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Spiritual Abuse - Are you at risk?

It is easy for all of us to fall into a pattern where we simply rely on what our leadership tells us, however this is where we run the risk of abuse.


What is spiritual abuse?

Spiritual Abuse
  • mistreatment of a person by someone in spiritual authority, resulting in diminishing that person's worth, spiritual vitality and growth.

  • use of religious words or acts to achieve personal agenda or belief of what is right.

  • misuse of scripture where the truth is twisted .

  • leaders confidence in their position of authority.

Any and all of the above result in harming a person's walk with God, or twisting the truth of God.

Spiritual abuse started in the Garden of Eden

"Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'... 'You will not certainly die'.... 'For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'" (Genesis 3:1, 4-5)

Believer at risk

Below are some of the patterns that can put believers at risk of spiritual abuse.

  • Consider there is only your churches way of 'doing church' is the only way.

  • Think that the Pastors of the church are irrefutable.

  • They think of others who don't believe, or look, or act, as they do as 'those people'.

  • Come to church on Sunday and take what is said as truth without investigating for themselves.

  • They believe that they have the right to judge others.

Following this pattern is easy, it requires no work from us yet we are able to feel as though we are doing the right thing. We go to church, we attend various events hosted by the church, we believe what the Pastor say the Bible says and means is completely accurate.

Personal Effects

It is oh to easy for each of us to fall into these patterns. The damages however are far reaching. You may wake up one day as I have and find that intentional or not you have been falling into patterns and accepting direction and statements from your spiritual leaders that are abusive, to you and those around you, and that are twisting the truth of God's Word.

While I cannot deny how God has used some of these leaders in my life, there are many items that I now have come to see that were not Biblical. Because of this I too find that I may have been party to doing the same to others as is now being done to me.

Some of the personal effects:

  • Being shunned by those in the church if you choose to stand against something that the leadership says which you believe to be untrue or not Biblical.

  • Questioning everything you have always believed if those in leadership reject you.

  • Family members reject your belief system because it represents God as unloving, gathered from how you are treated from those within the church.

  • Wondering if you are acceptable to God.

  • Feel pressure to conform to what someone else thinks you should be to prevent loosing relationships.

Warning Signs

Believe me when I say it is very easy to not see the warning signs. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you are at risk or currently in a spiritually abusive situation. All of these questions do not need to apply for you to be at risk, however any items you find from this you should spend time with God and determine the action you should take. The import point is to speak about it, talk to others,


  • Do I think I can't challenge or hold spiritual authorities accountable?

  • Do I think it is wrong to ask questions in church?

  • Do I read the Bible for myself?

  • Do I think I must obey to be accepted?

  • Do I think it is ok for me to judge others?

  • Do I think God wants me to have excessive guilt?

  • Do I live in fear of doing something wrong and loosing relationships with those in the church?

  • Do I think that I can't determine what the Bible is saying for myself?

  • Do I think it is ok for others to shame, shun, or judge me for my sin?

Next time I will address how to evaluate your leadership.

Please comment and let me know your thoughts or experiences on this topic.

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I started this to equip others to read the Bible, reading that it sounds like it would be a daunting task.  It is not, however, most people find the Bible intimidating.  In reality reading the Bible, and most importantly applying it to your life, is not a complicated process.

I pray that you find the information and resources here helpful.


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