The second belief that systemically sets the stage for this abuse is found in something I’ve seen repeated over and over again and that is the breakdown in the concept of family.
Clearly for the first marriage mentioned in Genesis 2:24 and the pattern for every marriage thereafter, the man was told to leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife. How unusual to have this mandate recorded before sin entered the world by that one man. Every man is responsible for how his home will do relationship and is encouraged to move into adulthood. And, since man’s fall, this understanding has been almost rendered unrecognizable.
The distortion of what God said to Adam has been played throughout history. It has set up a false belief that humanity must remain children and as children, we only rely on a parent or other authoritarian figure to define who we are and not God. The results come in two extremes of this continuum.
On one end is the Peter Pan syndrome where we fall in love with never ever wanting or having to grow up. On the other end, there’s the Big Daddy—Big Mama syndrome, which says children must remain helpless because if they grow up, Big Daddy—Big Mama will lose control and feel totally alone. This keeps covert and overt threats on the family table and calls in the markers to make the children pay for wandering away from them. It’s not about being there for the children but making sure the children are there for Big Daddy and Big Mama.
The belief of building a solid family by promoting a Big Daddy/Big Mama culture goes against God’s desire for every child to grow into maturity and reflect the relational reality of the Trinity, as well as, to be responsible for their own family and marriage. In my years of counseling and ministry it’s the number one task that hasn’t been accomplished in marriages and it keeps adults children.
Wherever we go in history, albeit even in church history, there has always been individuals who make it their goal to have others rely only on them. Meanwhile, they won’t obligate themselves to others unless they get an immediate gain. It is a top-down leadership scenario based on a belief that children must remain children, or be dependent adults who can then possess the luxury of not thinking for themselves.
It’s unfortunate, to me, how well-meaning ministries buy into this belief unaware of the damage it causes children and adults alike. It’s astonishing to discover the clear abuse of power any leadership displays when they keep adults children with the promise of a Peter Pan Heaven, or imply the need for a Big Papa—Big Mama who can make sure all get blessed their way. And with either approach, God is functionally and practically out of the picture, which is unadulterated idolatry.