Worksheet Claims That God Allows Sexual Abuse: Part III
TW: Content discusses rape, and other forms of abuse.
CC image courtesy of Flickr, andy li.
Recently Homeschoolers Anonymous was given access to a worksheet from The Institute of Basic Life Principles‘ training center. It is titled ”Why Did God Let A Four Year Old Boy Be Molested By A Fifteen Year Old Neighbor?’. The Institute of Basic Life Principles is run by Bill Gothard, who is currently facing a lawsuit for molestation, rape, and sexual harassment. The Institute of Basic Life Principles has many training centers around the world.
This series will look at each reason and demonstrate how they are revictimizing.
If you’re just starting this series, please read Part I and Part II first.
8. To learn how to discern evil companions.
When a person is molested, he develops a new sensitivity to people with wrong motives. This awareness is for future protection and must be developed into the quality of discernment instead of fear. Your son should now have a natural resistance to any person who has impure motives.
This item also places blame and responsibility on the victim. Along the lines of ‘all things work together for good’, it is saying that since the child was abused, they should now be able to protect themselves from further abuse. So if more abuse happens, it’s the child’s fault for not learning their lesson.
It is also taking a very natural response – fear – and turning it into a bad response. It is teaching a child to deny their feelings, to see their feelings as wrong. It is teaching the child that they are responsible to learn from their mistake of choosing to be with an abuser, and learn how to prevent it in the future.
It is never the job of the child to protect themselves. That is the job of adults.
9. To work out justice and mercy.
It is important that justice be carried out in this situation. This means proper punishment should be administered to the offending neighbor. As a preparation for this, it is vital to make diligent inquiry with each boy to find out all the facts. Any hidden aspects of this molestation will give the enemy authority and will be used by him in the further defeat of both boys. Once the full facts are known and repented of, mercy may be extended.
Nowhere in this statement (which is number 9 of a list of 12 items) does he say “This person should be reported to the authorities.” They call abuse a sin. By calling it a sin instead of a crime, they can keep the accountability within the church and not involve the police. But “in-house” investigations are ineffective. No one can investigate themselves accurately, this is why we have the police.
Sexual abuse is a crime, and the proper authorities need to be notified of what happened. This is true justice.
Within fundamentalism, a reliance on the authority within the church is paramount. ‘Proper punishment’ in this case generally has to do with church discipline. They do not report to outside authorities. By saying it’s important to inquire to both parties, the child is highly likely to be revictimized. The methods used to ‘find out’ what happened are often intense sessions where a victim is cornered into saying things and admitting things they otherwise wouldn’t.
Because a child who has been abused is often confused about what happened, how it happened, and when it happened, someone inexperienced in questioning a child will often come to the conclusion that the child is lying. They will (and do in this environment) blame the child for going along with things, for being there, for not telling soon enough. The responsibility solely lies with the abuser, but within fundamentalism the attitude is frequently that it takes 2 to sin.
When an abuser is caught within the church environment, it is quite common for them to ‘repent’ in order to escape punishment. Gothard’s theology requires the victim to forgive their abuser, and to search for ways they invited the abuse.
Gothard leaves no room for anger, for distance from the abuser.
10. To help the parents understand the basis of ‘genius’.
In a study by the Smithsonian Institute, 40 men considered geniuses were studied in order to find common denominators. The three common denominators were 1. Parents protected them from contact with other children. 2. They were continually around caring adults who taught them what they knew. 3. The were taught how to creatively solve problems. Based on this, your son should not have been with the other boy but rather with the adults so that he could learn from them.
The study referenced, The Childhood Pattern of Genius, was done by Harold G. McCurdy in 1957. Not only is it outdated, but it justifies childhood isolation. Children who are not allowed to be around other children suffer physically, socially, and emotionally. However, within fundamentalism isolation is a key component for children and how they are raised. We were to be homeschooled (or schooled at church), away from our peers. We were to be kept at home, seeing others only at church.
They shrunk our worlds, controlled our access to everything.
But assuming for a moment that a child isn’t already being isolated, imagine depriving an abused child of their friends after they reveal the abuse. The child is very likely to feel like they are being punished for being abused. After all, they lost their friends after being abused. They may even feel that it’s their fault they lost their friends.
If blaming the child for their abuse isn’t enough, parents are also blamed for the abuse because they weren’t supposed to have their child around other children. Gothard is saying that abuse would not have happened if the parents had obeyed ‘God’ (really Gothard and his methods, though no one draws a distinction between God and Gothard in that world).
This also ignores sibling abuse, like what happened in the Duggar family. They were following the mandates, and keeping their children isolated (as isolated as one can be while on television). Josh Duggar still abused his sisters.
