The term “spiritual abuse,” is a relatively recent expression coined to describe the damage inflicted upon the sheep by and in the organized church. Simply put, spiritual abuse results when a spiritual leader or system that controls, manipulates or dominates a person with its traditions, doctrines and practices. The key to this kind of abuse is that it is authoritarian in nature. In other words, the perpetrator of spiritual abuse has either legal, spiritual or pastoral authority over the victim. In such cases, several demons conjoin together to seriously damage a human spirit.
Dr. Steven Lambert has coined a similar phrase called “charismatic captivation.” I like the term, but I don’t use it because I know that spiritual abuse is quite active in traditional denominations and is not just “charismatic” in nature. However, I like what Lambert writes in his 11/15/08 newsletter entitled “the Myth of Spiritual Covering:
Moreover, in the process of time, it is going to become very apparent that the specter of authoritarian abuse and licentiousness perpetrated by wayward spiritual leaders is far more prevalent than what has ever been recognized before. Likewise, it will become just as manifest that the subject matter of this book — the heretical Discipleship doctrines, which are concerned primarily with false and fallacious concepts of spiritual authority — has been a primary underlying premise for much of the authoritarian abuse that has taken place among Charismatic/Discipleship churches and groups especially.
The root-cause of the Discipleship heresy is the “spirit of error” (1 john 4:6) which is a spirit of perversion, and the “spirit of error,” unchecked, will eventually lead to a multiplicity of perversions in virtually every facet of the person’s life in which this demon and its cohorts are manifest. In the process of time this spirit will manifest perversion, corruption, and convolution in the inhabitee’s spirituality and every aspect and attitude indigenous to their natural life: their morality, marriage, ministry, message, methods, motives, and monetary matters.
In respect to this type of authoritarian abuse, one thing that needs to be pointed out, however, is that it is not just individuals who have been victimized by this spiritually lethal perverse spirit, but so also has the collective Body of Christ, in that Satan has been sowing these weeds of heresy and tares of heretics in God’s Field, thereby polluting and severely denigrating its produce, which was precisely his objective.
For 25 years, I served in ministry under the authoritarian abuse and licentiousness of two different bishops and several elders. I am quite strong but I must admit that I too was once a wounded healer whom the Lord has completely delivered, once He led me out of the organized church. My scars came from the root of bitterness and anger that resulted from constant primarily rejection. You see, because I refused to blend in with my peers, I was rejected from childhood that carried over into adulthood, for the mere reason that I am not a people pleaser, and I refuse to back down.
Consequently, when I arrived at the organized church in 1979, I was “different.” In the world when I was not saved, I was a retaliator. People KNEW not to mess with me. My wrath would be felt by my enemies because it is the nature of my flesh to plot and scheme until I had destroyed them. My pleasure came from getting right in my enemy’s face and boast, “Gotcha!” Once saved, and having to come to terms with the fact that vengence belongs to the Lord, my soul and spirit did a lot of struggling. So when I got to the organized church, folk really didn’t know how much restraining I was doing. So I became severely abused by people who profess to be Christian, both bishops, ministers and the sheep I myself pastored. In fact, I was more disrespected and humiliated by professing Christians than by any enemy who I was ever in battle with in the world. The spiritual struggle I endured by not retaliating against them was quite intense, to say the least. The reason why I was damaged by them was because God had never sent me to the church in the first place, so my spiritual abuse was actually self inflicted. I was sent by the devil to the organized church to be spiritually abused, rendered useless, and then destroyed. I have the victory for the enemy was unsuccessful.
Even though the Lord did not send me there, He allowed it to happen because I needed to discover first hands the depth of the Babylonian systems depravity so that I can help others in times like these. So while on “my mission,” God saw to it that I was not accepted by protecting me from the comfort that leads to compromise. I now understand why professing Christian churchgoers rejected me as much as they did. You see, they felt my inner strength and my fearlessness before I even know how strong I really am and they became anxious and intimidated. Some label this quality as spiritual fortitude, or simply “courage.” All I know is that people actually feel my inner power and they are often intimidated by it, causing them to reject me.
I’ve learned not to take it personal because rejection is a part of the business that I am in. Like Jesus was about His Father’s business , I am about my Lord and Savior’s business. He was and still is rejected. Therefore, that is my plight also. When rejected actually DID HURT me as “spiritual abuse” from religious authority, I accept it as my own fault. To move forward in ministry, I submitted myself to inferior tyrants, the denomination’s bishops and elders. I allowed them to restrain me from serving God my own way. As a result, the unholy authority of the “spiritual covering” false doctine and practice smothered and oppressed my spirit. The Holy Ghost spoke to me in a dream and warned me that if I did not come out of the organized church, He could not use me.
So if you are a victim of spiritual abuse, you need to know that God will not heal the damaged so that they can remain under the exact same authority figures that damaged them in the first place. You will have to “Come out of Her” to be healed. It will take a little time to heal, and that is what our SEW Deliverance Mentoring Program/RESCUE fellowship is all about. Our ministers are all wounded healers, those who have come out of the fires of refinement, prepared to rescue others.
If you would like to be mentored or need counseling, call 518-477-5759.