — H. L. Menken —

              “It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods. If such a board actually exists, it operates precisely like the board of a corporation that is losing money.”
              — H. L. Menken —

              “Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.”
              — H. L. Menken —

              Like

  13. Pingback: Faith Is a Square Peg | Amusing Nonsense

  14. “And when Southern Baptist research organization LifeWay Research conducted a survey of evangelical Christians in 2013, 48 percent of self-identified evangelical, born-again, or fundamentalist Christians said they believe that conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can be treated with prayer alone.”

    What?!

    What?!?

    *facepalm*

    I didn’t take it as far as these maroons, but I’m sad to realize that many aspects of this mentality did filter down to me.

    Thanks for an informative post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah in my 20 some years of faith neither did I. My mom is severely para schizo, been hospitalized three times, was missing once requiring a 100 man search party, a few other occasions of disappearance for shorter periods of time.

      And all this time I never thought prayer could take the place of meds and neither did my fundamentalist father. Those numbers are scary!

      Liked by 1 person

    • The underlying problem, one which pervades all of Western thought, is that mental illness is a behavioral problem. A choice to think wrong. Horribly oversimplified to be sure. As long as it is considered a choice to think the wrong things then people will try to fix it by trying to make people think the “right” things. The case of Biblical Counseling is one version of “right” things. (excuse me while I barf) I should add that it looks like these BC’s are also into “demons”, so if you think wrong, you have opened the door to demons who now are adding to your wrong thinking and making everything worse.

      While studying physiology and neurochemical interactions in the brain, I came to realize that most severe mental illness was a lot like diabetes, hormones out of whack. Just about nobody blames diabetics for having sugar balance problems (OK, you do have to eat right and take your meds). But people blame the mentally ill. “If they would just…”

      Sadly, even with the latest of neuropsychiatric research and treatments, some diseases like paranoid schizophrenia are not amenable to help. Makes me wish I was 50 years younger and could go on in research.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mariah, this is so well said. While I do know we can work at creating and atrophying disadvantageous neural pathways (neuroplasticity), neurological disorders, including mental disorders have many causes, and can be induced by the very teachings, commands and practices condoned in scripture.

        “Sadly, even with the latest of neuropsychiatric research and treatments, some diseases like paranoid schizophrenia are not amenable to help.

        Indeed. Also, many in the field are not up-to-date on the research, either, which is why advocacy has an important role.

        Like

    • I never did, either, ratamacue, and yes, same here — other aspects of this mentality did filter down to me. What really messed with my head, though, was the teaching about having the faith of a mustard seed…

      “Thanks for an informative post.”

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I am quite surprised this has not been officially recognised as criminal.
    I would send two recent xian bloggers I found over here, but I have already been banned.

    Stuff like this does my head in.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Why else do you think there are so many who believe “the devil made me do it”? Their pastors told them so!

    It’s truly one of the more tragic aspects of Christianity … that the people who are most looked up to (because of their “position” with God) are the ones handing out such tripe. It disturbs me to my very core that people are so taken in by this type of thinking and truly believe that “sinfulness” is at the core of their problems.

    Liked by 5 people

    • One of modern Witchcraft’s finest authors is Starhawk (born Miriam Simos). One of her excellent observations on society and our culture concerns the idea of “Power Over”. The thesis that you are powerless, a biggie in Christianity, and therefore need someone to take care of you; the concept of the Pastor and his sheep is a huge thing. And, any power you might acquire has to be from an outside source be it God or the Devil. If you are a good little sheepie, it’s God, if you start thinking for yourself it’s the Devil. She goes on to posit that people need to have power over others and that this drive is what causes people to become ministers/priests/pastors/etc and to preach their gospel of powerlessness to their flocks. It’s a much more complex thing, obviously, but a very interesting point of view.

      Liked by 4 people

    • So true Nan. They have been so indoctrinated that they think its bad, as per scripture, that people see humans as innately good.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Wow, Victoria!

    I have gone back and forth between this piece and your previous post. When I read about that Southern Baptist preacher in NYC I made sure to look up his blog. All I could think about was how there is something as bad as marrying a man like that, there’s having him as a dad. My dad dominated and dictated my life in such a way it was as though I was his battered wife and my husband got an abusive man’s leftovers for a wife.

