Happy Un-Mother’s Day

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Wouldn’t it be great if everyone who had a Narcissistic mother woke up one day and realised that they had been kidnapped as a baby and this wasn’t their real mother. Somewhere out there was a woman who had actually given birth to you and loved and cared for you. Who hasn’t had the fantasy as a child that you were adopted?

Scripture is very clear about how normal mothers feel about their newborn babies.

26 Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!”

But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.

27 So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother

(1 Kings 3:26,27)

Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.

(Isaiah 49:15)

Even jackals offer the breast, They nurse their young; But the daughter of my people has become cruel Like ostriches in the wilderness.

(Lamentations 4:3)

As one whom his mother comforts,
So I will comfort you;
And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

(Isaiah 66:13)

But even in some of these verses, you can see the dichotomy.  Sometimes, a mother will forget her child. Sometimes our mother will forsake us, sometimes a mother is cruel, sometimes a mother will kidnap another child as her own and deprive the child and the other mother of that sacred bond which both nurtures and maintains life.

Yet, when our mothers do forsake us, we are promised in scripture that God will take us up.  So we are not abandoned, and not forsaken.

When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me (Psalm 27:10)

Disney’s character of ‘mother Gothel’ in the animation ‘Tangled’ is about as close as it gets to a perfect portrayal of maternal narcissism.  This woman is only interested in one thing, maintaining her youth.  She steals, lies, destroys families, and does this systematically and continually until such time as her victim, Rapunzel, ‘wakes up’ and recognises that she has been had.

Interesting that it takes an intruder into her very small world to open up her mind to the possibilities which lie outside.  She wants to know what the lights in the sky on her birthday are for, her rescuer, Flynn, just wants the valuable crown.  Both the anti-hero  and the villain of the piece are deeply selfish.  In the movie, Flynn ends up ‘falling in love’ and then changing his ways (which never happens), but Gothel does not change. She was a narcissistic witch, she remains so at the end when she of course dies. For that is the only way you can get rid of somebody like this, fictionally speaking.  Unless you want a sequel.  In real life, you have to cut off the predator/villain from your life, because they have targeted you and will not stop until they have destroyed you.  It is your destruction which gives them ‘life’.

In this movie Gothel has no supernatural powers in and of herself. The character is ‘human’ and must therefore manipulate Rapunzel to stay in the tower by fear and deceit.  I was totally amazed at how the creators of Gothel described their villain.

Seeking inspiration for Gothel and Rapunzel’s “bizarre” relationship, Greno and Howard conducted a series of interviews with several female Disney employees,[2] asking them to list qualities in their mothers that “they found annoying and cloying or restricting”,[7] specifically “the things that their [sic] mothers would do that made them feel trapped or made them feel smothered” in order to make the villain appear more relatable.[6] Gothel’s “Mother Knows Best” line “Getting kind of chubby” was in fact borrowed from one of these interviews.[8] Gothel embodies “the darker side” of overprotective parents;[7] at the beginning of the film, Gothel and Rapunzel’s relationship resembles more-so of “a pure mother-daughter relationship.” Elaborating on Gothel’s “unique mothering style”, Howard explained to Den of Geek that the character “has to convince this smart girl that she is her mother … whatever her motivations are.”[3] Citing Gothel as one of the film’s most difficult characters to develop as a result of her complex relationship with Rapunzel, Greno explained to Den of Geek:[3]

“Mother Gothel can’t be mean. She has to be very passive-aggressive. She was one of the hardest characters to crack. When we were developing her, people were saying that she doesn’t feel enough like a villain, and people would point to characters like Ursula. And then she was too dark for a while … Because what you do with her directly affects how you play Rapunzel in the movie. Because, if you play an extremely dominant and cruel villain, that girl is going to become meek and downtrodden, with almost nothing of a person, with low self-esteem. And we knew we didn’t want a character like that … We had to balance it out, and figured that Gothel has to be more subtle than that, rather than a one-note, domineering mother.”— Co-director Nathan Greno to Den of Geek.

Mother Gothel – Wikipedia

 

Clearly the creators of this character weren’t setting out to create a narcissist. At no point in their lengthy description of the development of this character did they mention the word ‘narcissist’.  They wanted evil, but they didn’t want anything overt.  They wanted her to be charming and convincing, but at the same time manipulative and underhanded.  What they got however, was a narcissist. Whether they wanted to or not, and anyone with a narcissist mother will watch this movie with a mixture of amusement and discomfort.  It is a superb characterisation and the women whom the directors interviewed clearly had narcissistic mothers themselves without realising it. They got to share their experiences with the movie makers and lo and behold, Disney nailed it.
So, as Mother’s Day looms, how do Christian adults cope with God’s command to ‘honour your mother and father’.  This is the first commandment with a promise, and therefore we feel obliged, if not compelled to honour those who gave birth to us. There is an element of fear which attends the thought that if we don’t obey God in this, we will suffer.
Let’s think about this for a second though.
When a child is born, the first instinct is to reach out for comfort and help.  If that comfort does not come in the form of human contact and affection, it has been recorded that a child, even though it is being fed, will not survive.  So we look to our mothers to give us that nurture.  As a mother of three, I can say without reservation that you give your child what they need and recognise the terrible weight of responsibility caring for that little tiny scrap of life is.  You don’t have to be told to do it, you are literally losing sleep over it.  It is normal and natural for mothers to love and nurture and protect their children.  It is normal and natural for children to love and cling to and wish to please their mothers.
So why did God have to command the Israelites to honour their father and mother? There would have been rebellious children in their midst who refused to obey their parents.  If this commandment is the first to reward obedience with long life, it is my belief that rebellious children and teenagers will inevitably shorten their lives by doing stupid things, not listening to their mothers when they tell them how to stay safe, and consequently will probably die of a preventable cause because of foolishness.
That said, looking after widows in both the old and New Testaments is considered to be a responsibility of the children and/or families of the widow. Jesus also chastised the Pharisees whose traditions contravened the law God had given them.
He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; [a] and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’[b] But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—   (Matthew 15:3-5)
This seems to be in relation to finances.  Much has been said on this subject of caring for widows and orphans, or in this case, even the fathers who are too old to work for themselves. Where the widow has no family, it is the responsibility of the church.
Parents are not only given a huge responsibility, but so are families.  We are to love and care for those who cannot care for themselves.  Dare I say that this responsibility should also be a natural outgrowth of the Christian whose life is now in Christ?  John talks a great deal about the love of the brethren being an indicator of having the love and life of God within us.  Why would we abandon our parents if we were true believers?  We would not.  This is the very reason we have these dilemmas.  For believers who have the revelation that their parents, or more pertinently their mothers are narcissists, abusers who refuse to change and sinners who refuse to repent there is the added responsibility of bringing them to the understanding that it is not acceptable to keep abusing their own families.
We are not commanded to honour the unrighteous, and we are commanded to relate to God ‘in truth’. Therefore, where as adults we are able to recognise and confront evil, we must do so even if it be in our own parents.
The world wants to pretend that evil mothers don’t exist.  There seems to be only one place where you will find solace if you have a narcissistic mother and that is on the internet.  Here, people can share their stories without being attacked because there are so many other adults who grew up with narcissistic mothers.
Even the creators of the classic narcissist ‘Gothel’, don’t name her as such. They think she has good qualities.  The woman who voiced this character, Donna Murphy, says…

