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-   -   Spiritual Abuse: Fact or Fiction (http://www.apostolicfriendsforum.com/showthread.php?t=3447)

SDG 05-09-2007 08:22 AM

Spiritual Abuse: Fact or Fiction
According to spiritualabuse.org it is described as ....

What is spiritual abuse? Just as emotional abuse affects one emotionally, while physical abuse inflicts pain and bodily injury on its victim, 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. This is considered a major factor in mind control or thought reform. There are those who feel the latter comes into play in cases such as these, while others feel the thinking is in error. No matter where one stands, it does not lessen the affects of spiritual abuse.

David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen in The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse describe the action: "It's possible to become so determined to defend a spiritual place of authority, a doctrine or a way of doing things that you wound and abuse anyone who questions, or disagrees, or doesn't 'behave' spiritually the way you want them to. When your words and actions tear down another, or attack or weaken a person's standing as a Christian- to gratify you, your position or your beliefs while at the same time weakening or harming another- that is spiritual abuse."

Does leadership in your church demand you consult with them (or your discipler) before making major decisions or any decisions at all? Has leadership forbidden you to go on vacation or spend time with someone (particularly one who has left the church group)?

Do you find yourself periodically questioning your spirituality or standing with God? Have you been preoccupied with checking out others in the congregation to see who is living up to the rules and who isn't?

Are extra-biblical rules and standards equated as coming from God, with your salvation or spirituality linked to following them? Do you find that cutting or not cutting your
hair has now become an indicator of your spirituality?

Has the initial joy you felt when first coming to know the Lord been replaced with worry? Do you feel you're not doing enough or are not good enough and can't live up to what is expected?

Do services uplift and give strength or do you feel sad, beaten down, or depressed afterward? Has your view of God changed to where he is seen as a harsh taskmaster, eagerly waiting for you to mess up so he can chastise you or leave you behind?

If you have experienced any of these, or similar, you may be a victim of spiritual abuse.


Here are some questions for y'all?

- Does spiritual abuse happen in our circles?
-What recourse do victims of spiritual abuse have to deal w/ this issue?
- Are those who expose this abuse victims ... or spewers of venom, whiners and standard-haters?

Subdued 05-09-2007 08:24 AM


Rhoni 05-09-2007 08:24 AM

Many on this forum, and past forums, have been under spiritually abusive Pastors/leadership/spouses, ect...but I do not agree to name calling because many times abusers have also been victims. I believe it was James and John who said, "We cannot but speak the things we which have both heard and seen".

Everyone's experience may be different or have a different meaning to them based on thier perception of reality. I do believe though that because of the development of transportation, media, and thus exposure to other peoples, churches, lifestyles...we have been able to see:

*healthy verses unhealthy
*abusive verses affirming
*open verses secretive
*Biblical verses old wives tales
*choices verses stagnation

I, personally, am glad that I got out of my small world as an Apostolic young person growing up in an ultra-conservative environment, and thrown into the diversity I found/saw at JCM. I am glad I got to see how other people handle things through the years spent evangelizing, and see how other leaders lead when assisting other Pastors. I am thankful for having spent time on both sides of the fence: Pastoral leadership to a saint on the pew. It made me appreciate both.

I said all that to say...many of us have had spiritually abusive people, or situations, in our lives but we don't have to stay there, harbor the blame by continually exposing other people who may have learned their lesson or been forgiven, nor do we have to be bound and continually tormented by the past. Jesus Christ came to break the chains of bondage in each of our lives...it is time now to accept what He has done and be free.

Be Blessed, Sis. Rhonda

Sister Alvear 05-09-2007 08:26 AM

Spiritual abuse is a fact... We can believe anything we want to believe but we do not have to scare people and use all kinds of sermons to "make" them live however we believe...

Sister Alvear 05-09-2007 08:27 AM

I know a church in Waco Texas that is in the papers right now over spiritual abuse... and believe me I feel they are guilty!

Steve Epley 05-09-2007 08:30 AM

Dan I will not puke my vomit on this forum but believe me my good wife and I know what it means to be abused by a pastor that we loved and trusted. We felt spiritually and mentally raped and it took years to heal. But as it has been said you can become bitter or better. But I also have been abused by unthoughtful, cold,mean, vicious church members. Yet I do not with cynicism veiw every good saint of God that could not help what some ingrate did. Every saint is not a nasty, ugly, vicious ignorant. Most are kind wonderful loving thoughtful people andy every preacher is not on a ego trip trying to make saint's lives miserable and not living what he preaches. Allow me to do this I repent and publicly apologize for every sleaze that called himself a preacher that has abused and mistreated the saints in his care and turned out to be a fraud.
NOW will someone do the same for the church member who is a hell raiser?

Michlow 05-09-2007 08:32 AM

I actually just finished reading the book referenced above (The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse) and I found it very excellent.

I do believe that there is spiritual abuse. I have personally experienced it, and it has effected my walk with God in numerous ways. In my case, as I was not raised with any knowledge of religion or Christianity, and because I was born again in a spritually abusive church, I was given a distorted concept of God, Church, Authority and the Bible.

Sheltiedad 05-09-2007 08:33 AM

If you have been burned by a stove, does it make you more careful? What is wrong with warning others that they may get burned too? People should be VERY suspicious of ANYONE who claims to represent God, until that person has proven himself to them... the burden of proof is on the person who is claiming that he has that authority, and NOT on the people who he claims should submit to him.

Sister Alvear 05-09-2007 08:34 AM

Now having said that I am a person that practices outward holiness standards and live by what I believe. My husband is our pastor of our churches here in Brazil and never one time have I ever seen him use "tatics" to get people to "line up".
A message lived is much more powerful than a message preached...My husband lives holiness standards he feels God wants us to uphold and we as a family and church stand behind him.
I have been married 35 years and have never heard him run down one person no matter how they believe. He is a christian. It is easy to follow a christian.
I would have a problem following some preachers that preach one thing and live another.

I would like to comment more on this later today if I have time...This is a very important subject...Sheep are lead not beat.

I know some people would say abuse to anything you preach...but there happen to be some preachers that like to "skin" their sheep...have you ever seen a skinned sheep?

Michlow 05-09-2007 08:36 AM


Originally Posted by Sheltiedad (Post 106319)
If you have been burned by a stove, does it make you more careful? What is wrong with warning others that they may get burned too? People should be VERY suspicious of ANYONE who claims to represent God, until that person has proven himself to them... the burden in on the person who is claiming that he has that authority, and NOT on the people who he claims should submit to him.

You can try to explain that until you are blue in the face Brad, but they will simply tell you to "get over it" :nod

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