Post details: The Recognition And Treatment Of Spiritual Abuse


Permalink 12:49:07 pm, Categories: GraceHead counseling, By Pam, 939 words   English (US)

The Recognition And Treatment Of Spiritual Abuse

If there is anything that we human beings are adept at, it is that of abuse. If we are not abusing another, we are abusing ourselves, and if not ourselves then nature. All of us, to varying degrees, are either abused or ourselves, abusers.

Though many Christians balk at the term as it is one widely used in the vernacular of psychology, it is only that, current vernacular lifted from the popular culture. One aspect of what we with a Biblically influenced world view call sin.

We live in an era when thinkers are defining and seeking ways to end our propensity for abuse. There is however, one form of abuse that I have not heard named though daily, I am faced with those who are victimized and those who victimize by its practice. I call it spiritual abuse and just as it is now recognized that the worst forms of abuse are emotional and psychological (as the bruises from a physical beating will heal quickly but the invisible scars left upon a person emotionally may never completely heal) so too is spiritual abuse an invisible abuse. The common denominator in all abuse is the disrespect of another's boundaries as a person. Spiritual abuse in all of its forms is disrespectful not only of the boundaries of another but tramples that area in each of us that belongs only to ourselves and to God. I am the recovering victim of spiritual abuse as I am also a recovering spiritual abuser.

Spiritual abuse exploits within each victim our inborn need for God. Life is highly chaotic and unpredictable and humans all need the comfort of predictability. We also are all in need of the unearned love that comes only from God. I have found an anomaly in life in that everyone I meet whether they be Christian or not, whether they be religious or not, all have a concept of Jesus and of God. Even the most ardent mocker knows fully what it is that they mock. That inborn definition, I believe, is planted by God within each human being to be revealed to each at God's choosing. I believe that God reveals Himself to each of us in His own time. First of all, to serve His overall plan and also when it is most beneficial to us individually. Spiritual abuse occurs when human beings seek to usurp the authority of God in this revealing process.

There is no more useful tool for abuse than religion. There are many among us who have been taught that love must be earned by doing that which is admirable and religion gives them perfect opportunity to earn human admiration. I believe that these people actually mistake admiration as love. These folks are very apt to enter traditional ministry or become leaders in the church. The greater the audience the greater their chances of receiving that admiration that they so desire. The more they receive the more they become insatiable for admiration is not true love. True love is self-existent just as God is self-existent. God is love. God is not to be earned through the performance of admirable acts but only received as He chooses to reveal Himself to each of us. Those that I recognize as the spiritual abusers of my day were revealed to us by Jesus as the Pharasees of His day. Two thousand plus years later, the vernacular has changed but human nature has not changed. There is truly "nothing new under the sun"

These hopeful earners of God's graces by the earning of human admiration tend always to turn to manipulation as a means of growing an audience by which to gain the admiration they hunger for. They seek always to step between another and God Himself. When they succeed, they make of their disciples also manipulators of men. They will sail all the seas and travel around the world in order to practice the manipulative tactics they call evangelizing in an attempt to be glorified in the lives of many. They do many great works in the name of God for God but either God has not yet revealed Himself to them or their nature is still struggling against the fullness of that revelation.

I have participated in many programs and learned many methods and spent many hours evangelizing by manipulation. I have been a spiritual abuser. I struggled against Jesus in me as He had revealed and continues to reveal Himself to me that I might have the approval of influential Christians. I traded the undeserved love that I did not fully understand for the admiration of those whom I mistakenly admired. As I was abused by them, they so taught me how to also abuse and there is no way to harm more greatly another human being than by the practice of spiritual abuse.

The only cure for the victims and perpetrators of spiritual abuse is Jesus. It is in remaining true to Him as He reveals Himself in us and to us by the receiving of His undeserved love that can heal us as victims and as perpetrators of spiritual abuse. Cling to Jesus and abandon religion. Cling to Jesus and abandon the seeking of human admiration and acceptance.

As I cling to Jesus and receive the fullness of his undeserved love, the true love that is God, I cease to hunger for the false love of human admiration. In clinging to Jesus as He reveals the Father to me, through His very person Who lives in me, I will be freed from the cycle of receiving and the perpetuation of spiritual abuse.

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Comment from: geo [Visitor] ·
Your post made me think of this which was said by Jesus,
John 5:44 "How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

Good post!!

Permalink 01/09/07 @ 18:53
Comment from: Pam [Member]
Thanks Geo,

It is so natural for us to live for ourselves or for others and sure to leave us spiritually bankrupt. Living for Chrise alone is the only way!

Permalink 01/09/07 @ 22:54
Comment from: SteveW [Visitor] ·
I hope for a time when mankind will no longer compare them selves with them selves and will not see others after the flesh but Christ only and there is no better time to live it out ourselves but this present moment.

I had read this earlier, just before you commented on my blog. I agree with Geo, good post Pam.
Permalink 01/09/07 @ 23:05
Comment from: Pam [Member]
Thanks, Steve. It's funny how God works things out in us. With my diagnosis and other events in my life, my world became incredibly small in a very short amount of time. The good side is that the people who I am around love me for just me and it's amazing what six months of no pressure to be anything other than what you are can give you a whole new perspective. I think of Jesus pulling away from the crowd to pray and talk to His Father and that is really what this time has been for me also. A time when there was no other well meaning voice to nudge me this way or that but time to hear what God is saying directly to me for my life. I hope He will always make me mindful of that in all others.

When we know in fullness the eternal nature that we have received in Christ Jesus and all has been drawn to Him, when every knee has bowed and confessed Him as Lord, I'm quite sure we will all be stunned at the completed work that God already sees as complete from His eternal viewpoint.

