Some of you must be thinking how silly this all is.
Well, it isn’t.
We were taught, at MCF (Melbourne Christian Fellowship), gradually, like lobsters boiling alive, that we had to give up all prerogatives. Anything that could be an idol. Of course we all immediately assumed it was the very thing we loved.
Session by session, the men homed in on my interests in technology, innovation and business.
Were they actually idols? Who knows? But is banning the way to deal with it?
I wanted to achieve those goals. There was a joy in tinkering and coming up with something someone would want to buy. Making money would have been nice but wasn’t the driving force. After all, I was a PhD physicist, hardly a way to make money in Australia.
But, bit by bit they ate into me until I truly assumed God wanted me to simply be a servant in a job I had grown to hate. And maybe forever.
It was torture as I watched the internet industry growing around me. And I knew I couldn’t be part of it.
At age 16 in the 1980s I had designed my own microprocessor board and written its operating system. I was experimenting on a graphical user interface and AI interface in 1981, three years before the Mac came out.
All that counted for nothing to my local leaders. They said maybe if I was an IT guy they would let me do it because it was a natural fit. But as a scientist they couldn’t let me do it. Despite the fact I was a PhD computational physicist and coded-up way more complicated stuff than IT guys. They said maybe I should do a Microsoft certification course.
This is from leaders who were mostly school dropouts or primary school teachers.
They delayed me 7 full years from putting my software up for sale on the internet.
And banned me from doing an essential postdoc internship overseas despite my bosses telling me to.
The elders made me stay 5 more years in a job I hated and then forgot they’d said it.
These men who were supposed to be my friends became absolute bastards.
Fast forward 15 years and they tried to squirm out of it.
‘Did I really say that?’
Bastards. They said it a hundred times. And always with the threat of my going to hell if I didn’t obey them.
One time back then the nastiest elder, David Bonham said:
“No man can start a business
unless an elder asks him to”
I should have walked out then and there.
Another time he told me he didn’t even want me thinking about technology.
Every month mowing the lawn I would cry tears and cry out to the Lord why I couldn’t do the one thing I wanted to do. I would remember my father teaching me about science and technology and my mother buying me engineering toys and encouraging me to work hard. All for nothing.
And then there was my love of God’s word and being effectively banned from any involvement in teaching at church because you had to be sold out to Vic Hall’s messenger word. More tears and groanings.
And then we watched the elder’s kids, all younger than us, gradually take up wonderful careers and business opportunities and positions in the church. It was like torture. But we just told ourselves we were the sinful unsubmitted ones.
All we wanted to do was be part of it. But if you ever said what you wanted to do you were banned from it.
And they made the Lord a monster to me. It was HIm that was doing it to me through David Bonham and the others.
I had to keep it a secret from everyone at church because of the code of silence and make up lies at work why I was staying in a job they knew I hated. I had not one person I could confide in fully because I didn’t want to entirely put my wife off the church in case I really was wrong.
It was almost impossible to leave the church. Our family was embedded in there. We and our kids baptised there and all our friends there.
So, yes, the abuse was real and went on for 25 years.
Those men started out well but allowed themselves to become absolute bastards with no common decency. And have not repented or made restitution.
I asked one of them how he would feel if we told his daughter that she couldn’t do a DipEd after completing her degree just like what he had done to me with my postdoc banning.