Anyone who knows me, knows my disdain for spiritual abuse. Unfortunately, it comes in many forms, ranging from subtle to severe. Instead of nurturing the flock of God in a culture of grace, spiritual abuse involves control, manipulation, and victimization in a culture of shame and demands. It typically involves an us vs. them mentality that spurns those who are not “in”. It exhausts wounded and worn out sheep under the guise of Christian solidarity instead of showing them to rest in Christ and his all sufficient sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10-14). I am no psychologist, but I do wonder if spiritual abuse occurs because of deflected shame that demands perfection in external circumstances in order to compensate. That can result in a prideful demand to satisfy unreasonable and self-focused lusts for power and external presentation. It is the opposite of Jesus commands to Peter to feed His sheep and serve the body by example so that the body grows itself up in love (John 21:15-17; 1 Peter 5:1-3; Ephesians 4:11-16). Spiritual abuse is not love or loving.
Fellow DTS Student Steve Smith has a wonderful blog, Liberty for Captives., which is devoted to addressing spiritual abuse. He is half-way through an 8 part series entitled Eight Ways to Identify Religious Brainwashing.
Part 5: The “Sacred Science”
Part 6: Loading the Language
Part 7: Doctrine Over Person
Part 8: The Dispensing of Existence
So far it has been a rich series and I look forward to the rest. I highly recommend checking out this series and his site.
“Come unto 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” – Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)
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