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Regarding “When a person is molested, he develops a new sensitivity to people with wrong motives,” I divorced an abusive man. A few years later, a coworker I thought was my best friend spread damaging rumors about me. I gave myself such grief because I thought the first experience had taught me how to identify false people. I felt like a loser.
Since then I’ve realized that conmen and women are very good at what they do. But what if I had been a follower of Gothard?!?
As a former Cold War Kid Genius, I think I can put this study into context.
1957 — The height of the Cold War; the year one Sergei Korolev loaded a payload called Sputnik Odin into a stripped-down Semyorka ICBM and launched it into orbit, kicking off the Space Race and triggering a massive collective Panic Attack in the US.
“The Russians had gotten ahead of us! They were winning the Cold War! We have to do something to get back our lead!” So the US government and educational system panic-reacted by identifying and fast-tracking Geniuses — intellectual Uruk-Hai to win the Cold War. My connection to this? Two years after Sputnik I entered kindergarten, diagnosed as one of these Kid Geniuses/larval Intellectual Uruk-Hai, and fast-tracked for the next twelve years.
It almost killed me, and the scars are still there.
It is not only fundamentalism (which at first typoed as “fundamentanatalism” — Freudian slip?), but such childhood isolation is part of the package of being a Kid Genius. You’re going to get it anyway, but there are ways those around you can make it worse.
You see, you’re growing up in a RL version of the movie Idiocracy. Your IQ is so much higher (and your brain working so much faster) than everyone around you that you are constantly surrounded by borderline mental retards in comparison, unable to understand concepts and ideas that are trivially easy and obvious for you. (That in itself is isolating.) In addition, you end up associating with fictional characters and around adults because your IQ is about equivalent to theirs, further isolating you from other kids (who usually don’t want to have anything to do with you anyway – rejection leading to further isolation). In my case, my brain is always bubbling with ideas and new things, even when I sleep — so many of them I will NEVER have the time or energy to accomplish more than maybe one to two percent of them.
Further problem: Said adults see you as The Kid Genius, as in the Fantasy of the Kid Genius — Wesley Crusher, Doogie Houser, the Giant Brain in a Jar. They never realize there’s a scared, isolated, and confused little kid connected to that enormous IQ. Even worse, there’s something I call “conservation of neurological energy”; as your IQ races far ahead of your actual age, the rest of your development — emotional, personality, social — falls behind. You get a 12-year-old with a mind that outraces your own with the emotional and social age of a two-year-old. Even more so if the kid is treated as a freak and a performing intellectual seal. Again, all they notice is the IQ, not the kid with it. That makes the situation worse. (Imagine the Christianese Homeschool Culture Warriors, additionally forced into Political Activism at an early age.)
And all too often, Absolute Perfection is the MINIMUM expected of a Genius(TM). Expected to know everything about everything without ever having to learn it (“What do you mean, ‘I don’t know’? You’re a GENIUS!”). Expected to master everything Perfectly (like Doogie Houser the 16-year-old Brain Surgeon) the first time you ever attempt it (“How could you? You’re a GENIUS!”). I learned about halfway through my school years that “If you never attempt anything, you can’t catch hell for screwing it up”; to this day, I have to force myself to attempt anything.
It gets even worse if the kid is an ARTISTIC personality as well as a Genius(TM). Take it from one of them, artistic personalities are not the most stable personalities. (Most of my social whirl is various fandoms — SF, gaming, comics, Furry, Brony — and a LOT of these fandoms show signs of various instabilities, most often depression.) I think there has to be some sort of minor emotional and mental instability to jump-start the creative process, most likely the low end of the manic-depressive spectrum. (I’m a natural-talent speedreader; by the time I was 10 I had read more than most people do in their entire lifetime — with NO idea how to put all this raw information together or understand it. HUGE mental database with NO search engine. Bad Craziness.)
In any case, the Kid Genius is going to be isolated, alone, confused, and surrounded by Impossible Expectations. And that’s just to start with.
P.S. I suspect isolation and having to live inside your head because there’s nobody else is the main factor in a lot of the stuff you see in Homeschool Anonymous. And the Christianese Homeschool Culture would just make that worse. I do know I was raised completely outside Christianese Purity Culture but ended up with ALL its tropes — huge Virgin/Whore Dichotomy, deep distrust of women, nostalgia for the 1950s (I’ve got a reason; I’m old enough to remember the real thing), and God having me constantly under His big electron microscope to find something to PUNISH PUNISH PUNISH.
What stood out for me with #10, was that, if you’re telling kids who’ve been abused to hang out around adults instead, you’re only setting them up to be abused by adults. I’m not saying it’s a guarantee, but in a community defined by a power hierarchy, power is bound to be abused, and we’ve already seen in religious communities how that abuse takes shape (e.g., child abuse, sexual abuse).
>the quality of discernment instead of fear
Fear is discernment!!! What nonsense. I know I’m late to this, but the whole thing is so disturbing.