I was taught that I would be hated. Why? Because I was a follower of Jesus.
John 15:18-19 – “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
Matthew 10:22 – “You will be hated by everyone because of me.”
If people called us bigots because we believed homosexuality was a sin, well, that’s what we should expect if we were truly following Jesus. And the same for every other issue. In fact, we believed that if we didn’t see opposition and hatred, that was a sure sign that we weren’t actually following Jesus.
About a month ago, Doug Phillips Vision Forum put up a poll on whether or not gay marriage should be made legal, and when this poll was publicized among atheists via twitter and reddit with the result that the poll results went heavily in favor of gay marriage, Doug Phillips called foul and blogger Blooming Hearts for Home responded as follows:
Vision Forum Attacked by Pro-Homosexual group ~ This seems like something from a movie but it’s real friends and we will only see more war like tactics against Christians. Be ready…… Prepare our children to stand, for the time of peace and security to worship God is about to end.
For fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals, negative response or (perceived) attacks by “the world” results in a confirmation of beliefs. In some sense, it plays into their hands, only serving to make their beliefs more firm and is interpreted as “proof” that they are on the right track.
When Lydia Schatz died at the hands of her Pearl-following parents, there was a good deal of negative press against the Pearls and their methods. I tried to share some of this with my mother in hopes of leading her to question these methods. Instead, she responded by telling me that these attacks only confirm that the Pearls are preaching truth, and that she would pray for them to stand firm against opposition.
I’d never thought about just what a catch 22 this was until I read a recent post by Joe of Incongruous Circumspection called How to Spiritually Abuse Your Children in Three Steps. Here are the steps:
Step One – Repeatedly teach them something that the rest of society would find weird, “out there”, or flat-out offensive.
Step Two – Tell them that the negative reaction of the “rest of the world” proves that the above “something” is true and must be adhered to even more rabidly.
Step Three – When people undoubtedly are offended or weirded out by your child’s professed beliefs, use this as proof the outside world is full of hateful people who can never be trusted.
Step Four (Optional) – Find others that agree with the “something” in Step One and spend as much time as possible with them, cutting off all meaningful contact with the rest of society.
I think one reason religion is so successful is that it sets up protection mechanisms like this. In many ways, religion is a product of thousands of years of evolution – religious evolution. After all, the religions that lose adherents fade away while those that gain adherents grow. When society changes religions must find a way to survive, and those that do not, well, they disappear. Many religious denominations today have changed with society to accept things like gay marriage, but others find other ways to survive by setting up catch 22s like the “you will be hated” doctrine.
The hard thing is, once you buy into the “you will be hated” doctrine, any challenge to your beliefs can easily be interpreted as an attack and thus a confirmation of those same beliefs. Similarly, any opposition to a bigoted belief you may hold is interpreted as confirmation of that bigoted belief. In some sense, there is no way out.
I’d really like to talk my mother out of her belief in the Pearl’s severely authoritarian parenting methods. But I can’t. Anything I say, anything I show her, is interpreted as a confirmation of the rightness of the Pearls’ teachings. Can you say frustrating?