When discussing child discipline from the pulpit, most pastor/preacher/reverend/priest types will quote the following bible verses:
“He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes” (Proverbs 13:24) and “Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell.” (Proverbs 23:13-14)
I believe most church-going folks are decent people trying to do the best they can while following the teachings of the bible. Personally, I am not religious. I am more a seeker of moral teachings than a spiritual, bible following Christian. I think the bible has many great teachings; my favorites are those that center around lovingkindness and compassion. I also believe when most folks read the above verses, the remember the others about compassion and lovingkindness, and practice both when disciplining their children.
This is not the case when your parent in already a tyrannical abuser. My mother not only used these bible verses as justification for beating my brother and me, she used them as an excuse to escalate those beatings and assuage herself of any feelings of remorse for doing so. It allowed her to focus her sights on us with more intensity than we ever could have imagined before.
This all started in 1980 when we switched churches from Lutheran to Non-denomination Christian. The new church is led by a pastor that believes in teaching the above verses often. I always dreaded those Sundays when he would bring them up.
During my Middle School and High School years, all youth-group kids were teamed up with a “counselor.” These were men and women usually 5-10 years older than ourselves that were available to talk about a variety of issues and guide us spiritually.
Whenever I met with a counselor and explained my home situation, I was told to obey my mother and pray that god would make me a better son. Otherwise, I got no help at all. The pastor of this church teaches Nouthetic Counseling, the belief that christians need to avoid psychologists and that all issues can be dealt with within the confines of the church and be based on the bible and focus on sin. The message that was given to me is that the beatings were the consequence of my sin, not that my mother was an out-of-control, psychotic, narcissistic, parent that routinely beat the shit out of her sons and messed with their heads, emasculating them, causing them life-long mental instability, C-PTSD, BPD, depression, and co-dependency issues.
For this reason, I hated the church for more years than I attended. This is a misguided blanket theological stance. I am sure it works most of the time… the other times, like mine, people in real need fall through the cracks. I always felt I was in a crack that was sealed over with wax, and was looking up at the world passing me by, ignoring me.
Now, the worst thing that could happen (and it did), was when a counselor would call my mom and tell her what I had said. I am sure he meant well. I’m sure he though that my mother and I would have an open dialogue about our relationship. But that is never what happened. You see, the worst thing that you can do to a narcissistic, paranoid, abuser is talk about them outside the confines of the abuse house. It fueled her with rage. The conspiracy had reached her children.
In these times, the beatings could last from hours to days. All hell-fire rained down on us and there was no way out. We were fucked.
The next time we would go to church, she would taunt us, “Oh, are you going to tell BOB how I beat you this morning?”
And I Did Not.