Spiritual Abuse

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Gillie
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Spiritual Abuse

Post by Gillie »

One aspect of spiritual abuse that sometimes gets overlooked is the trauma of it. Most folks associate trauma with a catastrophic event. Let’s be crystal clear: Not all trauma is the result of a sudden catastrophic incident such as rape, kidnapping, or combat.


Spiritual Abuse
This type of trauma may take months or years to produce, and it involves eight ingredients which produce a recipe for trauma:

1. Authoritarian leader(s)
2. Enforced powerlessness
3. Denial of personhood
4. Imposition of an ascetic lifestyle / conforming behaviour
5. Forced isolation
6. Psychological bullying
7. Suppression of emotions
8. Metaphysical “stoning” of a person’s soul

This type of trauma is similar to that described by POWs from World War II and Vietnam. It is trauma that results from being powerless and abused day after day, year after year, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

While spiritual abuse victims may or may not suffer physical abuse, their souls are torn and bleeding. It is the proverbial “death by a thousand cuts.”

Built into all spiritual abuse is the low-grade trauma and ongoing damage done to the psyche of the followers involved. There is attrition of spiritual health that results in emaciated souls every bit as sick as POWs. And there are the verbal and spiritual beatings that Dale Wolery from the Clergy Recovery Network calls “metaphysical stoning.”

It is trauma caused by the Word of God used like the thrust of a spear, the constant threat of God’s displeasure and eternal damnation, and the death of dreams and relationships. This is real trauma: the trauma of the soul.

Having read this summary of spiritual abuse, please consider those people who come to Streetcar and are recovering from Complex PTSD:
For people with Complex PTSD, it is very common for their memories to be triggered by sights, sounds, smells or even feelings that they experience. These triggers can bring back memories of the trauma and cause intense emotional and physical reactions, such as raised heart rate, sweating and muscle tension.

I would like to suggest that we have a specific topic on Streetcar for spiritual discussions or questions of theology etc, so that those who are recovering from spiritual abuse can choose to read or not read that topic.

We should be very aware of how we can trigger others by what we say. Many people here on this forum have been abused by leaders who used scriptures against them. We need to be constantly aware that we can so easily trigger them, by our use of scriptures and religious cliches.
Gillie
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Re: Spiritual Abuse

Post by Gillie »

CHARACTERISTICS OF SPIRITUALLY ABUSIVE SYSTEMS

1) POWER-POSTURING simply means that the leaders spend a lot of time focused on their own authority and reminding others of it, as well. This is necessary because their spiritual authority isn’t real-based on genuine Godly character - it is postured.

2) PERFORMANCE PREOCCUPATION. These systems are preoccupied with the performance of their members, and their authority is legislated. Obedience and Submission are two important words often used.

3) UNSPOKEN RULES. In abusive spiritual systems, people’s lives are controlled from the outside in by rules, spoken and unspoken. Because these rules are not said out loud, you don’t find out that they are there until you break them. The most powerful of all unspoken rules is the “can’t talk “rule, which means if you speak about the problem out loud, you are the problem. This rule blames the person who talks, and the ensuing punishments pressure questioners into silence.

4) LACK OF BALANCE IN LIVING OUT THE TRUTH OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. This characteristic describes either extreme objectivism or extreme subjectivism in their approaches to life. They see spiritual authority based exclusively on level of education and intellectual capacity or totally contingent on the leaders’ receiving the members’ truth through the Lord’s spiritual revelations.

5) PARANOIA. In a place where authority is grasped and legislated, not simply demonstrated, persecution sensitivity builds a case for keeping everything within the system. This mentality builds a strong wall around the abusive system, isolates the abusers from scrutiny and accountability, and makes it more difficult for people to leave, because they will then be outsiders too.

6) MISPLACED LOYALTY is fostered and even demanded. Here following authority is legislated by a system where disloyalty to or disagreement with the leadership is construed as the same thing as disobeying God.

7) SECRETIVE. When you see people in a religious system being secretive--watch out. People don’t hide what is appropriate; they hide what is inappropriate. When these characteristics exist in a church or Christian family system, the result will be spiritual abuse. It will be a closed system, with rigid boundaries that prevent people from leaving. There will be the perception of a lot of evil on the outside, to keep people in, and there will be a lot of power postured on the inside to compel you to perform. There will also be tired, wounded people who feel that they are either unspiritual or crazy. And they will have major problems relating to God from the heart.

