Gothard Message

I write this just a few weeks after Bill Gothard stood down from leadership of the IBLP ministry which he created and has led for decades. Accusations of impropriety have been levelled against him and will be sorted out in due course.

While many people have placed their sights on the ‘man’ I would like to take a moment to reflect on the Message and Ministry which this man of God brought about.

I first heard of Bill Gothard in the early 1990’s when he and a team of young people first came to Australia to present his world famous Basic Seminar. My oldest son, Stephen, in his late teens, attended and returned home wonderfully impacted and transformed by the message and ministry of the IBLP.

Stephen had new perspective on himself, selfishness, godly living, the powerful relevance of God’s word in his life, life purpose, the importance of lifting his game spiritually and much more.

What impacted Stephen was a combination of the teaching received in the Basic Seminar and the encouragement of several young men, not much older than himself, who had applied the things Mr Gothard taught and had wonderful fruit in their lives as a consequence.

My wife and I were so impressed by the impact of the IBLP message and ministry on our son that we quickly made plans to hear the seminars ourselves and to look into the ATI home schooling program. We were already teaching our children at home and wanted to understand this alternative approach.

To attend the seminars our family (minus my two youngest sons) flew to New Zealand and were blessed by what we learned and saw. The young people and families who sought to apply the Biblical principles taught in the seminars were clearly blessed and enriched by doing so.

My family not only began the ATI home-schooling but my three oldest sons enjoyed time at IBLP Headquarters in Chicago and I headed to the USA to attend a seminar for dads, where I was privileged to make some small input as well. I was also privileged to travel with Bill Gothard between Indianapolis and Chicago. One of my sons later attended the Alert training program and we assisted the ministry to get set up in Melbourne, Australia.

As I reflect on that wonderful and life-changing season in our lives I have to thank God for the message and ministry of Bill Gothard. His desire to seek God and to minister effectively led to the creation of a ministry much bigger than himself. Few Christian leaders have had as much impact internationally as Bill Gothard has enjoyed for decades.

Does that make Mr Gothard infallible? Of course not. He is as human as the rest of us. He, like each of us, also has his own personality, style, gifting and focus.

I don’t hold equally to all things taught by the IBLP. But then I don’t hold equally to all things I hear from the pulpit in my home church, or from popular Christian speakers, or from Focus on the Family, Hillsong, the various prophetic voices or Spurgeon.

Whether Bill Gothard has things to answer or his accusers have wronged him there is no mistaking the call of God on his life and the grace of God at work through him to multitudes. My family is testimony to the impact of the Gothard Message and there are tens of thousands who have much the same fruit.

Sadly that fact may be lost in the rumblings that inevitably occur in situations like this.

I have seen several sad evidences of Christians rejoicing that Mr Gothard has ‘fallen’. I can only assume they do not like the message and ministry and cannot see that when a Christian leader is shamed we all suffer. I wonder if those people would be keen to have their past actions exposed for public scrutiny and ridicule.

A Christian leader commented to me in light of Bill Gothard’s current challenges, “There isn’t a preacher alive today who doesn’t have past actions and choices they wouldn’t want made public.”

We also see the inevitable opinion posturing too. People quickly forget our important principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and readily spout their opinion without having first hand knowledge of any of the facts. Christ warns us about this kind of judging of one another – “judge not that you be not judged”. That’s a road I don’t want to go down.

At the same time we see something fresh in the IBLP world. I once observed to Bill Gothard that he does not have a succession plan in place. He was probably little more than 60 at the time. The following day Bill asked, “What if God doesn’t want a successor in place?”

Corporate programming led me to make and impose assumptions on God’s work without thought for God’s plan and purpose. I had to recognise that the IBLP ministry does not belong to me and I have no right to any opinion about how it should be run. That ministry was brought about by God through Bill Gothard and those around him. Any opinion I held was presumptuous and out of place. I left the matter with God and Bill.

With Bill Gothard stepping down we now see the beginnings of a succession process. Others whom God has prepared are able to step into the current gap and exercise their gifts and calling.

Whatever the end result of all of this, I continue to rejoice in Bill Gothard’s message and ministry and the thousands of young people and families established with godly wisdom and insight that I did not have at that same time in my life.

I praise God for the tens of thousands of godly, talented and wise men and women raised up and still being raised up to impact our world with the gospel and the truth of God’s Word.

I pray that God give grace to Bill Gothard and the IBLP ministry. As is always the case when human life is compared with Christ, “He must increase but we must decrease”. But it is also true that “God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”.

I encourage all those who have also been blessed by Bill Gothard’s message and ministry to hold fast that which is good and continue to live for the one who is eternal and for His eternal purposes on the earth.

Brave New World

Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World – Blueprint for Humanist Utopia

The following notes were written for the benefit of students given Brave New World as a study text. They are provided here for anyone who may be interested.

While Aldus Huxley claims to have written Brave New World in reaction to the direction he saw American society and technology taking the whole world in the “roaring” 1920’s, as if Huxley himself did not subscribe to the values exposed in that Brave New World, it is clear that many readers see Huxley’s book as defining the parameters of an ideal humanist utopia which they subscribe to.

Evidence the work of David Pearce who created the Huxley.net website which focuses specifically on Brave New World. Pearce anticipates achievement of the Brave New World and has his own suggestions as to the appropriate drugs to replace Huxley’s ‘soma’ while he also keeps track of genetic manipulation capable of enabling man to be free from various ills. Pearce speaks of “paradise-engineering” to bring about a world where physical and mental pain are removed and new levels of ecstasy can be achieved.

Huxley’s Brave New World proves to be not a mere mockery of American social direction, but the clearest articulation of the humanist ideal.

With that in mind a review Huxley’s paradise gives many insights into the humanist imperative and the moral framework that inspires many in today’s society.

The Humanist Utopia

BRAVE NEW WORLD represents the cry of the humanist heart to escape from morality.

Utopia, as seen through the eyes of Huxley, involves total sexual liberation from the earliest age, total liberation from the consequence of sexual activity (through contraception and abortion), escape from morality, indulgence of every impulse quickly and completely, and removal of family, God and Christianity, in order to remove remorse, fear, guilt, shame, condemnation, and so on.