    (I’m letting you know right now that I tried at least a handful of times to comment on this post since early this morning. I paced my house many, many times just thinking about today’s topic.)

    The church, god and the bible need to be made accountable for so much garbage. I will just take one of those precious aspects that they ruined so much for me, sex. In many ways the previous post coincides with this current write-up of yours for me personally. My dad abused me in countless ways along with my mother’s help, but I always felt the pressure that he expected more from me mentally, emotionally and spiritually than what he expected of my mother. I had to be her best friend and his second wife. Though there was no sexual abuse…..the secrets and shame dominated my life through his continual manipulation. It was as though he owned me. I wasn’t really taught much about sex from either of my parents except for how bad it is outside of marriage. Take all of those opinions, thoughts and scriptures and you have an explosive formula for your wedding night. I refer to my first weekend of marriage as hell with my husband. He was as good as he could be, but we paid a great price physically and emotionally saving our virginity until our wedding at 31 years old. Sex cannot be seen as evil and then suddenly, with a turn of a switch, be considered godly or holy the very next night. Little did I realize that would be another huge stepping stone towards my faith’s departure. This whole talk about sexual purity and biblical marriage is absolutely stupid. Whenever I hear this I ask for sister or brother Christian to give me a Biblical example of an actual couple in the Bible who had a “Biblical” marriage. Guess what? There are very few.

    I know I told you about how I cut my parents out of my life the summer before last. However, I occasionally allowed for them to send a card or letter to my kids. This past Christmas my dad wrote a huge paragraph on a Christmas card he sent my boys. He clearly called my husband and me “The Anti-Christ” to my little guys. It was at that moment we made an agreement that all correspondence we receive from them would be returned right away without a response. However, at that time hubby decided to send dad a quick note regarding our decision. My oldest boy, who’s nine, wrote him an angry short letter wishing my dad a crappy Christmas. I didn’t tell my son to send him anything and I wasn’t going to send his letter to my dad, but I felt that I was undermining his feelings if I didn’t do so.

    Victoria, my apologies in not contacting you sooner. I haven’t been on many blogs much in a really long time and I don’t even remember the last time I checked my yahoo account. I tried to log on a couple of months ago, but I couldn’t. Spam was out of control on that account and I quit using it many months ago. Ruth’s post about hell had me really reflect upon some things in my own life. I’m also looking for a secular therapist. The closest one Recovering from Religion has found for me is at least a three hour drive away. If I were to go, I might get back in time to be home when the kids get out of school, but that’s only if traffic is great and my session is short. Any therapist I have looked up on my own uses words like christian, religious and spiritual in their bios. All these terms annoy me and I want nothing to do with any mental health professional who dabbles in or lives out any of that.

    Liked by 6 people

      • I”m still fighting for peace.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Love the video Charity. Powerful.

        Like

        • Hey Victoria,

          I don’t see much of myself in the young girl until after she’s out of the cage then turns around to go back into it. Her actions in the first half remind me of one of my six younger sisters, B. B always questioned and fought dad. She fought to be her own person even though he always made fun of her and other kids bullied her. She has had contact with our folks on and off throughout her life, but it is ALWAYS under her conditions, ESPECIALLY regarding her three kids. I remember a conversation dad and I had about her when I was in my late twenties. He told me that B and I were a lot alike, but unlike her I knew when to keep my mouth shut. GAG!

          When the little dancer returns to the cage in the video I see myself. I cringe when I see her surrendering to Shia. She does so by responding to his desperation, walking back into an oppressive situation and throws her legs over his shoulders. She’s no longer fighting him, she’s trying to relate to him, understand him and take him with her when she gets out again. I’m sure others may see her trying to get him out of the cage as she leaves again. I tend to see a man trying to hold onto her and attempting to pull her back in again.

          What I wish parents would understand is this….our children are not our saviors. I’m not saying that they should never help us, they should. However, it is not their purpose in life to save us, it’s our purpose to help them with everything in us and to teach them how to be their own savior. I am always there for my boys. I constantly surrounded them in love. There are those times when I have to teach them things that I’m not fond of, but I would much rather work through my embarrassment than watch them end up in something that could be a very shameful experience for them.