“I also think there is this thread of a kind of love that she does have for Rapunzel. It’s not what she set out. But she does raise this child and it’s the most intimate and certainly the most sustained relationship I think the woman has had in her 387 years or however old she might be. So as deep as the need is to get something for herself, she can’t help but fall in love with her. She’s spirited, creative, and charming and I think that stirs something in her that is confusing for Gothel. And Gothel has to keep reminding herself of what is most important, which is taking care of herself. But I think there is a genuine kind of humanity. It’s by degree, it’s not unconditional love but there is a love that develops.”

— Donna Murphy to Collider
Murphy claims Gothel is in love with the child.  In fact, Gothel is in love with Rapunzel’s hair, not the person who owns the hair.  She talks to the hair, she is affectionate to the hair.  To the girl, she is abusive, rude, hurtful and sadistic.  There IS no relationship with Rapunzel.  I think Murphy wants, as many others do, to believe that everyone is redeemable.  Scripturally this is not true.  While it is true that God does not wish any to perish,  scripture also makes it clear that not everyone will inherit the kingdom of God.
Gothel is an example of those mothers who think that they are beyond reproach, and that their needs come before anyone else’s.  She is not just selfish, she is self-absorbed. She is in love with herself, and not the girl she is raising.  This is a good example of the warped sense of ‘motherhood’ that the world has.  The world thinks that motherhood and fatherhood magically confer upon human beings a ‘goodness’ which is not natural. Only God is without sin, only God’s fatherhood is perfect, and human beings are not capable of being truly godly parents.  Goodness is only possible if we have been born again of the Spirit of God and have changed natures.
.11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him.  (Matthew 7:11)

Jesus was referring to the fact that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  We are evil in our natures, but we know the difference between good and evil and know how to give good gifts to our children.  Even the so called ‘good’ parent can bless their own child despite the fact that in comparison to God they are evil.  It is strange that a truly evil parent, such as a narcissist, also is able to give good gifts to their children.  It is this very understanding of what is good and evil which indicts them. It is why we as children don’t run from their evil the first chance we get.  We are groomed to question ourselves first, because ‘mothers are good aren’t they?’  Therefore it must be us as children who have done something wrong in order for our parents to treat us this way.

It is important for Christian adults with Narcissistic mothers to recognise that they have always honoured their mothers.  It is the mothers who have dishonoured them.  This means that we don’t just send our unrepentant mothers gifts and cards to tell them how much we love them.  What we need to do this mothers day is recognise that these people are evil.  That as adults we do not owe them anything, especially if these mothers claim to be Christians as many of them do.  We do not owe a wicked reprobate parent any gifts or protestations of love and acceptance.  In love, we need to confront them with their evil and help them recognise that we are no longer willing to remain passive victims. If they refuse to stop abusing and indulging their own fleshly natures, they must be treated as any reprobate.

If we truly did not honour our parents, we would not be asking the question “how do we honour our abusive parents?”.  This question proves that we do not wish to disobey God, nor do we wish to dishonour our parents.  We do not have, or at least I hope we don’t, rebellious dishonourable hearts.

It is time for the world to recognise that human beings are not born ‘good’.  Babies are born innocent of blame because they have not committed any sins yet.  But as they age and get to the point of understanding right from wrong, you will see that they choose wrong just as many times as they choose right.  Humans who are taught morals will still make their own decisions to go their own way, rather than the way of right and truth.

Narcissists are simply those who love evil and themselves more than they love good.  They need to recognise their sins and repent of them.  Until they do, we are not able to ‘honour them’ as our mothers, because in fact they are evil reprobates.  Yes, they gave birth to us, and we tried very hard to please them because we loved them as our mothers.  Coming to the understanding that our mothers don’t actually love us is very disturbing.  But it does not mean we have to pretend, or accept the worldly attitude towards mothers.  The world says mothers can do no wrong because they will always love their children.  The world believes motherhood is somehow sacred and must not be touched.  Yet how much of this mother worship is in effect ‘goddess worship’ of the form that takes place in the Catholic church, which took the goddess worship from pagan cultures and conflated it with the virgin Mary and the baby Jesus.  Mothers are not goddesses who cannot be confronted with their own sin.

God says ‘when my mother and father forsake me’, not if.  God knows the depravity of human nature and does not impose false measures and weights upon us.  He is just, righteous and all-seeing.

Thank God that He is able to deal with these women. We do not have the ability to judge and deal with them. All we are called to do is recognise the sin and call them to salvation and repentance.  If they refuse, then we follow the scriptural directions for the unrepentant.  “From such turn away”.