But this utopia has not been achieved.

The Judeo-Christian ethic which stands in contrast to humanism is that this is a MORAL UNIVERSE and all attempts to pretend otherwise will fail.

Humanist Heroes

Huxley invokes the prophets of his age who he sees as affirming the humanist myth of escape from morality.

They include: Freud’s insights that sexual repression (moral responsibility) spawns human ills; Haekel’s already debunked fraud about human development in the womb; Pavlov’s ideas of conditioning; ideas of programming of the human mind (believing that mind is the centre of the matter); chemical reductionism (all human behaviour is nothing more than a response to chemical or other stimuli within the biology); etc.

Huxley also, we must assume, holds to the Darwinian beliefs his own grandfather so virulently asserted.

So what of Huxley’s heroes? Darwin shrinks devoid of any of the evidence he expected and shrivelled by the unveiling of life’s complexities. Freud shrinks to just one of many competing voices crying in the psychological wilderness, with little currency in today’s eclectic world of psycho-babble. Haekel’s drawings were already exposed as fraud but have since been roundly exposed and deliberate deception. Pavlov’s salivating dogs have been displaced by all manner of psychological oddities and assumptions. Chemical reductionism has failed to stand as a credible explanation for human free will.

Comparing Humanist Artefacts in Huxley and Greene

Similarly to Richard Greene’s The Quiet American a humanist worldview is clearly evident in Brave New World, exposing the prevailing thought of the educated elite in the early part of last century. (Richard Greene’s The Quiet American is another literature text given to students to review.)

Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1931 and through it, and through Huxley’s comments 15 years later in his 1946 Foreword, we are given insight into the ideas that influenced the cadre of writers, philosophers and world influencers of the first half of the twentieth century. Huxley saw himself as a member of the ‘intellectual class’ (Foreword 1946) and is hailed as writing one of the most significant texts of his day. So we can be justified in performing an autopsy on Huxley’s ideas and the thinking of that past era.
By such process we shall likely see insights into the value of those ideas and also possibly see how those ideas have morphed into ideas held by today’s educated elite.

While Huxley revolts at the direction Americanisation was relentlessly taking the rest of the world and the ultimate tyranny of his suggested outcome, he also holds to the humanist values that underpin that inherent direction of applied science as he prophetically saw it heading. Huxley’s prophetic insight was based on interpretation of the popular notions shared among the intellectual class of his day. Brave New World was nonetheless the utopia envisaged by the educated elite of Huxley’s day.

It is interesting to note parallels between Huxley’s bold suggestions of 1931 and the values expressed by Greene in his 1952 book, The Quiet American.
Two decades had not changed the prevailing ideas but had seen them become more ubiquitously and more a natural aspiration of the average educated man (represented by Greene’s characters).

To clarify an obvious connection note that Huxley’s utopia centred on sex and drugs and man’s ability to abandon responsibility.
The life of Greene’s main character, Thomas Fowler, is also centred on sex, drugs and exemption from past commitments.
Both Huxley and Greene see the need to address and dispense with the place and presence of the divine and both present an ideal of life free from the imposition of an external moral being.

Sex, drugs and irresponsibility found wider expression in the second half of last century with the explosion of the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll Sexual Revolution of the 1960’s.
The humanistic, self-indulgent rejection of morals that Huxley and Greene each presented and which were at one time the preserve of those pursuing a bohemian lifestyle, became a widespread cultural revolution that morphed into the many cultural and social issues of today.

In the 8 decades since Huxley’s expose of the humanist ideal we have seen progressive abandonment of the traditional Christian values promoted and upheld in the western world for centuries, and in consequence we have seen drug addiction, family breakdown, domestic violence, youth suicide, depression and other signs of social decline swell in significance and that humanist ideal become much more widely pursued.

What we see in the writings of Huxley and Greene and their peers is the rise of the religion of humanism in the west, swamping the values of Christianity which had undergirded western society for centuries.
To members of the ‘intellectual class’, defiance of God through reliance on scientific breakthrough would relieve them of moral responsibility and allow them to indulge their human passions readily and with impunity.
These intellectuals could have no higher existence than serving their own wishes and making contribution to the anti-God campaign.

The Huxley Calling

Aldus Huxley’s grandfather, Thomas Huxley, was so virulent a force in promoting evolution he was dubbed “Darwin’s Bulldog”.
Thus ‘defying God’ was a family tradition for the Huxley’s. Aldus knew that he too was to play his part.

Yet for all his bravado and evangelistic effectiveness, Darwin’s Bulldog is now exposed as selling an empty box.
None of Darwin’s concepts or expectations stood up to scientific scrutiny.
So much so that today’s evolutionists seek completely different possibilities for evolution than Darwin proposed.
The evidences promulgated so effectively by the elder Huxley have therefore clearly proven faulty.
Today’s evolutionists cannot yet provide any convincing proofs for their theory despite those proofs being sought in earnest for more than a century.

The elder Huxley spoke as an evangelistic voice selling a bag of goods that proved to be spurious.
We need not, thus, be squeamish about inspecting the younger Huxley’s bag of goods and testing the true nature of what he dished up to his audience educated in humanist thought and eager to have formal permission for their longed for self-serving lifestyle.

Applied Science

Huxley’s humanist world is anchored in what he calls ‘applied science’, which we would today simply call technology.
The Brave New World utopia could only come into existence through applied science empowering man to transcend such horrors as the fear of death, the aging process, family relationships, unwanted pregnancy, frustration of personal will, and addiction and other side effects of drug use.

Huxley’s fiction starts by first introducing us to the use of applied science to create man in the image of man’s choosing.
The Hatching and Conditioning factory involves a completely controlled artificial womb created by applied science, where temperature, chemical exposure and other stimuli are used to control the ultimate ‘human’ (or maybe subhuman) output.

More on the Humanist Heroes

In Huxley’s establishing scenes of man creating man to serve man’s will we gain insight into identity of the luminaries Huxley saw bringing applied science to the fore.