          The whole “anti christ” comment just confirmed that my parents will never be the parents of any fantasy that I ever had of them to be. NEVER. It showed me that they have always had at least a little amount of hate towards me in their hearts. That’s what fueled their insults, self righteousness, self pity, ridiculous amounts of spankings and the constant plague of head lice and roaches for many years in the homes where my sisters and I grew up. I saw a bit of this when I heard that mom called B mentioned above a “whore” for being pregnant. This was in the late 1990s and she was 20 years old. She had a quick courthouse wedding and moved out that very day. The next day dad took out the trash (being damn nosy) and found a pregnancy test. She never asked them for anything and was taking full responsibility for her actions. They didn’t give a shit about her, they only cared about their damn reputations. That’s how we find out how we really feel about our kids, by what comes out of our mouths when our backs are against the wall.

          Liked by 4 people

          • it’s our purpose to help them with everything in us and to teach them how to be their own savior.” – YES!

            When my second daughter became pregnant near the end of her Senior year of High School, there was never a word of recrimination, nor has there ever been. I was there for the birth, and in fact, cut the umbilical cord and was the first to hold the little shit, who has become my favorite person in all the world.

            Like

          • Oh Charity, your interpretation of the video was powerful. After I saw this video right after its release, I had my own interpretation but also wanted to find out what the actual interpretation was by the artist. She said it that the little girl was representing the inner child in the man — his self states. The cage was representative of his skull — having inner turmoil — where he would beat himself up then love himself. In many ways, I can see myself in that video too when I was a Christian trying to “work out my own salvation” while “dying to myself”. Trying to live up to unrealistic standards and denying my humanness. It was representative of the “spirit warring with the flesh”.

            You wrote: “What I wish parents would understand is this….our children are not our saviors. ”

            Yes — and many parents need to realize that their child are not “poison containers” wither. On the website “Empathic Parenting”, they posted an excerpt from a psychoanalyst: He writes:

            “There are two main psychological mechanisms that operate in all cases of child assault_physical, sexual or psychological. They involve using the child as what I have termed a poison container, a receptacle into which one can project disowned parts of one’s psyche, so that one can manipulate and control these feelings in another body without danger to one’s self. Psychoanalysts since Klein have termed this primitive projection process “projective identification,” but the term is so unwieldy that I have begun to use the word “injection” instead, following the image of injecting poison with a syringe.

            You wrote: “The whole “anti christ” comment just confirmed that my parents will never be the parents of any fantasy that I ever had of them to be. NEVER. It showed me that they have always had at least a little amount of hate towards me in their hearts. That’s what fueled their insults, self righteousness, self pity, ridiculous amounts of spankings and the constant plague of head lice and roaches for many years in the homes where my sisters and I grew up.”

            DeMause states::

            “Likewise, the “reversal reaction” is familiar to students of battering parents. Children only exist to satisfy parental needs, and it is always the failure of the child-as-parent to give love which triggers the actual battering.

            As one battering mother put it: “I have never felt loved all my life. When the baby was born, I thought he would love me. When he cried, it meant he didn’t love me. So I hit him.”… The baby is expected to cleanse the mother of her depression, fears and anger and be her poison container.

            Parents who use their children as poison containers are actually addicted to them, since they solve so many of their intrapsychic problems through manipulation of their children… In fact, the children are indulging the parents, who use the children as “comfort blankets,” poison containers into which they can inject their unhappiness, fear and anger.

            Using children as scapegoats to relieve personal internal conflict has proved an extremely effective way to maintain our collective psychological homeostasis.

            Ultimately, of course, the ending of child assault, like the ending of wars and depressions, will only come when each adult has experienced enough love in their family of origin to make the use of children as poison containers unnecessary.

            You wrote: “However, it is not their purpose in life to save us, it’s our purpose to help them with everything in us and to teach them how to be their own savior.”

            deMause continues:

            “Truly empathic love for children in the sense of wanting them to grow up as independent individuals is actually a late historical acquisition.”

            http://archive.empathicparenting.org/poison.html

            Charity, while I can absolutely see why you felt like your parents held a little hatred towards you. It seems to me that what they were doing was projecting how they felt about themselves onto you. Self-hatred.

