Monday, 7 July 2014
Righteous Response or Manipulation?
In my post, Magic Words Syndrome, I wrote about a particular board member who does a lot of counselling and mediation work in churches. One of the questions he often asks when someone has an issue with another person's behaviour or attitude is, "What is your righteous response?"
In other words, "How do you think Jesus would want you to respond to what you have experienced?
Now this is not a bad question to ask. What would Jesus want us to do? What behaviour might he have modelled that he would want us to use as a guide? On the face of it, this was an entirely appropriate question to ask.
The trouble lies in the presupposition which lurks within this question - the assumption that Jesus would tell us to be 'nice' and then insist that we 'submit to authority'.
I wrote about one of those mediation sessions in my post, Jesus the Buddhist? That was the first time I had used the "A" word.
Finally, I was admitting (to myself and those involved) that I felt abused by the bullying, controlling behaviour of elder J and his wife.
But this was given no credence by those present. I was told that while this might be my reality the actual issue was, "What is your righteous response?"
Of course, the 'correct' answer was to forgive and forget. And stupidly, desperately, I played my part in the game. Did exactly what was expected of me.
Which meant that I just continued to be bullied and abused… until I longed for oblivion.
And there was nothing I could do about it because "everything had been dealt with" and I had "promised not to bring it up again".
But nothing had been dealt with! So I did bring it up again. Which proved how 'unforgiving' and 'bitter' I was. And I was damned for 'going back on my promises'. And the abusive cycle just kept rolling...
So what was the righteous response I should have given?
Refuse to be manipulated.
There were plenty of times when the religious leaders of Jesus' day tried to manipulate and control him. They tried to trap him with his own words, they tried to force him to behave 'acceptably', they tried to bully and abuse him.
But he stood his ground and didn't play their games. He told them exactly what he thought of their behaviour. He refused to be manipulated. And he walked away.
That was his 'righteous response'.
I wish it had been mine.
It can be yours.
And that is why I am sharing my experience. In the fervent hope that someone reading this post might be encouraged and strengthened by what they read. And resist the manipulative teaching that too many religious leaders promote which says, in effect, that 'good christians' must submit to abuse.
I pray you see it for what it is and respond with the righteousness that Jesus displayed!