Dealing With Pharisees and Their Spiritual Abuse – by IamMyBeloved’s
[September 28, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
Having been sorely abused and in the end ex-communicated by church leaders after she called on them for help because her husband was abusing her, this lady speaks from experience. Many thanks to IamMyBeloved’s for writing this post.
This is a topic that is coming into play all too often among abuse victims as they try to get help and escape domestic abuse. As we all know, the church can be a great source of help, if she understands and is educated in abuse. AND if she is truly Christ’s church and not a counterfeit. But, all too often we fall prey to a ‘c’hurch body that desires power and control over victims of abuse, failing to give what Christ really requires, “mercy, not sacrifice”. Instead, Pharisees desire to be right and they seek control through legalistic demands.
Marriage in God’s eyes is made clear from Scripture. But when a marriage is only on paper, having been destroyed by unrepentant, habitual violation of the marriage covenant vows, I highly doubt that it exists in God’s eyes. When the covenant is broken in a marriage, there is only one way to restore that covenant. That happens through true repentance and a restoring of the marriage covenant. When people say that you are still married “on paper”, they are dealing Law out to you.
God sees the heart of man and makes His determinations about us, based on that. If you remember, certificates of divorce were to be given, but that was still under Law. According to civil law today, we are still “legally” married, until that paper is signed by a judge, granting the dissolving of the legal marriage. In God’s eyes however, it is my conclusion that once the covenant in a marriage is broken, the marriage is over. We still do the paperwork, just as God did with Israel, but His marriage to Israel was over before He gave them the Certificate of Divorce. That was the Law. So, remember that when dealing with church leadership who refuses to believe the marriage between an abuser and his victim is over. Do the paperwork and be free.
As a joyful survivor of spiritual abuse, I can speak to this topic and give information as to how to deal with this problem area. It is pretty simple. When leaders in the local body abuse their authority, they are truly left with no authority to speak on behalf of God or to give counsel to the body. They have placed themselves in the position of God Himself, but misrepresent Him, and are no longer able to be useful to anyone, including victims of abuse.
The term “local body” is important, because most of these type of ‘c’hurches try to make us believe they are the only church, that only they rightly interpret God’s Word and that they are the only true church. But they are only a local church body, not the entire body of Christ. As Christians, we are part of the entire body of Christ. No one can say we have entered the body or demand we leave, or ex-communicate us from the body of Christ, except Christ. In Romans, we are told that Christ is the only One Who could bring an accusation against us, and if we are truly in Him, it will never happen — no matter what. Why? Because it is His work to keep us and cause us to arrive safely home to be with Him forever. Nothing we do here on earth, can keep us from the love of Christ, once we are truly in Him. It is His blood sacrifice that we have received, in place of our own works, to cover over and pay for all our sin, that brings us into Salvation. Nothing we do can earn it for us. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. Not knowing what to do in a situation and then perhaps making the wrong decision, does not affect our Salvation. It appears to me, that the majority of these problems stem from local bodies that do not really know or understand the Gospel. Marriage and divorce are not determining factors for Salvation.
Jesus said He came to die for the “sin of the world”. Notice that. “sin”, not “sins”. The sin of this world, is making ourselves God and living our lives as such. That is what Christ died for. The original sin in the garden — “I will be as God!” Now just look at how these false leaders dole out spiritual abuse against God’s people, especially the oppressed. Isn’t this exactly what they are doing? They seem to say, “We are God and unless you do as we say, you are not going to be called a Christian!” There it is right there. They have made themselves God in your life and the safest thing for any of us to do at that point, is to run from them and never look back. We are called to submit ourselves, so their job will be easy and their judgment and accountability go smoothly for them, but we are never called to submit to leadership that is abusively and wrongly applying the Word of God and preaching a false Gospel. Never!
