I ask all three of you who read here to bear with me, cause this one covers a lot of ground, and may not cover it very well.
Everytime I think of formulaic Christian living, the stuff which forms the framework of fundamentalism (built on a foundation of authoritarianism), stuff like courtship, I can't help but think of the Mike Tyson/Michael Spinks Heavyweight championship bout that took place back in 1988. I'll explain...
This was back at the time that Tyson was entering his physical prime as a boxer. He was a ferocious ball of chiseled muscle, aggressive, quick with his hands, incredibly powerful as a puncher, defensively stout. Spinks was also a great fighter, even if lacking Tyson's physical skills. The Heavyweight title wasn't unified at the time, as both fighters held various belts, and this fight would unify the title and leave no dispute. Lots of hype. Lots of anticipation. Many reputable people in the boxing world actually considered Spinks the true champion, feeling Tyson hadn't yet truly earned the title. At the same time, they didn't have the same confidence that Spinks would emerge from this fight as the champion. Tyson was such a physical freak. So dominant. So intimidating.
In the days and weeks leading up to the fight, reporters were curious how Spinks was prepping for the fight, curious how he'd approach such a menacing, seemingly invincible opponent. Spinks went on and on about having a "plan" and a "system" that he had come up with, something Tyson wouldn't be able to deal with, something that would guarantee a victory.
It took Mike Tyson all of 91 seconds to beat Michael Spinks every which way but stupid, knocking him to the canvas twice (the second time being the KO), the ONLY two times in Spinks' career that he'd ever been so much as knocked down. Spinks would never fight again.
After the fight, reporters were curious, given the outcome, what Tyson thought of Spinks' "plan". Tyson's answer?...
"Everybody's got a plan until you hit 'em in the mouth."
You'd never expect such wisdom to come from a guy like Mike Tyson, but give some serious thought to those words.
A few days ago, I wrote the following in an article here...
"You might tell me that you practice "biblical" patriarchy, but nothing like what I write about. Your family is thriving, your children are happy and well-adjusted (trust me - they aren't), they aren't being brainwashed with indoctrination that reaches into every area of their lives and such. Save it. Get back to me when little Sissie Sue becomes a grown woman and resists the notion that she needs you to sign off on and oversee her life decisions - which she'll be in no way prepared to make, thanks to your choice to raise her in "biblical" patriarchy. Your little micro-managed patriarchal world will crumble, your family will crumble, relationships will be damaged very likely beyond repair short of the miraculous intervention of God."
I couldn't help but think about that, and think about the Tyson quote, during an exchange that I had on another blog this week with several patriocentrics/dominionists/fundamentalists. To the blog author's credit, she did publish several of my comments, at least until I started to ask the
The questions centered around parental authority and courtship as an alternative to "modern dating". Among them were, paraphrased, "If your adult child chooses a method other than courtship, will he/she be considered rebellious, in sin, out of God's will, et cetera? Will he/she be shunned, cut-off, and estranged, or threatened with as much?"
Then, the backpedaling and defensive passive-aggressive stuff kicked in. And sadly, not a single person that I interacted with seems to understand that every single formula, system, plan, what have you, that they were espousing was entirely cultural. Not spiritual. Not biblical. Cultural. They can't begin to realize that what they call a "worldview" (ugh...that word makes me feel like I need a shower) is actually a culture. (Yes, fundamentalists, you have your own culture! What you worship is a culture!) They can only mentally process the word "culture" in conjuction with "worldly" things, like that mean ole dating and feminism stuff. But, in their defense, I admit that they believe what they've been indoctrinated to believe. When my questions put a bit of pressure on the "plan", well...
Integrity can only be measured by pressure.
