A recent reply to a discussion sparked by one of my posts goes this way:
<blockquote>My opinion is not important and neither is anyone else’s. God’s opinion is all that matters. That is my entire view on all matters of religion. I appreciate much of what you had to say and I wish there was a way that I could agree with you, but I can’t. I don’t dare doubt God and His word in any way. To me that is denying God to suggest things are other than He has simply spelled out in His word. I should probably apologize for asking what bible someone is reading from, but I get frustrated at times when I see the simple message of God’s word ignored so much of the time.</blockquote>
This reply assumes:
(1) you know God’s opinion perfectly (because it is so simple and so simply laid out), and
(2) that God’s opinion is obvious, and
(3) you (and your sect) are the only ones who have discovered God’s opinion, and
(4) only willfully ignorant people would ignore what you (and your sect) have discovered.
When I was in the hard line Churches of Christ we were taught to say these things. Hard line Church of Christ people launch into the same diatribe when they are asked what their sect believes on a specific topic: “It’s not MY church, it’s GOD’s church. I don’t own the church.” To the which people should reply: “Everybody knows that, Mr. Rude Church of Christ Person, but I’m still not convinced you are even IN God’s church. So what does YOUR church, that may or may not be part of GOD’s church, believe on this topic?”
Respectful people assume that we are all intelligent seekers of God’s will. Respectful people already understand that most people think they are right on most topics and in alignment with God’s opinion, otherwise they would have changed their opinions already. This is an example of how the Churches of Christ take every opportunity to keep outsiders out.
But why would anyone be attracted to this kind of rudeness and arrogance? Why would anyone convert to the hard line Churches of Christ when approached in this astoundingly insulting way? I believe the reason is fairly simple: Because those potential converts are familiar with being treated that way. The only people attracted to this kind of religion are those who find the rudeness and abuse normal. As children they were probably spoken to in shaming double binds, and they have not examined those shaming double binds enough to recognize them and be aware of how manipulative they are. Instead they find shaming double binds mysteriously exciting and challenging, a tantalizing reminder of childhood attention. Those who are converted to the hard line Churches of Christ are those who are still looking for more scraps of love and attention from someone who reminds them of their shaming parents.
An example of a shaming double bind occurs whenever an outsider asks a religious question of someone from the hard line Church of Christ. The hard line Church of Christ person responds with a superiority jab (no matter how respectfully the outsider has asked the question): “It’s not our church. It’s God’s church. ” “It’s not my opinion that counts. It’s the Lord’s opinion that matters.” “Why do you ask me what my opinion is? It’s what the Bible says that counts.”
I grew up in a church plant. My father was a missionary and established a church in a big city. The converts for the first seven years were all adult children of alcoholic parents. When I started reading about alcoholic families, I realized those converts were used to the shaming and threats of the hard line Church of Christ. And it dawned on me that my family I grew up in was eerily similar to an alcoholic family–the only difference was we had hard line Church of Christ as our addiction instead of alcohol.
So the traits of the adult child of an alcoholic:
4. Dependence on others for decisions
5. Fear of rejection
6. Hide the real self and real emotions
7. Play the role of a competent person
9. Loyal to people and organizations that are not worthy of loyalty
are also the traits of members of the hard line Church of Christ.