Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hello. I'm glad you're here.

This blog is a resource for those who have been bruised by legalism, spiritual abuse and Christian patriarchy, and are finding their way to freedom and healing.

If you have been burned by Christian fundamentalism, you may feel disillusioned. The foundations of your whole belief system may be crumbling.

You might feel like you want nothing to do with any form of organised religion again.

You might feel like you do not want to give up on Jesus and the Bible - but surely, surely, he is not really like the "teachers of the law" say he is?

You might be in a state of mind where you feel 'allergic' to the Bible. Or can't listen to what used to be your favourite worship music. What you're going through is not unusual. It could be you are experiencing a form of PTSD and these things are triggering you.

You may be in a place in which your hurt and yearning for freedom is leading you to question the doctrines you have been taught, but there is still a part of you wondering, "Is it me? Maybe I do have an 'independent spirit'. Maybe I am rebellious. Perhaps I am a 'Jezebel'."

Wherever you are at, you are welcome here. This is a safe place. You can say what you really think, how you really feel. I am posting anonymously, and you can too, if you wish. You can share, or not share, your story and gain encouragement and validation from others.

Thousands of people in the USA are fleeing the doctrine of 'Biblical Patriarchy' being widely taught in parts of the country. This doctrine has filtered through to Australia and New Zealand and impacted churches here. There are a host of sites in the USA popping up to support those exiting extreme doctrines there. This blog is particularly (but not exclusively) for people Down Under, in Australia and New Zealand, who have been affected by the far-reaching effects of the various forms of this doctrine.

When I am ready, I'll share my story. When you are ready, you can, too.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Samuel S. Martin has written an excellent resource for Christians seeking a soundly biblical basis for parenting without corporal discipline. The free e-book is available here, thanks to Samuel's generosity. Please consider donating to Samuel's on-going work which is ministering grace and mercy to many families. (He has no idea about that last bit :) )

Click here:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Do you sometimes feel inundated with doctrine and teachings upholding male headship and refusing to address the need for gender balance and equality in Christianity?

I stumbled across this post on Facebook this week. I am impressed! Who are these folk? (Wade and Rachelle Burleson).

Have a read and see what you think:

Male Sex Mobs Targeting Women Is the End Result of Not Knowing God

Men and women are God's image-bearers and both genders must be seen, treated and respected as equal representatives of the character of God. 

Some Christian men often see themselves as leading their families and churches like they view God leads the universe. These men see Christian women as 'helpers,' given to them by God so that the women can follow the man's authoritative reign. Sadly, this emphasis on male god-like authority has placed Christian women in a similar status to that of Islamic women. 

Therefore, men, when you seek to dominate a woman (or vice-versa), you are rebelling against God. When you use a woman as an object to fulfill your sexual desire--rather than as a person of equal personhood with whom you enter into covenant--then you break covenant with God. Whatever a man does to or against a woman, he does to or against his God.

MSN reported this morning that in the country of Egypt "...male sex mobs are targeting women because men have no fear of being caught."

Let me write a better headline that applies to the world: "Male sex mobs are targeting women because men have no fear of God when it comes to His image in women."

Men mistreat women because they don't know their God; that's true in Egypt, and that's true in America-even in our churches. I am hopeful that my five-week December series will give to Christians at Emmanuel the proper view of God and give us strength to take action when women are treated as if they are servants to men instead of image-bearers of God.

And check out some of the comments!

I'm appalled at the lack of outrage Christians express at the treatment of women worldwide. I suspect that the feminine attributes of God will be marginalized and minimized. How can one respect the feminine attributes of God while disrespecting females? The logical outcome (in view of the wide-spread "headship/authority" beliefs today is to maximize God's masculine and minimize the feminine. If that doesn't work, go with the God (boss) Jesus (servant) aspect of the trinity. If that doesn't work.... let's try the Sarah/Abraham "lord" verse. After that....

Cynical? You bet! We have "male mobs" targeting women in our churches and they attack her sexuality; they attack her psychologically, and her sense of value and worth. She is battered with scripture until she recognizes her "place" and passively learns to feign contentment as is expected of her.

Again, I'm appalled at the lack of outrage expressed among believers at the treatment of women everywhere.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

From silencing women to women finding their voice

The message of the patriarchy movement to women boils down to "don't feel, don't think, don't talk" ... which ultimately leads to don't be. You lose your authentic self and nothing must interfere with your programming as you fulfil your roles and rules like you're meant to.