It is not dishonouring parents to chastise them and deal with their actions.  It IS honouring parents to show them the error of their ways, and ensure that they know that you will not deal with their abuse any longer.

 

Further reading:

Luke 173 Ministries “Is God Really Telling Us To Honor Abusive Parents?”

 

 

 

 

 

Soul Abortion – The Devastating Effects of Malignant Narcissism on Children

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The other day I wrote an article on invalidation and how churches invalidate their congregations, other churches and critics. It is abuse because it is usually carried out by those in authority in the church. In this case, it is a perceived authority, it is certainly not a godly authority. God does not give leaders in order that they ‘lord it over’ their congregation. (Matthew 20:25-28, 1 Peter 5:3, 2 Corinthians 5:24). Jesus told us that church leaders in order to be great had to be servants. They are there simply to serve, not to direct the lives of others. If people question them, the response should be the same as those ready to defend their faith at all times (1 Peter 3:15). But often those who have taken illegitimate authority are highly combative and will attack any who question them or in some cases simply ignore them.

Invalidation is an attack on the personhood, the identity, the integrity of an individual. It is appalling to think that a pastor who is purporting to minister to God’s own people would treat them with any level of contempt. We lived in a Christian cult for about 15 years and were exposed to invalidation from pastors and from other members of the cult. The core of this kind of behaviour is hatred of the brethren (1 John 2:9-11). John tells us that if we have no love for the brethren, our fellow believers, then we lack the very basis of our salvation, the love of God. If God’s love does not reside in us, His Spirit does not reside in us and there is no proof that we are born again. Yes, we are saved by faith, but faith without works is dead. So the move to destroy both individuals who support you and individuals who criticise you is that of an unsaved religious person with no understanding of the offence their very behaviour is to God himself.

We realised very quickly after our exit from the cult that our families of origin were the blueprint for our lives. Because we were raised in narcissistic environments, we did not recognise narcissism in others, we saw it as perfectly normal. While we saw the abusive behaviour and registered it at some level, we didn’t entirely understand that this behavior was not just unchristian, it was inhumane. We had been trained from birth to accept hatred as love, to embrace abuse as acceptable and to believe invalidation.

Malignant narcissists (meaning they don’t just have a narcissistic personality disorder but their narcissism is predatory, sadistic and pre-meditated) are everywhere and can be both pastors and parents. A parent with MN visits literal hell upon their families and spouses. They invalidate as a means of keeping tight control on people in their close vicinity. I believe that malignant narcissists hate their families more than they do others. Their lives are an inversion of what human beings normally associate with intimate relationships. Those closest to them suffer their contempt and degradation, while comparative strangers are treated well, at least at first. Their hatred of their families comes from the knowledge that these people know them intimately, have lived with them from birth and have witnessed their lives and have the power therefore to expose them to others.

I will never forget my own MN mother’s response when I went to get some counseling from a pastor’s wife after suffering from intense crippling panic attacks. I had initially asked my mother for help, but her response was to invalidate the experience and laugh at me as though this was all just a minor inconvenience. I became desperate, and believing my problem was a spiritual one (which it was in the end) I went for help from another more mature Christian. My mother’s response when she found out was explosive. I was literally hauled off to her bedroom by my ear (I was 19) where she hissed at me that she could not believe that I was ‘airing our dirty laundry’ to a complete stranger.

Now I think about it, this was my mother exposing her own abuse. She knew deep down that she had been treating me with contempt, she did not know what I had told the counselor (I had actually mentioned nothing about my mother at all) and she immediately assumed that I was ratting on her. Why would she assume this? Dare I say that it was her guilty conscience? This makes her actions even more contemptuous and sadistic. Not only was I abused to the point of having panic attacks, I was then attacked for looking for help. I did not know what was wrong with me, I didn’t find out until I was in my 40s. Yet my mother assumed I had full understanding of what she had done, because my mother had full understanding of what she was doing, and lived in fear of exposure. Her attempts to silence me were met with confusion from me, and in the end she calmed down when I told her that I had a ‘spiritual problem’ and was looking for an answer from a spiritual advisor. She realised I was not gunning for her, but looking for answers since I didn’t really know what the problem was.

I have termed the effect of malignant narcissism on children a ‘soul abortion’ in the sense that MN parents attempt to destroy their children’s soul before it is fully formed. Probably most of the population would think that this would be impossible, an oxymoron. Parents love their children. If your parents’ loved you, then rejoice. But anyone reading this would probably have been searching for information regarding malignant narcissism and has either married or been parented by a MN. People with this kind of experience don’t have to be told, once the light goes on, that their experience was real. They have lived it. My favourite verse in the Old Testament is verse 10 from Psalm 27.

When my mother and father forsake me the Lord will take me up”

David’s family were not exactly loving and nurturing. When he took supplies to his elder brothers in the Israelite army their response was to attack and demean him. I love his response “what have I done now?”. It is very revealing. It means that he was being victimised by his brothers on a regular basis. Likewise, Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers who then told his parents he was dead!! These families were hardly the ideal Christian example. Yet the men who were ‘taken up’ by God became mighty kings and wise leaders, men after God’s own heart. I wonder if these young guys weren’t attacked simply because they were favoured. David was anointed king as a teenager, Joseph was given the coat of many colours by his mother, I mean there must have been some serious jealousy that the youngest in the family gets the honour that should by rights be due to the elder. It seems that in the Bible, this concept of the elder serving the younger, or the elder being marked out as wicked and the younger chosen by God is exemplified quite often. Even fairy tales will often tell the story of the youngest son or daughter rather than the eldest.

So, abusive families are nothing new. The thing to remember with both David and Joseph is that while they were abused, it did not stop them from becoming all that God wanted for them. They had to leave their families first it seems, in some cases cutting them off for over 20 years, but it was the families in the end who had to deal with their own wickedness in the face of God’s evident favour towards the victim of the abuse.

