2 Methods Used By Controlling Groups
When I began to “pen” this, I originally thought it would be a Facebook post. However, it was too long (and too good) to be just a Facebook post, so here we are! Now let’s discuss two methods employed by controlling groups.
1) Public Punishment & Humiliation.
Let me begin by saying that there is absolutely a time and a place for public punishment as well as for calling someone out in public. But that is NOT the rule of thumb found in Scripture. In Matthew 18:15-17, we see that Jesus’ method of conflict resolution involves doing a one-on-one first; if that doesn’t work, then bring one or two witnesses with you; if that still doesn’t work, THEN confront them in front of the congregation. Notice going public with a rebuke or punishment is the LAST attempt, not the first. However, from plantations to cults and everything in between, controlling groups too freely employ this method of rebuke not as a last attempt, but as a regular attempt to keep people in line.
This produces two effects:
(1) Everyone sees the spectacle and many are afraid because they know the very same thing can (or has) happened to them if they get out of line with the leadership of the group.
[The problem in these controlling groups is that many of the rules are not written, not spelled out, and because of that, you never know what is considered out of bounds, and thus the sneak-attack rebukes continue. Also, for the groups that do have a list of rules, there is always a new rule being added which, again, keeps people walking on eggshells.]
(2) Since the group has been conditioned to think this method of “leadership” is acceptable, they will then often join in the public humiliation, (a) further humiliating the person who’s disgrace is already on display and (b) gaining/maintaining the good graces of the leadership because they are displaying by their words and actions that they agree with the method of punishment. This can ultimately lead to a police state within the group where people can and do report (snitch on) the actions of their fellow members.
Suspicion and accusation, consciously or unconsciously driven, become the rule of thumb and in religious settings, this is misidentified as “discernment.” In hyper-spiritual, settings, members will report impressions, leadings, dreams, visions, and the like, all under the pretense of hearing from God. These “spiritual evidences” are actually either from the person’s soul or flesh, or from another unclean spirit that comes to bring false confirmations. What it is NOT is the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the Holy Spirit does not cooperate with the spirits of Jezebel and witchcraft. Witchcraft includes any method of manipulation, intimidation, and domination: any attempt to control other people or outcomes. Fear can and does fall into this category because it coerces people into agreement if and until they have the strength to leave.
2) Identifying Offenses.
Another method of control used by these hyper-spiritual types of groups is identifying offenses. Now before we go any further, we need to define a spirit of offense. Jesus said in Matthew 18:7 that offenses would come, but woe to the people by whom they come. This means that there will be offensive situations that happen in life, from a small scale to a large scale.
Now, please understand that IDENTIFYING and REVEALING an offensive action does not, I repeat, DOES NOT indicate that you have a spirit of offense. Offenses are like temptation. Just because it comes to you, just because you recognize it, does not mean you indulged in it. In the same way, identifying an offense does not mean you are operating in a spirit of offense. In order to operate in the spirit of offense, you must nurture it and allow the unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness, anger, etc. to grow inside of you, eat away at you. Now that we’ve defined that, let’s move forward.
In a controlling religious setting, those in leadership can call out [supposed] offenses in others and use it as a method of embarrassment, humiliation, and whipping people into shape. Therefore, instead of admitting to a wrong they themselves have done, they can blame the party vocalizing the offensive action and say that they are in offense and need to repent. If the person repents [of the sin they did not commit], they are submitting to ungodly leadership at worst or an ungodly leadership tactic at best. If the person decides to stand up for themselves or for another person that has been harmed/attacked or even leave the group, then it is “understood” and even circulated that the person is spiritually immature, that they are manifesting a spirit of rejection, or that they are even in rebellion. It’s a lose-lose situation for the innocent party(s).
In these situations, the offending party will almost never admit to guilt, yet is quick to point out what they view as “faults” and “shortcomings” in others.
All of this creates a culture of victim-shaming where the leadership never matured in their methods, and the people within the group remain controlled by fear. There may even be a lack of distinguishing between the fear of the Lord and the fear of man. Hear me, if you fear men and that is being identified as the fear of the Lord, that is DEMONIC. Yes, you should absolutely RESPECT men and give honour *to whom honour is due,* but honour is not fear.
If by and large, people are motivated by fear that is not godly.
If people obey out of fear, that is not godly.
If people stay silent because of fear, that is not godly.
If people don’t stand up for others because of fear, that is not godly.
If people want to leave but are too scared to go, that is not godly.
If people are too scared to leave because they fear they will not succeed in life or ministry outside of the said group, that is not godly and straight up demonic!
There may be some or even many wonderful qualities and benefits provided by the group, but the foundation is faulty and if unchecked, it will crumble. Ultimately, we cannot expect God to endorse something that partners with and employs spirits He has called evil and demonic in Scripture.
BOTTOM LINE: If you recognize that you are in a controlling group, RUN!!!