Friday, September 21, 2012

An Imposed Hell -- A Voice for the Victims of the Righteous Sociopaths

Okay, I had two conversations with two different women (patients) in the last two days and the stories were so similar that it was eerie.

It goes like this.  A husband who is very, very evangelical, but who uses a constant and subtle tricks of psychological manipulation to control his wife.  So, if you weigh up the sum sin (no metaphysical way to do that) the man is usually doing horrible things, but when he is done with his masterful twisting and rational gymnastics, the woman comes out as the guilty one.

Now, these cases are extreme, but extreme cases helps us to explore the underbelly of thinking that applies to the more garden variety manipulation.  For example, I don't think I'm a sociopath but I have exhibited manipulative behavior with my interactions with others . . . as I think most of us have, save the few.

In the first case, when you strip away the charade, the man is totally consumed with under-age (as if age really mattered) porn.  He appears totally addicted.  He even had cameras in his stepdaughter's bedroom.  Of course all of this is not only evil but criminal.

However, he is such a strong christian leader in their community, and he is so skilled with his tongue, he has been able to make his wife feel like the cheater because she found his stash (and camera) and had a huge confrontational and even called the police.  The man is outraged that his wife would so betray him. You know, the man whom had this beautiful "James Dobson Focus on the Family" type of life on the surface.  I honestly, because of the nature of sociopaths and the deep influence of the Fall of Adam, think that this man doesn't see his own sin.

The second one was very similar except he wasn't dealing with pron but with multiple girlfriends.  He has been a womanizer for years.  Every time his wife is jealous, for example, him going on a business trip with the beautiful, young woman that he works with and coming home with her perfume and lipstick on his dress shirts, he is "deeply saddened by her sin of distrust."  But on the surface he is the leader of a large church and wants he to stay married for the appearance of normalcy. He called her the "bride of Satan" the other day when she was upset that he and another one of his beautiful female friends announced that they are taking an overseas trip together (not work but a fun trip).

So, I want to move beyond those stories and think about this.  Throughout my life I have known several people who were such righteous sociopaths.  A couple were pastors. One was my old boss (whom I had to think about lately in preparation for my "testimony").  I think with the evangelical paradigm of "Christian growth," "Discipleship" or "Spiritual Maturity"  we get lost in the notion that if you claim to be a believer, especially a leader in the church or Christian organization, that you become immune to sin and temptation.  But my view now is that the fall of Adam is much deeper than that.  Some of us are broken from birth and can't be fixed by Bible studies.  This is not to stand as an excuse but as a warning.

If someone appears to be evil or have evil motives, even if they are very skilled in convincing you that they are not, they most likely are . . . that is evil.  Evangelicalism also has this unwritten (okay it is written in one form) that we are not to "judge our brother."  But that thought totally dis-empowers those who are victims of the abuse.  They feel so guilty to even consider the Christian leaders motives are not pure, that they don't do it.

My personal spiritual hero is the late Francis Schaeffer.  When his son wrote very candid (and critical) books describing his family from the inside, it was not flattering.  I personally know people associated with that family and some of them were outraged.  For me . . . I can honestly say that the Becker series (semi-fictional) and Crazy for God, are within my top favorite ten books.  Yes, Dr. Schaeffer had some demons.  He was an angry man.  But that puts flesh on the image of a man that I didn't get to know that well.  Frank's words are believable because of what I have seen in their family, and what I've witnessed with myself and others.

I think this kind of openness (Vs naivity) is a healthy place to be. For one, I can't trick myself so easily. Before, when I was a good Evangelical, I could manipulate my wife for a very selfish cause but make her feel guilty about it for lack of submission (or a million other spiritual issues).  Also, before, I was subject to being a victim, but now I am far more resistant to that.  That is precisely why I had to leave my old church and am extremely happy with my new one.

So, in summary, I think this imposed hell most common in two situations. For the woman it is often the "spiritual husband" who constantly and subtly abuses them "between-the-lines" but covers it with Jesus talk. For a man, I think it is most common when they are manipulated by pastors and other people in "spiritual authority."  Now I have witnessed rarely when a man is manipulated by a spiritual wife where she has this quieter (than the abusing type of husband) constant criticism of the husband because he isn't spiritual enough . . . for example when he watches The Simpsons and such.  It is an act to make herself feel better about herself by being critical of her husband. 

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