Friday, March 6, 2009

A well kept secret

I was talking to a friend at work today and somehow the conversation turned to the subject of spiritual abuse. As we spoke, I shared information with her and told her about my posts regarding spiritual abuse as well as my personal experiences in an abusive church.

She was shocked! Totally ignorant regarding this subject, she asked questions hoping to gain understanding. Her reaction confirmed what I’ve known for some time.

Spiritual abuse is a well kept secret that the church has swept under the rug. Rarely, if ever, is it addressed by the leadership. Yet, thousands of believers are being victimized today. People are still being held in captivity and new captives are being taken. Although these captives are brothers and sisters, there is no cry of outrage. For the most part, the institution ignores the problem.

Spiritual abuse is founded on the traditions that are the lifeblood of the institutional church. The primary tradition that enables spiritual abuse to continue is the clergy/laity distinction which places one person above the others. Although abusive churches carry this tradition to an extreme, if it were to be exposed for the lie that it is, it would have a ripple effect that would have serious consequences for all institutional forms of religion.

The primary goal of all institutions is the furtherance and growth of the institution. The mindset is that the institution is to be protected at all costs. The result is that people are left unprotected and are sacrificed in order to make sure that the institution continues to thrive and gain strength.

One of the lies that has kept people silent has been the teaching that it’s a sin to get angry. The truth is that Jesus was angry enough to use a whip in the temple when he saw the innocent being victimized by a heartless system. I believe as children of God with the nature of God, we also need to get angry when we see the innocent being victimized by spiritual abuse or any other man made tradition.

As I search the web, I’m excited to see that the silence is being broken and that people are speaking out. There’s a cry of outrage that is being raised up. Blogs and websites have been started to inform and encourage those who have been victimized. Many who have been silent about the hurt and abuse they’ve experienced are finding out that they’re not alone. It’s not hopeless. Others have been abused and moved past it to a place of freedom.

In an attempt to provide information to help those who have been victimized, I have a list of resources regarding spiritual in my sidebar. Also, for easier reference, I will be adding a special section giving links to my posts on spiritual abuse. My hope is that this will be a helpful tool for all who need this information.

After I wrote the first draft of this post, I read Darin Hufford’s latest post regarding "Anger Management." As usual, Darin has great insight which I believe the church needs to hear. After reading what he had to say, I added to my post a few additional thoughts regarding anger that his comments inspired. I think you’ll be encouraged by what Darin has to say. To read his post, follow this link.

"All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke


lionwoman said...

Aida, this is one more great commentary on spiritual abuse. I'm glad you've taken this 'bull' by the horns! Yes, spiritual abuse can be deliberate and overt, or unintentional and subtle. As I've mentioned before, I believe the ICs I spent time in were among the better ones out there. Yet the serving of the institution above the people and God it was supposedly set up to serve, inevitably results in some degree of spiritual abuse. Thanks for a great post.

Aida said...

Amy, the funny thing is that when I went to work yesterday, it hit me that I hadn't written a blog and had absolutley no thoughts for one. After the conversation, it just came.

You're right. Just because it's uinintentional and subtle doesn't mean it's not spiritual abuse. Unfortunately, today's system of christianity opens itself up for abuse. When a system is set up at the expense of love and relationship, abuse will follow.

When I read other people's stories of what they've experienced, sometimes even in "good" churches, I'm grieved. I believe we need to start speaking out the truth because understanding the truth is the only thing that will set people free.

Set Free said...

Great Post, Aida! I really like what you said about anger. For so long I think we, in spiritually abusive situations, sat back and took the abuse because "we weren't supposed to" give our opinion or get upset about anything. I wish I had stood up to the people who mistreated me and my family. Thanks for sharing this. I hope that many will continue to read blogs and find freedom from these types of situations.

Aida said...

Thanks, Set Free. In the group I was part of, he said that he wanted to kill our emotions and that's what he set out to do. Being hurt or angry was wrong according to him. The funny thing is that he was allowed to get angry and berate us from the pulpit. Talk about a double standard.

As I was writing the first draft, I could sense the anger but it was only after I read Darin's blog that I decided to just feel the anger and express it as best I could.

I love your name, Set Free. As you know, once you've been abused and set free, you want to see others set free too.

BTW, I've been missing your postings on your blog. What you share is always such a great encouragemnt to me and to others.

ViolableWings said...

Great post Aida! I will check out that posting on Anger asap! :-)

Free Spirit said...

Thanks Aida! It is indeed a well-kept secret. So much of religion's shenanigans are!

Aida said...

Thanks, Ron. I think you'll enjoy what Darin has to say.

Thanks for your comments, Tammy. All institutions thrive to some extent on secrecy and those who ask questions are viewed as the problem.

Jim Robbins said...

Great post, and so needed, Aida. One of the problems I see that prevents people from asking the hard questions about religious institutions and abuse is that both the leadership and the 'laity' in those places look to the institution as a source (if not the source) of their identity. To question the institution is to undermine their own sense of identity. They claim identity in Christ, but place it in the institution.

Aida said...

Jim, that is so very true. I remember when I went to the abusive church, there was absolutely nothing there ministry wise. It was a small church and the pastor and his wife did it all. It was horrible. All of a sudden, I had no position. I had no job description or title and I felt totally lost. It was the most difficult time in my life. Even though I had been a believer for over 20 years, God revealed to me that my identity was wrapped up in what I did and not in my relationship with him.

Thanks for your comments. They were very insightful.

Leonard said...

Great post Aida, here's another resource for ya...
check some of the short videos out when ya get a minute..

Best and thanks for sharing.

Aida said...

Hi Leonard.

I'll check that site out. Thanks for the info.

cat said...

be entertained

Aida said...

Cat, I'm not sure what you mean. Could you expand on that?