Man is inherently a control creature – the need to control is something built-in in each of us. Man is created with command to “”Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it.” (Gen 1:28 NLT). As creature in God’s likeness, we have goal and task to do as He planned, and means and ability to do so. One of the means that we derive from our Creature is freedom of choice, that is an ability with 3 aspects:
- ability to choose
- ability to accomplish our choice
- ability to withstand the consequence of our choice
The first ability is freely available, but unlike God, our second and third ability is very limited. Our need of control is related with our will, because we have a need to see our task, goal and choice executed and fulfilled. Greater the need to accomplish our choice and to withstand the consequence, then the greater the need to control something.
So, to be in control is very humane, and divine too. But when satan offered to give greater control through the tree of knowledge of good and evil, man took the bait, agreeing to his manipulation, that “your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Gen 3:5 NLT). What is the consequence? First, the relationship suffer. Both from God and other human. It means, because we are no longer in the very best term with the Creator, then it would be harder for human to receive what he wants and needs. And the relationship with other human became a “wildcard”. We would never really know the result of our thought and action on other people since now it was marred by fear, shame, guilt, evasion and blame. No more transparancies and openness. Gone are the honesty, as well as the joy in walking hand in hand freely with other being. Second, because of the curse, our ability to control easily have been diminished. Man have to toil hard to get what he wants from earth, and that relations between man and female would be contaminated by power issues.
Meaning, our ability to achieve our choice became diminished. But still we want, even have greater need, to control, and achieve our goals and ambitions. The lesser our ability to achieve our goal, the greater our drive to control.
So in the fallen world, fallen people try very hard to make life better and managable. How do we accomplish that? To control our material world, (our immediate and controllable variables), the environment and our welfare, we use science and technology. To control our immaterial world (the relatively uncontrollable variables), we have religion, ritual, magic, incantation etc.
When it comes to people, we use different technique. To control our community, we have social control and regulations. We tried hard to manage a group of people, so we will have general conformity and the relatively same intention, all for the benefit for people involved. Norm, rules and laws, culture and politics are part of the same idea, to have easier management of people, and betterment of the society.
Interpersonal relationship, especially problematic relationship pose a challenge. Eventhough science and technology have been used to manage people, but to use it to control and change individual that still have inherent free will seems futile. And we used prayer and magic and hex to control people, but the result seems unreliable. Norm and Laws suceed in managing societies behaviour, but there still some individual who can and will short-circuit the regulations. So there is less ability to exercise control over individual on interpersonal aspect. For people with problematic relations, especially with closed ones, the need to control become greater as the ability reduced. Then we resort to do anything, anything to regain control in our interpersonal relations.
We use this means in our relationship to improve our control:
- Domination – usually with power and abundance of something, knowledge, status, financial etc. We cater to someone’s need, but with strings attached.
- Manipulation – where we blame someone, and hoping that he will change by being guilty; or we use people’s shame as a way to manage people’s behaviour.
- Intimidation – usually deals with people’s fear, or we use threat to induce that fear so they could lean to our way.
Coming Up: The seduction of control #5: Control and Grace