To the intellectual elite no greater honour can be conferred than to be acknowledged by peers, quoted by them, and even to have some process or truth named after you.
So in the humanist world of applied science the ‘prophets’ are not Confucius, Buddha, Moses or Paul, but such names as Marx, Freud, Kinsey and Pavlov.
That these names are still honoured today speaks to their status as primary voices or significant contributors to the humanist cause.
Such men are the gurus or holy men of humanism.

Huxley reflects the formula of giving honour to the humanist scientist by building their names into the key processes by which they made his utopia possible. We find reference to a Bokanovski’s Process and Podsnap’s Technique and respect for a Pilkington at Mombasa. Enshrining the name of men who are revered is automatic to Huxley.

Apart from fictitious names for processes not yet invented, Huxley exposes his own reverence for men who have advanced the humanist utopian ideal.

Haekel

In chapter 1 we find reference to Haekel’s ‘embryonic recapitulation’ pseudo-science.
Without mentioning Haekel that man’s myth is keenly affirmed:
“The embryos still have gills. We immunize the fish against the future man’s diseases.”
Haekel’s fraud was exposed in the 1890’s but still promoted in “science” (?) textbooks since that time, including being attested to as fact by the NSW education system in 2012.
Haekel’s deliberately deceptive drawings were further exposed at the end of last century when correct embryo images were collated to show the degree of gross misrepresentation engaged in by this fraudster.

In Brave New World not only is Haekel’s fraud presented confidently but its logical deception is also stated in the words “future man’s diseases”, as if the embryo is not yet “man” but something sub-human.

One of the pivotal platforms for humanist thought is that man is not truly man in the sense taught by Christianity, but a mere accident of chance and even in the womb is nothing more than an animal that can be tamed or manipulated into whatever others choose it to be, or even destroyed without thought. Huxley’s utopia is built soundly upon that premise.

Mass Production

Also looming large in Huxley’s view of the world, as a luminary who will usher in the Brave New World, is Henry Ford, the champion of mass production. To Huxley the application of production line process, as Ford famously achieved, signalled much more than efficient manufacture, but the prospect of just about anything being controlled by man’s technology.
Thus Huxley evokes the image of human embryos relentlessly subjected to production line process.

Today ‘Who is Ford?’ While production line ingenuity seemed to be a compelling breakthrough to Huxley in 1930 no-one today is at all likely to deify, or even give too much thought to “Fordism”.
We are much more enamoured with the innovations that gave us Microsoft, Apple and Khan Academy. Technology has given us much more than Henry Ford’s clunky Model T, and remote third world countries now produce for us base model vehicles that make Ford’s efforts look archaic.
Production line processes pale into insignificance compared with the transistor and microchip and the benefits of the world-wide-web.

Despite such incredible advance in technology, production processes, robotics, miniaturisation, and so on since 1931 we are not any closer to Huxley’s utopian artificial womb. Henry Ford did not offer us anything more than mass produced goods. And since Ford’s day we have become much better at mass production of identical manufactured items. Ford is forgotten and mankind, family, happiness and pain continue as ever before.

Pavlov

In Chapter 2 we find another of Huxley’s luminaries in Pavlov, with his name enshrined in the ‘Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning Rooms’. The Brave New World has supposedly refined the science of conditioning to train children to react as per the programming. It seems that Pavlov’s admirers once salivated in anticipation of a Brave New World.

But did the great Pavlov give us anything any granny with a cat did not already know? Pavlov conditioned dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell, in anticipation of the meal that normally accompanied that sound. For this he is a humanist hero, having unlocked the human psyche (or the dog psyche anyway).
Yet when a cat owner opens the refrigerator, starts to open a tin of cat food, or taps the can the pet will come running and licking its lips. And if the stooped old widow is opening the fridge for herself or just opening a can of baked beans the preconditioned cat response is elicited as reliably as in Pavlov’s laboratory.

Wow! The great Pavlov stands beside the stooped granny feeding her cat. And the control of man is no closer than it was when cats first domesticated us.
Why then is Pavlov adored? He was part of the educated elite, not a stooped old granny. And he provided a cogent promise that by discovering what was already known for past millennia he was unlocking new horizons for the future.

I am reminded of the 2,000 year old warning that “professing themselves to be wise they became fools” (Paul the student of Gamaliel).

Note that in the application of Pavlovian conditioning Huxley has no qualms about inflicting pain and denying people their god-given right to choose freely. Cruelty to infants, which would be condemned if it was in the form of parental discipline of the child, is seen as noble when inflicted painfully and repeatedly upon an entire generation in order to make them become something they may not want to be.
All hail humanism. It stands against the cruelty of punishment for crime as a means of raising moral character and advocates far greater cruelty (even torture) to enslave the minds of people so they don’t get in the way of others who want to have their fun without moral responsibility.
And Pavlov, not the granny with her cat, can be hailed as the scientific luminary who legitimises this cruelty. I suspect Granny is perfectly happy for that.

This Pavlovian conditioning process is consistent with Huxley’s persistent idea that man is the end of the matter and that man can be freely tampered with by man.

Getting Rid of God

In his 1946 Foreword Huxley exposes his humanist religious commitment through his definition of ‘religion’.
“Religion would be the conscious and intelligent pursuit of man’s Final End”.
This definition is man centric, thus humanist. It is in effect a pursuit of transcendence, arriving at the idealised state represented by the humanist notion of “Tao or Logos, the transcendent Godhead or Brahman”.
This humanist pursuit is to become an enlightened being, to so find oneself and so effectively pursue self-help personal development principles, as to have arrived at a higher state of consciousness where man has risen above the mundane and become a higher being.
This is thus a religion in which one saves oneself. Human saving human. This is the religion of Humanism, not the fear of God.

Interestingly in Greene’s The Quiet American, his American character, Alden Pyle, holds to the religious beliefs of Unitarianism and Christian Science, both which compromise the core values of traditional Christianity and accommodate the humanist idea of man’s effective effort to save self.