            I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through, and thank you for sharing so personally. (((hug))) ❤

            I think it is so important for people to realize that the messages we find in the bible (that there is no good thing in us) can have a profoundly negative impact on the human psyche, and especially when this message is being told to children. These adverse childhood experiences leaves life-long scars — and according to extensive studies done by the Center for Disease Control and more than 50 published scientific articles, these adverse experiences can lead to disease, disabilities, health-risk behavior, mental illness,social, emotional and cognitive impairment, and early death in adulthood.

            Like

    • Powerful story, Charity – stay strong!

      Like

    • Charity,

      Thanks for sharing. I’m very sorry to hear about how you suffered at the hands of your parents. It’s great that you went beyond just extraicating yourself from the situation; you came to see the error of their very faith. Props for the processing work you’ve already done.

      About the counseling, maybe you can find someone to do it remotely with you, say via phone or video chat (e.g. Skype)? That way distance wouldn’t have to be a factor. Just a thought.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. I’m sorry to hear you had to deal with all that. And calling you “the antichrist” in a Christmas card to your kids?! Bullshit.

      I also was never taught about sex by my parents. I hate the church’s view of sexuality and the shame they induce in others for expressions of love.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Charity, good to see here.
      Stay strong good friend.
      It’s disheartening the negative effect religion has had on so many. I hope you get the help you need

      Liked by 2 people

    • Wow is right — as I noted in a previous comment, it’s wonderful to see you here and what a surprise. I’m glad you have taken time away from the blogs and especially concerning painful subjects such as this one. I wished that we all didn’t have to bring awareness about it, but if we don’t who well? Certainly not the Christian community. As noted in the OP, thousands of Christian churches and organizations sided with MacAurthur and Grace Community, but where were the voices of Christian churches and organizations who saw the injustice and inhumanity of these biblical teachings? Why did they not rally in the thousands and support the Nally’s? If they did, I’m not aware of it and I did search.

      Charity, my jaw dropped to the desk when I read what your father wrote in that card. That is such a betrayal, and you have tried to make peace with your parents a number of times, though, IMO, they’ve crossed boundaries way too many times. My heart aches when I think about what you’ve been through. 😦

      You are so right with regard to the conservative teachings about sex. I remember going to women’s meetings where we were told that shouldn’t get our partners too turned on. Huh? It was a duty as a wife, but they discouraged you being your partner’s lover. In other words, lay in bed on your back, spread your legs, let him hump you, and as often as he wants — whether you feel like it or not, — and remember, God is in your marriage bed. He is a jealous god.

      I know exactly what you mean by not being able to find a secular therapist — especially if you are living in the bible belt. It’s near impossible. I like ratamacue’s suggestion that maybe you could seek therapy via Skype.

      Thank you so much for reading my post and sharing your very personal and painful history. I think of you so often, my friend. You will always hold a special place in my heart.

      Like

  18. Ah, Victoria, you know you always open my eyes to a world that, so far touch wood, doesn’t actually touch mine. Your comments, your posts and your links are so insightful. You are, of course, superwoman in disguise for researching all this. But I know that 🙂 I admire you for righting a fair post, with relevant links and quotations for something so close to your heart, when most of us would be inclined to write,’Bastards. Look what they did.’

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Charity … “stay sweet”???? Are you talking about the same Arch that the rest of us know?

    Liked by 4 people

  20. I had no idea you had been a victim of this. Thank you for writing about it, and exposing the crap that is sold in the name of faith. MacArthur especially sells a highly toxic guilt-trip-gospel where not only are people told they are sinful, but they are taught that they are deserving of Hell and that God even chose people’s destinies (that means all who end up in Hell are there because God chose it for them). The psychological toll beliefs like this must take on a person must be high.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TA, thanks so much for taking the time to read my post and for your comments. It is unfortunate that MacArthur isn’t the only one who sells this highly toxic guilt-trip gospel. It’s as clear as can be in the Bible. Our righteousness is as filthy rags…”the heart is more deceitful than all else —and is desperately sick… the path to heaven is narrow, and the majority are going to hell. The majority of Christians I’ve had discourse have a Calvinistic POV.

      Praise the lard.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, the Calvinist view is in vogue. I actually think it is a pathway out of the faith. Many of the deconverts I know were Calvinists before leaving the faith. I think it’s a tough view to hold with all the cognitive dissonance. John Piper is probably the worst of the Reformed bunch.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, I agree on all points. Had I remained a moderate or liberal Christian, I doubt I would be where I am now, which no religion can measure up to. The place I stand now came at a great cost, and the journey took place on an intensively rocky path, but the results were that I found authentic peace of mind, a wealth of knowledge, a genuine love for humanity and the planet I call home, and I finally became comfortable in my own skin.