This article, "The Problem with Men Explaining Things" (about "mansplaining") gives some background to the self-doubt and self-silencing many women struggle with - even women like the author, brought up with affirmation and encouragement to validate her own thoughts and perspective and to assert her own voice confidently.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunities for Women Worldwide

A thoughtful article from Christians for Biblical Equality:

A Disturbing Question
Ken Fong is senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles and author of several books. This article was featured on God's Politics ( and is used with permission.

"At the urging of one of EBCLA's deacons, I began reading NY Times bestseller Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunities for Women Worldwide. Co-authored by NY Times reporters Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (who are married to each other), it's an eye-popping revelation of how believing that girls and women are inferior to men is causing them to disappear from the face of the earth.

The ratios of male newborns to female newborns around the world is always pretty darn close to being 50/50. So why is it, when governments and agencies count the number of males and females in the world later, that there are consistently fewer females than males? I mean, we're talking significantly fewer females than males and yet, according to an old Chinese proverb, women hold up "half the sky." Girls and women are somehow disappearing off the face of the planet.

In far too many places there are all kinds of customs, religious beliefs, and prejudices that revolve around some form of the belief that women are not as valuable as men. When a poor family in Asia discovers that one of their sons is ill, there's a great likelihood that the parent will take him to see a doctor. If one of their daughters is ill, the parents are hugely reluctant to spend time and money to take her to the doctor. Same goes for food: sons are typically fed better and more food than daughters. Or if the family is destitute, the parents are far more likely to sell their daughter to a shady character than one of their sons. Maternal mortality (dying while trying to deliver a baby) is another injustice that claims the life of one mother every minute. Being trafficked as a prostitute in a neighboring country. Being denied the same education that boys are given. Being kidnapped and then raped so that she is no longer a virgin and 'unfit' for any other male in the village. Then the kidnapper/rapist has the gall to approach her father and ask for her hand in marriage! "Honor killings" are committed by the girls' own brothers in an effort to "regain" the families' honor if it's found out that she is no longer a virgin. Or, like in some parts of India, if a young woman spurns the advances of a male suitor, oftentimes he will surprise her later and throw acid in her face, horribly disfiguring and often blinding her. In the countries where these "honor" acts of violence and evil toward women occur, the male culprits are rarely if ever arrested and then prosecuted. "She had it coming, you know." It's enough to make you blow a gasket, especially if, like me, you are committed to loving and honoring girls and women.

Through the CARE organization, the United Nations, and a growing "Half the Sky" movement around the globe, girls and women are being empowered to speak up and speak out, to insist that they are as valuable as any male. We heard numerous stories of even young girls who, when given access to education and protected from the perils associated with being born female in their societies, learned the laws of their countries, brought charges against the male perpetrators, and even eventually were the catalysts for shifting their culture's paradigms toward girls and women. It was truly inspirational to 'meet' some of these valiant heroes who couldn't, in many cases, restore their own virginity or dignity, but pursued this as their Heroes' Journey on behalf of all other girls and women in their countries.

I came home with a disturbing question and a determined conviction.

The Disturbing Question: When some Christian groups interpret the Bible as teaching that God created women to live in a male-ruled hierarchy, that they must obediently submit to male 'heads' or risk violating a divine mandate, aren't they also contributing to the oppression of girls and women? I left the theater no longer satisfied with just saying, "different strokes for different folks." Even if the point is made that the Bible teaches that women are of equal value before God, if a person's being a female automatically and always means that she is overtly or subtly denied equal opportunities to learn, to lead, to teach, etc., that is oppressing her in the name of God.

The Determined Conviction: As a male whom the current Christian and societal system favors, I must take even more seriously God's challenge to steward properly whatever power I've been given simply because I am male. Rather than use it to "rule over" those who start with less power, I am more determined than ever to use it to open doors that are now closed, to provide opportunities to grow as leaders and thinkers and preachers. I've been doing this for years, but now, more than ever, I will not simply enjoy my male privileges but use them to bless girls and women who today may not have access to those same privileges."

Monday, April 5, 2010

This is from the book, "Families Where Grace is in Place" by Jeff VanVonderen, who also wrote The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.