Rather than recognising an eternal, self-existent being who exists separate from and as creator and lord over all we know, and to whom we therefore owe allegiance and by whom we will be measured in comparison with his holy standards, Huxley (and Greene) project man as the ultimate being, in pursuit of his own happiness and not accountable to any external, holy being.
Thus in both cases man can do what is convenient or whatever he chooses, with his only challenge being to use applied science to overcome any negative effects which may occur (such as unwanted pregnancy).

In Huxley’s mind, representative of the humanist belief system, there is no greater morality than man. Technology is progressively liberating man from the consequences of actions otherwise seen as immoral (unwanted pregnancy, conflict with others, personal hurt and pain) and removing the obstacles to man’s pursuit of happiness.
Education and science are man’s greatest assets and those who find the keys to greater release from consequences or who can prop up man’s rejection of God automatically become heroes of the faith and prophets to be revered.

Educating and Deceiving

Huxley’s humanist ideas of man elevating himself are further disclosed in the process by which the Savage achieves higher levels of civility and awareness. The operative elevating agency is study, and specifically the study of Shakespeare.

This fits the ‘educated elite’ notion that education is a means of salvation.
If Shakespeare can ennoble the Savage, then those and other worthy writings of the masters can ennoble anyone. If one can be elevated to civility by study of good literature then what are the ultimate limits of such elevation? Cannot man continue to ennoble himself, lifting self higher and higher out of the morass of ideas and experience that bring pain? Thus the humanist ululation when one of their own provides a new insight that promises to advance the cause, such as a Pavlov giving scientific credence to a common observation.

Sadly we see abundant evidence that the educated elite and others held by the humanist ideology have no qualms about propagating fraud as fact and holding to outdated ideas that have lost their credibility, as we saw with Huxley’s propagation of Haekel’s fraudulent work. To admit that man cannot save himself and that the case against God has no witnesses is to cut the very ground from under the feet of those who have committed their whole life to the humanist belief system and a morality that has clearly put them in the anti-God camp. Human pride and self-will must clutch at straws rather than admit error and moral responsibility.

Note that for all the ennobling power of education and fine literature touching the soul, Huxley recognised the limits of this force. Education can ennoble, but it cannot save. It can improve life, but it cannot provide power over broader forces. We see this enacted in the ultimate suicide of the ennobled savage. For all his ability to see better and realise ‘self’ more fully, the savage ultimately succumbed to despair in the futility of his situation.

Sadly we see a history of similar defeat among humanist intellectuals who find that all their pursuits leave them without the ultimate freedom and power they hoped for.

Feminism

Feminist elements of humanism are also encapsulated in Huxley’s expose. While man and woman are indulged with unlimited ‘Free Sex’ (as DH Lawrence referred to it in Sons and Lovers) without the entanglements of relationships that may sour over time or emotional holds that may not be wanted, womankind is released from the impost of pregnancy. Contraception and Abortion are everyday resources of women in the Brave New World, and viviparous mothering is a shocking thought. (Viviparous: “Giving birth to living offspring that develop within the mother’s body.”)

For the feminist hedonist the impositions of motherhood, impacting the body during pregnancy and challenging the body’s natural youthful state in consequence of pregnancy and breast-feeding a baby, and the continued impositions of child raising, denying the carefree options available to a non-parent, and tying the mother into an ongoing connection with the child and the child’s father are anathema and must be removed by applied science.

In Huxley’s Brave New Society these womanly impositions are completely removed and woman is as free as a single male, unafraid of the impact of motherhood, and thus viviparous motherhood is an obscene prospect. And the imposition of child raising is also removed by children being raised by the state, without consciousness of mother and father or other family connections.

In the 8 decades since Huxley’s writing we see the efforts of technologists and policy makers to push the envelope in regard to these humanist and feminist ideals, with the 1960’s introduction of the contraceptive pill, 1970’s no-fault divorce, abortion on demand, expanded child care, extended institutionalised education, more working women, greater legal recognition of de-facto relationships and so on.

The Greater Good

Explicit in Brave New World is gross social engineering, manipulating life as one might prune a tree or treat an animal. Justification for such blatant enslavement and torture is achievement of a better equilibrium for all.

The greater good imposed on all is of man’s making and allows certain individuals, ‘controllers’, to dictate the fate of entire generations. The problem emerges, however, that if there are no external moral absolutes by which goodness can be defined, then the greater good is an empty notion, where the will of one is forced upon another.

The Savage and those others who had achieved self identity and did not want to live within the confines of the Brave New World tyranny suffered under the weight of the greater good. The greater good cannot exist without identification of the greatest good. And the greatest good invokes the present and person of one who is ultimately holy and good, against whose standards all of man’s thought and action are measured.

Noble Savage

It is interesting that Huxley’s counterpoint to the Brave New World is represented through an educated savage. The title “savage” is repeatedly assigned this individual from the native reservation. This suggests an intention to tease at the notion of the Noble Savage, “an idealized concept of uncivilized man, who symbolizes the innate goodness of one not exposed to the corrupting influences of civilization.”

It seems that in Huxley’s expose of the Brave New World we are meant to identify with the concerns of the savage and to see in him the better way than a technologically manipulated society. The savage embraced learning, by reading Shakespeare, and is thus ennobled. He seeks an independent lifestyle, of his own making, not controlled by the society at large.

Sadly for the savage he is unable to escape the impost of that other society which does not share his values and which continually interferes with his highest ideals. Thus the savage takes his life.

That act of suicide is a pessimistic recognition that the ubiquitous forces of American cultural projection cannot be stopped and will eventually destroy all vestiges of independent thought and life.
Hail the Brave New World!

Comparing Humanism and Christianity

Comparing the humanist Utopian ideal presented in Brave New World with the prevailing Christian beliefs that the Brave New World stood against the three most obvious pillars of that world stand in stark contrast to the classical Christian values upon which the ancient Monarchy and English culture stand.

