Abuse and the Church: When Churches Abuse Victims of Abuse
2 Corinthians 11:20 ESV (20) For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.
I just ordered a copy of the book Suffer The Little Children: Understanding and Overcoming Spiritual Abuse by W. William Hobson. As far as I could see it is only available in the Kindle edition. I have just started reading it but already I can tell that it is going to be a book that I will read right on through. When I start underlining on most every page of a book that is a pretty good sign it is resonating with me. [Note: You will find the book a bit disjointed as to organization. The author spends quite a lot of time at first examining full-blown cults like Jim Jones and so on. But there is still good material to be gleaned from this book].
This subject of spiritual abuse is very, very closely related to domestic abuse — at least for Christian victims. Why? Because as most all of our readers know from hard experience, domestic abuse victims end up being abused by their pastors and churches. Oppressed people seeking to be rescued from the abuse of power and control find themselves put in bondage to an entire additional system of abusive power and control. So those of us who have been abused will recognize the mentality and mindset of abusive religious leaders as Hobson describes them.
Of course you don’t have to be a victim of domestic abuse to be victimized by spiritual abuse. All you have to do is be in one of these churches led by such a tyrant. And the thing is subtle, as Hobson points out. Some abusive church leaders didn’t set out to be abusive! They simply put into practice the ideas and methods that they themselves were taught. And here then is the scary thing for all of us. WE can be spiritual abusers ourselves when we embrace unbiblical ideas that have been handed down to us and labeled as Scripture.
As I preach this current sermon series on The Religion of the Pharisees (sermons will be posted on sermonaudio.com/crc) I suspect I will be finding myself referring to books on spiritual abuse frequently.