Sunday, January 01, 2006

Spiritual Abuse Part dUh!

Thanks for all the emails and posts with regards to our family scenario! It is greatly appreciated by all!

Now….Happy New Year….and on that note I would like to add to Spiritual Abuse Part dUh!
If you check the archives I already did a post regarding “touch not the Lord’s Anointed” {‘Don’t Touch’-September 19} so I will leave that one alone. But for me, as I have had time to reflect this past few weeks and it is interesting to discover that abusive religious leaders share a host of traits common to domestic batterers.

According to studies offered by such organizations as the Project for Victims of Family Abuse and the Crisis Support Network, among others, domestic abusers are characterized by:Controlling and manipulative behavior in relationships;
Insistence on a "pecking order" with them at the top;

Demand for rigid rules fortifying their authority;

Using shame and guilt to buffer control;

Use privilege and entitlement to maintain status;

Require unrealistic expectations of you and others;

Push for hasty decisions and immediate responses;

Refuse to negotiate or compromise decisions;

Intolerant of differing views;

Hypersensitive to criticism;

Exhibit insatiable ego needs;

Demonstrate childlike narcissism;

Unreasonable possessiveness;

Isolate you from other people, groups and ideas;

Verbally and psychologically degrade subordinates;

Blame others for problems;

Deny personal responsibility for problems;

Use of coercion and intimidation to gain the advantage.

Draw your own conclusions. An abuser is an abuser, in your home or in your church.So what is a
person to do?



filletofsoul said...

Jesus looks kind of good in a suit.

SoulPastor said...


Why do you think it is Jesus?

Mark said...

Yeah, why do you think it is Jesus? I thought that was a picture of ME.

Bill Kinnon said...

I thought Gerry was growing his hair out...

Mark said...

Gerry and Hair?... I don't think so!

(Well, maybe in his dreams.)

SoulPastor said...

Thought provoking discussion!

filletofsoul said...

Okay, I guess Soulpastor does not want to talk about Jesus in this particular blog. ;^)

LightBulb the Clown said...

I think, what a person ought to do, is BE LIKE Jesus. Not just talk about Him. Don't just dress Him (or a worldy facsimile of Him) up in a suit, frame it, and place it on the mantle. We have to be LIKE Jesus. Only then will abuses diminish. (unfortunately, we also live in a sin infested world, where Jesus often gets overlooked and abused)

Anonymous said...

Odd. The guy in the picture does kind of look like Mark.

It's also interesting that "we've" made Jesus look very white. Maybe he was born in Bethlehem, PA and not Israel.
His suit is nice too. It's exactly what every Christian should be wearing to church on Sundays
to help show off his spiritual prowness.
(It surprises me that Gerry doesn't wear his suit on sundays anymore. Moore's is having a year end sale by the way)
In fact I'm even more surprised that he, Jesus, isn't holding a big horking
Thompson Chain NIV Study bible in his arm. Actually, it would be a KJV as that is his native tongue after all.
At least he only sings hymns from the pre 1800's. That's when the spirit was really working boy.
Oh well, I can be sure of one thing. Jesus, he's my buddy. He can be your buddy too.
I also hear that he can help you make a few extra thousand as well.

Talk about abuse.

SB said...

Lightbulb ill go one step further and say that we live in a world where Jesus barely exists at all.

And a question for Gerry, why should we not think its Jesus, i mean this is the picture that the church has drilled into our heads that this is what he really looks like so why should we think any different? Just something to ponder.

SoulPastor said...

So, I throw the topic of the post back at you all...What is a person to do with a leader who appears to be using their position in a wrong manner?

(as for the suit comment...if you came to our gathering this last Sunday you would have been surprised! I wore a suit, and my parents were thrilled!)

Anonymous said...

what do we do with witches -- BURN THEM!!!!!

ok... mabey monty python does not quite fit in this post.

hmmm... good question. what are we to do with these leader's:

1. one of my prof's suggests that churches should have guards to escourt them out the front door and deal with them accourdingly... BUT again. Jesus might not like that method.

2. my instincts want to get all vigilante and get in their face.

3. relationship is key -- out of relationship humble correction can be brought.

4. YAY for elderships, boards, DENOMINATIONS!!! these people can help! they are a really really positive thing at times :)they can provide accountability.

