Abuse Wrapped in Faith is Still Abuse
There are few things more disheartening or debilitating than learning that someone you trusted is not who they appeared to be. Not only is it confusing but it can also become paralyzing. Each one of us has likely experienced a disappointment like this; I sure have. There is something uniquely excruciating when the circumstances of betrayal take place in the church; it possesses its own unique kind of emotional hold, conflict and paralysis. One thing for certain denial and secrecy is not the way to heal the pain or residue left behind. Jesus never modeled denial or cover-ups; he exposed them. Patterns of emotional abuse and even emotional wounding in church’s and within church communities often exposes broken systems of leadership and deeply rooted character flaws. As with any relationship it takes time to assess character. Identifying character even within an organization (no matter the type) and/or relationship needs scoping under pressure. I say to clients until you’ve seen how one functions in crisis, you don’t really know character yet. There was a song Why (2005) by Kirk Franklin, (with Stevie Wonder) gospel mega swag singer songwriter genius that says, “We're building churches but (my pastor is on T.V.) But are we building people (I filed for divorce last week) We're wasting money tell me (Why should I save? Let me have my worldly things; God said, He'll supply my needs) (That ain't what he means)”
Recently, someone confided in me about a trauma they experience at twelve years old by a Pastor. They kept that secret for almost forty-five years. (You will hear from them soon on my Heart Reflections platform) It affected every decision they made. It changed their lens and how they saw relationships. It changed who they attracted, their worthiness, even altered their goals. Listen, God is still not absent even when the enemy attempts to derail God’s plans. Shame turns inward, guilt projects outward. Living under the bondage of either is God’s will. Abuse of any kind couched into theological doctrine creates confusion. The spiritual leadership relationship carries with it tremendous influence and power, and abusing that power comes in many forms.
Manipulation may look like demands and expectations becoming wrapped into subservience, obedience and surrender. When scripture is used to support the demand inner conflict ensues. The Lord did not cultivate co-dependency in his disciples, he cultivated a relationship with them that was designed to equip, arm, and release them. In an upcoming article, I will share 5 Ways to Identify Spiritual Emotional Abuse.