Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

When Abuse Begins

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We all know that the Bible is used to perpetuate abuse; abuse on women, abuse on children, and those who are deemed unbelievers.  It’s been used to justify slavery, bigotry, misogyny, and hate mongering of all manner. Whether or not the Bible actually teaches those behaviors (IMHO it does) or whether it’s twisted to justify them is, of course, an argument to itself.  Frankly, I don’t know how, other than deliberately choosing to ignore some of it’s contents one could argue that these teachings aren’t in there.  It’s a book rife with examples of each.  The Old Testament is filled with instances of spiritual and ethnic cleansing that rivals modern day genocide in the Sudan.

The Books of Exodus and Leviticus are replete with the refrain that if someone has some sort of deformity or disease they may not worship along side of others.  Even if you believe in the “One True God” if you are a woman or a non-Jew you have your own special section…not at the front.  This makes anyone, regardless of belief, who isn’t a Jewish male a second class citizen.

Enter Christianity and the theme is really no different.  If you are a well-to-do Christian male you are first-class.  Slaves, women, and children are still relegated to second-class status.  Women are to cover their heads, keep silent in the church and have no authority whatsoever.  If a slave gets beaten they’re not to complain, but take it like a good little Christian.  And what of this not speaking in Church thing for women?  They’re supposed to go home and ask their husband. What if their husband is a misogynist jackass who treats her like dirt, or worse, beats her?  Then what is she supposed to do?  Submit, likewise as a slave to his master.  That’s what.

Many people are abused and trampled on all because they’re supposed to be submissive like Jesus. Does this actually ever win over a “lost soul”?  Not really.  When you’re a doormat it’s hard to command any respect.  Submitting more doesn’t suddenly become the door to the heart of a sadist.  A soft word is supposed to turn away wrath.  In the heart of a normal person this is true.  In the heart of a wretched, angry, abusive person it becomes a license.

It begins and ends with respect; respect for the value of others regardless of their place in life.  When you’re taught that people are less-than due to some physical malady, sex, sexual orientation, where they happened to be born, who they happened to be born to, religious affiliation, or the color of their skin the cycle of abuse begins.  Abuse begins in the heart when the belief that you are better than another takes hold and you begin to buy your own press.

*edited because there’s a major difference between masochist and sadist and I’m just hoping you all read what I meant, not what I wrote. ::rolls eyes::  Thank you, Ahab!

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6 thoughts on “When Abuse Begins

  1. There was a time I would have disagreed with this post all the while attending a church that doesn't allow women in leadership roles. Now I agree. I think this illustrates the human origins of the Bible.

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  2. There was a time when I would have defended all of this to the hilt. I would have twisted the misogyny to be for the protection of women. Abuse I would have deemed a misappropriation of scripture. I would have said that slavery and the mistreatment of the ill and deformed were just legislation of practices already in place, along with divorce and polygamy. Looking at it now I see those things as entitlement for those with an upper hand.Lest I be accused of generalization I would like to point out that not all men are this way nor are all fundamentalist men this way.

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  3. Fundamentalist men who see these things as wrong still feel obligated to live by scripture. So while they may not lord their position over their wives they still feel it their duty to fulfill what scripture teaches about men being the head of the household and leading their families.

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  4. Great post. I especially liked the lines "A soft word is supposed to turn away wrath. In the heart of a normal person this is true. In the heart of a wretched, angry, abusive person it becomes a license."I would go even a step further and say that by the victim giving complete submission and having a doctrine to support it, an aggressor may become an abuser simply from a lack of rebuke. Do it once, do it twice, and soon it becomes a pattern of behavior without ever having an intent or normal inclination to become so wretched. It's a trap for those who seduced by absolute authority and have learned little self-restraint and reflection.As DoOrDoNot points out, and IMHO too, this is one of those indelible human fingerprints shining through the Biblical text.

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  5. Bravo. One of the things that disturbs me about the Abrahamic religions is the lack of any real intrinsic value for human beings. In the Bible, innocent people were killed for frivolous reasons, and many more were oppressed without recourse."Submitting more doesn't suddenly become the door to the heart of a masochist. A soft word is supposed to turn away wrath. In the heart of a normal person this is true. In the heart of a wretched, angry, abusive person it becomes a license."Bullseye. This whole ridiculous doctrine of submission basically means that some people are never held accountable for their actions.P.S. — Perhaps you meant "sadist" instead of "masochist"?

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  6. @TWF,Good point! The imbalance of power in the relationship creates an unhealthy atmosphere. Partners in a relationship should be on equal footing. I went for 20 years defending the notion that someone had to be the head and the others had to submit to that authority otherwise there would be constant arguments. Yeah, really.==============================================@Ahab, Hmmm…it's kind of contradictory, eh? Human beings are of so much importance that there was a human sacrifice and they are of more importance than any other forms of life, but among human life forms there are some who are more valuable than others, depending on religious and social standing. Yep, that's pretty much what this doctrine was designed to do. Men created these "rules" for that very purpose.

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