5. but as for dealing - i think its important to rightly communicate the issues with them. if nothing changes - rather than subject yourself to the abuse: leave.

peace out.

Anonymous said...

Good question. What do you do? Leaders tend to surround themselves with other leaders of like mind.

1. You could find dirt on them and report it to the media. Large scale public embarassment of the church always seems to work.
And everyone, including some Christians, find it to be very entertaining.

2. Cut your loses and go somewhere else. There's nothing saying that you're obligated to stay where you are. The church is more than
one address.

3. Prayer. Just thought I'd put that out there.

4. I also know some people that could, shall we say, take care of the matter.

I'm leaning more towards #2 and #3. Although, #1 and #4 just seem like so much fun.

LightBulb the Clown said...

Anonymous #1 - your 4th point is great as long as they aren't the abusers (or being blinded by the abuser)

The comments about "leaving" is an option, I suppose. I hesitate regarding this one. I've done that in one church and, even though I feel I am in a "better" place, looking back, I didn't address the issue - just ran.

Read a good book "Francine Rivers - And the Shofar Blew" which is in our Public Libraries. It was an excellent read on the faithfulness of prayer and following God's will, corruption of ambition, etc. I mention it only because it relates directly to this topic.

What do you do, except address the issue head on, continually praying for God's wisdom and Spiritual direction. God's pretty good about giving us directions if we ask. (IE - should I stay or should I go now)

Anonymous said...

You can mow the dandelions in the morning but when you come back late in the afternoon they'll be back.
The solution is to get at their roots.

It's the same with an abusive leader. The only way to get them to change is to change their heart.
Now with dandelions Kilex is the answer but that won't fly in most countries. So something that doesn't
involve phyiscal death will work best.
Like the previous two postings have stated:
1. Relationship
2. Prayer

God will work and what that person decides to do with God's correction/direction is up to them.

Anonymous said...

Is it wrong to "run" or leave?
What's more ridiculous? The abusive leader or the church goer who stays for the abuse.

Imagine playing games with endure it for a round or two, you try to be nice, and then you have to leave.
Trash talk during checkers? C'mon!

Michael said...

It's a question of power really. How much power has the leader been given.

When we look at corporations, the board of directors is elected by the owners (the shareholders), and the board appoints the officers of the company (including the CEO). Problems arise when the CEO is also the chairman of the board.

So perhaps dealing with (ousting?) an abusive leader, is a question that is best dealt with when the power structures of the church are being laid?

filletofsoul said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeremy Postal said...

I was in Scotland a few years ago working with street kids; one of the first things that I was told when I got there was to be wary of spiritual abuse > I thought I'd be ok against witches, druids, and methodists...then they told me that it was I who needed not inflict spiritual abuse......and that it was a criminal offence to do such!

As for the abuse of power amoung churches? Someone mentioned eldership, boards, and denominations > good on ya. Lines of accountability, even though they can become horribly tangled, are fundamentally good and worthwhile (even worth it to untangle the mess from time to time).

An issue I would offer to the mix which would vaguely spin off of Michael's thoughts on how the groundwork is laid >>> too often people will rally around one person's authentic Jesus-centered spirituality and form a movement and/or religious idea's out of it. The big problem with this is that other people try and copy something that was real and authentic and find themselves drastically pledging allegince, their first born, and their will to this person or their organization. Ahhhh....the rise of cults incorporated!

How do we respond? How, with integrity, do we stay quiet about it?! Paul couldn't. He wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote about it. But of course we couldn't do would be far too intolerant....(please take a moment to smell my sarcasim here). Ok, finished smelling? Good.

Merry New Years.

SoulPastor said...

The question is asked..."what kind of abuse am I talking about?"
Spiritual! DUH!!! (Sorry for the I'm not)

Leaders in the church, as in any other, area must be careful how to communicate and lead. For some it is easier than others, and in some situations abuse is more subtle than others.

"What kind of abuse am I talking about?" I am just posting thoughts and asking you all to comment, knowing that many people have many different experiences, so that we can all learn from this forum.

Hope that answers your question.

Anonymous said...

I think that the abuse of time in the church is huge.

The church talks about family and community but the reality is you are looked down upon if you aren't involved in at least 4 or 5 things.
So then your at church most most evenings, working full time during the day, plus whatever other commitments you may have, plus you do all your Sunday activities which is another
part time job...who has time for yourself or family. No wonder families crumble, no one has time for devotions or prayer, and everyone is stressed out these days.

