Religion Magazine

Control

By Ldsapologetics

The very purpose of religion is to control yourself, not to criticize others. Rather, we must criticize ourselves. How much am I doing about my anger? About my attachment, about my hatred, about my pride, my jealousy? These are the things which we must check in daily life.” -The Dalai Lama

We must use our faith to keep ourselves in check, not to criticize and "righteously judge" or justifiably condemn others.  Because in the end we only have true control over ourselves not over each other.  We can lead by example but that is the limit of our ability to influence or control others.  Anyone with children knows you guide them you by no means ever control them.

But this does not mean that relationships of every kind do not become controlling.  Sometimes it becomes a you do this for me and I'll do this for you thing.  It even degrades into a situation where people withhold their love, not just their approval, from another if that person fails to meet their expectations.  This is a toxic relationship.

I think most people in their lives have been in a relationship that was controlling and unhealthy.  Controlling relationships are unhealthy and toxic because for the one being controlled, they never get the chance to blossom and grow in the ways that are good for them, in the ways they need to grow because they are always walking on egg shells consumed with fear and dread of upsetting and/or angering the one who is controlling them.

This relationship dynamic is evident in cultural and social situations where members of a group shun, shame and slander outsiders and ex-members.  It is a classic red flag of a cult.  The word cult conjures up frightening memories or scenarios of mind control or programming and of total control over an individual.  But the real problem is not that these are indicative of cults, its that it's indicative of controlling relationships.

Control stifles personal and spiritual and even intellectual growth by inhibiting our ideas, our questions, our reading material, scientific inquiry and social growth.  It forces the one being controlled to live, think and even feel according to the standards of the person or group in control.

When I was a teenager and being forced to go to church I was biding my time by grilling the teachers and authority figures in my church.  I asked questions they didn't like, "If God made Cain black as a mark to identify him as being protected by God(being avenged 7 times for any harm done to him), as his punishment was to be forced to live with what he did, then how is it true that his mark was a curse since it was clearly a mark of protection?"

Back when I was a teen the whole "Curse of Cain" doctrine was still being preached as an explination for the priesthood ban.

My point is that I consistently challenged the status quo and social norms in LDS culture.  Simply bucking the system was forbidden, they wanted obedience not questions and answers because whatever my questions were more often than not the response was "I don't know."  Well if they're teaching the class shouldn't they know? 

I understand not knowing everything but these were basic questions, I thought.  Yet with the questions the other kids asked they seemed to know the answers and those answers led to other topics diving us deeper into the lesson.

It's a nifty trick called circular logic.

"The prophet can never lead us astray."

"How do you know that?"

"Because the prophet said so."

"How do you know he's telling the truth?"

"Because the prophet can never lead us astray."

People ask questions to which they already know the answer to get a boost of self confidence for knowing the answer.

And if the circular logic is imbedded deeply enough no outside inquiry will ever be able to penetrate the bubble they live in.  Circular logic is a form of intellectual, if you can call it that, control.  It's like a mental safety blanket.  It's like eating comfort food when you're upset or by fasting when you're upset, it is a means of control.

Now science has many sacred cows one dare not kick so don't think that circular logic is unique to Mormonism, or religion or what have you.  It can infect any mind or group.

My point in that sacred cows link is it links to a book about questioning the dogmas and "unquestionable" facts of science.  And being shamed for questioning the status quo of anything in any gruop, religion, institution or field of study is a form of controlling the situation so that outsiders and doubters and excluded from the conversation so that the circular logic may continue.

The are varying levels of control, some worse than others.  But in the end aren't we taught by Christ that the merciful will obtain mercy, that if we want to be forgiven by God we must be forgiving, that we will be judged by the same standard by which we judge others so when we judge another give them the benefit of the doubt and judge them favorably.

We are taught how to control ourselves.  Abusers and abusive relationships are controlling and I cannot fathom The Lord having the same mindset.  And in the end Jesus tells us "By their fruits ye shall know them."

In other words good trees produce good fruits and likewise for evil trees producing evil fruit.  So good teachings produce good fruits and bad teachings produce bad fruits but controlling relationships and people do not produce good fruits they always produce evil and unhealthy fruits.

And no person, culture or system is immune from this behavior and tactic. 

Our faith is about being the best version of ourselves that we can be not by controlling others but by controlling ourselves.

Better and healthier means of control are, am I controlling my angry feelings well enough?  Am I controlling my outbursts well enough, frequency and harshness?  Am I compassionate enough, merciful enough, or forgiving enough?  Do I love others as Christ loved us, do I love myself as Christ loved us?

For as unhealthy as control can be, when used to temper our bad qualities and magnify our stellar qualities it can be very healthy.  Whereas controlling others is destructive and unhealthy.


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