by Richard Packham

Many Christians are not familiar with the abusive parent syndrome. The abusive parent establishes a psychological dominance over the child, frequently by very strict rules and severe but inconsistent physical and psychological punishment. The child usually becomes convinced that he is hopelessly bad, that all the abuse and punishment is deserved, that the parent is being kind and loving in administering the abuse (or arbitrarily deciding to forgive the child without punishment). The parent occasionally showers the child with elaborate gifts. Frequently, both the parent and the child deny the abusiveness of the parent. Now, the point is: that sounds just like the biblical God and the way he treats his "children." It also describes many Christians' statements about God.

The nice things Christians say about their God sound exactly like the nice things that an abused child says about his abusive parent: "Daddy is so nice to me, even though I'm so bad. If he does bad things to me, it's really my fault. He is so wonderful. He takes me to Disneyland and does so many good things for me. I don't deserve all his love." This is what a bruised and battered child might be telling the doctor who is bandaging the cuts, setting the broken bones and bathing the bruises which the father has just inflicted.

Some Christians deny that their God causes us any harm. But the Bible teaches otherwise: God is in control (click here for a discussion).

Actually, the Christian God as described in the Bible is even worse: suppose an abusive father as described above were to get his children together and say something like this: "You are all so wicked and bad that I really ought to kill you all. But I don't want to do that because I am so loving. So how about this? Your older brother is the only one who has always been good and obedient. Suppose I arranged for him to be tortured to death? Then I would be content, and, as long as you always remember that I could do the same to you but don't, we'll always be together. And you needn't worry about him being dead, because he's going straight to heaven."

Isn't that pretty much the same as what the Christian God has done, according to the New Testament and Christian theologians?

To insist that God is kind and loving toward us and to deny that he is also the cause of our griefs and our suffering, having created us as we are, 100% as we are, is a classic example of psychological denial.

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©  1999 Richard Packham    Permission granted to reproduce for non-commercial purposes, provided text is not changed and this copyright notice is included

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"Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!" - Sunday School song