Sunday, August 15, 2010

Stolen Hearts

heartless: lacking courage or enthusiasm; spiritless; disheartened

No one starts out this way. It's the product of being beaten into submission, whether physically, mentally and emotionally, or spiritually. Some are strong enough to maintain their heart through the abuse. Others aren't. That doesn't mean one group is "better" than the other. People are different, and circumstances vary, and all of these variables factor in.

My ex and I broke up twice. Once before we were engaged, and most of you know about the second one. With both break-ups she said, "My heart just isn't in this." In both cases, I knew that wasn't true. Her heart was completely in us. After we had been restored together from the first break-up, she admitted to me that she had been beaten into emotional oblivion by her father, constantly hearing his objections to me, constantly hearing him belittle me, berating her to the point of tears many times. On the day of our first break-up, she said to me, "I just don't see any way this can work." I didn't understand it at all at the time, but what she was doing was falling into Learned Helplessness. The berating had turned her emotional clock back by years, rendering her a helpless child.

The same scenario played out when our relationship ended permanently. The growing, expanding, confident and vibrant woman she had been when with me just weeks earlier was rendered a scared, helpless, emotional adolescent. If I may be human for a moment, this makes me want to pound her father every which way but stupid. What a cruel and inhumane thing to do to a daughter, and I have little patience for any "good intentions" behind what he did.

Learned Helplessness results when the mind is conditioned to see a situation as "damned if you do, damned if you don't." In our situation, my ex was experiencing the hell her father was making her life, and would continue to make her life if she followed her heart (damned if you do), and knew that if she went along with her father she'd lose what her heart truly wanted (damned if you don't). Combine that with being indoctrinated her entire life to believe that her heart was evil and that she, as a woman, was created to be easily deceived, and these are powerful, crippling, downright paralyzing influences. When, in her eyes, nothing she could do would make any genuine difference, she gave up. She lost heart...all while attempting to console herself that she'd done right, being that her heart is evil. Works-based, false virtue had been stressed above and mistaken for character, and the fruit was made manifest in her life by crisis.

The patriocentric movement forcefully indoctrinates daughters to see their fathers as the man who "guards their heart." I can think of many words to describe this dynamic - silly, senseless, perpetual infancy, overkill, meddling, and many more, none of them good. The heart was made to love, to feel, to experience. It doesn't need the novocaine shot of being "guarded" by a person who can't even be privy to it's very personally unique sensations. The true danger in the dynamic is the lack of any scriptural basis for it - yet it's practiced doctrinally, with daughters, whether by spoken or unspoken mandate, believing it sinful to choose another path. Their hearts cease to be guarded. They're stolen instead, and offered by their fathers on the altar of a human god.

Proponents of patriarchy may argue this with me, and say this is all by choice, and all "biblical" - and nothing they would say would be even slightly true. For those allowing your father to "guard your heart", attempt to take it back and see just what happens. You'll be treated as if you've rejected Christ. To suspect or expect otherwise is naive. I've seen it, and many who read my page have lived it. If the concept of a father "guarding the heart" of a daughter fails, patriocentricity fails, because the father has to control ALL for it to be viable, and it will be defended with the scorched earth policy of the old Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc - because the system must not fail. It's god.

I think of David's charge to Israel - "Don't lose heart because of this uncircumcised Philistine", and of the 10 spies who caused the children of Israel to "lose heart", convincing them that invading the promised land would be futile, despite the faith of Joshua and Caleb. David, Joshua, and Caleb all knew that, if they exercised faith in God, the battle wouldn't be defined by the enemy, but by the power of God. This is the opposite of what the people chose, and it's the absolute, inarguable opposite of the patriocentric ideal. A neo-patriarch wants his wife and children to put their faith in him alone. He may say otherwise, but there's no argument whatsoever against the fact that he wants ALL correspondence with the Lord to go through him. He wants to define everything. This makes him the god of his fiefdom

In those passages, "heart" is translated from the Hebrew "leb" or "lebab", which means: inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding.

When a young woman hears a lifetime of reminders that she's easily deceived, can't trust her heart, has to surrender her inner being, mind, will, heart, soul, and understanding to her earthly father - her heart has been stolen, she's left with only woefully bounded choices, she's been made SO much less than God created her to be, and the enemy rejoices that she's lost heart, unable to claim the promises of God. Galatians 6:9 tells us, "And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." Patriarchal fathers would intercept and cancel that harvest by willfully taking the hearts of their children.

Only a small, small man would kill the spirit and steal the heart of his daughter. Only a small, small man would dutifully and purposefully engineer the weakness of a woman to allow himself to point at the scripture about the "weaker vessel" and feel justified.

Modern day neo-patriarchs are small, small men.


  1. Very well put, Lewis! I just posted a link on the Cult Next Door by Shari Howerton about leaders that have counterfeited the appearance of God by forcing (mostly the women)church members to live according to a rigid code of dress and behaviour. If you failed to keep "the code" you were an outcast. Oh-but it was okay for the pastor to cover up multiple cases of sexual abuse.
    I am going to post a link to this article along with Shari's because they both speak so strongly of God being falsely represented to women.

  2. "Only a small, small man would dutifully and purposefully engineer the weakness of a woman to allow himself to point at the scripture about the 'weaker vessel' and feel justified."

    Agreed. It's well-known that people who feel the most insecure in their position in society are the ones who feel a need to constantly exercise power to beat others into submission. Only the men who are most insecure in their manhood are the ones who'd feel obligated to constantly prove it and put down women. If they were confident, then they wouldn't insist that it's necessary for women to abide by rules to make them feel more masculine.

    Good posts, although it must be difficult to write about this. :(

  3. Only a small, small man would kill the spirit and steal the heart of his daughter. Only a small, small man would dutifully and purposefully engineer the weakness of a woman to allow himself to point at the scripture about the "weaker vessel" and feel justified.

    Modern day neo-patriarchs are small, small men.

    I don't blame you for having the feelings over wanting to pound the man.

    You are correct when you say small men basically feel bigger when they pound the other down in a nutshell.

  4. Julie...Shari's article is AWESOME. I hope the readers here will check it out.

    Jenny...It does hurt...and at the same time it helps. It's strange, really, but I think writing is helping me grieve and process all of it.

    Hannah...Yep. These movements are tailor made for bullies who need to feel validation of their manhood.

  5. I used to work in a residential treatment facility for troubled teens. The cottage I worked in, something like 9 out of the ten girls there were prostitutes. They all came from horrible situations of incest, rape, abuse etc.

    It was there that I first heard the term 'learned helplessness'. Many of these girls learned this helplessness from the terrible abuse they suffered.

    It's a crying shame that families that make a claim to godliness and even claim that their way is the right way, the only way,... it is a shame that these families are doing the same thing to their daughters that is happening to the worst of the worst, abused, street children.

    It's a crying shame.
    And it speaks volumes about how warped their methods truely are.

  6. Thankyou for writing.

    It is good to get a man's viewpoint on these issues. My husband and I write our blog together but he works 12 hours a day and doesn't get much time to write, so I do the bulk of it. There are many blogs written by the women who have had no voice, but few from the men who are opposing the abuse.

    We love the book 'Ten Lies the Church tells Women' by J. Lee Grady - you might be interested in this also, it has a similar approach to your own.

  7. Mara...It's heartbreaking. Even more when the Lord's name, and "biblical", get attached to it.

    Meg...Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the encouragement. I appreciate what your blog represents.

  8. Thank-you for posting this, Lewis! It is so true! I have lived this and I know how terrible the consequences of this is! Thank-you for having the courage to write this!