Of course some of this might have to do with 30% of the people doing 100% of the work which is another type of abuse. But at least the pews don't freeze.

Anonymous said...

My favorite is the "old boy's club". You know the committee that's been doing it such and such a way for years.

They ask you to take over a leadership position in a certain area and just report to them once a month.
The people you lead love what's going on, there's lots of growth and learning going on...more so than in previous
years. Positive changes are taking place.
Of course the "old boy's club" don't like the way your running it because it's not the same, nor the way they'd do i,t and they discuss this behind your back.
Nothing is mentioned to you ever. In fact they meet with you at the end of the year to hear your plans and make it seem like
it's a great thing. Then weeks before the restart of the program they inform you that your not what they want.
They then replace you with one of their older buddies from "the club".

SB said...

I agree with anonymous, whoever that may be about having to be involved in some aspect of the church. I think some people just want to come to church and enjoy it without working sometimes and i do think that is selfish. I think that its realistic, people work 5, 6 sometimes even 7 days a week, 9-10 hour days and then the church wants them to give more time above and beyond that. That my friends can be physical and mental abuse on the churches part. But like anonymous said, if these people dont "abuse" themselves then they get frowned upon and it feels like they arent accepted by the church, and therefore God.

The fact is that people have lives, God gave us lives, God told us to work and to support families. Being involved in community with believers doesnt mean helping out in church, there is more christians out there than the ones that go to your church. Yes of course the church needs volunteers, but some ppl have the time to do that and some dont, so let the people who want to do the volunteering do that and the ones that may not have the time to do it, leave them alone. They can enjoy church too and should not be abused into thinking otherwise.

You shouldnt have to volunteer your time just because you've been at the chirch for X amount of time.

Forcing someone into volunteering isnt volunteering anymore, its Abuse.

People should be allowed to enjoy church without discrimiation. Plus telling everyone that they have to volunteer, then having some ppl not volunteer cuz they cant encourages gossip amongst other things. More abuse.

Anyways jsut my thoughts.

SoulPastor said...

So help me out here...
Since when is "serving" in a church community considered abuse?

As for volunteering...Are people not doing all of that on their own? Do they not have control of what nights they are giving up?

As for "volunteering your time," just wait for another consumer post coming soon!

SB said...

Maybe they are doing on their own, but in fear of being looking down upon, or even told that they have to be involved to even go to the church, that my friend is abuse.

They have no control when it comes to making sure they dont wanna be looked down upon. Its funny that some churches have to say either help or ur out, what kind of God mentality is that?

I highly doubt that God would give someone the steel toe for not helping out in the church, and if it was that way i wouldnt want any part in it then. If you want to boot someone out of the church becuase they dont help out, for whatever reasons, you better be prepared for the consequences that will happen. Word of mouth goes a long way, especially when it comes to religion, and im sure the person who gets the boot wont hesitate t0 tell someone what they think about that specific church

As far as nights, Anyone can spend nights of the week helping out, but bear in mind that some ppl cant, they need to spend time with familiy and friends. I see the church sometimes tears family apart because of the demands placed on by the church to give time.

If people want ot help then fine, if they dont then fine, who cares. The church exists to help people with their relationship with God. You cant tell me that a church with 400 memebers, that all of them are helping out, and the church shouldnt care cuz its still running. Same with a church of 4000.

Maybe start paying people to help, i bet the number of people not wanting to help before will soon find reasons to help! Just an idea, and not a serious one at that either.

SB said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
snippyG said...

Good question soulpastor. If I had not experienced "abuse" in a church, I would not understand how it's possible for things as basic as church programs, serving, and volunteering could become portals through which leadership can abuse. Speaking from experience, however, I can testify that through coercion, intimidation, guilt trips, and other tactics, pressure to become "involved" can become more than just serving the Lord, which is what it should be. In abusive situations, what should be rather simple can become extremely complex and confusing. Ideally, we would be operating like the believers in the book of Acts, right? They put all their effort into spreading the gospel. Yes, they did have "lives"... that WAS their lives. They worked, breathed, ate, and LIVED for the gospel. Internal motivation, led by the Spirit of God. That's ideal. External, negative motivation such as guilt tripping, and isolation are not. Believe it or not, it happens in a lot of churches. Are we supposed to serve in the church? As mature believers, I believe the answer is "yes". If we don't want to, we need to ask ourselves why not. There should be within us a desire to serve Him wherever we can, in every aspect of our lives - work, home, shopping, etc, and definitely church.

