I realize that the use of the word “cult” is “triggering” to some. But nevertheless, I persist, because confronting reality is better than sticking our collective heads in the sand.
I don’t want to get off-track on the subject of whether the Stanton Church of Christ is actually a cult or not. For that, you can go here for my thoughts.
But for this article, I’d like to flesh out the idea that there is a common thread among those who have come out of—let’s say—controlling organizations. I promise that I won’t use the word “cult” from here forward, to reduce any further “triggering.”
I want to approach this from the standpoint of an abusive/controlling relationship. Why, you might ask? Because I’ve helped mentor dozens of kids in foster care and other relationships who have been in physically or psychologically abusive/controlling relationships. I know what that looks like from the outside. And having been raised in Stanton, I know at least a little bit of what that looks like from the inside.
The most important point I want to convey to readers is that it can be a lengthy process to get your mind out of old thought patterns. You need to be patient with yourself and your old ways of thinking, while you steer your thought patterns out of old ruts. This isn’t an easy task.
It requires enough self-awareness to realize that the feelings you feel right now about God and “religion” (I use that word almost sarcastically) are feelings, not necessarily facts. I’ve told my teens ’til I’m blue in the face (not sure I’ve ever been blue in the face, actually) that you can’t really trust feelings. Yet that is what 99% of Stanton’s control of you is based on.
They say: Trust your “teachers” and don’t trust the brain God gave you.
Every dysfunctional behavior in Stanton proceeds from this. It is all about man-pleasing. It is 100% a matter of putting fallible men (OK, mostly women) above God himself.
Stanton requires you to submit your intellect—you know, the one that God gave you—to fallible people, based only on the “feeling” that these people have been given to you by God to lead you. But when you take them up on that offer, you end up being led like sheep to the slaughter.
So what I’m saying is to think about your own thought patterns. Do you tend to blame yourself for how you feel about God? Do you let your guilt consume you? Do you let your own failings follow you around and drag you down?
That’s not an entirely bad instinct. God created the concept of conscience and “guilt” for a reason; to help us have a gauge—a thermostat, so to speak—that can help us reform our behavior. But what *IS* a bad instinct is to carry that guilt all by ourselves, not realizing that Jesus came for the very reason of carrying that burden for us.
So if you find yourself bound by traditions of men—or even by shackles of your own making—I urge you to address the thought patterns that are nudging you in that direction. God blessed humans with self-awareness, and that’s what distinguishes us from the animal kingdom. We have the ability to look at ourselves from the standpoint of another human being, and then reflect and change our behavior.
If your thought patterns are entrenched in the Stanton mindset, be patient with yourself. Train your mind to be free of those shackles and look at the scriptures—and the world—with fresh eyes.