Courtship, under parental oversight, is seen as so virtuous, so emotionally pure, so righteous, so loving, such a measure of the family's heart, so "godly", until...little Sissie Sue, all grown up, says thanks but no thanks...and then the wheels come off, the loving servant/leader of "father-rule" that they like to brag about becomes the domineering lord of patriocentricity that I write about. "But the human authority structure and its plan said this would work!!! Dagon! Dagon! Why???!!!" The fundamentalist culture, and all of its human resources, all of its human formulas, all of its human plans, can't save you.
“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the LORD,
“Who take counsel, but not of Me,
And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit,
That they may add sin to sin;
Who walk to go down to Egypt,
And have not asked My advice,
To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh,
And to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
Therefore the strength of Pharaoh
Shall be your shame,
And trust in the shadow of Egypt
Shall be your humiliation.
Even in light of what these questions, answered, would reveal, those in the conversation wouldn't forsake their worship of and allegiance to their patriocentric, authority-based culture. With me now out of the conversation, they began to justify their beliefs by saying it all depended on the the difference between accountability and autonomy with an adult child. Ok then. They decided that if an adult child was still dependent on parents, living under their roof, et cetera, that child would have to submit to the wishes of his/her father if the parents didn't allow "serial dating". Oh my. Talk about a bear trap for the poor daughters of patriarchy. So, if the poor daughter, who has been
These people are true-blue believers. Doesn't matter that their belief is cultural, not spiritual, and certainly not bible-based. Doesn't matter that it has the integrity of the French army or that you can punch holes in it easier that Tyson punching Spinks in the mouth. They have consumed the Kool-aid handed to them, and done so happily, because they took counsel with men, and not of God's Spirit. They've put their faith in a cultural system of Christian living, not in Christ. You only have to press against it ever so slightly to see as much. Frankly, they aren't far removed mentally, in many ways, from the followers of Jim Jones. Think that's extreme? Consider...
The People's Temple started very much as a Christian undertaking (even if in name only as far as Jones was concerned). Peace and love and happy, clean living. Then, over time, as the result of government pressures and to avoid scrutiny, Jones headed down to South America and created Jonestown. By this time, there was no pretense of Christianity, as Jones had now announced himself an athiest, and the focus was on a Communist culture, with the ultimate goal of living, as a self-sufficient agrarian commune, in the Soviet Union. And through all of this, through the transformation from Christianity to Communism to Atheism, his followers stayed with him - and happily so. Nothing, whatsoever, about their lives changed when Christ was taken out of the equation. They were, by all measurements, happy and content with the culture.
In November 1978, on the day of Congressman Leo Ryan's visit to Jonestown (the same day as the mass suicide), only about 15 of the roughly 1000 inhabitants of Jonestown desired to leave with the Congressman's delegation. These people were happy. Even Congressman Ryan, who had visited out of concern of relatives, not support of Jones, intended to report upon his return to the US that the people in Jonestown were happy, self-sufficient, and apparently free to come and go as they please. Of course, some of Jones' people murdered him before he could board an airplane to leave.
When Jones issued the call to commit "revolutionary suicide", only one single person offered any resistance to the command, and it was only in the form of a couple of questions before offering compliance. They all drank the Flavor-aid with "purpose" and "vision", laid down carefully and neatly, and died. Almost a thousand men, women, and children. All because Jesus left their culture...and they never noticed, because nothing changed. Their culture became their Jesus.
A few weeks back, in this article, I made the following statement...
"If you take Jesus out of the equation, their authoritarian culture doesn't change. If you take the authoritarian culture out of the equation, they have no Jesus. It IS their Jesus."
To those practicing "biblical" patriarchy and other forms of hyper-fundamentalism, I ask you to seriously consider, if your Jesus hung on a cross, would he cry out, "Dagon! Dagon! Why hast thou forsaken me?!" Is your God made from human hands, a culture, with it's web of human formulas and plans? Will you even notice if the real Jesus leaves?
Have you seriously examined to see if Jesus has been replaced in your life? Can you separate the spiritual from the cultural well enough to even make this examination?
You can't measure integrity without applying pressure.