SoulPastor said...


Thank you for the post and keeping us on track.

n. herman said...

in response to sb's post:
"The fact is that people have lives, God gave us lives, God told us to work and to support families. Being involved in community with believers doesnt mean helping out in church, there is more christians out there than the ones that go to your church. Yes of course the church needs volunteers, but some ppl have the time to do that and some dont, so let the people who want to do the volunteering do that and the ones that may not have the time to do it, leave them alone. They can enjoy church too and should not be abused into thinking otherwise. "
Yes, God did give us lives, (which we too often take for granted as a gift, not our right, but this is another issue) but he also gave each one of us gifts. As a part of the body of Christ, and as someone who has been given gifts by God, if someone is to sit back and say "some people have time to do that and some don't" is like saying that it's ok to not let some parts of the body work. It's ok for some parts of the body to get lazy. Sure, I have arms, but they don't feel like working today so I'm going to let my feet take over their job, they're kind of the same. And aure, they could probably do some of the work, but it's not practical nor efficient to let the feet continue to perform these estra tasks that it wasn't designed for. Each person, as a member of the body of Christ has a role. In my opinion, much of the problem with volunteers feeling like they don't want to work is when they are forced into doing more jobs, and ones for which they aren't as gifted because those who are gifted for those positions feel that they don't need to or don't have the time to use their gifts.

Soulpastor asked if people aren't going into the volunteering of their time with the knowledge of what they are giving up. I think generally they are. However, the spiritual abuse comes in when they are willingly giving of their time, and that time is not respected by the administration of the church. When people become bullied and guilted into doing more and more since they are already there, rather than being appreciated for the time they have already committed, that is when it becomes abuse. It is the classic case of the minority of the people doing the majority of the work. It is unfortunate that volunteers with a secular organization, would walk away from an event feeling appreciated and having their time respected more so than if they were to commit the same amount of time to the church. Now this is not to say the attituude needs to become "what am I getting out of it?" but when the church volunteer walks away feeling like their time is not respected and the work that they are already doing isn't cutting it, these parts of the body being to wear out.

SB said...

N Herman, my other post got deleted, not sure why, it wasnt really anything against anyone it jsut explained what i said in the first post a little more clearly. I like your anaolgy, but what do we do with the people that really dont have the time, mayve they work 12 hour days, maybe they need to have extra time at home to help out, maybe they have loads of school work that bogs them down, how do we reach out to these people to get the to help. Or is their a point to even trying to get these people to help becuase what they are doing right now is serving God, just not in the church setting. I myself have found it difficult to volunteer becuase of these circumstances, well at least school work. I find that i lose focus on school and then find myself cramming and stressing and things of that nature, mostly because i rather being volunteering than doing school work. How do i help myself then, i mean i volunteer 2-3 nights a week at my church, but sometimes i find it too much. But i cant quit, its not that i care about what people would say but i would, i dunno if u understand this. And i dont want to quit, i enjoy being a leader at youth, i enjoy playing my guitar at youth and at the weekly young adult night. I cant always be plugged in tho, sometimes i need to unplug and and focus on school, becuase it is important, not more important than God but he must understand, if he doesnt understand then he is not with me, because i dont think that i could believe in a "God" that didnt understand how this day in age works, school=job=support family + church. Im sure he understands though, it wouldnt make sense if he didnt, He created it didnt he.

I jsut feel that im being pushed to do more, it seems sometimes that my life isnt recognized. Its not about my volunteering being recognized, because i can see that it is, even if im not told these things. But i mean when it comes to my life, school is a big part of it right now, and the church should respect the fact that i need focus on these things as well.

I think this is something that i would need to continue with my pastor, but any other thoughts may help too!

filletofsoul said...


Life is about BALANCE, CHOICES and TIMING. It's school for you now and in a few years it may be a job or family that takes your time. I'm not knocking volunteering but that isn't the end all be all in serving God. The opportunity is there every moment you breath in the things you do, say and think. At some points in your life you may have more time to commit to volunteering than others, don't sweat it if you can't cram everything in right now. It is better to do some things well then many things poorly. Just make sure your priorities are in order. Good luck working it out with God!