A Few Thoughts on Brainwashing :
Finally, in regards to brainwashing and indoctrination, and what the Duggar children have been taught, or how the teachings (Gothard or other) influenced them… I have seen some of the Gothard material, and rumours boldly declare it was used on the girls. I have nothing to substantiate that, so I will simply say some of what he offers is deadly stuff! And if you want healthy adult Christians, stay away from it. But, with no proof Duggars used it, I will assume it was not used until proven otherwise, and will merely comment on the ‘brainwashing’ and ‘indoctrination’ accusations, in a general way…. Because I think we have some warped ideas of what brainwashing is, though I do think some of the material in Gothard’s teaching is the kind that would require it.
If brainwashing is the ‘repeated presentation of beliefs, for the purpose of causing someone to believe what you tell them’, then we are all brainwashed. The whole lot of us, to one extent or another. Listen to the news, and they will try to brainwash you. Start expressing thoughts that collide with socially accepted views and someone will try to brainwash you. (Or accuse you of trying to brainwash them.) If you disagree with homosexuality and express it, you will be told you are guilty of hate, bigoted thinking, intolerance and any number of labels simply for being honest about what you think. The whole Western world didn’t arrive at this kind of ‘general’ thinking without brainwashing. Watch World Vision or Compassion Canada for a show or two, and you will be ‘brainwashed’ or at least the attempt will be made. Go to church or school, and it will happen. Again, presuming that brainwashing is the ‘repeated presentation of beliefs, for the purpose of causing someone to believe what you tell them’. And, if that is what defines it, then all brainwashing is not bad. We take young people whose minds are dark and hopeless, and repeatedly speak positive truth over them, building them up, and see them come to life and hope. That is, potentially, brainwashing, if that is how we define it.
But if we take brainwashing to the ‘being coerced through mind control to believe certain things, with no room for questioning’, then some of the things I listed are not brainwashing. Others are. If the criteria for it not fitting that category of brainwashing is that there is room for believing differently, then World Vision, Compassion and some churches get taken off that list, but it still doesn’t tell us if the Duggar children were brainwashed. For argument’s sake, let’s assume they are. That in mind, what is the right response from us?
If we assume they are brainwashed, then we must also assume that they really believe what they live by and stand for, regardless of how they arrived at it. Take the example of popping out babies. If they are ‘making, baking and delivering’ offspring as naturally as they happen, with no effort to take a break or stop conception, more power to them. That’s their prerogative. Yes, if it’s a ‘this is what you should do as a Christian’ mentality, then there’s probably some brainwashing involved. But many of us have also been brainwashed into believing that two is the perfect number and four is a big family. That is ‘cultural brainwashing’ and isn’t any better, it’s just different. We had five because Tim wanted four, I wanted six, and I was sure I didn’t want an odd number so four it was going to be… except that I discovered I was pregnant right about the time I was going to get my tubes tied. So that’s how we did it. And had a party about it too. No regrets.
These are the ‘little things’–no pun intended–not the big things, like how we respond to molestation, and whose fault we believe it might be, and that kind of thing. If they are brainwashed in those areas, writing them off or not taking them seriously because of it isn’t the answer. I was brainwashed once too, and probably still am in some areas. Come to think of it, I reckon you are too; we all are. For me, getting away from warped belief systems was a very personal journey of asking deep questions, exploring life, getting to know God personally and struggling with Him, as well as the input of loving friends who dared to ask hard questions… These all worked together to transform my beliefs and learning to think for myself. We all live in the beliefs we have in a given moment, based on information someone presented to us, and hopefully are wise enough to make adjustments when we discover our beliefs are faulty. The Duggar children deserve the same space and grace without slapping ‘indoctrination’ and ‘brainwashed’ on their every statement.
The Comparison Between Lena Dunham and Josh Duggar:
In another interview, with Howard Kurtz, host of Fox News Media Buzz they address the ‘ideological battle’ and the political battle this has become. In it, one of the issues brought up is the way the right-wing reacted to Lena Dunham telling of her dreadful sexual behaviours toward her then 1-year-old sister, with no sign of remorse, while not questioning more the issue with the Duggars ‘potentially’ covering up. (Their words, not mine.)
To be completely frank, this thing has bothered me too. We did react to Lena’s casual tossing around of inappropriate acts against her baby sister. We were horrified! And that horror was born out of her apparent (shall we say obvious?) lack of remorse. But then we were also horrified when the left-wing freaked out on Josh Duggar, while having turned a blind eye to the whole Lena Dunham fiasco. Rightfully so. But the imbalance goes both ways….
We immediately compared the left-wing response to Josh Duggar with their response to Lena Dunham, and concluded they are persecuting the Duggars. Having addressed the matter of persecution several posts ago, I’m not going to revisit it. But I will say that we have also been inconsistent in our responses with being so quick to ‘forgive’ Josh and ‘move on’, when demanding accountability from Lena Dunham. Lena was 7 years old when she messed with her baby sister. Tragic? Absolutely! It was not funny in the slightest. However, the reality is she was 7…. Josh was 14. That is twice the age of Lena–who was only 3 years past the preschool years. I presume the greater offence was Lena’s handling of it, but the fact that Josh apologized does not negate the fact that he committed a crime at 14. A juvenile offence, granted, but still a crime. We must concede that the two cases are not comparable, and it was a mistake for us to go there, and that we could have expected a louder ‘outcry’ against a 14-yr-old than a 7-yr-old. (To get a bit of a visual on that gap, put a picture of a 7 year old next to a 14 year old and ask if that is really a fair comparison. And, hopefully having concluded it’s not, let’s be wise as believers, going forward. Because this was not wise.)
However, while not appropriately comparable, the two cases do expose the gap between right-wing and left-wing thinking, on the matters of sexuality, and the individuals in these cases have become pawns in the game. It is not fair to either one of them, or their families. Yes, I wish we could all be confident that the Duggar parents have been completely authentic and forthcoming without a PR team, because the perceived or apparent lack of authenticity has done no favours in establishing trust. The alternative, however, could well be a noose… and maybe that noose would be better in the long run. Who really knows? I cannot help but wonder what we would hear, if they were not told what to say….
Old News, Roman Colluseums & The Hunger Games:
BTW, in older news…. whatever happened to the Bill Cosby scandal? Observation would indicate he has disappeared behind the next and more exciting scandal… Go figure! Maybe the real problem is that we have created our own virtual Roman Colluseum, where we sit by to watch the next entertainer fight the lions, or two draw swords and see who will be the first one down. Maybe our cheering from the sidelines feeds some perverse desire for the emotional slaughter and bloodshed to continue. I’m all for accountability and authenticity, but maybe it’s not about that anymore. Maybe this is our Colluseum, or maybe it’s more like ‘The Hunger Games’ playing out, as one soul after another is hunted and killed as we cheer….
Yet, in the middle of that cheering, the answer is not always to stand silently by. The key (for me) is to acknowledging when ‘our side’ has it wrong, while continuing to stand for the things that really matter. Love, forgiveness, hope, truth, and redemption… Jesus.
~ T ~
TO REGISTER for Lancaster Pennsylvania Conference, July 10-11, 2015 visit: GenerationsUnleashed.com
Well said, all three parts.
And thanks for the good thoughts on brainwashing.