Define: Spiritual Abuse
What is “spiritual abuse”?
I found this on the Watchman Fellowship;
“Spiritual abuse is the misuse of a position of power, leadership, or influence to further the selfish interests of someone other than the individual who needs help. Sometimes abuse arises out of a doctrinal position. At other times it occurs because of legitimate personal needs of a leader that are being met by illegitimate means. Spiritually abusive religious systems are sometimes described as legalistic, mind controlling, religiously addictive, and authoritarian.”
- Refusing to provide pastoral care to women on the basis of gender alone
- Coercing reconciliation of victim to offender
- Dictating basic decisions (marriage, home ownership, jobs, giving practices, etc.)
- Binding conscience on matters that are in the realm of Christian freedom
- Using threats to maintain control of another
- Using deceptive language to coerce into sexual activity
- Denying the right to divorce despite having grounds to do so
We live in an era of free market religion.
That means that anyone can be a “spiritual leader” as long as they stay within the bounds of the law and someone will follow them.
That is fertile ground for abusive situations.
What is the difference between “abuse” and personality conflicts and doctrinal differences?
Let’s come up with our own working definition…and then we can discuss the other issues from that definition in other posts.