Is PMA Sensitivity Training Harmless or Toxic?

In the late 1990s, I was persuaded to join a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) venture. After joining this MLM, I was told I would have to attend special training, which would last two days, to rise above the lower levels.

My upline, a friend whom I respected and had convinced me to join, advised me the seminar was a ‘positive motivational’ type, but it was not ‘New Age’ nor anti-God. He further stated, the principles he learned at this seminar helped him to heal a rift between himself and his dad, which had gone on for years. I asked him whether there was nothing in the Word and did he find God powerless to solve this but he became defensive and refused to answer.

Before attending the workshop, I contacted the organizer of the meeting. I explained I had other business obligations and would not be able to attend the entire seminar if I was to get back on time. At first he hedged. So I assured him I would not attend if I was not going to receive credit for attending. I wasn’t going to waste a trip across the state. So he conceded we ‘would work something out.’

At the seminar, exactly one minute before the official opening time, an older woman introduced herself as the leader. Her hair was dyed bright-yellow and she was clothed in garments that would have better complemented someone thirty years her junior. Her voice was soothing, almost hypnotic, as she assured us this seminar was designed to expand our horizons in a non-judgmental atmosphere. Then, she assured us this was not ‘New Age’ nor anti-God – why did she say this? It was just then I received a vision of Satan talking to Eve in an honest, upfront sort of way. I wondered how I could have been so stupid.

She continued her monologue, describing various methods of visualizing and mentoring – and these were definitely anti-God. But she assured us we did not have to participate in any exercise that was offensive to us. I figured I would not be participating in any of the exercises.

Immediately, she began to get the group involved in simple functions of expressions and actions in unison, establishing a protocol of peer pressure, which would guarantee nobody would exempt themselves from any upcoming activity. She told us by the end of the seminar we would be as close or closer to each other than we were to our family members. As she continued her description of the upcoming activities I could see she was going to involve us in emotional intercourse, and I do not use this term flippantly. The pretext was to break down our walls which limit our potential, making us better salespeople. But the actual purpose was to conform our minds to be tolerant and evangelical of the world’s wisdom.

This training was no different from ‘New Age’ sensitivity training, which removes inhibitions and preconceived notions of right and wrong. This is dangerous territory for Christians, not only because we are opening ourselves up to the devil’s philosophy and group think, but it filters our Biblical perspective and violates Christ’s command to come out and be separate.

Christ calls the church His ‘bride’ and Himself the ‘bridegroom.’ As He describes the intercourse He has with His bride, it is obvious this is not a sexual or physical indulgence, but it is spiritual and emotional (Isa 62, Jer 2, Joh 3, Rev 19, 21). We must guard against surrendering this domain to the devil. This is why the Bible warns us not to yoke ourselves with unbelievers (2Co 6:14).

Jesus also said, “My sheep hear My voice . . . and they follow Me.” [Joh 10:27 NIV]. He warned they do not listen to the voice of an imposter or false shepherd (Joh 10:8). When we allow mentors to indoctrinate our minds with the wisdom of the world, we are listening to imposters and are not following Christ. It would be a good time to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2Co 13:5).

As she led the group in fundamental peer drills, I did not participate in any. Shortly after leading us through a few of these exercises, she asked us to stand and affirm our commitment to this seminar. As everyone was standing, I leaned into the aisle still sitting, raised my hand and said, “Excuse me.” The room grew silent and everyone looked at me. Most looked shocked that anybody would dare break the trance and the leader was visibly disturbed.

The leader wanted to know my problem, so I explained the organizer had agreed I could participate until two o’clock the following day and get credit for the whole event. I asked her if this was acceptable and could I commit to this portion of the seminar rather than the whole thing.

She almost exploded, but brought her composure together quickly as she burst out “this would ruin the whole effect!” My first thought was, “What ‘effect?'” I thought we were here to learn, but she confirmed we were here to feel and become sensitized. I asked her, if I should leave now. Raising her voice as she progressed, she went on and on about how nothing was more important than this meeting and I should have made arraignments to take my cat to the vet at another time, and she was screaming more phony excuse scenarios as I got up to leave and was walking down the isle – and none of her scenarios were the actual reason I had to leave. As I walked out the door, she was continuing this tirade – and getting louder – and I felt badly I had disturbed her. The rest of the people looked mortified and confused.

The seminar was probably not real successful this weekend.

When I reached the hall with my wife in tow, the organizer was there reviewing registrations. I explained to him the instructor said our arraignment was not acceptable to her. He asked me if we couldn’t work something out and if I couldn’t adjust my schedule to stay. I reminded him I had told him I could not attend the entire session and he had assured me “we could work something out.” “Well, can’t we?” He retorted. I told him I wanted my money back. As I walked away, I realized what he meant by, “we will work something out,” was an assumption I would succumb to the peer pressure once I got absorbed by the seminar.

Everybody today wants to be a team player – this is the mantra. And the agents of social change are using this mindset and peer pressure to conform Christians to the secular culture, if possible. To follow the world is to be an enemy of God (Jam 4:4) and Jesus warned if we seek the glory and respect of our peers and this world, we might not be saved (Joh 5:44). Are we listening for the Shepherd’s voice in all things? or are we willing to listen to the voice of an imposter, if it will help us get ahead in life? Even in the everyday decisions, we have to decide if we are going to follow God and His Word or follow the world.

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