Those three most obvious pillars in Brave New World are:
Man’s power over life, as evidenced in the incubator, conditioning facilities, contraception and abortion processes;
Self-indulgent living, with freedom from consequences, as evidenced in the free sex and addiction free drug usage; and
Freedom from moral accountability, as seen in the removal of family ties, committed relationships and consciousness of an external moral Creator God.

In contrast, traditional Biblical Christianity teaches that:
Life is created by God and thus man can only have power over life within the confines of God’s moral precepts;
Man is to live according to the will and pleasure of God, and must deny selfish impulses and form godly character in so doing; and
Man is fully morally accountable to God for every word, thought and act, and must also accommodate himself to the demands of family and social relationships.

Thus the values of the Brave New World, when presented in 1931, were a bold affront to all that is Christian in the western world. Its shock value would have been much greater in its day, since the decline in consciousness of Christian teaching and the loosening of morals has been significant in the past eighty years.

Resentment Revisited 2

This is the second part of an article exposing our human tendency to withhold forgiveness and to allow resentment, bitterness and anger to rule our hearts. (see below for links to the first 2 articles on Resentment: Resolving Resentment and Resentment Revisited)

Our human heart objects to forgiving others and relies on several tricks to excuse its unforgiveness.  One trick is to give partial forgiveness and then stop forgiving, as if you now have a right to be hard hearted, because you have already shown grace.

We saw that resentments come from our unresolved issues of the past, where withholding forgiveness makes issues out of those things we hold onto.  Now let’s look at another source of resentments.

The Way I Want It

Another source of resentments is our selfish desire to have things our way.  We all want to be loved, valued and appreciated, and we all want to have an easy life if we can get it.

Once we have determined the way we want things to be we can easily fall into resentment of those who upset our plans, block fulfilment of our will and so on.

If we don’t get the attention we want from family, spouse or friends we can become resentful.

If our spouse and family continually frustrate our hopes and dreams we can become resentful.

If our personal capacities let us down we can resent ourself and even resent God for making us with such limitations.

If you want peace and quiet you will resent those who take it from you.  If you want lots of intimacy, you will resent the spouse that is not interested.  If you want to live in a big house you will resent those that obstruct that objective.  If you want to be the centre of attention you will resent those you must compete with and those who don’t value you as much as you want.

“We weren’t supposed to start a family so quickly.”  “I wasn’t counting on your health being such a problem.”  “I didn’t expect your family to be so interfering.”  “Why don’t people just leave me in peace?”  “I really thought you were going to make something of yourself.”  “I never expected you to be so much like your mum.”  “I thought I could trust you to make wise decisions but you just keep messing things up.”

How do you like things to be?  Do your spouse and family frustrate your hopes and dreams?  Have you forgiven them yet or are you carrying resentment toward them?

It Is Not Fair

Justice issues are another interesting area of resentment.  Are you intolerant of injustice?  Such intolerance appears to be very noble, but you may actually be a slave to bitterness.

I have seen people get on their high horse, as the expression has it, and go charging into a situation in defence of justice.  They are incensed by something they will not let pass: someone wrongly judged; someone not sharing properly; selfishness displayed; or whatever.  The justice champion cannot but dive into the situation and berate the offender.

A common expression of this motivation is the “It’s not fair!” claim so readily heard from the mouth of children.  What they are really saying is, “I’m offended by that”.

A wise parent teaches a child that life is not fair and that each of us must respond to our situations with godly character, grace and faith.  In the absence of such wisdom children learn to fight about the matter of fairness and become demanding, intolerant, hyper-sensitive and so on.

Don’t be fooled by your noble and righteous indignation at those who are selfish, arrogant, loud, exploitative, thoughtless or whatever.  I dare suggest that your reactions are evidence of issues you have not resolved, rather than a divine calling to right the wrongs on earth.

Cleaning the Garage

As I visited friends a few weeks ago I saw their neighbour trying to clean out her garage.  The mother of the family directed the exercise and her tone and demands clearly indicated that she was driving the project and had little trust in getting the help she needed voluntarily.

She shouted like a sergeant-major and found fault with the efforts of her husband and teenage son.  Within half an hour the husband drove off at high speed, revving his motor in what seemed to be a show of machismo, as if to say he is a real man and not really dominated by his wife.  The husband did not return until the whole ordeal was well over.  Several hours later the woman was still scolding the children helping her.  She was on a crusade and it sounded like a dreaded ordeal for all involved.

She probably had very good reasons to act as she did.  Her husband probably lets her down repeatedly.  Her children probably resent being recruited into her projects and subjected to her ugly attitude and tone.  It is probably a toxic experience for everyone.

And that’s consistent with the warning in Hebrews.  If you allow a root of bitterness to grow inside you then many people will be defiled (Hebrews 12:15 ).  In fact, the whole process gets poisoned.

And in such a case it is probably impossible to imagine handling the situation differently, without any resentment, but with plenty of grace.

Resentment Free

If all resentment was removed and thorough forgiveness given then there would be no hurt, disappointment, frustration, shame or similar negatives in the way of getting the job done.

In such a case a happy discussion and negotiation could be explored to see how best to achieve the objective.  Where disagreement exists then godly wisdom can be applied to come to a gracious agreement that does not grow a crop of bitterness.

Accusations and vilifications would not occur.  Despairing thoughts and emotional outbursts would not be part of the process.  Any ruffled feathers would be soon smoothed over by finding God’s grace and keeping that grace as the key quality of the whole exchange.

Manipulation would not be resorted to, nor taking command of the lives of others so as to squeeze from them the required obedience.

And I think to myself (to quote a line from a song), “What a wonderful world!

How Else

Many a frustrated person will protest by asking, “If I don’t get angry and let people know how they let me down, how can I get them to do the right thing?”

I fully sympathise with the question, but please stop a moment and consider its implications.

The only mechanism you have developed in order to get things done to your satisfaction is an evil and toxic mechanism.  You are highly unqualified to lead any project at all if your skill set is limited to anger and abuse.  Rather than being a person of grace who can bless, train and lead others, you are so limited that your only powertool is toxic treatment of others.  You are actively sowing poison into others in order to get your will followed.