When church leadership begins a process of trials and ex-communication for a victim who is leaving an abuser and trying to protect herself and her children, it is nothing less than spiritual abuse. Christ’s model of leadership is to for His under-shepherds to place themselves beneath those who are in their care, in order to uplift and lead, not oppress and drive. When leadership in a local body begins to run roughshod over the congregants, they are in immense error biblically and it is actually our job to expose them and make them accountable for their sins against us.
It needs to be understood that no one on earth holds power over us to demand we behave a certain way or do certain things in order to keep our Christianity. There is only One Who keeps us and that is Christ. Yes, we are to follow His Word and commands, but our salvation alone belongs to the One who gave it to us, Christ. We are only kept by faith in His atoning blood shed for us, not in our works, our wrong choices or our marriage vows and whether those are kept according to another one’s opinions on marriage when those views are not faithful to the whole counsel of God. These false leaders make marriage a god and a hill we either live or die on. They make it into a work that determines our salvation, but that is clearly a lie and a false Gospel.
Having gone through trial and ex-communication myself, my advice is based on hindsight and what I should have done, not necessarily what I did. Anyone who is placed under such abusive power and control, already being in abuse-fog, typically responds with at least some amount of fear. That was my case. I wrongly believed that these abusive men held some sort of power and decision over whether I was in fact a Christian or not. But the truth is, that only belongs to God and Christ, and no one else.
My advice to anyone facing this kind of spiritual abuse is to, in a word, run. Do not look back. When they send you things in the mail, don’t accept them. When they contact you anyway, don’t answer or read it. Throw it all in the trash and move on. They hold no power over you, in any way.
Now to some that may sound like rebellion, but in rightly reading and interpreting the Word, it is the right thing to do. It is evil and needs to be shunned. Spiritual abuse has long and lasting effects on people, if it is not dealt with rightly.
In my case, my new church told me not to answer them [the old church], read anything from them, and throw anything I did receive from them, in the trash. I wish I had listened, but in my fear, I decided to go over to the “reading of the charges” against me and enter my plea. Ha! What a joke. This alone is unbiblical and spoken of only in Scripture, as men lording power over others. If you remember, the counsel and courts in Scripture in Acts, are persecuting the true Christians! That is where denominations pull their ability to form courts and put the sheep on trial within the local body — comes from it and it is being wrongly interpreted by those denominations. If they held the truth, they would see how wrong it is to try to have that kind of power and control over the sheep. It is nonsense and actually just proves that we are in a local body that is in error in its interpretation and application of Scripture.
In the end, I was ex-communicated. Even though emotionally it affected me, it was not for long. Why? Because God showed me they held no power and in the end, that church fell apart and split and became their own enemies. The man and his wife who did that to me, no longer pastor, anywhere. They are no longer famous, except for their abuse. Perhaps God will use it to bring them to the Truth. God has a way of dealing with these spiritual abusers and our job is just to flee them and their false power, as well as the false Gospel they try to teach.
A true shepherd loves the sheep and does not lord anything over them. He attempts to correct within his authority, in love and with protection for the sheep. I was blessed to have Jeff and a new leadership that eventually saw through the abuse and in the end told me I was right in divorcing my abuser. They gave me sound and biblical counsel as to how to deal with the previous pastor and his abuse of me. They told me he would ex-communicate me because he craved power over the sheep. He was indeed, a false shepherd. A wolf.
If you are in the position that I was in, you need to realize that biblically, you do not owe abusive, erring leaders, anything. Nothing. You owe it to yourself and to them, to flee and ignore whatever abuse they may do to you. Who cares if they ex-communicate you? They cannot take you from the love of God, ever. They do not decide if you are a Christian or not. They have no power to do that. It is only Christ Who decides that and if you are in Him, it has already been decided and Jesus Christ will not turn against you or turn on you.
Turn and run, don’t walk, and don’t stop until you find a sound local body who will support and love you and help you heal. Then, never look back except to remember there are wolves among us and their job is to devour you, but God has rescued you from their hand.
[September 28, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to September 28, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 28, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 28, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 28, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]