One of the biggest issues that comes our way has to with the subject of spiritual abuse. Masses of people are coming for help because of abuse they have experienced from someone in church or a ministry, be it a spiritual leader, pastor or someone of influence in their life. The repercussions are intense.
For years, many people have wandered with deep woundedness they have received, not from someone outside the faith, but from within. Yet they have not been able to put a finger on why they are struggling in such intense ways. People can often carry deep lacerations and emotional wounds they infect them for life is not healed. It keeps them from a fruitful life. Spiritual abuse is often a part of the equation.
Worst yet, people who have been spiritually abused often carry that into the next fellowship they join. New layers of hurt build on old layers of hurt, until eventually people shut down and say I can’t take it anymore.
Everyone gets hurt inside and outside of the church, but spiritual abuse is a whole different kind of monster, especially because it is perpetual, insidious and often very hidden. People can become slowly worn down to the core and left with broken hearts if there is not a clear safety established.
We have too many that are leaving the church, who describe the circumstances around their departure and spiritual abuse is the reason. Spiritual abuse can occur in any area of a ministry or church organization. It can be really tricky issue to discern and it often takes help to identify when this is taking place.
We want to address this subject head on, share our own experiences and provide some tools to walk into freedom. We pray our vulnerability will bless your life and help any who have been in spiritually abusive environments.
In this episode, we cover the following areas:
- What our experience has been with spiritual abuse.
- Observing many patterns of spiritual abuse.
- Why defining spiritual abuse can be complicated.
- Why this subject is so important to address.
- What are the challenges we face when addressing the subject of spiritual abuse.
- What is spiritual abuse and what does it look like?
- Why followers can be just as abusive as leaders.
- Why spiritual abuse can be so devastating to the health and wholeness of people.
Sources Used in Research:
- Toxic Faith by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton
- Breaking Free!: Rescuing Families from the Clutches of Legalism by David R. Miller
- Faith That Hurts, Faith That Heals: Understanding the Fine Line Between Healthy Faith and Spiritual Abuse by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton
- Churches that Abuse by Ronald M. Enroth
- The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church by David Johnson
- Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experience by Ken M. Blue
- 10 Ways to Spot Spiritual Abuse by Mary DeMuth
- Spiritual Abuse Profile by Watchman Fellowship
- 6 Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse by Charisma Magazine
- Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath on A&E
- Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
- Barna Study: among unchurched adults shows that nearly four out of every ten non-churchgoing Americans (37%) said they avoid churches because of negative past experiences in churches or with church people. (Click for Source Page)
- Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness by Barbara M. Orlowski
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