Yesterday, HeIsSailing posted a light hearted post. Today’s post is not so light. In fact, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a pretty easy going guy. However today’s topic is one of the issues that totally pisses me off and will cause me to lose my cool – it’s called Spiritual Abuse. I was inspired to write this post after reading Rebecca’s story on her blog.
Abuse, in my opinion, is the definition of evil – child abuse, spouse abuse, animal abuse, spiritual abuse, or any other form of abuse. Abuse occurs when someone uses their authority or their strength to inflict physical or emotional damage on another individual. A large part of religious teachings is the elevation of a certain group of individuals (such as priests or pastors) over another group of individuals (the laity). In any such structure there is the opportunity for abuse.
Sadly, there are many religious leaders who are insecure, weakminded individuals. When given authority and power, these individuals will abuse it. I had a former pastor who was a captivating, entertaining speaker but as weak and paranoid an individual as you can find. As a result of his charisma, he built a mega-church but has a revolving door within the leadership of the church because he’s a controlling, manipulative prick with no true leadership qualities. A few years ago, when I left this church, I was so shocked to find hurt, disillusioned, discarded ex-members littered all over our city. Their stories broke my heart and I wondered how I could spend so many years in this church and give this man the benefit of the doubt with everyone who left because they were “rebellious against God.”
I once read a book entitled “God’s Armor Bearers” by Terry Nance on submission to leadership. The list of duties of an Armor Bearer supporting their leader included:
- Must provide strength for his leader.
- Must have a deep down sense of respect for his leader, and acceptance for, and tolerance of, his leader’s personality and his way of doing things.
- Must walk in agreement with and submission to his leader.
- Must make the advancement of his leader his most important goal.
- Must follow order immediately and correctly.
- Surrenders completely to his leader, trusting him implicitly and obeying without hesitation his every command.
- Carries out every plan of his leader successfully
- Completes his leaders command perfectly
- Prepares and cares for his leaders belongings
- Anticipates his leader’s needs and demands so as to properly furnish and supply what is needed.
- Exalts, respects, and uplifts his leader at all times
- Works tirelessly and diligently on behalf of his leader, seek ways to advance his welfare and situation
- Fulfills his leader in every way, getting along with him, and making him feel comfortable in giving orders
- Sacrifices his own life and well-being for the betterment of his leader
- Demonstrates total intolerance of any false charge made against his leader
- Forgives his leader for any offense immediately and without harboring resentment or anger
- Demonstrates extreme loyalty to his leader, even unto death
- Esteems his leader as more important than himself
This type of bullshit is what makes religion dangerous. On one hand, there is the message by Jesus which states that leaders are servants of the people then there are those who believe scriptures such as Deuteronomy 17:12 which states:
The man who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the LORD your God must be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel.
I will continue to address this issue over time because I believe it is an important subject especially for deconverting or skeptical Christians who many times become victims of spiritual abuse.
– The de-Convert