I began to wonder as I looked around my church if I was in an episode of Upstairs/Downstairs? Is there a servant class and an upper class. There are the ministers and then the lowly people who can only speak a certain way to the leaders etc. We went one day when our pastor was sick to visit and one person exclaimed in wonder and awe of his position, “how do I encourage my pastor”. I bristled at this ( not visibly) but I thought “the same way you would anyone else who was sick”. Somehow we’ve got it twisted that a Pastor is someone other just a man or woman who are kept by God like we are by the same Spirit.
A reader of this blog reminded me of another essential reason abusiveness happens in our American churches, and that is an incorrect church structure. The church is supposed to be comprised of many members who make up the body of Christ. I Corinthians 12 gives us a picture of God’s church and the balance that’s supposed to happen in the body. This is the opposite of pastoral authoritarianism. I think incorrect church structure is a breeding ground for corrupt leadership. Whenever we fail to follow scripture in any area, we’ll suffer some negative consequences. If the Pastor constitutes all the decisions and all of the leadership, then that is not the scriptural definition of the body of Christ. Continue reading “UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS CHURCH STRUCTURE”
Can a belief come from God if it is ultimately damaging to family life?The Bible may state a particular thing, and WE develop a wrong belief system around that verse. “Obey them that have the rule over you” (Hebrews 13:17) is often extracted from it’s surrounding content to push authoritarian rule. Consider this. In the Bible, the creation of the family (Adam and Eve) preceded the establishment of the church, and the family was created by God. How then can churches hold belief systems that damage family relationships? Continue reading “How Church Leaders Can Damage Families”
This is a beautiful and touching story of recovery from a religious system with a damaging atmosphere. This interview was conducted with a young lady who was saved as a child only to realize that several detrimental things from the church followed her and others into their adult lives.
She mourns very little connection with her natural blood relatives. The church was considered her family where holidays and other times were not spent knowing her relatives.
John 9:31 that God does not hear sinners’ prayers was drummed into the doctrine to such a point that often some adults from the church have trouble praying to God because they feel God will not hear them. (I want to address this later in a separate blog. This was taught incorrectly and out of context).
She remembers it as a male-dominated religion where the women and children did most of the suffering. (I remember a Joliet, IL Pastor of our group gathered young men together to apologize to them for things they endured as children, but it was an all-male meeting when overall girls suffered disproportionately more troubles to adhere to standards)
She remembers the strong focus on God as a God of judgment and not much emphasis on God’s love.
When other people are being used for the personal gratification of a leader or an organization, that is religious abuse.
You may wonder what is religious or spiritual abuse?
It’s not anger at going to church when you’d rather stay in bed or learning scriptures you thought were boring or sitting through long tiring sermons. Religion can become abusive when it involves a spiritual system that has developed either around a particularly authoritarian charismatic leader or domineering spiritual authority leading a church or group of churches. When that authority is misused against a person through bullying, intimidation, manipulations and inappropriate physical touching, that is spiritual or religious abuse. Continue reading “What is Religious Abuse?”
In our religion, having control over your children was seen as a ticket to heaven. This is the case for many parents in fundamentalist churches and belief systems. The theology is that God entrusts the child’s soul into your hands and you as the parent are responsible for bringing up the child in the fear of God. Unfortunately, what should be a beautiful thing becomes tainted with someone’s personal ideology of child rearing. Continue reading “Story #3 Reclaiming Childhood After Religious Abuse”