Spiritual Abuse Isn't Always Visible

Spiritual abuse is rampant in the church. Every system, institution, and organization is prone to it and must resist it steadfastly.

The church is a system, an institution, an organization. Do the math.

There’s sexual and physical abuse in churches. But I’m focusing on the invisible kind of spiritual abuse. I’ve served abusive spiritual leaders who never touched anyone. Although once when I told a leader he was too controlling he poked his finger into my chest hard and said I needed a psychiatrist.

abuse isn't always visible cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

Description: A man says to a woman, “You don’t look abused to me!” Manipulation, coercion, and control are favorite tools of many spiritual leaders.

Our struggle as people who have been spiritually abused is that we enjoyed the sense of community around them, the purpose and destiny, the participation in a mission, the joyful activities, the opportunities to be favored, and the unquenched feelings of hope and excitement.

But the tradeoff for these benefits was submitting to their overbearing and controlling authority.

It took a few steps to free myself but I did it because

  1. I needed to be independent, stop depending on gurus, and meet my own spiritual needs.
  2. I could live an even more fulfilled and happier life from underneath their rule and influence.
  3. I realized their benefits were just bait to hold me and keep me submissive.

Walking away from the leeks and onions of controlling and abusive leadership feels risky and scary. It’s walking away from something we thought we loved.

But discovering your own land flowing with milk and honey makes it all worthwhile. Because we’re free.

Believe me.

Do it!

Back to blog

Leave a comment