I have been quite the rebel child. I came as a shocker to my parents, who were used to my soft spoken, well-behaved elder sister for a good six years. It may be interesting to note here that in every family, there will be that one black sheep who gets blamed for every bad trait any child in the next generation inherits. It is a universal fact that all parents in the world invariably like to take credit for their child’s positive traits and not take the onus for the negative ones. So, there has to be a ‘bakra’. Well, in my family I proudly hold that title. So, now you can imagine how much of a misfit I must have been, all through my childhood and adolescence. Naturally, my parents struggled to deal with this new human being who always has an opinion and most of the times, an unpopular one. And yes, they are still struggling.
One of the regular parenting tools Papa tried with me was ‘fear’. He knew I was not the kind who will get scared of my parents. But he was smart, he always throws his arrows a little farther. The Bible was his fallback blackmail mechanism when things don’t go his way. When caught up with no answers at the end of a heated argument, he would often remind me of the only Lord’s commandment that comes with a reward – which is, ‘Obey your parents, so that you will be blessed with a long life’. Often frustrated when he tries to have the last word in the argument, I would totally dismiss it saying I don’t want that long a life.
Much later, I figured that the English Bible actually says ‘honour your parents’ and some Malayali Achayan had conveniently translated it to convey obedience. I must clarify that I have not taken the trouble to research into what the original text was. I just chose to convince myself that Jesus Christ, the epitome of love, wouldn’t advocate authoritarian parenting. And I started searching the Bible for my rebuttal to Papa until one day my eyes struck upon this gold in Colossians 3:21. I read it out to him loud with glitter in my eyes – ‘Fathers, do not provoke your children, so that they don’t get discouraged’. How about that? He was tongue tied, and trust me my father is never at a loss of words.
Probably, we want to project only those scriptures that will suit the power dynamic we want to achieve. Be it the gender politics, parenting or marriage, we willfully use Holy Books to condition ourselves to justify our need for power, while making the oppressed believe that God is not on their side. -Serene George