The Absurdity of Absurdity
One teaching technique of Mike Reid was illustration through absurdity. He was/is absurd at being absurd. He would come up with some of the wackiest ideas to try and make a point. Did he really mean it? That’s hard to say, but he sure taught as he meant it.
There are many examples but allow me to highlight one of the best (worst) examples of absurdity. There is context to this “teaching” and the context is relating to the “spheres of authority” that was a big priority. Authoritarian leaders place a high emphasis on authority because they desire to be in charge. They need to be in control.
One of the ways you gain control is by teaching on authority and you know where the authority lies when it comes to church rule. Yes, of course, it’s with the elders. Depending on how hard you push it can end up with the elders having complete rule and authority over the smallest details of every congregant’s life. That’s the ultimate goal.
This particular and unique set of teaching goes something like this. It is being taught to the women of the congregation. If they understand their duty is complete submission to their husbands, it’s a quick and easy slide for everyone to be completely submitted to the elders in all they do.
Here’s the teaching.
“If your husband asks you to walk to the grocery store backward with bare feet would you do it?”
I hope your jaw just hit the floor…. Because it should. The absolute absurdity of a scenario like this is bad enough, but it gets worse. I think he thought it was clever, and he was clever, in a sense, in how he did it.
As the average woman is sitting there thinking, “he can’t seriously be asking me this?” and contemplating what to say to such an incredibly stupid statement he quickly jumps to the punch line.
Mike would say something to the effect, “well, of course, you should. Because your job is to submit to your husband.” Here is the “clever” part. “Now, of course, we don’t endorse this type of behavior and you should report that to the elders so we can deal with your husband.”
Can you imagine the damage that can be done in a scenario like this? If someone says, I’m going to see if she will and a husband with an authoritarian bent tries to test the theory? Oh, sure, the “elders” will deal with him. Right….
There is a lot more I could say about abuse dynamics, especially spiritual abuse, but here is a scenario that is absurd in its absurdity beyond recognition. There is nothing biblical about this example, nor is it a healthy way that anyone should relate to another human being, much more, a Christian husband and wife.
But Mike thought he really had something here. He thought this was good teaching. In the end, it influenced the congregation. Women were absurdly submissive to their husbands; men were more submissive to Mike and the elders. But at what cost? These things don’t leave your mind very easily.
May these men repent of these disgusting tactics someday and leave the ministry, sparing others from potential damage.
Lord have mercy.