This post is general in nature, not aimed at any particular person, or any particular comment here or that I've seen on other sites dealing with fundamentalism and spiritual abuse. It's aimed at a general idea, mindset, and approach to various fundamentalist teachings. That idea and approach?...
"Just eat the meat and spit out the bones."
Unhealthy. Unhealthy. Unhealthy.
First, to borrow and paraphrase a couple of ideas from two friends and regular contributors here...
via Darcy...Just imagine a batch of brownies with pieces of dog crap in them. Would you eat the brownies and spit out the dog crap?
via Jim...If you're regularly spitting out bones, it's time for a new butcher.
This idea of "eating the meat and spitting out the bones" has been on my mind a good bit lately, and I'd like to share a few of my own thoughts about it - and why I think it's a sign and symptom (in general, not specific, terms) of a potentially deeper spiritual sickness and unhealthy spiritual, and emotional, condition and environment. Addiction comes to mind.
A while back I wrote about Imbibling (inspired by another comment Jim K made elsewhere - he's a sharp guy). Religious addiction. Religioholism. I think it comes into play when you consider the meat/bones scenario.
Consider the concept this way: In ANY other area of life, if you continually had to sift through the product and throw away defective items, you'd radically and drastically shift your approach to that area of your life. For instance (the butcher analogy) - if your ground beef left you continually sifting for and spitting out bones, I promise you, I guarantee you, you'd stop buying the particular brand, or stop buying from the particular butcher responsible, even if the beef, apart from the bones, had a wonderful flavor and texture. You'd make the switch without giving it a second thought, concerned not only for yourself, but if you were/are responsible for others, for the sake of THEIR health. If you shopped for Levi's, and, no matter how good their jeans looked on you in the dressing room, when you got home you discovered that for every good pair, another was poorly made, terribly made, and had to be thrown away, I again promise and guarantee you that you'd switch to another brand. Your financial resources would have to be shielded from the waste. If you took a certain brand of vitamin, and it alternated between days of making you feel incredible and days of making your skin turn green and your hair fall out, again, I make a promise and guarantee that you'd change brands, no matter how incredible the incredible days were. To get extreme in the example, let's say you have a doctor who prescribed, even pioneered, the treatment that cured your cancer and saved your life, then, on your next visit to have your runny nose tended to, he/she prescribed drinking a combination of gasoline, cyanide, and Tang. Would you stick with him/her? Would you just spit out the bone? Or would you recognize his or her irresponsible, and dangerous, practice of medicine and find a new doctor?
If you belong to the Christian faith, there's no question that your spiritual health is paramount (not to in any way discount the importance of other areas of life). So why, on the most important issue of all, do you so willingly wade through the useless and damaging elements to maybe, MAYBE, glean a small nugget of something useful? This question isn't for children being forced by parents to sit under any particular teachings. They don't have a choice, but, that should make this question all that much more important for their parents to answer.
I think the answer is religious addiction, and all of its associated guilts and pressures, stemming from sometimes lifelong indoctrination. I think many see the problems, very clearly, with the teaching they subject themselves, and their families, too, but guilt, and the indoctrinated fear of leaving the fundamentalist teachings entirely equating to leaving the Christian faith, keeps dragging them back in for another mouthful of bones and bone fragments. It's a cycle of religious addiction stemming from prolonged religious abuse. It's very unhealthy.
It's reminiscent of battered women who develop grossly, and dangerously, unhealthy attachments to their abusers. "Yeah, I know, but you don't know his heart like I do!" - when you can clearly see his "heart" in the form of the bruises all over her. Reminds me, in a way, of how my ex was with her father...freely admitting to his many deficiencies and wrongs as a father and a man, until, YOU dared point out those deficiencies or make note of her irrational view of him. Challenge was met with unstable, irrational resistance.
But, consider the things fundamentalism requires of you. It refuses to share your heart or your mind. It must OWN you. It demands that you keep accepting, and returning to, terrible things (look at Piper's view of spousal abuse - look at Driscoll's rationalization of why Ted Haggard faltered - look at what the P/QF paradigm requires of a women's heart, health, and womb - look at the concept of submitting to, and giving responsibility for your life, to someone over you...surrendering your God-given right to critically think for yourself and ACT upon those thoughts). You should feel no guilt, no shame, in washing your hands of it and walking away from it...yet, you do feel that guilt and shame, and it keeps drawing you back for more bones.
When something is consistently faulty, unhealthy, and damaging, yet a person keeps coming back to it, it speaks to something generally deeper, and I can't help but believe there's no question about that. Like the alcoholic who knows drinking is killing him, but at the same time can't put down his bottle and walk away from it, taking comfort in the false sense of security and peace that another drag from the bottle will bring - with little regard for what it does to those around him, the religioholic and Imbibler just HAS to take another drag from that bible (as presented in dangerous teachings), because it satisfies the hole that guilt creates, brings a faux peace, even though they know the bones are there - and with little regard for how those bones will impact the spiritual health of those around them.
I feel my statements should be qualified by my pointing out that I'm not a professional anything other than musician, but I hope that if you see signs of the above in yourself, you'll seek out competent, professional counseling - and not Christian counseling (let that come when the emotional issues resulting from fundamentalist religious abuses are dealt with - Christian counseling may just feed the addiction if it's the FIRST course of action).
A healthy spiritual diet should reject ANY meal that has as much bone as meat, but sometimes we need to tend to the emotional damage of poor diets past to be able to see as much. I'd hope that all in the faith can come to the place where they eat, in abundance, the freedom of Christ, and recognize and reject the guilt of commandments of men before ever placing them in their mouths and having to spit them out.
No fundamentalist mindset is worth an allegiance that exposes you to a steady diet of bones and fragments. Leaving it absolutely ISN'T leaving Christ - where our allegiance, if we claim Him, needs to be.