Friday, September 21, 2007

"Bounded Choice"

Janja Lalich coins the term Bounded Choice in "Take Back Your Life" and in her book "Bounded Choice." Within the Evangelical groups that embrace what is termed by these groups as "Biblical Patriarchy" (which is neither truly Biblical or patriarchy, IMO), many of those near the subordinate end of the chain of command are required to trust all decisions and the formulation of opinions to their authorities.

This is a huge, very difficult element of Spiritual Abuse. It’s one of those perspectives that you can barely understand without having a larger vantage or better perspective. Also, because you fail to realize that you’ve been duped, you do not recognize (and are usually reluctant) to acknolwedge that a part of you has been bound and gagged by fear or by the “unthinkable.” Personal choices become organizational choices, and those belong to authorities. (This differs from living in submission to the Word and the Spirit because even God does not ask of us what these groups and relationships ask.)

In “Take Back Your Life,” Lalich describes this as “bounded choice” of urgent and/or moral imperatives. It defines a closed social system wherein one only appears to have a choice. She says that there are several elements required.
Bounded Choice of True Believers (pg 48)
  • Charismatic Authority(root cause of a cult; imbalanced power structure)
  • Transcendent Belief System(impossible or very difficult to achieve ideals which includes the moral imperatives/standards)
  • Systems of Control(demand for transformation)
  • Systems of Influence(formula for salvation which is the root cause of ideology)
Praise God that He works in us without fear or coersion! He transforms our will and does not crush us with His power. He loves us and transforms us without exerting and forcing His authority as He desires us to yield ourselves in love, freedom and liberty. He gives us THE only formula for salvation through his Grace and Sacrifice. He also bears the penalty for inability to every meet the demands of the transcendent system of belief. He is our transcendence, not a list of ideals.

Here’s a quote that may make things a bit more clear:

(pg 50 from “Take Back Your Life”)
“In other words, neither the charismatic leader nor others in the group need to be present to tell a follower what to do; rather, having internalized the lessons and adapted her outlook, the loyal and true believer knows precisely what she needs to do to stay in the good graces of the all-knowing and all powerful leader. The true believer need only ‘imagine’ what actions to take, knowing full well that she will act within the bounds of the cult reality, for in a sense her self has merged with the leader and the group.
What other reality is there? The one thing the devoted adherents cannot imagine is life outside the group. In other words, the cult member is constrained by both external (real or imagined) and internal sanctions. At this point, whatever choices remain are “bounded” ones. They are choices, yes, but not free ones. They are choices of life or death — figuratively, and, in some cases, literally."