Johnson, D. & VanVonderen J. The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. (1991) Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers
Gillie
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Re: Spiritual Abuse

Post by Gillie »

These two websites may be helpful for those needing help with spiritual abuse:
The National Association for Christian Recovery

Resources:
Three lectures on the topic of spiritual abuse by Jeff VanVonderen:
1. Healthy and Abusive Spiritual Dynamics
2. The Abusive Religious System
3. How We Get Hooked

http://www.nacr.org/abusecenter/spiritual-abuse
Spiritual Abuse Recovery Resources

“You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” 1 Cor. 7:23

LIBRARY / ARTICLES

http://www.spiritualabuse.com/?page_id=2
Gillie
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Re: Spiritual Abuse

Post by Gillie »

Beware of "Spiritual Abuse"
Craig von Buseck

Spiritual abuse can be difficult to detect at first if you have never encountered it. In a manipulative church, the pastor or senior leaders have subtly positioned themselves to take the place of the Holy Spirit in people's lives. They may try to put undue influence on the choices that people in their congregation are making. They might try to sway someone’s decision in a matter to keep them under their control, or to keep them from leaving the church.

People in a controlling church are often told they cannot leave the church with God's blessing unless the pastor approves the decision. They are warned that if they don’t follow the pastor’s guidance, not only will God not bless them, but they will also bring a curse upon themselves or their family. Leaving the “covering” of the church and the controlling pastor will result in some sort of calamity.

When a pastor tells his congregation that those who leave his church or disobey his authority are in danger of God’s wrath, you can be sure this man is operating in a spirit of control. He is attempting to sow fear as a carnal means of keeping people in his church.

“If you leave this church,” he may warn, “the blessing of God will be lifted from your life, and you will miss God’s will. You will be in rebellion, and you will open yourself up to all kinds of calamity. The devil will have freedom to attack you because you have walked away from God’s protection,” that “protection” being the one true church that he happens to pastor.

• Fear is the motivation behind such comments — not love.

• You can be sure that this type of reasoning is not from God.

• Jesus never motivated people out of fear.

• Fear is a form of manipulation, which is sin.

• Instead of motivating people through love and a call to serve the body of Christ and reach the lost, a spiritually abusive minister will try to motivate through manipulation.



To read more of this article, please be note it is on the CBN / The Christian Broadcasting Network website:

http://www1.cbn.com/biblestudy/beware-o ... %26quot%3B
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Dexter
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Re: Spiritual Abuse

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People in a controlling church are often told they cannot leave the church with God's blessing unless the pastor approves the decision. They are warned that if they don’t follow the pastor’s guidance, not only will God not bless them, but they will also bring a curse upon themselves or their family. Leaving the “covering” of the church and the controlling pastor will result in some sort of calamity.
On the topic of curses, the following excerpt is taken from Explaining Blessings and Curses by Derek Prince.

-----

iii. Jeremiah 17:5, 6

Another completely different example of a curse is found here.

"Thus says the LORD: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD.'"

Then follows the curse:

"For he shall he like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited." (Jeremiah 17:5, 6)

That is typical of a person under a curse. Everybody else is receiving the rain (the blessing, the prosperity), but in the midst of it all, he lives in a parched land and never sees it. Why? Because of the curse. What's the cause of that curse? Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, (relies on human ability and material resources) and whose heart departs from the LORD.

I believe that that curse rests over many Christian churches which have tasted of the grace of God, have known what it is to be blessed of His grace, but then have turned away and begun trusting in their own efforts, their own intelligence, their own methods and religious forms. They have made flesh their arm. The blessing of God has lifted and in its place a curse has come over those congregations.

I have found myself preaching in congregations that were under this kind of curse. But in spite of all my efforts I realised that very little could be accomplished until the curse was dealt with."

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Helen Pomery
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Re: Spiritual Abuse

Post by Helen Pomery »

God Meant it for Good

Genesis 50 : 20

New International Version
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Berean Standard Bible
As for you, what you intended against me for evil, God intended for good, in order to accomplish a day like this—to preserve the lives of many people.

Amplified Bible
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present outcome, that many people would be kept alive [as they are this day].


When I lost my marriage and my family I couldn’t see or understand God’s will in my devastation.

I am not claiming I know God’s will now because there are many things I may never understand this side of heaven.

What I do believe now… is that what the elders at BCF did against my family, God has purposed it for good.

Trusting God is a choice beyond our understanding. How spiritual abuse can be God’s will for my life is something I now accept by faith in God.

I share this to encourage others. It’s been a long journey to come to know God more and more. To accept the things I don’t understand, is to keep trusting they come from God’s hand of love.
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Dexter
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Re: Spiritual Abuse

Post by Dexter »

...what the elders at BCF did against my family, God has purposed it for good.
...
How spiritual abuse can be God’s will for my life is something I now accept by faith in God.
I guess now's as good a time as any to revisit the story of Joseph.
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guest
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Re: Spiritual Abuse

Post by guest »

I came across this. Thought it could be useful for people

https://www.dankochwords.com/spiritual- ... eener.html
guest
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Re: Spiritual Abuse

Post by guest »

Wow. So I scored high, medium, high, low, medium, low, with an overall score of high. And I would consider myself to have been sheltered from the more extreme abuses that I know others were exposed to.

I’ve learned to go easy on myself, and that there is no shame in getting professional help to talk things through.

Thanks for the link.
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