This book was a blessing and beacon to us during a dark time, and helped us believe that we *could* find our way out of legalism.

I hope it encourages you, too.

Please don't use this list as a way to beat yourself up or guilt-trip. You now how we shamed ones have a tendency to do this.

Notice every little new improvement and growth and increased relaxation - and celebrate it. Celebrate YOU.

When you unwrap gravecloths, you do it gently, to care for the precious person inside, who is just coming alive.

Yes, you want to lose the gravecloths. You don't need them anymore.

But you ARE that precious person, and life abundantly is undeservedly yours.

Characteristics of a shame-oriented system:

1.Out-Loud Shaming:
The message communicated is: “Something is wrong with you”; “You are defective”; “You don’t measure up”; “Why can’t you be like…” Not only, "You've done something wrong but even "You ARE something wrong."

The focus is on doing certain good behaviors and avoiding others as a means of earning love, gaining acceptance, acquiring approval, or proving value. Failure to perform results in shame.

3.Unspoken Rules:
Behavior is governed by rules or standards that are seldom, if ever, spoken out loud. In fact, sometimes the only way they are discovered is when they are broken. There is a “can’t talk about it” rule in effect- which means no one is supposed to notice or mention problems; and if you speak out about a problem, you are the problem. This forces people to keep quiet. There is also a “can’t-win” rule in effect. For instance, children are taught never to lie; they are also told to never tell their honest opinion because "It's rude." No matter how hard you try to keep these contradictory rules, you always fail to perform. And failure to perform results in shame. These rules tend to govern future relationships, unless they are realized and broken on purpose.

4.Communicating Through “Coding”:
Talking about feelings or needs leaves you feeling ashamed for being so “selfish”. Talking about problems breaks the “can’t talk about it” rule and gets you shamed for being the problem. Therefore, family members learn to say things in code, or they send messages to each other indirectly through other people.

Family members are taught to turn to things and people other than God’s acceptance as the measure of their value and identity. The measuring stick becomes: how things look; what people think; religious behavior; acquiring possessions.

6.Putting Kids Through A Hard time:
Kids are involved in the messy and imperfect process of finding out about life. But the family cares most about how things look and what people think. Therefore, just being a kid becomes a shaming thing. Children must learn to act like miniature adults in order to avoid shame.

7.Preoccupation With Fault And Blame:
Since there is such a focus on performance in this family, lack of performance must be tracked down and eradicated. Fault and blame are the order of the day. The purpose of the question, “Who is responsible?” is to find out who to blame. That way the culprit can be shamed, humiliated, and made to feel so bad that he won’t do the behavior again.

8.Strong On “Head Skills”:
Family members become experts at defending themselves. Blaming, rationalizing, minimizing, and denial are just some of the ways people try to push away the shame message - in vain.

9.Weak On “Heart Skills”:
“Can’t feel” is another rule governing this system. Feelings are wrong, selfish or unnecessary. People in shame-based families don’t know how they feel or how to respond to their feelings. These are emotionally reactive places.

10.Needy People:
Because love and acceptance was earned on the basis of behavior, but never received apart from performance, shame-based families are characterized by member who are empty on the inside, full-looking on the outside.

Grace-Filled Families

Ten characteristics of grace-filled relationships:

1.Out-Loud Affirming (Vs. Out-Loud Shaming):
In grace-filled families, members are told they are loved and accepted, capable, valuable and supported out loud. Phrases like “I love you,” “You are so capable,” “I’m here for you when you need me,” “I’m glad God put you in our family,” “I’m glad you’re a boy/girl,” “I feel good when I’m with you,” and using a person’s name when speaking to him are just some of the out-loud ways to affirm people.

2.People-Oriented (Vs. Performance-Oriented):
We all need an environment where we feel our needs are met because of who we are and not because of what we do. In grace-filled families, love and acceptance does not fluctuate depending on how people act. People are affirmed for being who they are. In shame-based families, behavior is the most important thing. Who you are comes in last.

3.Out-Loud Rules And Expectations (Vs. Unspoken Rules):
In a grace-filled family, rules are there to serve people; people are not there to serve the rules. In order for rules to serve the family most effectively, everyone needs to know what the rules are.