And who is to say your ideas of the “right thing” are correct?  If you have to contend with people to get them to fit in with your idea of what is right, then maybe you are the one who is out of order.

Why is YOUR way or YOUR priority, which others don’t seem to be supporting, the way that must be enforced?  What if you are trying to control and drive people to fulfil your agenda when God does not care as much for your agenda as you do?

Remember Martha telling Jesus to force Mary to do what Martha wanted, and Jesus saying that Martha had it wrong (see Luke 10:38-42).

Put Down that Knife

If you are a control freak, totally sold out to the offences that drive you, and determined to have your way, your justification, your vengeance or whatever else YOU think is vital, then you will have already gagged at what I am saying.  You will have your knives drawn to cut me down to size and let me know how justified you are in being angry, resentful, indignant, controlling and demanding, since you are standing on holy ground and everyone else is mired in irresponsibility, foolishness and self will.

But remember the words of Christ.  If you do not forgive you will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14).  If you demand that others pay their debt to you then God will deliver you into the hands of ‘tormentors’ (Matthew 18:34,35).  And the torment you display suggests you are already under God’s sentence of punishment.

Check out my article titled Resolving Resentment to see the Biblical basis for these claims.

You have abandoned God’s grace and the mental and emotional distress that now drives you to torment others is a stinking mess that YOU have made.  Others have not made it for you.

You desperately need to apply forgiveness to all those who incense you and who you feel so offended by.  If you do not then you are doomed to deeper misery than you currently have and you will burn off more and more of your family and friends.  You are TOXIC, despite your prideful belief that you are on God’s side.

Better Solutions

People are selfish and irresponsible.  Your spouse, family, friends and associates fit that description.  You will be let down and hurt by those people.  That’s an everyday part of life.

You will either resent life or you will bring God’s grace into it.  As you learn to forgive and extend grace to people who do not deserve it, just as you want God to extend His grace to you when you don’t deserve it, life will become a blessing and a joy, instead of a wrangle.

In order to resolve differences and difficulties you have with your spouse, family or friends, you are best to start with a clean heart and free spirit.  Resentment, anger, frustration, jealousy, wilfulness, prejudice, and the like are barriers to the better solutions you need.  Remove those barriers immediately by giving open hearted forgiveness to all those who offend you.

Then work with God and your spouse, family and friends to find a godly and blessed solution.

You may have to change your priorities, because they are unrealistic.  You may have to accept others for who they really are, not who you want them to be.  You may need to inspire others to see the merit of things you hold dear.  You may need to see the wisdom of their different way of doing things, and give up your limited concepts about how things and what things are to be done.

You Choose

There are only two options in dealing with the upsets of life.  You either find and give God’s grace to those who offend and fail you, or you become bitter toward them, a root of bitterness springs up in your life and you and many others become defiled.

If your relationships involve contention, argument, disappointment, resentment, wrangling, hardness of heart, or similar negative elements, then you have already made bad choices in the past and are living with the toxic results.

I don’t have to live your life or live with you.  If you want to go ahead and mangle your life then do so as much as you want.  But please don’t live in deception any longer.  You are not a noble agent of God, but a miserable, selfish and bitter person who has personally chosen to come under the power of evil and to damage all those around you.  If you choose to live in unforgiveness then you have everything you deserve.

If you are willing to humble yourself, let me encourage you with this wonderful news.  By you simply following God’s instructions, forgiving all who offend you, God’s grace and His heavenly blessings will be released into your life, no matter how desperately bad things are right now.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your offspring may live” Deuteronomy 30:19

The earlier articles on Resentment can be found by these links:
Resolving Resentment http://chrisfieldblog.com/2012/01/02/resolving-resentment
Resentment Revisited (part 1) http://chrisfieldblog.com/2012/09/12/resentment-revisited

Resentment Revisited

Resentment is probably the most prevalent disease in relationships and marriages today.

In my previous Resolving Resentment article (http://chrisfieldblog.com/2012/01/02/resolving-resentment) I showed how Forgiveness is the key to unlocking and removing the resentments that poison relationships.

I now revisit Resentment to help bring home its presence and to help people grapple with its impact in their heart and home.  This article is in 2 parts so after you have read this, look for Resentment Revisited 2 to complete the thoughts I want to share with you.

Resisting Forgiveness

Our human heart is totally selfish and proud.  It resists forgiveness and chooses resentment.  Resentment is really just a soft label for bitterness.  Bitterness is totally toxic and means we have refused to show God’s grace to those we are offended by or angry with.

Our determination to be bitter means we quickly develop a variety of Objections to Forgiveness.  And what is more we can even pride ourselves that we gave partial forgiveness and have put up with the other person better than others might.  At heart we can be real ‘stinkers’!

Limited Forgiveness

A common approach to forgiveness is to give Partial Forgiveness and to applaud ourselves for doing so.  At heart we are Objecting to forgiveness, and using Partial Forgiveness as a way out of forgiveness.

We see an example of this in Peter the Apostle.  Peter accepted Jesus’ teaching about the need to forgive, but in his heart Peter really wanted to take a hard stand against those who offended him.  Look at the historical record of the event, recorded for us by Matthew the Tax Collector.

“Then came Peter to him (Jesus), and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times? Jesus said to him, I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21,22

Peter thought that forgiving his brother SEVEN times was pretty good.  Imagine being offended by the same person the same way Seven Times!  That would be SO offensive.  Forgiving someone Seven times sounds pretty impressive under those circumstances.

Surely there has to be a limit to forgiveness.  If a husband continues to forget anniversaries, continues to drink too much, continues to embarrass his wife in public, continues to waste money, continues to ignore his wife’s advice, or continues any other offensive behaviour, then SURELY there must be a limit to any forgiveness.

And what about a wife who continues to ignore her husband’s wishes, continues to rubbish him to her friends, continues to nag him about his failings, continues to manipulate him, continues to frustrate his interest in intimacy, or continues any other offensive behaviour?  Surely there must be a limit to forgiveness in such cases.

