“Empowering the abused woman to recover with God's truth"
Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse, Part One
By Mike Fehlauer
Pastor, Author, Director of Foundation Ministries
CBN.com -- Crosswalk.com -- The idea of spiritual abuse is not a new phenomenon. In the Old Testament, God spoke against those who operated in their own authority while abusing the very people they were to bless. In Jeremiah 5:30-31 we read, "An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?"
In these verses God is bringing an indictment against the religious leaders of the Old Testament. We see the Lord's anger expressed against those who operate in their own authority. Consumed with their own ambition, these leaders have convinced the people that their power is divine. Yet in reality, these false prophets are merely wielding their self-imposed influence for personal gain, claiming they speak for God.
In Jeremiah 6:13-14 we read again of self-absorbed prophets and priests who are so preoccupied with their own needs being met that the needs of the people are being ignored. We read: "From the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, 'Peace, peace,' but there is no peace" (NAS).
A common characteristic of an abusive religious system is that the real needs of the people are lost in the never-ending quest by the leaders for personal fulfillment and happiness.
The tragic story of Diane, a young woman in her late teens who had recently given her life to Christ, illustrates this point. Diane went on a missions trip with a group from the church she had been attending. One day the missions team was enjoying some recreation time when Diane suffered a tragic accident that caused her leg to be so severely injured that it was necessary to amputate it.
Diane's parents were not Christians, and in the past they had somewhat resented the amount of time Diane had been spending at the church. When the accident occurred, their response was to blame the church for Diane's injury. They also felt the church should do something financially to help Diane.
During the time Diane was recovering in the hospital, her mother happened to hear the senior pastor of Diane's church describing the new, sporty car he intended to purchase. She began to tell people in the community about this preacher who is living high on the church's money. Word got back to the pastor, and needless to say, he was not happy.
After several weeks in the hospital, Diane was transferred to a rehab facility. While she was in rehab the pastor came to see Diane. Diane was still wheelchair bound because she had not yet been fitted with a prosthesis. After the initial greetings and some brief small talk, the pastor bought up to Diane what her mom was saying around town. The pastor advised Diane that her 'assignment' was to talk to her mother and get her to stop gossiping about the pastor. Although Diane was still trying to process the idea of facing the rest
of her life without a leg, by the time the pastor left, it was clear to her that her pastor had nothing to say to her to help her face the horrible physical and emotional issues brought on by her accident.