          Liked by 1 person

          • It’s always encouraging to meet those who have walked this road before me (I only deconverted about 3 1/2 months ago). Felt like an instant transformation for me. I think a lot of us build up cognitive dissonance and then when we reach the tipping point, all of those skeptical thoughts finally find their voice. I also love my newfound view on life, even though it’s a difficult journey especially when starting out. I hope to find increasing stability as time goes on.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Oh wow TA. I had no idea your deconversion was only three and a half months ago. I’ve been a deconvertee for 10 years now, and it’s not been easy (especially living in the bible belt). Studies show that the majority of Christians (in America) see unbelievers as untrustworthy with the moral character of a rapist. However, like you, experiencing that newfound view of life more than makes up for it. If you get a chance watch that video I posted below. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

              • I will check it out. 🙂 I’m thankful I live in California, the capital of unreligious people. But still in my social circles I can only think of one or two RL people who identify as atheists. But I haven’t looked for them either. lol

                Liked by 1 person

            • (I only deconverted about 3 1/2 months ago)” – Wow, you’re a newbie!fy

              “I think a lot of us build up cognitive dissonance” – note “Tom Paine” on Colorstorm’s site. He’s attempting to justify, to you, the Bible’s inaccuracies and inconsistencies by saying “you have to read it right.”

              You say there are problems with the Bible. I think the problems reside with us. You say there are contradictions in the Bible. I think the contradictions are just something we are too lazy or too prideful to resolve.

              I translate that to mean, warp and twist until the cognitive dissonance is gone.

              Liked by 1 person

          • “finally became comfortable in my own skin.”

            I’m still working on this one, but now there’s hope.

            Like

  21. What an amazing and wonderful bunch of people! Thank you all for sharing all of this, I had no idea that the various things you’ve talked about were so prevalent. A very long time ago I thought about what I would do if I left my faith. I knew even back then that I wouldn’t go to another version of the same thing, maybe start my own religion. Well, I didn’t do that, but close. I certainly understand much better now why people have left Christianity and all gods entirely. The agnostic may not care if there’s a god or not, but somewhere, I think, his/her definition of what a god is is still colored by the common culture.

    Stay strong! We are star stuff!

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Tears. Thanks for this. I’m going to leave a link on my recent post back to this post. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are most certainly welcome, my dear friend. You inspired me to write this post. Zoe, even though I don’t always think you see what many of us see in you — you are one of the strongest people I’ve ever met, and what you’ve shared has help a lot of people find validation and healing from their own religious trauma. Thank you for adding a link on your recent post. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Thank you for this. Have you heard of “nouthetic counselling “?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Margaret. Happy to see you again. Yes, it’s pretty much the foundational principles for biblical counseling.

      “Nouthetic counseling (Greek: noutheteo, to admonish) is a form of pastoral counseling that holds that counselling should be based solely upon the Bible and focused upon Christ. It repudiates mainstream psychology and psychiatry as humanistic, radically secular and fundamentally opposed to Christianity. Its viewpoint was originally articulated by Jay E. Adams, in Competent to Counsel (1970) and further books, and has led to the formation of a number of organizations and seminary courses promoting it” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouthetic_counseling

      Adams is the founder of the modern biblical counseling movement.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. My experience with being counselled for depression when I was a Christian was in redemption group, from what I have read about nouthetic counselling this is what was used. I felt forced to share things I did not want to share. This was the beginning point of my deconversion. So much pain and feelings of shame all done in the name of Christ.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “So much pain and feelings of shame all done in the name of Christ.”

      I’m so sorry Margaret. Yes — they are experts on inducing shame in the name of Christ. That’s exactly what they did to my late husband just hours before he pulled the trigger.

      (((hug))) Thank you for having the courage to share so personally. I hope you are doing well.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Thanks for asking Victoria, good and bad days, have a good counsellor who is teaching me to turn the negative messages I tell myself into what are true messages about who I am. I loved your comment to Zoe and completely agree

    “You are most certainly welcome, my dear friend. You inspired me to write this post. Zoe, even though I don’t always think you see what many of us see in you — you are one of the strongest people I’ve ever met, and what you’ve shared has help a lot of people find validation and healing from their own religious trauma. Thank you for adding a link on your recent post.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad to read that you have found a good counselor, Margaret. I remember the first time I heard my internal dialogs, which came about after I experienced an interhemispheric intrusion.