Unlimited Forgiveness

Jesus responded to Peter’s question about limited forgiveness by saying there is no real limit to forgiveness.  We are to forgive and keep on forgiving.  What ever we think is our absolute limit needs to be multiplied ten times and then multiplied by the original number all over again.

If we offer ‘partial forgiveness’ then we have not truly forgiven.

And there is nothing to boast about that we have put up with this or that for so long or so many times.  There is no room for pride in our partial forgiveness.

What Really Happens

People normally put up with something that bothers them for a while, then decide they have a right to explode, react, get angry, resent the action and be bitter toward the offender.  People even see their short lived patience as a badge of honour and they usually broadcast the fact that they have been tolerant, as if that excuses their anger, resentment and final UNFORGIVENESS.

“I haven’t said anything for three days, but you just keep on doing what you are doing and so, ENOUGH is ENOUGH!”  “I’ve had a belly full of your behaviour and I’m not taking it any more.”  “This has gone TOO FAR!”  “I’ve been patient with you, and I haven’t said anything before, but I just have to tell you that I am angry with what you are doing.”  “You have no idea what you have put me through and how patient I have been!”

Despite all those high sounding self affirmations about how wonderful we have been putting up with the other person’s faults, what really happens is that we give in to Unforgiveness.  We choose to be Unforgiving and to then be angry, resentful, judgmental, condemning, etc.

Our pride justifies our anger and unforgiveness and we commend ourselves for having temporarily endured the offence, when in truth we have violated God’

Human Limits

Whether we actually ‘forgive’ or just try to tolerate the other person’s behaviour for a while we usually have pretty short limits.  Peter thought that forgiving SEVEN times was pretty impressive.

It could even be that Peter was proud of his incredible willingness to forgive an offender Seven times.  He had no hesitation in offering the idea to Jesus, as if it was a pretty good offer.

Our human hearts are evil and so we don’t want to act like God or Christ and to forgive.  That is why Christ warned us that if we do not forgive we will not be forgiven, Matthew 6:15.  We are so prone to reacting badly to other people’s failures, while wanting to be excused from our own.

Resentment is Resentment

Whether you give in to resentment the instant you are offended, or whether you forgive someone seven times before you give in to resentment, Resentment is still Resentment.  Anger is still anger.  Bitterness is still bitterness.  Unforgiveness is till unforgiveness, even if you gave partial forgiveness for a while before you reverted to unforgiveness.

Your temporary tolerance, incredible patience and limited forgiveness don’t count for anything.  You have allowed a root of bitterness to spring up and to defile you and those around you (Hebrews 12:15).  Your heart reaction is wrong, and you failed to give God’s grace to someone who needs it.

What is more, you set yourself up as judge.  Despite God’s warnings that we are not to judge others (Matthew 7:1) a person who becomes angry and resentful has stood in judgement of someone.  In fact, they have set themselves up as “Judge, Jury and Executioner”!  They judge the person to be out of order, find them to be “guilty” and then prescribe the punishment.  The punishment is that the offender is subjected to the anger and resentment of the one standing in judgement.

Our choice to resent someone means we think we can stand in God’s place and lord ourselves over the other person.  And that’s pride.

Growing Your Resentments

Where do resentments come from?  Obviously they come from our decision to be angry and unforgiving toward those who offend us.

By that process, however, we each grow our own garden of resentments, based on our past decisions about the things we will resent.  Some people have a flourishing garden of resentments and live their lives in a perpetual state of reaction to people who offend them.

Since this is so very debilitating, as well as against God’s instruction to show grace to people and even to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43,44), we should have a closer look at how this process takes place in our lives.

People I Dislike

When we are offended by a person or a situation and allow resentment to spring up we easily become resentful of all people or situations that remind us of that original offence.

You will be familiar with the idea that, “I just can’t stand people like that!”  Whatever the “like that” is in your case, and whatever it is that you can’t stand, it represents a pet resentment you are growing in your life.

The problem for you is that you have been offended in the past and not given forgiveness to the one who offended or wronged you.

Guess what might be unresolved in your life if you say things like these.  “I can’t stand bossy people.”  “I can’t tolerate such injustice.”  “That look on someone’s face makes my blood boil.”  “I have absolutely no time for people like that.”  “Don’t raise your eyebrows at me when I’m talking to you!”  “You just think you’re SO superior, don’t you.”  “I’m not going to let that happen to me ever again.”  “I won’t have someone looking down at me.”
People have issues about being belittled, ignored, misunderstood, misrepresented, falsely accused, taken for granted, used and rejected.  Some people engage the rest of their lives trying to even some score, prove some point, vindicate themselves, right some wrong or otherwise react to some offence they have never forgiven.

Learned Intolerances

Every time we fail to show God’s grace to someone who wrongs us we become trapped in bitterness.  We are warned that the only alternative to giving grace is to have a “root of bitterness” spring up in our life (Hebrews 12:15).

We don’t like the word ‘bitterness’ so we use such terms as resentment, anger, frustration and intolerance, because those things sound reasonable, and can even be justified as a righteous response to someone else’s evil.

The examples can be quite obvious, like having a bossy older sister causing people to be intolerant of strong minded women.  At the same time we each have unique and personal opportunities to learn intolerance toward certain types of people or behaviour.  Our intolerance is really a sign of a root of bitterness inside us.

People despise the favoured child in their family, feeling wronged by not getting the same attention.  People despise the over confident person who always outperforms them.  People resent others who get privileges they did not get.  And on it goes.  Much of the energy behind feminism is fuelled by feelings of resentment toward males.

What are your intolerances?

Resolve It

Discovering your intolerances and uncovering your bitterness is not a game where you get to bring up how others have hurt you.  It is a vital challenge to your heart, calling you to whole-heartedly forgive those who have offended you in the past.

Don’t revisit your pain, but RESOLVE IT!

All the unfinished business in your heart needs to be removed by you forgiving every offender who ever wronged you.  Give up your unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment and anger.  Despite what those people have done, your only hope of a better future is for you to forgive them.

If you do not forgive them you end up in the hands of spiritual tormentors, as Jesus warns in Matthew 18:34,35.  So the mess you are now in is not because of the way they treated you but because of your refusal to forgive them.

