“When you have this motley group of many denominations, this independent environment, and then this distortion of scripture, that’s an environment where abuse can flourish.” ~Boz Tchividjian
Regarding my absence.
As you can clearly see, I haven’t been nearly as active over here as I initially anticipated. This is due in part to lacking the time needed to regularly update and in part to dealing with a particularly rough season with depression and anxiety. I’m working through things as best as I can, and part of that has looked like a continual meditation on what I want to do with this blog.
Clearly, it’s still very much in its infancy. I’ve been trying to figure out how to go about writing about the movement, my experiences within the movement, and dissecting the problems inherent in the system.
As I’ve said before, I started PBD because as I made my way out and began searching for critical examinations of the open assemblies, I was unable to find any. So I’m trying to create the space that I wanted when I was questioning.
Clarified direction for the blog.
A friend rightly pointed out to me that so far on the blog, I’ve alluded several times to the abusive nature of the Plymouth Brethren without taking the time to establish that they are, in fact, an abusive group. So I’ve been trying to outline why I think they are abusive, then build on the bullet points later in the blog.
And that’s where you come in.
Call for participation.
I want to establish that the ideas, beliefs, and practices in the assemblies are either directly abusive or demonstrably conducive to an abusive environment. So for things like biblical literalism, inerrancy and infallibility, I need to be able to back up that those things are harmful. I think I’m set for things like the dangers of the particularly sexist structure of the movement, but the more theologically-specific problems are things I need more help with since I have never personally tried to find a Christianity outside of the Plymouth Brethren version.
I don’t want this blog to exist in a Dani-sized vacuum. My experiences are not universal. I want to foster a community for the many of us who have left the movement, whether to find a Christianity worth keeping or not. I want to bring light to the darkness that hides far too well in the assemblies, not because we have a vendetta against them but because manipulation and coercion and abuse cannot be addressed, dealt with, and healed from until they are seen for what they are.
The following list is just the beginning of my outline and is thus incomplete. I’ll be updating it as I’m able, but I want your input. Scripture you remember being used to enforce strict authoritarianism, practices you recognize that create environments ripe for abuse and cover-up, patterns you’ve noticed that are damaging. While I am doing a lot of thinking and researching and talking to people, any help or insight you have (former PB or not) is so deeply appreciated! You can add your thoughts in the comments here, or if you’d prefer to talk one on one, you can contact me privately.
- Church government is set up in such a way that insulates elders from accusation.
- Church membership and discipline work in such a way that new attendees aren’t vetted in any way. It is not unusual for new attendees to quickly be given positions of leadership within the church (usually involving being put in charge of the youth, who are particularly vulnerable in this system — see point below under “church teaching” about benevolent patriarchy).
- The teachings of biblical literalism, inerrancy, and infallibility from an American Christian standpoint create innumerable problems.
The benevolently sexist patriarchal structure insures that women and children are dependent on a system that implies a threat to them if they stray from the umbrella of protection.  
Within the Plymouth Brethren movement, women and children are:
- seen as particularly prone to deceit and sinfulness
- not granted agency
- expected to be quiet, submissive, and joyful at all times (1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:9-15)
This structure makes Plymouth Brethren women and children particularly vulnerable targets for abusers.
- The assemblies are steeped in purity culture, which
- objectifies women’s bodies by both divorcing the body from the person and teaching that the appearance of the body declares the worth of the person
- blames women for the abuses of men
- dehumanizes men by teaching they have an animal instinct of lust that is impossible to control