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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Dominionist vs. Discipline

Okay, so here's why I don't argue too much with the whole "you're just naive" thing. I was exploring one of my new blogrolls (like a kid in a candy store) in yet another fit of manic-seeming sleeplessness (to be repeated again tonight, obviously) and came across something icky (the topic, not the blog):

When Michael Bilodeau couldn't be there to see his 12-year-old daughter stripped and whipped with a belt, he made sure to listen in on a speakerphone from his Coral Springs home, according to police reports.

She deserved it, he told investigators, because she was a liar and 'it is stated in the Bible that it is OK to spank your children,' the reports said.

Shock, awe, disgust, and a big "huh?"

Yes, I'm the kind of person that is truly, genuinely surprised that stuff like this happens. While I logically acknowledge that humans can be very abusive creatures, and are on an all-too-regular basis... She's his own child!!!

I don't understand it. I don't want to understand it. It's just wrong!

That being said, Bob of Graphic Truth handles the topic well and I highly recommend reading his post. Being the ignorant, naive woman that I am, I know I cannot cover the topic of Dominionism with nearly the depth nor understanding that he has done, so I'm not going to try.

However, discipline is something I know, and what these people are doing is NOT discipline. These people claim to be doing this for religious reasons, a claim Bob rightfully disavows.

And he wants her to feel the pain because he's a SADIST. Not because he's a Christian, and not because he gives a flying flap as to the outcome of the "chastening," other than the obvious reflexive terror and compliance with his whims. A Christian would read their Bible and know that is exactly what Jesus Would Not Do.

I applaud him for that and thank him for bringing this rather distasteful topic to my attention. Besides giving me a great feeling of unwashed yuckiness, which I didn't particularly appreciate, but then again it's not hard to do... It gave me the opportunity and impetus to think about discipline.

First off, discipline is supposed to be an act of love. If it's not an act of love (and I do NOT mean an act of sexual gratification), then it's not discipline.

"Spare the rod, spoil the child," people say.

Well, my Bible is an "Authorized King James version with explanatory notes and cross references to the standard works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." And this is what it has to say:
Proverbs 13:24
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chastenenth him betimes.

This verse, like all Biblical verses, are not properly used in a vaccuum.

Proverbs 13:6
Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.

Proverbs 13:9
The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.

Proverbs 13:13
Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.

Proverbs 13:15
Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.

Proverbs 13:20
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 13:21
Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.

13:15 is my favorite. See, it's not just about beating your child to get your way. The goal is righteousness. It's about loving your child and wanting what's best for him or her, trying to teach them wisdom and faith in the Lord. Only a fool would use the Bible to justify abusing their child. And, as the Bible says, "a companion of fools shall be destroyed," whether it be by the laws of man or the laws of God.

While I do believe corporal punish (I highly discourage the use of an actual rod) is sometimes necessary, it should be age- and transgression-appropriate, and should NOT be a first-resort. The first-resort is teaching your children the right thing to do and praising them thoroughly when they follow your instruction. Now, any parent knows this doesn't always happen. However, punishment still isn't your next step. Loving correction, redirection, and more attempts to teach the right thing to do have to come before the chastising side of discipline.

Basically, the Christian religion makes a very poor excuse for child abuse (even when you only use the Old Testament), and that's what Dominionism is, child abuse.

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At 4/20/2006 1:33 PM, Anonymous Paul said...

IMHO, it's more of a "teaching consequences" approach. Each parent has to decide how to imprint on their adult-in-training the concept of consequences to actions.

I think the really gray area is that nobody I have ever seen thus far has been successful in describing to me which technique to use for each individual child in order to imprint this concept (e.g. beating, time-out, talking, headgames, the bible).

What is clear to me is that there is a direct correlation between the method of this imprint and the ability of these now-adults to function successfully within society.

In this way, everything is seen clearly in retrospect, and psychotherapists, much like stock brokers, can cash in, given their talent to sell the concept that since they know the past, they can influence the future.

I think the solution is that, if the corrective action does not yield the desired results twice in a row, then you're doing it wrong.

At 4/20/2006 4:08 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...


"...technique to use for each individual child in order to imprint this concept..."

I'm not sure if you were acknowledging this or nor, but in my experience children need to be disciplined as individuals. What worked for their sibling or their friend may not work for them. It depends on the personalities and the behaviors of each child. Therefore, I don't really see any way to have an authoratative "right way" to discipline every child. Like most of parenting, it's a trial and error sort of deal.

"I think the solution is that, if the corrective action does not yield the desired results twice in a row, then you're doing it wrong."

I would agree with that entirely, though with the understanding that sometimes even loving, well-educated parents run out of ideas.

At 4/22/2006 6:21 PM, Blogger jakejacobsen said...

While I have zero problem with spanking per se, the whole idea of this creep listening in on the phone is all you really need to know to determine this ain't Christlike, was never intended to be Christlike and is just generally nasty!

At 4/22/2006 8:38 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Amen to that!

At 4/24/2006 11:46 AM, Blogger Bob King said...

My preferred consequence is the Dreaded Eyebrow of Doom followed by the phrase "I am extremely disappointed."

And I've found that approach to work very well. Of course I have a number of other approaches, and of course, in my experience, you have to establish somehow that you are perfectly willing to take things to a logically unpleasant consequence.

But Dominionists START with the premise that the idea is to break the will and install a reflexive, unthinking obedience to authority.

