Abuse in general is a difficult subject but spiritual abuse is even more evasive and unfortunate. It is a sad reality that we live in a society where abuse of any kind is prevalent. Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse should not be tolerated by anyone. And neither should spiritual abuse. Spiritual abuse seems to be an oxymoron. Biblically it is a contradiction in terms. The words “Christian” and “abuser” don’t belong together. They are a contradiction in terms. And yet how many of us have heard of a minister’s children who were raised with cruelty and abuse? How many of us have known of an outstanding, church going man or woman of God who turns out to be something other than what they have professed to be? There have been many a religious scandal of so-called “men of God,” priests and preachers who were immorally taking advantage of women, who were exposed as pedophiles, child molesters, who were using their position in the church as a source of obtaining new victims?
Just because someone is in the church doesn’t mean they are Christians. A Christian is a Christ-one who is in submission to Christ as their life. Calling oneself “Christian” does not make one exempt from abusive behavior. And calling oneself “Christian” does not make one a REAL Christian, either!
What is spiritual abuse? There are different kinds of abuse. Whereas emotional abuse affects one emotionally, and physical abuse inflicts pain and bodily injury on its victim, and sexual abuse is any type of sexual activity inflicted on a child. Spiritual abuse affects one spiritually. It is the result of a spiritual leader or system that tries to control, manipulate, or dominate a person. This control is often in the form of fear. A kind of mind control. Abuse in its broadest sense is using or treating something or someone in an improper way.
The result of abuse is both psychological and spiritual and is far-reaching. Spiritual abuse often produces mental and emotional damage towards one’s concepts and beliefs about God and other Christians. At the core of all spiritual abuse is selfishness, where the abuser controls the abused (others). The abuser “acts,” play-acts. “Acting” spiritual to benefit himself and promote his own agenda. Spiritual abusers use their positions to control or dominate another person.
Religion is at the heart of all abuse. Religion seeks to get people “involved” and “committed” in “religious busy-ness.” To what end? Often the end objective is to spiritually manipulate. Therefore, the ultimate abuse of the Christian is religion. That is why spiritual abuse is really religious abuse posing as Christian leaders, or what Jesus called wolves in sheep’s clothing. Spiritual abusers always promote religion. Religion encourages us to perform. Religion always advocates the “works” of human performance, the self- effort of trying to do things for God, which allows the spiritual abuser to be in control and call the shots and take advantage of the sheep.
Spiritual abuse is manifested in a variety of abusive ways. Abusers do their best work on those who are weak. They deliberately exploit the weak by using ―threats, intimidation, extortion of money, demands for sex, public humiliation, control over private lives and families and manipulation of marriages.
The following alliteration for Spiritual A.B.U.S.E. has been suggested.
A- Acting spiritual to.
B- Benefit oneself by.
E- Efforts to control others.
Let’s discuss this in a bit more detail.
A- Acting spiritual to__. To gain approval of God or others, especially of your spiritual abuser. To fit in with the group. Play acting is deception with a point in view, to mislead.
B- Benefit oneself by__. Greed. The love of money is the root of all evil. The opposite of love, which is sacrificial.
U- Using. Manipulation. Abusers take advantage of others. They exploit, misuse and abuse.
S- Self-centered. Egotistical, Narcissistic. Abusers always have selfish motives. “Self for self,” which is represented by Satan himself.
E- Efforts to control others. Control is a universal trait of abusers. Abusers need to control you. Not themselves.
I love how the “The Message Bible” paraphrases Galatians 5:13-15. “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse, to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?”
FREEDOM is essential to experience the Christian life, NOT to be used for self-indulgence, but for willing— sacrificial service of others which is the Law of love.
You may ask, “what should I do if I find myself in a spiritual abuse place? Run! It has been said that spiritual abuse is like a “good trap.” A trap must be easy to get into and hard to get out of, and it must have some enticing bait to attract the prey. No one should remain in an unsafe environment, whether it involves a family member, friend, employer, caregiver, or stranger. Separation needs to happen for one’s SAFTY and boundaries must be put in place.
The first thing necessary to escape spiritual abuse is realize you are being spiritually abused and ask for help. You must tell yourself the truth about your situation and seek professional help outside of your current situation. Begin by allowing God to change your mindset, by renewing your mind. You have been brainwashed and you have God to reveal to you who He really is and what reality really looks like. Allow God to bring inner healing to your emotional and spiritual wounds. You will need Godly spiritual counseling to work through your spiritual abuse. This can be difficult as your trust has been broken toward all spiritual leaders. But not all are wolves in sheep clothing. To heal from your woundedness you will need safe, supportive, honest and trusting relationships.
Why are Christians so susceptible to follow abusive leaders? Christians want to trust their leaders. However, Christians often mistakenly believe their leaders are more mature and spiritual than they are and have a greater level of faith than they have, therefore, they give an unquestioned allegiance to their leaders. This mindset is a dangerous one. Only God is fully trustworthy. Church people generally do not want to be disloyal. They don’t want to become a problem or to be seen as a problem. Finally, people hesitate to leave or confront their leaders because they feel they have too much to lose. Spiritual abusers are notorious for keeping people involved through: Giving them responsibilities. Encouraging them to lead projects. Involving them in “leadership ministries.” Letting them teach. Put them on an advisory board. Finally, people don’t want to be disobedient to scripture. Many abused people will testify, “Every time he wanted me to do something, he would quote scripture, Of course, out of context, but as we have mentioned they prey on the weak. Bottomline, you’re too important to leave, we need you, therefore, you must stay even though you become aware of the abuse.
Why are abusers attracted to churches? Churches provide a convenient infrastructure, an organization to be a part of a seemingly safe place. We must remember that it’s the Church of Jesus Christ, not an institution. His church was never intended to have a pastor as the central figure. The Centrality of the church is always Jesus Christ. The source of all religious spiritual abuse is Satanic. The remedy to spiritual abuse is Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Living the Victorious Life
Living the Victorious Life
Living the Victorious Life
Living the Victorious Life