      A lot of meditators experience this — an awareness of their internal dialogs, though I was not an experienced meditator. I was under a lot of stress at the time, questioning my faith. I was stunned at the negative input — basically recordings of negative thinking that had been indoctrinated in me as a Christian and playing unconsciously over and over as though on replay, which continued to reinforce neural pathways/networks. Sometimes it can take years to atrophy those networks.

      Liked by 2 people

  26. I would like to suggest that everyone consider reading today’s entry by “Kuba” on her “Knowledge Guild,” entitled, “Intelligence, Liberalism and Atheism”.

    Like

    • In fact, I would strongly recommend subscribing to it – Tish has (as well as IB) – you can learn all kinds of fascinating things! Show of hands – how many knew that kangaroos (the female ones at least) have three vaginas? Nobody?

      Like

      • Why am I not surprised that of all the things you’ve learned on her site, you highlight the number of vaginas a female kangaroo has.

        Here’s one for ya. A female spotted hyena with an erect penis.

        No, they are not hermaphrodites and yes, the females have impressive phallic erections.

        Now where were we?

        Like

        • Surely they’re not fully-functioning, otherwise why call them a “pseudopenis”? But then I suppose they could get a couple of lady hyenas through a sleep-over —

          Like

          • Like it’s mentioned, they are not hermaphrodites. From one of my posts on my other blog.

            Consequently, since we are so imbued with desire to be recognized and need to receive feedback, then nature overly emphasizes that ability in us. Just as an elk can grow its antlers to excess and create a “fitness cost” due to decreased mobility, so too the peacock and other species can get too much of a good thing. So can humans, as well. As a Nature article reports, this overly equipping with ability is even found in dinosaurs. Guanlong Wucaii, a fossil from China, sports a disk appendage rising from its snout. That “would have surely hampered the beast in its quest for food.” Yet this sacrifice most likely evolved because it made the dinosaur more dominant. [ Scientists dig up T. rex Precursor, AFP/AP/Taipei Times, February 9, 2006]

            A more extreme case is the female hyena. This is the most dominant of female mammals in existence. Yet its fake phallus birthing channel causes harm and death to both mother and cubs often. Nature emphasizes acknowledgment through dominance even at the expense of health! Such feedback from being recognized in a positive way controls us. For example, isolated children regularly have brain atrophy as their brains decay from a lack of feedback. Dopamine from dominance often reigns supreme. And nature accentuates its quest for complexity by overly equipping existing abilities and thus forming new ones as a result.

            Religion seems to be just one more heightened behavior.

            Furthermore, how ironic is it that we humans view other species’ adaptations as being strange yet we regard our own behavior as normal?! Still, people often regard foreign religions as being strange, yet not their own. The truth is, religious/superstitious behavior is simply one more odd adaptation like the elk’s antlers, or how a female hyena is more male than her male counterparts are. Yet all these adaptations allow for more dopamine through feeling dominant.

            http://neuroresearchproject.com/2012/06/26/the-three-rs-religion-recognition-reward/

            Like

  27. Oops – left off a quotation mark!

    Like

  28. Hi Victoria – I read this the other day, and I finally found the strength to click the “Like” button, but only in the hopes that it will help it show up more in people’s wordpress reader and spread the information of awful things like this that are still around. Thank you so much for posting this.

    I was kind of hoping to click a “Nauseated” button instead of “Like” because this stuff just gets my blood boiling a bit too much. It makes me very sad thinking about what happened to your late husband, as well as others like him and Kenneth Nally.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Yo, NeurO (my “Rocky” imitation) – go back to Knowledge Guild and post a response the clown, “thinkingliketheancients” – por favor —

    Like

  30. It’s taken me a while to leave a comment here. I read this when you first posted it. I’ve come back and hit the “like” button, though I really don’t like it at all.

    The subject of this post is so very important. People need to understand that not only is the Biblical counsel bad, the admonition to “just read the Bible” and pray away the sin in your life is bad advice for someone who is suffering from the very real physical condition of depression. It’s not helpful. At. All.

