gRegorLove little g big R

On Spiritual Abuse

This post (or series of posts) will be difficult. Not because I do not want to write it, but because it is important that I communicate the ideas clearly. I am not sure how to start.

“Spiritual abuse” is a new concept to me within the last few years. Physical and emotional abuse seem to be more commonly understood forms of abuse. They seem more obvious. I had not thought much about spiritual abuse, though. Or, if I did, it was not using that terminology. It was probably in passing and somewhat dismissive.

What is spiritual abuse? I believe it is misusing spiritual authority to manipulate, coerce, or control. Or as Dale Fincher put it, “claiming the intentions and character of God are behind the thing that men and women are doing.” I really like his article on the topic and was tempted to just link to it and not say much else. I highly recommend reading it.

Whenever anyone is dehumanized, it is abuse. Whenever anyone is dehumanized in the name of God, it is spiritual abuse.

Dale Fincher

I realize that some may read my description of spiritual abuse and think it describes religion in general. They may be on to something. I certainly think spiritual abuse is prevalent. I am interesting in discussing this as well as what healthy, non-abusive spirituality looks like. I plan to write more on this and would love to hear your thoughts or stories.

I should make a note here that my background is Christianity and I still consider myself a Christian, so I am particularly interested in the intersection of spiritual abuse and Christianity. It is a broad topic, though, and does not need to be limited to that.

View responses or leave your own response


jenn jenn
Nice quote formatting!

Mark Burkitt Mark Burkitt
Hi gRegor, I look forward to this important discussion. I'll comment more after reading the article you suggest.

Amandica Amandica
I agree on the quote formatting! :)

I like your definition on spiritual abuse...couldn't really put it better myself. Looking forward to the next post.

Mark Burkitt Mark Burkitt
I do not know how useful it may be to set aside a special catagory of abuse as being labled spiritual, as opposed to emotional, mental, or physcial. However, I do not question that many people find themselves, like Dale Fincher, reeling from the effects of misused or arrogated spiritul authority. A glance at the Gospel accounts reveals Messiah Yeshua actively condeming and criticizing the religious leaders of His day. That his harshest words were aimed at those vested with the most religious authority reflects how passionately He views this issue. Those who claim to act with God's authority place themselves in the most perilous position: the Name is not something to be taken up lightly. Fincher is correct in siting the 3rd Commandment as a warning agaist such abuse.

Exodus 20:7 You do not take up the name of Yaweh your God for a vain thing, for Yaweh acquits not him who takes up His name for a vain thing.

As someone who has felt very alienated by my church community in recent years, especially because of the way I have watched others be treated in the name of God, this is an interesting concept to me.

Thank you for posting about it.

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