I would like to say that this happens all the time for Christians from abused families. But the damage is very real, and it takes a lot for Christians from these backgrounds to be able to first of all recognise the abuse, and secondly to come to terms with it.

God has dealt with us as a family and is still dealing. 12 years after leaving the cult, we are finally on the path God wanted us to be on all along, and which we left. He did not abandon us, but He allowed us to suffer the consequence of our own disobedience. Yes, he understood the reasons why we left the path, which were due to a kind of a Stockholm syndrome effect if you like. Becoming a Christian doesn’t automatically mean that the lifetime of behavioural oddities you accrue after leaving your abusive family don’t still affect you. But at least we have the wisdom now to recognise aberrant behaviour and cut it off at the root before it can flower and cause more damage.

Church Hierachy and Invalidation

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Invalidation can come in many forms.

You can be ignored or you can become enmeshed.  You can be attacked or you can be minimised. Whichever way you are invalidated it is always abuse.  It is abuse because you are being told that you do not matter, that your opinion, your personhood has no import, no impact on the people around you, that you are in effect invisible. You are being abused because the person abusing is the person with the influence and authority.  There is a power imbalance.  There is nothing more damaging to a human being than to be informed by the human beings they value the most that they are themselves value-less.  It creates a deep feeling of insignificance, powerlessness and depression.  Unfortunately, in churches, it also gives people the erroneous idea that God himself disapproves of them because the hierarchy disapproves of them.  This is the idea.  In the most abusive environments, the hierarchy stands in for God and therefore any communication with the congregation is purported to be from God himself.  If you buy into this idea you start to believe that the human being you support as pastor or elder is the conduit through which your relationship to God is realised.  Their acceptance becomes God’s acceptance, their disapproval becomes God’s disapproval.

Different church hierarchies tend to use different methods.

A patriarchal and authoritarian structure has more heavy handed methods of invalidating.  Generally they choose to invalidate the opposition without by isolating their group and any criticism from those within by abusing their members.  Women in general and wives in particular are seen as a threat in these structures.  They are a threat because the wives are far more perceptive than their husbands, and they have an intimate relationship with them.  They know all their dirty little secrets. So in order to control them women will be invalidated by being handed a gender role defined, they decree, by scripture.  Often these structures claim to be ‘the truth’ and they will therefore invalidate all other denominations as ‘other’, or in some cases ‘irrelevant’.  John Macarthur recently decreed anyone not reformed as ‘basically irrelevant’ and another reformed pastor added ‘and wrong’.  This kind of fascist approach to faith is not what we see in scripture.  The disciples knew the truth, they preached a true gospel and they condemned preachers of a false gospel, but they did not murder those who opposed them as Calvin did, or shut down genuine questioners in the church.  It seems all of Calvin’s children have a similar mindset to himself minus the bloodshed.  But this is just one denomination.  We have seen similar attitudes in other types of churches, notably those who embrace Latter Rain theology. But plenty of Baptist or even Pentecostal churches have this kind of heavy handed approach.  There are always of course the independent groups or minor cults. It seems to come down to the spirit behind the church itself rather than the denomination, but there certainly are some denominations which lend themselves to this attitude.

On the opposite end of the scale, the emerging seeker-sensitive church takes a different approach.  Their attitude to dissenters is just as self-righteous and just as invalidating but they are often much more subtle.  Rather than take on other Christians they are apt to take on ‘the world’ although how much change they are actually effecting with their political and social activism is yet to be ascertained. This is their stated aim.  They are not interested in being changed from within by Christ, they are more interested in changing things around them; in particular political or social problems such as poverty which they say is the responsibility of the church.  It is easy to see that their theology is skewed in this way in order to avoid actually being accountable to other believers and to God.  If they keep the focus on changing the world, they appear to be both engaged in the world and therefore powerful, and also ‘doing what Jesus did’ ie. feeding the poor. What they inevitably refuse to accept is that Jesus’ message was not ‘feed the poor’ it was ‘be saved from out of this perverse generation’. That has always been God’s message to His people and to the rest of the world.  He came to save our souls, not feed our bodies, although obviously He has also promised to feed us as a good Father and a good Shepherd.  For God though, relationship with Himself through His Son is the essence of His message.

In our experience the emerging approach to any opposition or even casual questioning is to either pretend you don’t exist or to embrace you in a warm fuzzy ‘we love you anyway’ conversation.  Here I should point out that others including ourselves have also experienced rudeness, rejection and shunning from individuals in the emerging church.  So they are not without their clumsy and immature attempts to avoid dealing with questioners.   The face they present to the world is a much more benevolent one.  They want to disarm  you and help you to understand that they are not about conflict, they are about peacemaking. So the conversation becomes moot and you are left hanging, wondering what just happened.  In effect, this is a form of enmeshment and gaslighting.  They convince you that you are the problem not them yet the genius behind their approach is that they maintain an almost hypnotic insistence that they are simply interested in embracing your views along with everyone else’s.  It is impossible to argue with somebody who refuses to recognise the differences between two opposing ideas. We are all the same, each person is valid, and in this apparently egalitarian theology what they are actually doing is invalidating everyone. Its like that statement ‘everybody’s special’ which essentially nullifies the meaning of special – that which embodies the idea of different, or out of the ordinary.  If you change the meaning of special so that it actually means ‘the same’, then the word has lost its specific meaning. Covertly changing the meaning of language has always been one of the methods that cults and or political movements have gained traction with their ideas.  It’s a classic bait and switch. It not only destabilises their followers, it confuses the enemy, and produces cognitive dissonance, an important ingredient in manipulating the masses.

