In response to the Halfway House post, a few people have made inquiries as to how I feel the Halfway House mentality should be handled and dealt with, both from an individual perspective and from a church perspective. Before I share my thoughts, they should be qualified with my lack of qualification. I'm not a professional counselor, and my commentary here comes from my own observations and life experiences, as well as the observations and life experiences of others.
First, from the church perspective...
It should be at the forefront of our awareness that, in cases of people who chose to become involved with VF, Gothard, or other fringe fundamentalist groups (such as the Christian homeschooling movement), they did so from cultural fear and religious paranoia - which is also at the foundation of their religious addiction. Spiritually healthy people don't choose to get involved in fringe fundamentalist groups. Fearful people, looking for a religious fix, looking for a religious structure, looking for a magic formula that requires nothing more than their adherence to its rules, living in utter fear of "the world", are the people that flock to fringe fundamentalism.
It should also be noted that 2nd generation Gothardites, VFers, and fringe fundamentalists, while not having chosen these beliefs for themselves, have been thoroughly indoctrinated with cultural fear and religious paranoia and, as a result, are usually religious addicts themselves.
No one leaving Gothard or VF (or a similar group), but still trying to be a "biblical Christian", is free from religious addiction. It's impossible. ALL of us of faith deal with religious addiction to varying degrees. How much moreso those who come out of movements that literally thrive on it?
Any church looking to minister to the Halfway House mentality can only do so by taking the drug away. In other words, it can't be a religious endeavor. Some of the same ideas expressed here would apply. Freedom, freedom, and more freedom. It's only when personal discipline and self-control become a priority that fear and formula can be chased away with knowledge, and personal discipline and self-control are the enemy of religious formula, which means that people coming out of fringe groups are usually inexperienced or ill-equipped in these areas, usually having had considerable amounts of knowledge strategically withheld from them - replaced with manufactured "fact". To borrow a quote from my favorite basketball coach, Dean Smith, the only truly free person is a disciplined person. Also worth noting, the most often overlooked fruit of the Holy Spirit is SELF-control. Room for growth in these areas would be key.
What this would look like in practice, or how this would be accomplished, I can't say. I'm not afraid to say "I don't know", because I genuinely don't know. Some of what I write below needs to be considered as well, because a church needs to be aware of the personal needs of these folk...
From a personal perspective...
I don't come from a fringe fundamentalist movement or background - even if there was more fundamentalism there than I'd care to admit. Even so, the last couple of years have been challenging for me as I've dealt with, and continue to deal with, my own religious addictions.What I'm gonna write is the way I, personally, have dealt with things. I can't promise you the same will work for you. I can only say it's the path I've chosen. If it means anything, it's probably the only thing that's allowed me to hang on to any semblance of faith given what I've seen over the last few years - both in my brush with fundamentalist nutjobs and in Christianity at large. So here goes...
You have to wipe the slate clean and start over.
When I say "wipe the slate clean and start over", I mean wipe everything away right down to a foundation. For me that foundation was and is my belief that Jesus Christ is the doorway to God, that I should love God, love my neighbor, be honest in ALL things, and do right by other people regardless of the expense. Everything else, every sacred cow of my belief system, was and is fair game for a BBQ.
I had to come to see that regardless of what came from my lips, my life was largely a worship service for the biblical canon or for the maintenance of a particular conservative (even if not "fundie" conservative) religious culture. God just kept getting left with the tab or the blame.
I had to come to see just how many things I'd rather blindly accepted, in essence allowing other men (and women) to determine my core beliefs on my behalf. For instance, anything in the New Testament that isn't a Gospel or the book of Acts wasn't written to or for me. It was written to specific people (with names like Timothy, Titus, the Corinthians, et cetera) at specific points in history to deal with specific issues - which were often unique to the recipients. Other men determined FOR us hundreds of years ago that those letters are to us, too, and today fundamentalism continues to make that determination on our behalf. I prefer to trust God's Spirit within me to make known to me what is and isn't for me. I reject the unilateral determinations of other men. Any church, movement, person, or belief system that doesn't allow for God to speak to you, individually, is unhealthy, and you should avoid it - especially when non-essentials, which make up just about everything that modern Christianity hangs its hat on, are the issue. Fighting a cultural war and living out genuine faith in Christ are two distinctly and dramatically different things which modern Christianity confuse with each other.
I had to say adios to my fears, including the fear of questioning God. If God is so insecure that He can't handle questions, even pointed questions, particularly from someone genuinely wanting to learn and grow, then He wouldn't be worth my faith. I had to lose any and all fear regarding non-Christian culture, understanding that the vast majority of ALL people, both of and not of faith, are seeking truth, seeking love, and seeking peace. Some are just closer to finding it than others, and any God worth my faith loves them all, no matter where they are on their journey. The fear that society at large is out to destroy Christianity, while ignorant, is a powerful force. I had to come to see it as what it is - a lie. There are radicals in every sector who want to destroy all the other sectors (which is why they're called "radicals"), but they're a minority of humanity. I also had to come to see Christian radicals as equally as dangerous as the rest - because they are.
I had to come to see that Jesus never promised us a "bible", but rather promised us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. I had to stop using "the bible" as a spiritual pacifier, the be all and end all of my existence.
I wrote a bit about my own journey and motivations a while back in Examination.
The funny thing is, remember that foundation I talked about earlier..."my belief that Jesus Christ is the doorway to God, that I should love God, love my neighbor, be honest in ALL things, and do right by other people regardless of the expense"? I've added next to nothing to it, because I've discovered that there's literally next to nothing of substance to add to it. The foundation, itself, IS the house. All else is non-essential, and leads right back to religious addiction at the drop of a hat.
Had I not experienced the things I've experienced over the last few years, and had I been unwilling to wipe the slate clean all the way down to the foundation, I'd probably still be floundering in my own religious addictions, and I'd be susceptible to the same teachings/teachers that appeal to the Halfway House mentality.
It's a long journey. Take a break now and then. Be willing to give religion, and religiosity, the proverbial finger. Search for truth, and be willing to accept it in whatever form you find it. The thing is, if the Holy Spirit is what leads us into all truth, a search for truth is an invitation for God to join you whether you realize it or not.
Don't be afraid.