If you pay any attention to the news at all, there is a steady supply of stories involving religious authority figures caught in sex scandals. Of course we all know about the sexual abuse that has gone on in the Catholic Church, but fundamentalist Christian leaders are apparently not immune to the lusts of the flesh, either. In particular, I’m thinking about independent, fundamentalist Baptist mega-church pastor Jack Schaap, Quiverfull/patriarchy kingpin Doug Philips, and most recently, the accusations brought forward against Bill Gothard, lifelong bachelor and expert on family, marriage, and child-rearing. I volunteered with Gothard’s “ministry”, IBLP, for the better part of a year many moons ago, and I still haven’t figured out what the fuck it does.
These three men all heavily emphasize “Biblical authority.” Here’s how this power structure works according to the Biblical Authority Doctrine (B.A.D.):
- God is the BIG AUTHORITY. He is the boss over everyone.
- Just beneath God, just a rung or two down the ladder, is the pastor/spiritual leader. Every good Christian should be under the authority of a pastor. Since the pastor dude is closer to God than anyone else, God always tells him shit. God will even tell him shit about other people without telling the other people! Apparently God’s voice doesn’t carry well; you may not have heard God tell you to do something, but your religious authority figure is so close to God, he hears it and passes the message along. Perfectly, of course.
- Then there is the authority in the family. Top position goes to the adult male, who also happens to be the most physically capable of defending his right to be an authority. HOW FUCKING CONVENIENT! God just thinks of everything! The husband/father is God’s number one guy in the family. To his wife and children, he is essentially God; regardless of whether they think he is right or wrong, ultimately, he must be right, because God has given him this super amazing ability to never be wrong about anything.
- A few rungs from the bottom of the authority ladder we find our next family authority, an adult female. She is second-most capable of physically exercising her authority. SURPRISE! She is more or less the proxy of the above-mentioned male; she only has authority over their children, and only as much as is granted by the dominant male. She lives to serve his interests. She doesn’t have a penis, so that makes her more or less incapable of making any meaningful decisions beyond what to make for supper.
- Then, sprawled haphazardly on the ground beneath the authority ladder, we find children. Shockingly, they are physically the weakest, and they have ZERO AUTHORITY. Maybe over the family pet, but that’s the extent of it. They live under the authority of mom, dad, pastor, God, and pretty much anyone older and stronger than themselves. They are told that their state of powerlessness is God’s will. Any independence or individuality they might attempt to exercise is promptly labeled as rebellion, and quashed. The idea is to so thoroughly brainwash them as children in the B.A.D. that even if they become larger and physically stronger than their “God-appointed” authorities, they will still allow themselves to be dominated by them.
Instead of calling this a power structure, someone like Bill Gothard sells it as an “umbrella of protection” from Satan. This is how he illustrates it:
This system has nothing to do with protection, and everything to do with control. A child raised in this system is conditioned to believe that their feelings or desires are of no value. They have no sense of self-worth whatsoever. They will always have difficulty standing up for themselves because they have essentially been told they DON’T FUCKING MATTER. Their opinions don’t matter. JUST SHUT UP AND DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD!
Girls in particular become vulnerable when raised on B.A.D. They are taught to be submissive, because that is what will be required of them as wives. They will never be allowed to participate in the upper echelons of the power structure, they are excluded from being in any position that would give them authority over a man. Girls are told they must always be under the authority of some man, that it is dangerous for them to live without this authority. Being meek, mild, and malleable is seen as desirable. They are taught that the purpose of their lives is to serve men, please men.
Any time a child raised on the B.A.D. has done anything contrary to the wishes of their authority, they have been punished. This sets them up as perfect victims of sexual exploitation. They don’t have the ability to say “no” to an authority. That ability has been beaten out of them. Additionally, their own parents often view certain pastors and spiritual leaders with reverence.
Unfortunately, most “men of God” are just as filthy-minded and sex-crazed as us unwashed Gentiles. How convenient that in the course of ministry, they should have access to young girls who have been raised on the B.A.D. These are perfect victims. Not only have they been raised to believe that they must always please an authority, they also feel flattered that this powerful authority who is practically worshiped by their parents is paying attention to them.
Chances are they will keep quiet and let the abuse continue. And even if they try to tell someone about the abuse, who will believe them, AN AIR-HEADED GIRL, over an unimpeachable Man of God?
This is one of the reasons my children will never have to treat me like God. I do not want them to view themselves as powerless. Just because they are smaller than me doesn’t make them lesser human beings, doesn’t mean that their feelings and desires are any less valid than mine.
I want my kids to have the ability to say FUCK OFF! to anyone who tries to take advantage of them or use them. And how they learn that is by me allowing them to say that to me. I allow them to talk back. I allow them to tell me to shut up. I allow them to tell me to fuck off. I allow them to say things to me that would have gotten me a tanning as a child that would have culminated in a visit to a coroner.
To empower my children to see themselves as equals with anyone is a gift I can give them. It is a personal “umbrella of protection” that will serve them well throughout life, when there is no one else around to defend themselves against predators and those who would harm them. It will keep them safe against the Jack Schaap’s of this world.
Here’s a video of Jack Schaap that’ll leave you thinking, WHAT THE FUCK?? It’s not Satan your kids need protection from, it’s cocksuckers like this!