Apr 21, 2009
The Shut Up Chip
My wife and I were flipping through the channels on the television one afternoon when we came upon a well known talk show. Ordinarily we avoid such shows because they usually do only one thing, talk. This episode, however caught our attention. Unlike the usual disturbing chaos that we have learned to associate with talk shows, this one had an unusual spirit to it. Everyone in the studio audience was crying. We decided to watch for a while and see what was up.
Sitting on center stage was a small boy who looked to be about nine or ten years old. He was the only one on stage. Behind him was a picture of an elderly gentleman wearing a baseball cap. The picture was blown up so that everyone could see from where they were sitting. On the side of the stage there were seated about thirty men. Their ages ranged from sixteen to around forty years old. The men were standing up one at a time, approaching a microphone in the aisle and thanking the little boy as tears ran down their faces. I wondered what this boy had done to deserve such praise.
Minute after minute the story began to unravel. This small boy was on a little league baseball team. The picture of the man behind him was a photograph of his coach. Evidently this coach had molested this small boy. Now we all have seen this story played out a million times over, but something was different about this particular show. As we continued to watch, we were stunned and amazed to find out that the group of men sitting on the side had all been molested by this same coach. Remember, these men ranged from ages sixteen to forty. Every man there had been on this little league baseball team when they were young boys. This coach had been molesting the boys on his team for years and years. Some, who had been violated twenty five years ago, were now grown men with wives and children of their own. Each of them had kept this secret to themselves because they thought they were the only one.
So what about the boy on the stage?
This was perhaps the most moving point of the story. You see, he was the one who told. Twenty five years of child molesting came to a screeching halt because of this one small boy. He was being lifted up as a hero among men. And he was! As each man took the microphone with tears rolling down his cheek he would thank this boy for delivering him from something that had kept him bound for years. Many of these men had kept this to themselves for over twenty years. It was heart breaking to see how many men had been molested as boys, by this one little league coach.
As I continued watching and wiping the tears from my eyes, the Lord spoke something into my spirit. "This boy is My Moses." I no longer saw a frail little child sitting in an oversized chair. I saw a giant that God had used to deliver countless people from a prison of solitary confinement.
The Spirit of shut up
My wife and I invited some friends from our old church over for dinner several months ago. It was nice to catch up on their lives and the lives of so many people we knew "back then." Midway through our conversation, it was apparent that the man had something troubling him that he wanted to talk about. In fact, the meeting was set up for that exact purpose. They both were finding themselves more and more uncomfortable in the church setting and they were beginning to ask questions.
I could see by their eyes that they had been deeply hurt and were frustrated to death with the way the system wasn't dealing with their questions. As he began to explain their situation, something kept stopping him mid-sentence. From where I was sitting, it actually looked like there was a "shut up device" implanted in his brain that would light up the moment he started to talk about his feelings. He'd say, "It's just that....." or "Sometimes we just want to.....,." "We just feel like......," "We don't want to sound......" Every time he started a sentence, he would stop before he could finish. I literally had to piece broken sentences together in order to come up with a roundabout idea of what he was attempting to say.
When his wife cut in and tried to explain what her husband couldn't; the same "shut up device" tripped her words up as well. I felt like I was on the $100,000 pyramid, trying to guess a subject based on one- or two-word clues. Halfway through the evening, I wanted to scream out, "Things that piss you off!!!" It was truly frustrating. They reminded me of someone who was about to testify against the mafia and had been threatened the night before to keep their mouths shut. Both of them were filled with a mixture of confusion, frustration and fear.
It was heartbreaking for us to see how deeply their ability to communicate feelings had been affected. They simply couldn't get it out. The stress release valve that all normal human beings have, had been taken away completely and they become emotional quadriplegics. I could feel the bondage the moment they entered my home that evening and by the time they left, my wife and I were so grieved we just sat together in silence.
I've seen this more times than I care to remember. Usually the people who become infected with this paralyzing mentality are the most sincere people in the world. In fact,their true sincerity is the very thing that made them vulnerable to this mindset in the first place. They volunteered to get the "chip," because they didn't want to trust themselves and accidentally blurt out something that could cause harm. It's a mentality that says ‘don't ever dance or drink or go to movies because eventually you might be tempted with something bad.' Why even take the chance? Just throw it all away and never deal with any of it.
The "shut-up chip" is developed the same way as other mind-controlling mentalities. It starts out good and ends up bad. The opening principle is one that we all agree upon: Don't gossip! Then we begin to add to it to ensure we don't even get close to gossiping. It's a gradual process and after about 50 years or so, it turns into "don't talk."
The subject of gossip in the Christian world is very much like the subject of idolatry. We read in the Bible that we shouldn't make an idol and bow down to it. That's pretty cut-and-dried, isn't it? Today, however, idolatry has become anything and everything. We're told that our spouse, our children, our home and everything in it, our job, our friends, our hobbies and even our dreams can now fall under the headline of gossip.
I have watched it take at least five years to recover from the psychological damage. They have to learn how to speak all over again. Their minds must relearn how to flow at a steady pace without getting tripped up by fear and uncertainty. The most terrible thing of all is the fear that people attach themselves to when they mistakenly talk aloud about someone or merely offer a few simple facts about a friend or relative. Never speaking again actually becomes an option, after prolonged years of suffering through the modern-day teachings.
I am convinced that almost 21 years ago, there was an all-out campaign launched with the specific purpose of shutting people up for good. Gossip teachings aren't the only missile launched against human expression. Evangelicals and Pentecostals in this generation are terrified of "speaking" anything for fear that they may be claiming some awful curse or disaster. Rather than just speak what's on our minds and allow normalcy to govern our flow of thought, we force ourselves to skip over things, give long disclaimers and fearfully rephrase sentences so nothing bad will befall us, due to our words. Christians today actually fear words. That's not a good place to be, especially when we now have the Word living inside of us.
Some people have gone so far as to say the exact opposite of what's currently happening in their life because they think it will rise to heaven as an act of faith, thereby forcing what they spoke into existence. I had a friend who believed like this. He was looking for apainting job several years ago. I owned a painting company and we were ready to hire someone. I called him and asked him if he was still out of work. He responded by saying "Nope, I've found an excellent job I'm happy with.......in Jesus' Name." "In Jesus' Name" threw me off a bit. I found out later that this was his way of claiming that he found a job, before he did. The sad thing is that I went on to hire someone else because I really thought he had found a job. He and his wife had to move back home a month later because he still couldn't find work.
I think what happened with our religion is that we just had too much time on our hands. We've developed an obsessive-compulsive theology. We can't leave "well enough" alone. Rather than accept a simple truth and go with it, our theology obsesses over it and begins to build a mountain of things in and around it, in an effort to make absolutely certain that we never cross the line. Before long, our religion looks like a padded cell with bizarre markings all over the walls that mean absolutely nothing to anyone who is normal. We end up developing an entirely new language that is based on words we aren't allowed to use and expressions we've memorized.
My advice is this:
Talk about things. Don't worry that you'll be calling down curses or gossiping. Talk about who hurt you, what they said or did. Express yourself. Don't worry about it. Be real. Give yourself credit for your intentions. Intentions are everything. The heart behind the words is key. It's not okay to omit words in an effort to keep from sinning. Express yourself. Could you imagine trying to catch a rapist when the person he raped refuses to speak of it? I've found that when I speak out my feelings and don't worry about crossing some spiritual line, I actually set people free. Others who are in bondage to something they are afraid to speak about, finally find liberty because someone else had the guts stand up and to talk.
We are free believers because we are the ones who spoke.
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