Friday, July 18, 2008

Discerning religious addiction

I've taken a break from posting about spiritual abuse but, I imagine, I'll be returning to that topic from time to time as I have something to share. I've been amazed to see how widespread this cancer is and the number of people who have been and are currently being victimized by it. I've also been re-reading "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen and, on page 190-191, have come across a list that is helpful in discerning religious addiction.

Regarding religious addiction, the authors state, "Working to earn the approval of God and others is spiritual mood-altering. The state of being dependent on a spiritually mood-altering system is called religious addiction."

Explaining the use of the list, the authors stated, "In their book, Toxic Faith, Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton offer the following test as a tool in order to discern religious addiction. How would you answer their questions?

1. Has your family complained that you are always going to a church meeting, rather than spending time with them?

2. Do you feel extreme guilt for being out of church just one Sunday?

3. Do you sense that God is looking at what you do, and if you don't do enough He might turn on you or not bless you?

4. Are you giving money because you believe God will make you wealthy if you do?

5. Have you ever been involved with a minister sexually?

6. Is it hard for you to make decisions without consulting your minister? even small ones?

7. Do you ever have thoughts of God wanting you to destroy yourself or others in order to go and live with Him?

8. Do you believe you are still being punished for something you did as a child?

9. Do you feel if you work a little harder, God will finally forgive you?

10. Has anyone ever told you a minister was manipulating your thoughts and feelings?"

Spiritual abuse is subtle at first and may barely be noticed but it will increase over time. At that point, it will be noticeable to others. Family and friends are valuable because they become aware of unhealthy indicators which the victim doesn't see. Healing is possible but for that to occur the victim must first realize they are being spiritually abused. This list is a good tool to use in working through that process.

Again, I remind you if you believe you have been or are currently being victimized by spiritual abuse or know someone who has, I've listed various resources in my sidebar. Please check those out. To read my previous posts on spiritual abuse, follow these links:

Spiritual Abuse
How to recognize spiritual abuse: part 1
Spiritual Abuse video
When you can't leave (Spiritual abuse: part 2)
A Safe Place to Heal


Karen (SoCal) said...

Spiritual addiction, that's a new one. I grew up with an ultra-religious mother. I mean, this woman taught sunday school for 35yrs and never missed one sunday, i kid you not. I always remember, her using God and scripture as means of ,imo, judging us or exposing our less than perfect behavior. I vowed I would never use scripture in that manner towards my children. I grew up thinking that God was always watching disapproving of me and just waiting for me to mess up so he couldjudge and condemn me. I know she did not intend for that, but nontheless, it's how it played out for me. I always wanted to be the perfect child and gain her approval, but I never could. I think the term spiritual addiction fits here. It was always hard to put my finger on it. I remember asking a pastor/counselor once if someone can be too religous or quote scripture too much(and i was thinking of my mother here), and he looked at me like, are yu crazy...that's impossible. Of course then I'm thinking something must be wrong with me. I always find something good over here at our site...thanks Aida, glad I stopped by. hope you are having a beautiful summer in Father's love and grace!

Aida said...

I’ve found that religion can be very addicting. A religious addict lives his life based on his religion just like a drug addict lives his life based on finding his next shot of heroin.

It sounds to me like you’ve experienced first hand the hurt of religious addiction. I’m glad what I wrote has been helpful.

You are very gracious. I’m glad you stopped by. It’s been a wonderful summer but it will soon be over since I go back to work in three weeks.