Saturday, May 31

The Puppet Master

Can manipulation be positive?

I recently had someone tell me that the above statement is true. I have always considered manipulation to be something negative and to run far, far away from it.

But in their explanation I related it to the word rebellion. Until a few years ago I had always considered rebellion to only have a negative application to our lives. But consider this. When you're living with a controlling person, the only way to get out from under their control is to rebel against it. It's not about something negative, but about something positive. For instance...a husband has turned into an egotistical jerk and is abusive when he becomes angry. What can the wife do to get out of that? She has learned through the years not to make him angry therefore she doesn't experience his wrath. But the children are older now and he's beginning to be abusive to the children, but again only when he gets angry.

Where does this leave the wife? Does she continue to tip toe around the tulips and live the rest of her life in fear? Or does she stand up to this man who is abusing his position of leader of the home? If she does nothing, she risks continued harm to her children and herself, but if she stands up to him, she could be accused of being rebellious and not submitting to his authority.

In this example, I would definitely advise the woman to rebel against the abuse and protect her children and herself. But the first time I did this I really struggled with the rebellion part of it. I know it's not right for a man to abuse his wife and children, but encouraging someone to rebel.... I just didn't know if I could do that. This is where I had to realize that I was not encouraging her to rebel against her husband, but against his actions. His actions were the problem, and if he couldn't correct his actions, then she and children needed to leave.

So back to my question, is it possible to have a positive form of manipulation? I have just given an example of a positive form of rebellion, but I'm not sure about manipulation. I can't really wrap my mind around that one!


Anonymous said...

The only time it is okay to rebel against your God given authority is if they are requiring of you something that is directly against God's law or moral compass. Abusive situations certainly fall into that place, other situations do not and we must be very careful in our counsel if we are directing someone to rebel. As for manipulation, well I don't think that is okay. Up front and honest is the way it should be. Manipulation tears relationships apart and destroys trust.

Pastor Trudy said...

I guess I should clarify just a little. I didn't use the word rebel when I was giving advice on what she should do. But in a nut shell when you suggest to a wife that she "buck" her abusive husband, you are ultimately telling her to rebel against the control that he has over her and her children. So as for outright directing someone to rebel, I would never do that. I fully believe that rebellion is a very bad thing and not to be desired by anyone.

My point was that I had come across an area in my life where I discovered that although it would not be look upon as rebellion, "bucking up" to an abusive husband and refusing to allow him to continue to put people in a harmful situation is ultimately a form of rebellion. I had simply gained an additional viewpoint concerning this word.

That is what I was looking for when I asked about manipulation. And additional view point. Sometimes we can get so stuck in our ways that we refuse to see another line of sight. Because of that (and trust me, I can get stuck in a thought process and then have a hard time seeing past it!) I was searching for another opinion.

I agree wholeheartedly with Anonymous that up front and honest is the way to go. I would also agree that manipulation tears apart relationships and destroys trust. That is why I questioned this person and their counsel. I just can't see their point of view and was thinking maybe I was just being closed minded. But after several days of pondering and several conversations (including this one), I still cannot wrap my mind around this and do not think I can come into agreement with manipulation having any kind positive effects.

Pastor John said...

I agree with you both. There is no need to manipulate when you are honest even about manipulating it ceases to be manipulation and becomes a decision made by someone else.