In many ways, the emerging church theology as a whole is about enmeshment.  They wish to do away with opposition entirely. They don’t like to declaim their beliefs, they do not have a ‘theology’, there is no right and wrong and everyone’s ideas are valid. Or so they say.  In actual fact they are invalidating not just individuals but whole faith systems by homogenising all faiths into one.  There are no more boundaries there is just this apparently loving whole which revolves around….well they don’t like to define what it revolve around but often it is their Jesus, who in fact is not the biblical Jesus but a synthetic amalgamation of eastern and western mysticism which is embodied in an impotent, unilateral Jesus.  In fact, this Jesus is the forerunner to the Antichrist who will be worshipped by all religions.  If you buy into the emerging church anti-doctrine doctrines, you will inevitably lose any biblical perspective that you originally had.  The emerging church is actually a political tool of the movers and shakers of this world which uses the Marxist and Hegelian doctrines and methods of social and political change.  Hegel stated:

(the state)‘has the supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be a member of the State… for the right of the world spirit is above all special privileges (source)

This is a quote from the same source above which describes Hegelian philosophy.

The Hegelian dialectic is the framework for guiding our thoughts and actions into conflicts that lead us to a predetermined solution. If we do not understand how the Hegelian dialectic shapes our perceptions of the world, then we do not know how we are helping to implement the vision. When we remain locked into dialectical thinking, we cannot see out of the box.

Hegel’s dialectic is the tool which manipulates us into a frenzied circular pattern of thought and action. Every time we fight for or defend against an ideology we are playing a necessary role in Marx and Engels’ grand design to advance humanity into a dictatorship of the proletariat. The synthetic Hegelian solution to all these conflicts can’t be introduced unless we all take a side that will advance the agenda. The Marxist’s global agenda is moving along at breakneck speed. The only way to completely stop the privacy invasions, expanding domestic police powers, land grabs, insane wars against inanimate objects (and transient verbs), covert actions, and outright assaults on individual liberty, is to step outside the dialectic. This releases us from the limitations of controlled and guided thought.

The emerging church above anything is a political force being used by the powers that be to manipulate and control the Christian church.  We are being manipulated into taking a political stand when Jesus did not tell us to be political.  His kingdom is not of this world, and when He returns very soon to claim His own, He will not be making any political statements.  His is the power and the glory forever and ever amen.  Therefore, our eyes should be on the returning King and not on changing the world which needs must deteriorate.  We cannot stop the sinking ship.  We are urged to love our neighbours, to minister to our brothers and sisters, and to love our enemies.  We do not gain anything in God’s Kingdom by endorsing political manoeuvres by religious leaders or by fighting social battles to help feed the poor. Yet this is the agenda of the emerging church.  You don’t count unless you are poor and either unchurched or of a different religion.  People of this nature are, by definition, more virtuous and need greater recognition and help than any Western Christian.  Yet the very people who espouse this idea are western Christians.  What is this but invalidation on a mass, and political scale.

In essence, and this is an exceedingly ironic fact, the emerging church purports to be the antidote to the patriarchal and authoritarian church theology and methods of preceding ages.  The leaders present themselves as non-authoritarian yet wise. However they still lead megachurches as professional Christians.  Their target is the younger generation who have not yet been established in traditional theology and are still easily persuaded.  They convince even older Christians that the idea of an imposing and angry God who ‘murdered his son on the cross in an act of barbarism’ is not biblical, that God is in essence Father Christmas and does not want to punish anybody in an eternal hell.  They therefore, in order to uphold this ‘theology’ need to invalidate the historical and biblical Christ and remake Him into a clappy-happy loving peace-nik neo hippy who embraces everybody and does not impose any expectation upon his people.

In essence, the emerging church invalidates everyone who does not agree with their version of the truth.  This is the same problem any hierarchical system has, they just have different agendas.  While many hierarchical church systems preach the gospel, they present a straw man god who is the ‘angry god’ that emerging church leaders love to impune.

There you have two sides to the argument.  The dialect is complete and  you must choose which one you embrace.

As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.  Jesus Christ is neither a hippy nor a policeman, He is the Son of God, himself God and the creator of the universe, the saviour of all mankind who brings to us the gift of eternal life.  He neither condemns us nor tells us we don’t have to change, nor does he endorse socio-political ideologies.  He is not a change agent, He enables us to be born again.  He does not change our flesh, He makes us wholly new.  Neither approach is right, both approaches invalidate the individual, the theology of the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ and blaspheme Jesus himself and His cross.

God does not condone abuse, nor does He endorse false doctrine.  A false teacher is twice accursed and their end is destruction, and we are told not to even greet such a one.  It is starting to look as though the life of a genuinely born-again believer and son of God in this world is that of a weary but determined soldier fighting the final battle before the return of Jesus Christ.

My encouragement is to stand fast, hold your ground and resist the Devil and he will flee.  That is our battle, that is our calling.  Jesus is coming!  Hallelujah!

 

Christian Narcissists

Dolores-Umbridge-dolores-jane-umbridge-33436436-1024-768

Not a Christian, but looks a lot like one.

Narcissism is not what some people might think.

 

It is not self-absorption or even extreme selfishness.  It is a pathological lack of conscience, empathy, compassion, humility and reasonable self-image which revolves around actual talents and character.  It is about lying every time  you open y our mouth.  It is about thinking about your life as a fantasy of what you want to be and then believing it to be true. It is also about expecting others to believe it even when there is no empirical evidence to support that belief. Incredibly,  Narcissists seem to manage to convince others that what they think about themselves is true. They seem to be able to project an image and convey such confidence in that image that others are manipulated into believing it to be real.

Narcissists do not cope well with denial of their fantasies about themselves. Unfortunately, although they are toxic emotional vampires, they can be very charming and persuasive and make you believe that you are their very bestest best friend at first meeting.  They love bomb strangers and at the same time treat their old friends and relatives like dirt. Then they want to know why you are acting strangely around them. It’s because you are catching onto their behaviour and trying to fit it into the jigsaw puzzle of their lives.  The bits don’t match.  They won’t, they belong to a number of different jigsaws.  The one the narcissist is working on is different to the one  you see. They mess with your head and make you believe you are the one with the problem. So lacking in normal morality and working conscience are they that they can carry on like this with a huge smile on their face and be completely free of any shame, guilt or concern about their actions and their consequences. They are like six-year-olds playing a game and they get just as hostile when you don’t want to play any more.

