Monday, August 29, 2011

Warning Signs - Repost

[It's been nearly a year since I originally posted this piece, and I thought it might be a good idea to dust it off and post it again. It may be able to help people determine whether they're living their faith proactively or reactively. The difference between the two is extremely important to both spiritual and emotional health.]

Every dangerous teaching or group comes with it's own unique set of red flags. Recently I wrote about some non-specific (to any particular movement) warning signs that some who specialize in the study of cults and spiritual abuse have come up with. In this post, I'd like to deal with some that are specific to the patriarchal/quiverfull/dominionist/fundamentalist groups that I write about. While this exercise is similar to something I wrote here, I'd like to make it a bit more targeted.

Keep in mind that this exercise I'm presenting is just that - an exercise. Answering "yes" to these questions doesn't make you a bad person, a bad parent, a bad spouse. What it should do, though, is perhaps serve as a wake-up call that helps you determine whether you're a follower of a man or movement and it's culture/lifestyle, or whether you're genuinely following Christ alone.

I think this is of paramount importance, particularly given some of the other movements I've studied in recent weeks. The Jim Jones People's Temple, for instance. People who were so enraptured by the culture of the movement (and the man at the forefront) that they remained steadfast in allegiance to the movement through the transition from Christianity to Communism to Atheism, ultimately to "revolutionary suicide". Jesus left the building...and they never noticed, because He wasn't necessary for their culture. This is, and has been, the case for the majority of cultic movements that have started under the banner of Christianity. A culture takes over.

Again, this is such an important distinction. Christ...or culture.

Simple, unqualified "yes" or "no" answers are all that's needed.

  • Do you home school for religious cultural reasons rather than educational reasons?
  • Do you regularly use the word "worldview"?
  • Do you regularly use the word "biblical", as in "biblical worldview", "biblical manhood", "biblical womanhood"?
  • Do you see your life as the fulfillment of a certain gender role?
  • Do you plan to follow the courtship model in choosing a spouse for your children, even as adults?
  • Did you begin prepping them for the courtship model as children, presenting other options as worldly and rebellious?
  • Do you force your small children to read the bible and pray even when they show no interest in doing so?
  • Are your children subject to punishment for not showing interest and devotion in reading the bible and praying?
  • Do you spend significant time teaching your children to focus on externals, such as dress and countenance?
  • Do you expect your children to be outwardly cheerful at all times, regardless of the circumstances?
  • Do you believe in and promote "multi-generational faithfulness"?
  • Is it more important for your children (particularly adult children) to obey you than to obey the Holy Spirit?
  • Do you determine whether or not they've heard from the Holy Spirit for them?
  • Is an adult child who resists your authority considered rebellious?
  • Is "godly" a common adjective in your speech?
  • If you had to drastically alter your current lifestyle by dropping a particular human authority structure, would your faith in Christ be damaged and left totally drifting?
  • Do you feel a certain amount of guilt in even answering these questions to yourself?
  • Do these questions make you angry and threatened, as if your lifestyle is under attack?

There are doubtless more that could be asked (please feel free to chime in with your own that might apply).

These questions, if answered honestly, should provide a glimpse into the heart of whatever faith you're actually practicing - whether truly following Christ, or truly following a culture and way of life that uses Christ as something of a mask. The things listed above, the things on which the questions are based, aren't things that were taught or lived by Christ, not taught or lived by any of his disciples or apostles. They ARE, however, a large part of the foundation of a modern Christian sub-culture. Big, big, big difference.

Like I said earlier, "yes" answers to these questions don't make you a bad person. "Yes" answers, particularly multiples, would signal, however, a person walking in dangerous spiritual territory in a culture where Jesus is no longer really even necessary.


  1. Two more questions, or perhaps merely alternate wordings: "Do you despise being asked these questions?" and "Do you feel that your answers to these questions misrepresent your views?"

    Not everyone is going to identify with anger at being "attacked", but they might despise being asked questions that they may feel are leading. The issue however is not with the questions being leading, but getting to the core of the issue for some people. You'd be surprised how many people misidentify their emotions. Legalism and frozen emotions generally follow each other.

    Unfortunately, the only people likely to answer yes to my questions above are likely to have hard hearts, let alone an open mind.

  2. Great list. I think it's so important to get this out there. People generally seem to slip into this lifestyle little by little. If you homeschool in many areas it's impossible not to be introduced to the lifestyle and, if your social contacts are not many, it's easy to get pulled in. I know--I almost was, but too many alarm bells went off when we were invited to a home Church. (Not saying anything against ALL home Churches--just that one). Good job!