Stop blaming others for their faults when YOU are the worst enemy to your happiness and blessing.

Grow up and resolve your issues right now, by choosing to forgive people who don’t deserve to be forgiven, just as you want God to forgive you even though you don’t deserve it.

There is More

If you find these thoughts helpful then look out for the second part of this article on Resentment Revisited.  I have additional practical insights to share with you, so you can be free and so you can help others.

Look out for Resentment Revisited 2.

Love Your Neighbour Skit

I recently gave a talk to children about Christ’s Command to Love our Neighbour.
I wrote the following skit to help get some points over and it went really well.  My son Isaac, and his friend Angus did a great job with this and the kids and grown ups laughed a lot.
So I’m sharing this for others to use if they want to….

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR SKIT

Storyline: A character called Sam Arratan has just become a Christian and needs to learn to love his neighbour and thus be a Good Sam Arratan.

Man:    Hello, are you Mr Arratan.

Sam:    Yes, I’m Sam. I’m Sam Arratan.

Man:    Nice to meet you, Sam. I hear you just became a Christian.

Sam:    Yes. Now Jesus is Lord of my life.

Man:    That’s wonderful. So that means He gets to tell you what to do. If you don’t do what He says, then He isn’t really LORD, is He?

Sam:    OK, I’m ready for my first instruction from Christ, since I have just made Him Lord of my life. What is it?

Man:    (Opens Bible and reads) “Love Your Neighbour just the same way you love yourself!”

Sam:    What? I can’t do that. My neighbours are mean and nasty.

Man:    Well, Christ’s command is to Love your Neighbour, so that’s what you have to do, no matter what your neighbours are like.

Sam:    I think I’ll move to some place where I don’t have any neighbours.

Man:    No, you will always have many neighbours.

Sam:    Not if I move to the country and live on a huge farm in the middle of the desert. Or maybe I could live on a tropical island in the middle of the ocean. Hmmm, or maybe I could live on the Moon.

Man:    You are Exasperating!

Sam:    No, I’m Sam. Sam Arratan!

Man:    Well, Sam, Neighbours are not just the people who live next door to you, but all the people you meet.

Sam:    OK, I’ll become a monk and I’ll live away from everyone. I’ll live on top of a pole in the desert! That’s what Saint Simeon did over 1,000 years ago.

Man:    But, you’re missing something. God never asks us to do something without giving us the ability to do His will.

Sam:    So God can give me the ability to love my neighbours?

Man:    Of course He can, if you ask Him.

Sam:    So, how am I supposed to love people who I don’t like?

Man:    Well, firstly let’s discover what real LOVE is. It’s when you want what is best for someone else, no matter how hard it is for you to give it to them.

Sam:    So, I have to want what is BEST for them, even if it makes things hard for me?

Man:    Yes.

Sam:    Like, when I want them to get their broken window fixed, but I don’t want them to know it was me who hit the ball?

Man:    Yes. Or when you help them, when you’d rather be off playing with your friends or just reading a book.

Sam:    That’s going to be hard.

Man:    If God is helping you, it really will be quite easy and it will bring you great blessing as well.

Sam:    But how many hours each Sunday do I have to do this?

Man:    Oh, you don’t just do it on Sundays. You do it every day of the week.

Sam:    Mornings or afternoons?

Man:    All day.

Sam:    So after the sun goes down I can forget about it.

Man:    No, it’s ALL day, including the night.

Sam:    Like 24/7?

Man:    Yes, 24/7.

Sam:    So, when I get to 24 I’ll help 7 people?

Man:    No, silly. You have to love your neighbour 24 hours every day, 7 days a week.

Sam:    What about a Leap Week?

Man:    There’s no such thing as a Leap Week.

Sam:    Oh. I was just hoping.

Man:    You are SO exasperating.

Sam:    No, I’m Sam. Sam Arratan!

Man:    Well, Sam, Any time your neighbour has a need, you would help them if you love them.

Sam:    Well, that pretty girl down the street, I could love her.

Man:    No. Love isn’t that nice feeling you feel toward a pretty girl. It’s when you make a choice to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. Feelings don’t come into it.

Sam:    I think they do. If I was raking the grass for my nasty neighbour, I’d sure have some FEELINGS about that.

Man:    Then you’ll have to die to those feelings.

Sam:    Now you want me DEAD!

Man:    No, it’s an expression. It means you have to give up those feelings and do what Christ asks you, no matter how hard it seems to be.

Sam:    Do you know where I can get a pole?

Man:    Oh, you’re just SO EXASPERATING.

Sam:    No, I’m Sam. Sam Arratan.

Man:    Well, Mr Sam Arratan, I want to make you into a Good Sam Arratan!

Sam:    A Good Samaritan! Hey I know that story. It’s about a man who helped some poor sucker who got bashed up.

Man:    Yes, he wanted the best for the injured man, even though it cost him time and money. He put the injured man on his donkey and took him to the inn.

Sam:    Do you really want me to become a Good Sam Arratan?

Man:    Yes.

Sam:    OK, where can I get a donkey?

Man:    Oh, you’re SO EXASPERATING.

Sam:    No, I’m Sam. My name’s Sam …

Man:    ARRATAN. Yes, I know.

Sam:    So, I really have to love my neighbour, do I?

Man:    Well, it’s not my idea. That’s what Christ Himself commands us to do.

Sam:    Well have you ever had to love your neighbour?

Man:    Do you mean, have I ever had to want the best for someone?

Sam:    Yes.

Man:    Someone who is stupid and who really needs a lot of help.

Sam:    Well, yes.

Man:    (glares at him) What do you think I’m doing right now?

Sam:    So, you love me?

Man:    I’m trying to.

(discussion continues as they move toward the exit)

Sam:    Is it my hair? Or my good looks? Maybe it’s my muscles? I’m pretty intelligent too. I was top of my class in pre-school.

Man:    Oh, you’re SO EXASPERATING!

Sam:    No, I’m SAM. SAM ARRATAN. (exit)