Narcissists can turn from the cute six-year-old to the homicidal maniac at the drop of a hat.  You might think this is an overstatement, but there have been narcissists of my acquaintance who would easily kill somebody if they thought they would not be caught or that it wouldn’t harm their image.  Fortunately they usually stop short of this and just murder your soul instead.  Murdering somebody’s reputation or character is also a good substitute.  That takes time and effort however, so you would have to have upset the narcissist a lot for them to get to that point. On the other hand if the narcissist has a willing pack of servants, often called flying monkeys on the internet, especially family members, then they can get them to do the dirty work for them.

Narcissists have been known to destroy marriages, families, people’s sanity and their careers and to cause nervous breakdowns and suicide, but not so as anybody would notice.  They attack by stealth and its a campaign of attrition. Only the victim knows anything is wrong at first and afterwards, they still blame the victim when it is clearly the narcissist staring at you with the knife in their hand.

Some psychologists have made the suggestion that Narcissists become what they are because they were abused as children and have never grown up and have no real choice as to how they behave.  But the evidence belies this statement.  Anyone with any intimate knowledge of narcissism, especially if they have been raised by it, grown up with it or married it will know that narcissists are not just abused children.  They are extremely functional adults who know the difference between good and evil, and switch between the two depending on who they are talking to and whether or not there are witnesses.  I have seen children do this as well.  And these children were not abused, they were simply choosing to do the wrong thing to suit themselves, and then to cover it up by charming the person in authority, usually the parent.

I am not a psychologist, although I am an avid student of human behaviour. Having grown up around narcissism, and spent 15 years in a religious cult you have no choice but to deal with it.  It is a case of adapt or die.  You have to learn who your enemy is.  And this brings me to the point of my title.  Christian narcissists are liars.  They are first of all not Christians, because it is not possible to continually sin without conscience and be genuinely filled with the Holy Spirit.  Therefore if a narcissist claims to be saved and moreover is a member of local congregation I treat them with the utmost caution.  So called Christian Narcissists can run churches, preach from pulpits or sit on boards.  They can be married to the pastor or serve on the missionary committee, you will know when you have struck one because they continually leave you stunned with their rudeness and contempt. Should you try and deal with this person they will look and sound as though they are truly interested in helping you come to terms with your stupidity.  They are simply not able to recognise their own sin, and will wipe it off onto you because you are blaming them, the blameless, spotless lamb of God.  I heard an abusive former elder of the religious cult I went to actually say this.  He spent decades preaching a false gospel, abusing and bullying everyone he met yet when they finally kicked him out, and we went to him to ask him to be accountable for his actions, his whole demeanour was one of total innocence. Who me?  How could I be at fault?  Now scripture tells us that nobody is without sin and if anyone says he has no sin he is a liar.  This man had lied to us for a couple of decades and after having been kicked out of his own cult, he was still lying.   However, I once saw a picture of him up on his facebook page.  He had that typical narcissist smug grin.  It is the grin of a naughty child who is making you their co-conspirator.  It’s the ‘we all know I am naughty but you know you love me’ look that very small children are apt to get away with.  Its ugly and its an outright offence against the body of Christ and God himself.

Family Privilege

weird family

Parents who provide consistent affection, emotional and physical safety, boundaries, limits and expectations, opportunities, role modeling, belonging, safety, unconditional love and spiritual values foster the healthy development of Family Privilege. However, in spite of our rhetoric about the family values and the value of families, Family Privilege is largely invisible to children and young people who benefit from it. Like the wind, which is unseen but powerful, Family Privilege has a profound impact.

John Seita “Reclaiming Family Privilege” (https://www.questia.com/magazine/1P3-2942825771/reclaiming-family-privilege)

 

There seems to be an idea that regularly surfaces that people who are estranged need to ‘get over their past’, make or receive amends for things that have happened and get on with it. Sometimes people who have elected to estrange are perceived as being “ruthless, unkind, damaged, lacking in compassion, unwilling to forgive and forget –  unwilling to go the distance”.

What is regularly overlooked is that for some people who are estranged the problems didn’t necessarily start in childhood nor did they end there. Adults may be subject to ongoing toxic stress and trauma and just because they are older it doesn’t mean that it hurts any less.

Fiona McColl – E-stranged.com (http://e-stranged.com/blog/tag/family-estrangement/page/4/)

 

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.

(Psalm 27)

We have been reading and researching on and around this topic for the last dozen years but it wasn’t until I read John Seita’s quote above about family privilege on Fiona McColl’s  blog that I realised how profound this concept is. Those  who have healthy, or at the very least non-abusive, families do not even realise what privileges they have in the community.  And that is as it should be.  It is only abused children who sense deeply that they have been bereft of something important.  Those children who have no sense of belonging, although they may not have been able to identify it, will be able to recognise that belonging in healthy family dynamics around them.  It will resonate with them at a profound level and they will carry that pain with them to adulthood and beyond.

This is actually a good thing.  For when those children grow up, this ‘knowing’ will be the catalyst and motivator to seek out reasons for and answers to their deep seated distress.  If we don’t recognise what constitutes normal healthy and good family dynamics we will never understand why the dysfunctional and abusive doesn’t quite sit right. We know at a visceral level but until we know with our hearts and minds we will continue to pine for what is rightfully ours.

Unfortunately, it often does take many decades before adult children of dysfunctional families discover what is wrong.  They will have always thought it was them, but usually something will trigger an awakening in which they suddenly see themselves in a different light. Sometimes it will be through therapy, sometimes through their own research, sometimes it will take a traumatic event but they will start to see that their issues have a much broader landscape than they ever dared to imagine.