    When I was going through depression, I received Biblical counsel that it was because of sin in my life. I was also admonished to read my Bible and pray. If you are in a state of depression and are told that you are sinful it magnifies it a thousand times over. Every passage you read, every sermon you hear, intensifies your filthiness, your shame. It led me to a very dark place that I never care to go to again. I considered that the best thing for me might be that I were dead rather than to continue to live a life where your very thoughts make you sinful.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ruth, thank you for coming back over here and leaving a comment. I find myself apologizing for seeming so negative but as you stated, the subject is so very important and YES, people need to understand that not only is biblical counseling bad, it can be deadly.

      I remember when I was experiencing depression, and it wasn’t attributed to losing my partner — as this was years later. It was attribute to biblical counseling and hearing over and over how sinful humanity is. The results of this inhumane indoctrination was that I lost the will to live. I felt like a complete and utter failure.

      “Every passage you read, every sermon you hear, intensifies your filthiness, your shame.”

      Exactly!

      Like

  31. Bruce Gerencser published this excellent post today.

    Beware of Christian Counselors
    http://brucegerencser.net/2015/02/beware-christian-counselors/

    Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for 25 years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. He left the ministry in 2004 and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

    My thanks to ratamacue for bringing the post to my attention.

    Like

  32. Excerpt from Bruce’s post:

    “I know some pastors will be offended by what I am about to say next, but I need to be clear: Most Evangelical pastors are unqualified to counsel people. They lack the necessary training to competently counsel people and their commitment to the Bible keeps them from being able to help people. It’s one thing if a person has a question about the Bible or is questioning their faith. Certainly, they should seek out their pastor’s counsel on spiritual matters. However, many so-called “spiritual” problems are mental/physical/emotional problems dressed up in religious garb. An untrained pastor has no business counseling people who have mental/physical/emotional problems.

    Sadly, many people think that pastors are experts on everything. Little do they know that many pastors aren’t even an expert on the Bible let alone anything else. Many Evangelical colleges have turned their pastor-training program into a business and marketing program. Actual training in the fundamentals of the ministry and the Bible are often quite limited. Many pastors-in-training will graduate from college without ever studying most of the books of the Bible. (and OT or NT survey classes don’t count) Many Evangelical pastors-in-training only take one or two of counseling classes. Yet, because the pastor has taken a counseling class, he thinks he is qualified to be a counselor. He may not be a counselor but he did stay at a Holiday Inn. Smile I know several pastors who got counseling degrees from Christian mail order diploma mills. They proudly let everyone know that they have a degree in counseling and are qualified to counsel all comers.

    Over the years, I counseled hundreds of people. Not one time did I tell a person that they needed to see a medical professional or a psychologist.”

    Read more

    Like

  33. Just wanted to thank you for the mention of my book. The harm that is being done to evangelical mentally ill and abused individuals is really something the church needs to seriously address. Best wishes to you, John Weaver.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi John, thank you for taking the time to read this post and to leave a comment. I would especially like to thank you for writing your book. I concur — this is really something the church needs to seriously address.

      Best wishes to you, as well. 🙂

      Victoria

      Like

  34. This is a fantastic post. I hadn’t heard of this form of “counseling” but in high school I had a Christian friend with mental health issues whose mother refused to take him to see a professional. Upon questioning, she told me she was “praying” for her son and would keep praying about it, but didn’t thing professional psychological treatment would be helpful. That attitude really scared me, but to hear that there’s a whole movement of “counseling” that’s this harmful is even worse. I hope this is exposed for what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Love this post, which brings to light a very important issue that no one ever discusses. I spent 13 years working as a psychiatric nurse in a major, well-known hospital, so I understand what secular counseling is like. It has it’s benefits and limitations, but thankfully is not the horror of bible-based counseling.

    In this past year I decided to go to a catholic counselor after my son was diagnosed with autism. They told me my son was disabled because of hidden sin in my life. They told me if I had more faith, god would heal him. They told me he might be demon possessed and need an exorcism. This counseling was one of the major events that lead to my deconversion. It’s also one of the reasons I can never, ever see religion as harmless.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Pingback: How the “Good News” Nearly Killed Me | Victoria Neür☼N☮☂eṧ

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