In other words, they are not about imprinting adults to function within this society, they are imprinting adults to create an entirely different society, one we should be distancing ourselves from.

There are quite a number of sources, both from inside and outside of Germany, that suggest that this very same style of parenting documented in "Memoirs of My Nervous Illness"
by Daniel Paul Schreber may have been responsible both for the rise of Nazism - and for it's failure on the field of battle, where the inability of some of the best trained soldiers in the world, with perhaps the most qualified officer corps in the world, could not adapt to failures in the chain of command - that is to say, Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, et al.

I have a saying that I share with anyone I find myself in authority over; "Question Authority; the answers will be on your final exam."

I also say that from time to time, I may require instant obedience. That will never be for a trivial reason. If it's not immediately clear why, ask me after you comply.

I think a leadership model for parenting (with naked force backed by all the power of custom and law held in reserve) is more productive than the Authoritarian model.

I can cite all kinds of reasons, moral and ethical - but it gets down to this; the more authoritarian and top down a structure is, the less flexible it is, and the more rules need to be broken in order to achieve anything within the system.

I would rather teach why rules exist, how to critically examine any given rule for its intent, and understand that sometimes you have to violate the letter in order to fulfill the spirit.

More important, I prefer to be trusted and respected instead of being loathed and feared. I'm sure Dr. Dobson would call me "weak" and "insecure" for that - but then, I'd consider his disapproval of nearly anything to be a good reason to seriously consider doing it at least twice. :P

At 4/25/2006 11:40 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...


I must admit I've never gotten that from Dobson. Before my children were diagnosed with autism, and before we understood why "nothing was working" in the realms of discipline, I read his book, "The Strong Willed Child" (not at all helpful, because it didn't address the issues we were facing, but...) and nothing like what your talking about (in regards to Domionism) was in there. Perhaps it's somewhere else. Dobson seems like a man who's trying to be a good Christian, even if he falls short--after all, everyone of us who tries falls short. It's the nature of the game. But, I've not studied Dobson very much either.

But, then again, as I stated in my post I'm genuinely naive to issues such as this. I mean, knowing parents can be cruel and abusive, knowing children who've been harmed or neglected by their parents... It still doesn't occur to me that somebody somewhere would want to make a practice of this. Most of the parents I'm familiar with had serious drug problems or mental health problems or both...than again, sadism might be considered a mental health problem if it's not checked with morality and/or ethics.

From what I can tell, your take on this is sound. You've obviously looked deeply into this matter, and for good reason. I respect your opinion and am glad you shared it!

At 4/29/2006 9:23 AM, Blogger Bob King said...

Dobson's wikipedia bio
is quite balanced and telling. He's essentially a Theocon and a dominionist. I don't think he'd consider those descriptions to be unfair.

Dobson is a lot saner sounding than others in that movement, but as one of the movers and shakers of it, that simply makes him more dangerous, in my view.

Render unto Caesar, you know? Well, how does making sure which caesar is in power fulfil that mandate?

More critically, and far more damaging, even if done lovingly and with the best intent, is the stated precept that reflexive obedience to authority is always the best path.

Dominionists - and other authoritarian christian sects, such as the Old Catholics - often go so far as to state that authority comes from God, is unquestionable, and to rebel against authority is to rebel against God.

Well, that's just plain old false doctrine. Aside from that, it's a model of society that achieved it's peak and it's nadir with Pharaonic Egypt - depending on the Pharaoh.

I've found that when doctrine goes contrary to common sense or crosswise of human nature, it's most generally a contrivance from someone who wishes to exploit the internal conflicts that such cognitive dissonances bring.

So I'm not so much arguing the means as the ends. Dobson's intent is to mold your children in his image - a goal not unlike that of most such "experts."

IMHO, one need only look at how Dominionists approach other people and other congregations to realize that they confuse external compliance with what they believe to be scriptural Authority with an internalized ethic, or if you will, an informed individual conscience.

Consider that, when combined with "Deliverance theology" and the idea that disobedience and disagreement with authority is caused by a LITERAL "Spirit of Rebellion," and it's easy to see how the theology seems almost purpose-designed as brainwashing tool.

Most importantly, the entire Dominionist worldview and theological set of assumptions fairly much precludes any useful critique of authority. This is common to all such patriarchal schemes, and I point you to Echidne's most interesting viewpoint on a Hasidic succession war that is disturbingly literal. She views it as inherent to the mindset and I tend to agree.

Ignore the money stuff. It's a red herring in what I plan to say about the story. What is crucial here is to note that the grand rabbi was truly the ruler of the sect, that whatever he said was accepted as the ruling and that his reign was quite dictatorial. Patriarchy. True patriarchy shown in action.

Reflect on it a little. We have a social power structure where one old man decides everything, and people go along with this power structure, because it makes life easy for anyone who doesn't want to make decisions and keeps everything clear and simple.

Then the grand rebbe violates the basic rule of the patriarchy by rejecting the first-born son as his heir and favors a younger son instead! What to do???? Here is the absolute authority making a decision that clashes with the way absolute authority is supposed to be administered. Whose side are you going to take here??? Are you going to say that the utmost authority, based on maleness and age, is correct, and that therefore a younger son can be favored over an older one? Or are you going to decide that it's the older son of the great patriarch who is supposed to inherit the earth, whatever the patriarch himself happened to say?


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