In the same way that family privilege is camouflaged to the members of that family, familial abuse is considered normal and the deep down shame and guilt that members carry is often mitigated by mentally and verbally excusing the abuse in some way both to yourself and outsiders. Should anyone else try and point it out, the members of the abusive family will defend their family dysfunction to the bitter end. “Nobody is perfect”, and “but at least they provided food on the table and a roof over our heads” or “they weren’t that bad” are some of the extenuations we tell ourselves. Yet these statements in themselves are evidence that there is a problem.  As we stated above, children in privileged families don’t need to excuse anything.

As Fiona McColl points out, for many who come from abusive families of origin there is an ongoing problem; not just in the way they cope with the abuse from their families but because they continue the pattern and cycle of abuse with significant others (spouses, partners, friends). Until this recognition hits and we seek out knowledge, support and help we will continue to see these isues as either insignficant or somehow our own fault.

In our case, it wasn’t until we left an abusive cult ‘church’ which we had attended for 15 years that we realised that the problems we faced in the cult were exactly the same problems we had faced growing up. It wasn’t until we woke up to what was going on in the cult and asked ourselves how it was that we allowed all of this to happen and thought it was normal that we looked at our lives as a whole and saw the patterns.

To those who ask, and it is a common question, how normal intelligent and otherwise sensible people manage to get themselves involved in cults I have this to say.  Read John Seir’s quote above.  It is hardly revelatory, these aspects of family have been recognised for centuries.  We all know why family is a good thing, they have your back, they are a safe place to fall, a place where you belong.  If you don’t have a safe place in  your family then where do you have it?  We have it in God.  Many will go to God for support, love, encouragement, a safe place.  And scripture is clear, ‘when my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will take me up’ (Psalm 27 v 10).  So we go to church.  A good church functions like a good family.  It provides everything that a fallen, broken family doesn’t.  And of course a privileged christian family in a privileged christian spiritual family or church is quite something to behold.  Here, and nowhere else, do we see the way family is supposed to exist, living in both the joy of physical closeness and oneness with God.

A cult is what happens when we see a ‘form of godliness’ (2Timothy 3) without the power.  A cult is a mile wide and an inch deep.  Their love is ‘love bombing’ it is not real.  Their closeness is based on fear and trauma bonding not freedom and their sense of belonging is based on secrecy and punishment not genuine acceptance.  For those who have come from abusive and dysfunctional families looking for the genuine article it is very easy to be deceived. They have had no experience of the real thing so they tend to move towards what they think is normal.  However their ‘normal’ is in fact dysfunction.

A cult doesn’t look like a cult on the outside, and its members, because they reside in a dysfunctional spiritual family, don’t recognise the abuse from the inside either. Nobody finds out about a cult until somebody who left talks about what went on.  In order to do that they fist have to wake up.  When they do they begin to hold the abusers accountable.  Then the fireworks begin.  It is the wilful, narcissistic malice of the cult leaders and their cronies which both drives and contains the group.  It isn’t until you fall foul of these wolves that you realise the kind of group you were in.  This is a place of deliberate deception.  If you wonder how anyone could stay in a cult, or join one, recognise if nothing else that deliberate deception is demonic in origin and keeps a strong hold on its victims.  Those who step into these groups do not choose to join cults, they desire to be accepted, loved and embraced.  They are looking for a place of belonging, and God’s family does provide that.  It is only when sin, the wickedness of the false shepherds and false Christians, gets a hold on a group that you end up with a cult.

It has been over ten years since we left the cult and embarked upon a life changing journey to examine ourselves, our families of origin, our own family dynamics, our marriage dynamics and our personal issues.  We have made every effort to align ourselves with not only God’s word on all of these things but to apportion responsibility where it actually resides and not heap everything upon our own heads. Not even God blames anyone for something they did not do. Amazingly though, Jesus took other peple’s sins against us to the cross as well as our own sins. He died for those abuses that others perpetrated against us. It is because of this that we can understand that becoming part of God’s household where He himself is the Father is taking us into totally unexplored territory. Our family privilege comes from being part of the body of Christ.  It is both an inherited privilege and one we learn through faith.  We don’t immediately recover from what we experienced in our biological family when we become born again, but knowing what happened and seeing the truth of how we were damaged can give us a new appreciation for the fatherhood of God and the ways of His household.

One of the biggest problems with Christians coming into the Kingdom of God and learning about how God’s family operates is that more often than we would like, the ones trying to teach us about Kingdom principles have themselves come from dysfunctional backgrounds and have not done the work needed to free themselves from their own unhealthy ways of relating. For example, when I was 19 and suffering from panic attacks I looked to other Christians to help me deal with it.  I had become a Christian myself at 13, but living in a household antagonistic to faith of any kind and not having any other support from Christians outside my family, I ended up backslidden and trying desperately to get my family’s approval thereby causing myself much grief through compromise.

So I went and talked to a Pastor’s wife I had met briefly through a friend of mine.  She herself had come from an abusive dysfunctional family and though I didn’t know it her own family were not coping either. Pastor’s kids I have known have generally ended up pretty screwed up. It seems leaders’ families get the brunt not only of the general family dysfunction but the dysfunction brought on by religious duties overriding family needs.  So, here was I, a total emotional mess due to my upbringing trying to get some much needed spiritual and familial support from a spiritual ‘mother’ but I ended up inheriting not only my own biological family issues but many of hers.

Not only was the pastor’s family something of a mess but they were not able to recognise that my own familial issues were similar to theirs.  We focused on things, good things, like baptism in water and in the Spirit and bible studies, getting involved in church and so on.  While these things helped me progress somewhat in my walk with God, they did not address the core issues which were causing my panic attacks.  It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I realised my panic attacks were a result of my upbringing and could not therefore be fixed with just prayer or bible study or memorising scriptures or going to church.  There needed to be a painful awakening to what was broken in my family and therefore in myself.  For however much parents want to blame their children for their children’s issues, there is no getting away from the fact that these children are the way they are because they were raised by their dysfunctional parents.