Someone else I know said something so beautiful and true. I know you and I differ a little on our approach to scripture but maybe the beauty and truth of this statement will bridge that gap between us...

Judgement Day has always been a day that is feared but those of us who know Jesus know the one who will mete out that judgement and it is His character by which I measure the fullness of that day and by His character, I see only hope for all humankind. If Jesus can show mercy to me, He can show mercy to anyone and on Judgment Day, He will decide for the widow and the orphan and all will be set right with the world. We have all been widows and/or orphans at one time or another and the Justice that Jesus meets out will not be anything like human justice. I know that it will amaze us all and all men will see it together!:0)

Permalink 01/09/07 @ 23:30
Comment from: Steve [Visitor] ·
Pam, I honestly see no gap between us, at least in our hearts. Our foolish egoiac minds may sometimes try to create a gap but I am learning to listen to that same still small voice that you are listening to, when you get away and be quiet and it simply teaches me how Much He loves me and how much He wishes for mwe to extend that love to all.

With that in mind, it is so much better to focus on our present lives and His Presence in our midst, in our heart, even when our mind tries to get in the way. I have come to appreciate who the I AM is rather than what He shall be. In doing so even what He did can be brought into the present moment and produce only LIFE.

My hope for you (and me too)is to keep experiencing His fullness within my sister and growing in grace and peace.
Permalink 01/10/07 @ 08:49
Comment from: Pam [Member]
No words, Steve only smiles.:0)
Permalink 01/10/07 @ 09:32
Comment from: Don R. [Visitor] ·
Nice post...Be there, done that...I want to forget that period of my life.
Permalink 01/10/07 @ 15:38
Comment from: Pam [Member]
Hi Don,

I think everyone who has passed through that stage feels the same way. I'm trying to remember that it is okay to despise where I've been but not to despise those who are still where I was.

Permalink 01/10/07 @ 17:05
Comment from: Hilary Cooper [Visitor]
Surely the key to not despising those who are still operating like that is a deep connection with the fact, as you say, that we are all recovering abusers ourselves - because we all want recognition and admiration in the flesh. It is only when we are truly "in Christ" that we are able to draw all our affirmation and meaning in life from being approved of and loved completely by our Heavenly Father. I'm certainly not there yet!
Permalink 01/11/07 @ 05:04
Comment from: Pam [Member]
Hi Hilary,

No, I'm not completely there yet either.:0) I certainly do have a sharper awareness of the boundaries between and individual and God and hopefully, through Christ, I will tread there much less often. It is important for us to share Jesus but never to foist.

Great, thoughtful comment!

Permalink 01/11/07 @ 10:25
Comment from: Len [Visitor] ·
Hi Pam. I agree with all of the above, ... with this one addendum: let us not forget that *we are at war with the powers and pricipalities of darkness* UNTIL Jesus returns and rules in His rightful place. Abuse is one thing (and it is always wrong), ... but being involved in The Conflict is quite another.

Shalom and GOD bless.
Permalink 01/11/07 @ 23:31
Comment from: Pam [Member]
I agree, Len.:0)
Permalink 01/12/07 @ 11:48
Comment from: Pam [Member]
Hi again Len,

I'm not sure I really quite understood your statement. I agree that we are in a spiritual battle but I find that battle to be within every moment of my life, I am presented with an opportunity to surrender to Jesus or surrender to my own way. I win the spiritual battle of the moment when I surrender to Christ and allow Him to conquer the evil within me. I can't conquer evil in another nor force them to surrender to Jesus. I don't battle flesh and blood, not when I'm in full surrender to Christ within me, anyway!:0)

Permalink 01/13/07 @ 11:01
Comment from: SteveW [Visitor] ·
Amen Pam.
Permalink 01/13/07 @ 11:40
Comment from: Trent [Member] ·

You spoke much truth by the Spirit, sister.

As one bruised by religion, I have found that: "A bruised reed, He will not break!"
I have also found that I was hardheaded enough to need to bruise myself against religion until I was ready to trust and have faith, and reach the end of myself calling out to the Lord "I can't" ... and surprised to hear "I never said that you could."

Sometimes I think that I make myself a glutton for abuse through pride, but God has it rigged, to wear us down and break up the hard soil so His seed may grow in the next season.


Permalink 01/14/07 @ 18:24
Comment from: Pam [Member]
Thanks, little brother. I have missed your fellowship the last few months.

Religion put Jesus on the cross and He knew it would happen but still chose to knock heads with the pharisees and taught in the synagogues. What better place to speak of Jesus than among the religious. God doesn't usually put us where we are most comfortable but instead, where we are of His best use. Everything that hurts helps us to grow and reach heights which we never dreamed of.


Permalink 01/14/07 @ 18:34
Comment from: bruced [Visitor] ·
I meant that as an encouragement, Pam. I know I don't always get it right, but I blurt out what's in my heart anyway! I love seeing people being set free, and entering the incredible peace of God.

Permalink 01/14/07 @ 22:13
Comment from: Pam [Member]
Oh Bruce,

Everything you said was just fine.:0) I just have a tendency to go on a bit.

Permalink 01/14/07 @ 23:33
Comment from: star sonata [Visitor] ·
i believe the same
Permalink 01/21/07 @ 14:33
Comment from: Pam [Member]
Hi Star,

I'm glad your heart too resounds, Jesus.:0) I hope to get to know you better.

Permalink 01/21/07 @ 15:37
Comment from: b [Visitor] ·
Great post - thanks.
Permalink 01/24/07 @ 20:25

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