2011 Reading quotes reading

The “Can’t Talk” Rule

August 13, 2011

The most powerful of all unspoken rules in the abusive system is what we have already termed the “can’t-talk” rule. The “can’t-talk” has this thinking behind it: “The real problem cannot be exposed because then it would have to be dealt with and things would have to change; so it must be protected behind walls of silence (neglect) or by assault (legalistic attack). If you speak the problem out loud, you are the problem. In some way you must be silenced or eliminated.”

Those who do speak out are most often told, “We didn’t have all these problems until you started shooting your mouth off. Everything was fine before you started stirring things up.” Or else, to make it sound really spiritual, “You were angry [or bitter]–you didn’t confront the matter in a ‘loving’ way. So it proves you weren’t handling the matter in a mature, Christian manner.” In either case, the problem remains.

The truth is, when people talk about problems out loud they don’t cause them, they simply expose them.

In abusive spiritual systems, there exists a “pretend peace”–what Jeremiah decried, saying, “The prophets say ‘peace, peace’ when there is none.” If what unites us is our pretending to agree, even though we don’t agree, then we have nothing more than pretend peace and unity, with undercurrents of tension and backbiting. This is far from “preserving unity and peace in the Holy Spirit,” which is to be the hallmark of healthy Christian churches. That is to say, any topic should be open for discussion, and on some points we may agree to disagree and to continue open dialogue on the subject, both parties willing; or we may both agree to suspend discussion for a time if it raises tension. The important point is that both parties be involved in forming the agreement. If what unites us is truly the Holy Spirit and love for one another, then it is possible to disagree and it will not destroy our unity.

The “can’t talk” rule, however, blames the person who talks, and the ensuing punishments pressure questioners into silence.

~page 68, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church (David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen)


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  • kittybrat August 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Great name for this rule. Another aspect of this is being told that by speaking up about something wrong is negating anything good that has been done. That’s BS!

    Thanks for this article!

  • Tbird August 14, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I agree, kittybrat! Unitl the filth is acknowledged and purged…………….

  • Stitch August 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    (hug) Thank you for this.

  • Barbara Quinn September 17, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Meekness isn’t weakness. Patience isn’t passivity. And peace ‘isn’t’ the ‘absence of war!” Things that should ‘not’ be going on in the first place, things such as sneakiness, hiddeness, deceit and hypocracy, that should ‘never be tolerated’ ( would it not also be ‘a sin’ to tolerate sin? ) such wrong things, need to be brought out into the open, into the light and exposed. When such wrong things are brought out into the light, God is able by His Grace along with our obedient co operation, our humility, honesty, repentance and forgiveness, to BREAK the power the power that such wrong things had over our lives. The no talk-rule always keeps wrong things hidden and ‘in the dark’. It is always in the dark where the enemy ‘has to’ keeps things, and in the dark where the enemy works, in order to practice his evil wiles, and continue to hurt the Body of Christ. Believers who try to keep such wrong things hidden by ‘intimidating other people into silence’ are believers who are playing right into his manipulative hands. They do not realize that, they are actually ‘serving the wrong master’ when they practice such sneaky behaviour. Such is the tragic result of intimidation, intimidating people into silence, intimidation which opens the door to fear. No man can serve two masters. He will either hate the one or love the other. pen and honest communication is the best and healthiest ractice for any believer wo truly wants to live and walk and fellowship with Jesus and with other fellow believers IN THE LIGHT.