Any child, regardless of their innate personality is going to be affected by their family environment in profound and far-reaching ways.  These issues are generational to the extent that they remain unrecognised or unresolved but they can be changed and blocked from going any further.  This has been the intent in our family.  By recognising what had gone before it is much easier to address what is happening now, be accountable for how you have raised your family and make an effort to talk to your children, repent, ask for forgiveness and discuss what is happening.

Then you will be able to move from briar to myrtle, from the curse of sin to the blessings of God.  This alone is the privilege of the inheritance of the children of Abraham.

Anita Brady

 

 

 

No More Sucker Punches

jo.._peooooo Most would know what a sucker punch is but for clarity I will insert an excerpt from a website on self defence which describes it.

As the name implies, the sucker-punch, also known as the ‘king-hit’, relies on the attacker’s ability to dupe his victim into a false sense of security, lowering their fight-awareness. The practised thug will do this through engaging the victim’s mind with words or movement, meanwhile closing the distance and getting into a good striking position, to then deliver one — and only one — almighty punch. This punch is delivered with full speed and full power to do one thing and one thing only: knock out the victim. In such situations, there is no fight. There is only an ambush, brutality and violence. There is not a loser as such, only a victi

Source: (click to link) While the above paragraph is about physical punches, I want to talk about what happens when you get an emotional or psychological sucker punch. The pain is very similar I believe. I also am convinced that you can get sucker punched in the heart and gut and you can feel the effect of these in the midriff area around or just below the stomach, the same place that you get ‘gut feelings’. Many of us have carried these punches to our hearts all our lives. The result of this kind of emotional bruising is wide spread. Every kind of addiction and obsession can be traced, I believe, to the heart condition of mankind. A hardness of heart can ensure which creates angry hostile people and a world where kindness has become very uncommon. You can get all kinds of emotional sucker punches and they are exactly like the physical kind. You are taken unawares because you believe or trust in the person who attacks you. You have no idea that somebody actually is a ‘practised thug’ as they turn on the charm and convince you that they are the good guy. Alternately, a sucker punch can come from long time friends or trusted authority figures. Often sucker punches come from somebody who you have no reason to believe would betray or hurt you. As the old T.V. ad used to say ‘one punch can kill’. You can be sent flying by just one well placed hit to the heart, say the infidelity of a partner, that you had never suspected. Imagine if you will a life of sucker punches. Many of us have lived them. What happens to your heart and your soul? They become calloused and distrustful. Why should you trust the world when it has rained only continual cursing and hostility down upon you. This, I believe, is the situation in which many find themselves. I also believe that this is why so many have lamented the fact that the world has become increasingly devoid of courtesy and consideration for others. What a couple of generations ago would have been a world of comparable kindness of strangers is now a world where aggression and rudeness are the order of the day. I want to briefly mention here that there are in fact people who are deeply character disordered and actually enjoy giving sucker punches. Psychologists call them ‘malignant narcissists’ or ‘psychopaths’ and claim these ones are often the criminal types who get away with all kinds of rule breaking because they think the rules don’t apply to them. While this may be some kind of comfort to those who are not character disordered, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with them. And the punches to the heart do not heal any quicker simply by understanding that there are dangerous predatory types who are simply waiting for the unsuspecting to take their bait. Scripture tells us what is happening and in fact prophesied that this would happen two thousand years ago.

3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

(2 Timothy 3) While it is important to recognise what is going on in our world, it is far more important to know how to deal with the aching void within which results from trying to deal with the pain and shame of the sucker punch. For here is the problem. We are not only dealing with other people’s sin against us, we are dealing with the shame of being victims of other people’s sin. You would think that there is no shame in being a victim, but ask anyone who has been abused physically or sexually and they will tell you that they feel overwhelming shame. Human beings try anything and everything to fill the void. They fill their stomachs, they fill their minds and they fill their lives with activity. They empty their bank accounts, they empty their minds, they empty their lives of friends and family because their obsessive and self-destructive behaviour is too hard to live with. I have experienced this kind of shame. It is debilitating. But the flesh, which is temporal, will never be able to fill the void because as scripture tells us, the flesh is a bottomless pit of need. Solomon said it best.

The leech has two daughters— Give and Give! There are three things that are never satisfied, Four never say, “Enough!”: 16 The grave,[a] The barren womb, The earth that is not satisfied with water— And the fire never says, “Enough”

I would add that the flesh is never satisfied. If you make the flesh your master, it will drive you to hell. It will never be sated, it will never say ‘enough’, it will never leave you alone. Your only hope is to go to God. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the healer of the brokenhearted, as this is in fact the scriptural term for those who have been sucker-punched too many times. Your heart breaks, your spirit becomes sickened. Scripture also tells us that a man’s spirit bears him up in illness, but a broken spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14) It also says that the Lord is near to the broken hearted and those of a contrite spirit he will hear.(Psalm 34:18) While this verse focuses on repentance, I believe it is also true of those who have been the victims of other’s violence.

“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.”

(Psalm 147:3)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,[a] To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

(Luke 4:18) The sucker-punch is the hallmark of those who have lived in this world for any length of time. I don’t believe there is a human being alive who has not had one of these at some point. The biggest problem is for those of us who have had too many of them. You can become ‘punch drunk’, to continue the metaphor.

  1. Showing signs of brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head. Used especially of a boxer.
  2. Behaving in a bewildered,confused, or dazed manner

(Free Dictionary) There is only one thing to sober you up in this situation, and that is the truth, the life and the way. One person can heal you, give you peace, give you direction and protect you from further punches and that person is Jesus Christ. If you come to Him and seek comfort and help from the Saviour, you will no longer be a sucker, and the hits, though perhaps still surprising, will no longer be delivered to an unsuspecting victim. You will be a prayer warrior, a child of God, in His keeping and hedged around behind and before by God’s own hand.

With love,

Steve and Anita