4.Communication Is Clear And Straight (Vs. Coding):
Coding isn’t helpful for anyone. Children are great observers but terrible interpreters. People receiving your messages should not have to decode them. When you want to send a message decode it first yourself, and then send it straight. Don’t triangle, do not get in the middle of other people’s relationships and run messages.

5.God Is The Source (Vs. Idolatry):
God is our Source. He is our need-meeter, our vindicator, our defender, the one who has the last word on our value and acceptance. We are not valuable and acceptable because of how much money we make, the clothes we wear, our church attendance or because we have been faithful in our giving.

6.Children Are Enjoyed (Vs. Giving The Kids A Hard Time):
In grace-filled families it’s okay for them to act like kids. Normal, healthy kids are “messy” about this business of growing up.

7.Responsibility And Accountability (Vs. Fault And Blame):
Fault and blame are used in shame-based families to punish children for their lack of performance. They become tools in the process of trying to control the behavior of others.

8.“Head Skills” Are Used For Learning (Vs. “Head Skills” Used For Defending:
In grace-filled families, thinking is for the purpose of learning. In shame-based families it is used to defend, to blame, to make excuses and to get out of being responsible. In shame-based families, the question “Why did you do that?” is a trap. There is no answer that is acceptable. Whatever you say will be analyzed and criticized. In grace-filled families people are pre-approved, and the question “Why did you do that?” is just a simple inquiry to understand the reason why something was done.

9.Feelings Are Valid And Useful (Vs. Weak On “Heart Skills”):
Feelings are not right or wrong, they simple exist. The choices we make in response to our feelings determine good or bad, right or wrong results of our feelings-that is, whether they are helpful or damaging. Grace-filled families recognize the feelings and expression of emotions as opportunities for family members to connect with one another.

10.It’s Okay For Outsides To Match Insides (Vs. Empty People Learning To Act Full):
In grace-filled families, what is real is more important than how things look. Life is seen with a process perspective rather than an event perspective. This means that people don’t have to react, or attempt to “cure” behavior forever. Because God is involved, you don’t have to panic: The story is not over, even if it doesn’t look good right now. Unacceptable behaviors are about poor choices, not about our value and acceptance as people. Grace-filled family members don’t have to fix one another in order to fix themselves.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Depression .... is it me?

Depression after exiting an oppressive relationship or religious group is very common. No, it's not you, it is a wide-spread reaction after finally disentangling yourself from something that was unhealthy to your soul and spirit.

You expect to feel better now that you've gotten out. But you actually feel like crap. You even wonder if maybe 'they' were right all along, and it's YOU that is flawed.

In spiritually abusive groups, depression is often dismissed as a sign of a bad attitude or lack of faith or commitment.

But depression is not a sign of "rebellion" or "sin" or "failure to submit". Depression can be due to repressed rage that is a normal reaction to the violation of the natural boundaries of body, soul or spirit - designed to be a warning to take action to ensure personal safety. Repressing the anger (because nice, good, people-pleasing, submissive people don't "get angry", they must "keep sweet") can lead to depression. The hopelessness that "submitting more" is the only permitted response to oppression, and that any resistance whatsoever is "rebellion" can also lead to depression. Demonising depression, and castigating those who suffer it, plus using "forgiveness" to invalidate the suffering of those who are suffering abuse, and to gloss over and conceal the continuing abuses of those who abuse their power/authority, is deplorable.

Sometimes depression is defined as "anger turned inward". That would certainly be true where boundary violations and suppressed expression are concerned. Sometimes it is as a result of burn-out. Exhaustion from being forced to bear a too-heavy load exacerbates depression.

Sometimes it is tied in with the anti-climax that comes with adjusting to 'normal' life after years of the constant adrenalin rush that comes with living a driven life of performance-orientation and works-based/appearance-based religion. Being released from the constant pressure and fear of negative repercussions for non-performance or non-comliance can be a strange let down. Kind of like a post-sugar crash of coming down off a high. Depression is part of healing from relationship addiction and religion addiction as well as substance addiction.

Depression, and anger & outrage, are part of the healing process. Step by step, you will get there. After years of repressing, denying, camouflaging, censuring and censoring your feelings, to work with them, acknowledging them and accepting them, might not come easy. A counselor who understands the dynamics of recovering from spiritual abuse may be a useful source of support.