"Not All Churches" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
My posts about spiritual abuse often get reactions from people claiming that I‚Äôm needlessly and bitterly highlighting an infrequent and isolated problem in the church.
They are usually angry and defensive.
They say things like:
‚ÄúYou‚Äôre crying out like a wounded animal! Get over your bitterness.‚Äù
‚ÄúHow dare you attack Christ‚Äôs bride! He loves her and gave his life for her.‚Äù
‚ÄúThis hardly ever happens and you‚Äôre just trying to make us look bad to the world.‚Äù
‚ÄúOkay, we heard you. But do you have to be so negative all the time?‚Äù
‚ÄúIf you aren‚Äôt in the church you have no right to criticize her. Mind your own business!‚Äù
I could go on and on.
Shouldn‚Äôt it be obvious to us by now that spiritual abuse‚Ä¶ everything from manipulation to sexual assault‚Ä¶ is rampant in the church? My newsfeed in Twitter and Facebook is full of such stories. It's all over the news. And it's not fake! The couple hundred members of my online community The Lasting Supper
agree that spiritual abuse is common. I‚Äôd say it‚Äôs rampant.
I‚Äôve said it before and I‚Äôll say it again: church is the perfect culture for abuse to occur. It has all the ingredients for abuses to be committed and gotten away with. Things like ignorance of systemic evil, the lack of accountability, leader adulation, predatory attitudes about women and children, the unwillingness or inability to criticize something considered holy, submission as a value, unquestioning obedience as a requirement, denial as a default position, and the compulsory forgiveness, reconciliation, and restitution of fallen leaders we admire‚Ä¶ all these and more combine to make churches very susceptible to spiritual abuse.
To deny these dynamics to survivors of spiritual abuse is beyond insensitive. In an attempt to silence them, they dismiss their pain and nullify their experience. All so that they can nurse their ideal of church.
Of course, since I talk openly about spiritual abuse, I do tend to gather people who understand, who know what I‚Äôm talking about, who‚Äôve been there, and who appreciate someone who finally gets it, who cares, who advocates, and who works for constructive change. And let me tell you, it's a long line of wounded people I call survivors.
Like me, they say, ‚ÄúI wouldn‚Äôt want this to happen to anyone else. Things must change!‚Äù