Part 1 of 7
A large number of people who leave churches have experienced spiritual abuse. One of the reasons I want to talk about this is because it is a reality in the lives of many who are a part of the emerging church conversation.
Spiritual abuse is trauma. The three characteristics of trauma are:
1. An external cause - Someone does it to you.
2. Violation - You are violated by an unwelcome intrusion.
3. Loss of control - It is unexpected and beyond your control.
The result is a shattering of the basic assumptions the person held about their world. For me, the shattering was the realization that things within the church are not always as they should be, and truth and justice do not always prevail.
Evil within the world doesn't surprise me. Mistakes and misunderstandings in relationships don't shock me. I have always believed that conflicts between christians can be worked through when both parties submit their will to God.
Intentional, malicious action against me by a church leader blew me away. The unwillingness of others involved to challenge the leader's actions, but instead look the other way in denial, preserving their positions, shattered my trust in church leadership.
The tendency of those who have not experienced spiritual abuse is to minimize the experience. Honestly, it is something you do not truly understand unless you have experienced it.
Those who leave churches are often portrayed as overly sensitive, embittered, and difficult to get along with. While they may be reactionary immediately following their abuse, most recover and grow beyond that.
Their experience is a contributing factor in forming different expectations of what the church should be. However, their views should not be invalidated by the fact that they were born out of a time of pain.
This is likely the first of a series of posts.