By Leona LaForce
My bio indicates that I was in the Christian church for over 30 years. The US, patriarchal, evangelical, Republican, anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, anti-etc church. I am really unclear how I got out of that place, but now that I have, I’m extremely aware of the rampant emotional, psychological, and spiritual abuse that is accepted and promoted in the church. Promoted as god’s will, of course, and supported by cherry-picked scripture.
I ran up against some spiritual abuse this week from a non-Christian source and I was going to write on that, but when I did a search for the definition of spiritual abuse, a Christian website came up with a definition…except that it wasn’t a definition. It was a declaration that the spiritual abuse perpetuated in the Christian church isn’t abuse. The article in question said that spiritual abuse existed, but provided no real definition of it nor clearly identified how to avoid it. Mostly the article explained some of the cherry-picked scriptures to indicate how common practices in the church are NOT abusive.
There are probably some Christian churches who do not have spiritually abusive practices, but I’m not focusing on them in this post. I believe that by identifying ways that abusive practices are perpetuated, we can find the churches that don’t use them as well as the churches that do. So here goes.
All abuse has as its goal power and control over the abused. Different methods are employed, but the goal is always power and control. While obviously different in expression, financial abuse, such as withholding funds, threatens and controls a person similarly to the fear of being beaten. Spiritual abuse also has its goal: the power and control over a person using spiritual means.
Read the rest of Leona's reflection on the Rise to Resilience blog by clicking here.