For the Bible Tells Me So…
“It is spiritual abuse that uses the Bible as a weapon to manipulate,
shame or guilt people into a way you approve of.”
In the wacked out world and society that we as Americans live in we often like to define spiritual abuse in terms of nationality, ethnicity and dialect to other countries that shout, “JIHAD!!!!” Our own country is saturated with individuals who use a form of spiritual abuse every single day. We have our own radical extremists who are armed instead of bombs with suicide missions and IEDs and are armed with a tongue and a Bible. In my case abuse, more specifically domestic abuse was carried out also using the Bible. I speak only of my own past affiliation with religion. Now before your polygrip starts slipping from what I’ve just said give me a minute to explain. Or as many Southerners have once said, “Don’t get yer bowels in an uproar, yer kidneys in a downpour and yer liver in a jar.”
In no way am I saying that everyone that holds strong to their particular religious affiliation are classified as terrorists or abusers. What I am saying is that we forget in our own communities that religion both overtly and covertly can cause colossal damage like that of a terrorist. The damage is not exclusively physical. Pay attention next time you’re in an extra conservative area of the country and just pipe up and say that you don’t go to a church. You will be ostracized quickly and/or be invited to a church and they are not expecting resistance of any kind. If this does occur the likelihood of hearing the saying, “Yep, he/she is going to hell on a scholarship. A full ride straight to hell if they don’t change their ways.”
I will give my experience of domestic abuse being justified behind a couple of verses that seems to be all the justification that some narcissist need to further carry out their deeds. My views are not necessarily that of yours or anyone else’s. There was this one story, though, that I’ve heard most of my life that was right outside of the city limits of Petal, MS on Blue Lake Rd. The people that had this place disguised as a religious run place for unwed mothers and their babies were actually carrying out abuse but only backed by the words held so close to the hearts of many Christians…..THE BIBLE.
Let me attempt to show you the similarities and differences of a couple of situations through words. Regions of the country where my personal experience with religion is affiliated is in the Deep South of Mississippi. I have only lived in one other area of the country…the southwest in Albuquerque, NM. There are similarities in regards to religion in both regions. And there are some strong differences as you can imagine. New Mexico is incredibly more liberal and much more ethnically diverse than Mississippi and let’s just leave it at that.
I’m sure that individuals can tell me about atrocities that happen in the name of religion in the southwest area of the country. By the time Mel and I moved to Albuquerque we were turned off to most forms of organized religion. I will only speak of my own experience. If you were to look at my badly scarred forearms from the many years of cutting, you would notice that more than a few were placed there behind some of the few chosen passages in the Bible.
Around the 1960s, the Bethesda Home for Girls was just one of many homes for unwed mothers run by the late Lester Roloff who played a supporting role in the facility as an evangelical pastor. Around 1960 they operated a choir to market the facility. The facility had a federal investigation in 1986 launched against it amid allegations of abuse and “brainwashing.” Some of the same allegations also occurred in another Roloff-affiliate home Ruth’s Home of Compassion in Rome, GA which were reported by The New York Times stating….
“In 1982, in a hearing heard by Judge Myron Thompson, The Montgomery Advertiser, Bobby Ray Wills, a principal operator of the home, disputed those reports. He acknowledged that the girls had to listen to religious tapes but said, ”It’s a washing, but it’s called blood washing and heart washing.” Donna M. said she tried to run away in November but was caught. She was grabbed by the hair, she told the court, and disciplined by Linda Williams, an employee of the home. Donna said she was struck 19 times with a wooden board and ”put in a tub of hot water” to disguise scars and bruises.
School officials produced a half-inch-thick piece of wood, about 18 inches long and 3 inches wide, that they said was used for discipline. Donna testified that another piece of wood, a split baseball bat with holes in it, was also used at the school. Another witness testified that a longer and thicker board was used. Willing to Take a Risk
David C. Gibbs Jr., a Cleveland lawyer, is representing the school, Mr. Wills and Miss Williams in the case. When he cross-examined Donna today, @she acknowledged that she knew that fleeing the home was against the rules and that she would be disciplined if she was caught. She said she was willing to take that risk.
Mr. Gibbs stressed during his cross-examination of Donna and Cindy T. that all the girls at the home were aware that the home had strict rules of discipline based on their religious convictions. Cindy, 16, of Quitman, Miss., testified that she was beaten several times for talking about her past, talking about fleeing the home, and for getting low grades in the academic program.
Today’s court hearing resulted from a complaint filed with the court last month by relatives of a 19-year-old unwed Hayneville, Ala., woman, who was about five months pregnant at the time and had been sent to the home on the recommendation of a minister of a church here. The woman’s relatives subsequently decided that they might have been misled about the home’s environment.
Her understanding, said Candy H., the plaintiff in the suit, in an affidavit filed with the court, was that the home would provide a refuge from possible public ridicule over her pregnancy out of wedlock, provide religious counseling and arrange for her to put her baby up for adoption by Christians.
As a condition of this help, she said, she was required to sign a contract saying she would stay at the home for a year, would make no phone calls for three months and receive no letters from males. These are standard rules, all sides concede, calling for punishment if they are disregarded. A call by Candy to a relative a few days after she entered the home, however, prompted her sister and mother to seek her release.
In an affidavit filed with the court, Candy, who has been sitting at the plaintiff’s table throughout the day’s proceedings, said: ”I am concerned for the health and safety of other girls at the Bethesda Home for Girls, particularly the physical and mental health of the unwed pregnant girls for the following reasons:
”Pam Hurd, a pregnant girl who has been at the Bethesda Home for Girls for two months, was beaten a week ago by Linda Williams in her office with a wooden board. Pam Hurd returned from Mrs. William’s office crying and in great pain. Pam Hurd sat in her desk and continued to cry. Pam is five months pregnant.
”Veronica, a helper at Bethesda Home for Girls, threatened Pam with additional beatings if she did not stop crying. Pam responded, ‘I just can’t help it, because it hurts.”
”Pregnant girls are repeatedly told they are worse than murderers for having sex out of wedlock,” the affidavit said. ”Pregnant girls are demeaned in front of other girls. This was very upsetting to the girls, as it was to me.”–The New York Times, 1982.
The owners Bobby Wills and his wife Betty is mentioned in relationship with Mountain Park Academy, which were run in the still un-regulated state of Missouri in the early 1980s.
In 1986 FBI started an investigation. The state sought new homes for 120 teenagers. Aside from the protests from local Christian fundamentalists the investigation resulted in the closure of the facility. Girls, some of whom were pregnant , who was committed to these facilities due to their pregnancy were often forced to give their child up for adoption.
A girl named Connie Munson died during an escape attempt from the facility.
In late 2010, the former campus was victim of a fire which destroyed the main dorm.
A lot of these girls have had long lasting effects. You can do an internet search about this organization and find additional information about the allegations, investigations and eventual rescue of the minors and prosecution of the owners. These girls ,unfortunately, were not in the minority with these types of behaviors then or now. Now how does this relate to me?
In my marriage to my husband that lasted from 1997-2007, a significant change happened in his abuse. First, I was told once we were married, “Now that we’re legally married you have to do everything I say. If you don’t give it , I can take it because I’m a husband.” Again the message that God thought this was ok because it was in the Bible which was conveyed on so many levels. We even had a pastor who told us when we went to couples counseling and I complained of how rigid he was about food and body image comments the pastor told us, “A man has a right to have his wife look a certain way.” Again this seemed to be another confirmation to him that must have given him the “go ahead” on the way he had already been treating me for a few years. By that time, he had already mentally broken me down to the point that I was afraid to be without him. Either way this seemed to be the go ahead to seal my fate into being this controlled until I left him in 2006.
Sometimes the behavior does not classify as abuse but rather mixed messages. The therapist in Albuquerque that I worked with for 2.5 years and was anything but healing in nature was also incredibly ego driven. The narcissistic way that she conducted therapy was a similar way that my previous marriage to my ex-husband. Obviously, there were some significant differences but the differentiation in the imbalance of power, verbal aggression and just malicious tones scared me right back into a state of submission. This is why women and men stay in abusive relationships longer than they want to often to the individual’s detriment. It’s the breaking of a human being into submission.
The verse so often cherry picked right out of the Bible to justify their behavior was Ephesians 5:22 which states “Wives submit to your husband as your husband submits to the Lord. ” It appears that this is a mandate for wives to do whatever the husband demands if reading only this part of the chapter. The will of the woman and the reasonableness of the request are irrelevant to folk who misinterpret the text. Thus, when a wife refuses to “obey” her husband, he sees it as his job to make her “get in line” or to “make her a better person” as I was told.
This misreading does injustice to the text and to the victims of domestic violence. Ephesians 5:22 is preceded by verse 21: “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Paul has in mind a magnificent sign to the world of God’s transforming work: People giving of themselves freely and mutually. This fits the opening verses of this chapter (Ephesians 5:1-2), which tells us to “be imitators of God” by “living a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us (Kinnison, 2008).” Furthermore, Paul goes on to admonish husbands to love their wives as they would love their own bodies. (Ephesians 5:28).
In the early 1980’s, I was molested by my pastor’s children at the young age of 5.5 years old. The details are sketchy for now but make no mistake that I still know, hear and see things in the form of flashbacks that give me all the proof that I need. I remember some of these times where I was terrified to say anything about what had happened. It wasn’t fear of my parents. It was the fear for what would happen to me if I did tell. I would keep this secret for almost another 30 years. The fear was due to an imbalance of power by kids much older than me.
This therapeutic relationship had an incredibly forceful presence that scared the ever living shit out of me. This was another situation where I would “cow tow” to someone who presents very authoritatively. Most people know that I can, at times, be very confrontational. However, someone with a very dominant and powerful personality is my kryptonite. I have been known to avoid eye contact with people that are very dominant. I will have physical reactions around them. I did not say, “Bad or dangerous people.” Those that find this and use it to their advantage in an abusive fashion are incredibly dangerous to me.
The very last day this therapist and I ever spoke and her reign had finally come to an end. She told me on the way out, “You know what I’m going to do for you?” Like an idiot I said, “What?” Like some words of wisdom would actually surface. She told me, “I will leave you with this last comment….I’m going to pray for you.” “After all you’ve said and done and that’s the best you got?” I asked. Some might ask which situation was more damaging for me? She was because of the professional position gives an edge. But to me they both used the Bible and they were both abusive. Their somewhat deathly blows were both using the Bible as the main weapon.
I walked off with tears in my eyes and thought…”JUST ANOTHER SITUATION I HAD TO SURVIVE AT THE HANDS OF ANOTHER PREDATOR.”
Whenever I would ask my ex-husband why I had to do whatever task was at hand for him he always told me, “Because the Bible says so.”