Why I Call What Happened to Me Spiritual Abuse

Posted: May 6, 2015 in Uncategorized, When Church Hurts
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Perhaps the most pivotal verse in my mind during the years that I was enamored with the senior pastor and other leadership at my former church was

“Do you not know, Dear Christian, that you are a temple of the living God and that His Holy Spirit dwells in you?”  1 Cor. 3:16.

I believe this verse.  I believe that we who are Christian have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.  In my mind, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to believe that those people whom God had placed in leadership in my church were doing their utmost to represent God and to care for those under their leadership in ways that reflected the love, grace, compassion, and forgiveness of the One living within them.

So, when those in leadership repeatedly expressed to me the message that I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t measure up, that I was unwanted, unneeded, unnecessary, unworthy, etc., it didn’t seem too far fetched to equate their messages to me as representing what God thought of me, as well.  

Not that I expected godly perfection, because I also believe we as humans still make mistakes, misinterpret, misjudge, miss-the-mark.  But I did think that somewhere within a reasonable amount of time, people would realize that what they were doing was not truly representing God and they would take steps to right the wrongs, to back track and follow proper procedures if I truly had done something so heinous as to be ostracized and persecuted, to have as their goal reconciliation and restoration – perhaps even to give back what the locusts had eaten, so to speak.

Instead, months turned to years and years turned into more than a decade.  And even when the ostracism lifted, no explanations were given – not even when the question was asked point blank:  “What have I done that is so heinous that I am not allowed to do anything in this church?”

The Holy Spirit dwells in the pastor (presumably).

The pastor orchestrated, supported, and allowed my ostracism and persecution for years (eventually for more than a decade).

The pastor refused to respond to my questions so he obviously didn’t believe I deserved an explanation.

I must be a truly terrible person.

So terrible that the pastor doesn’t want me to do anything here.

Which means God must not want me to do anything here.  Maybe not anywhere.

Which means that God must agree with the pastor that I am a truly terrible person.

Deserving of ostracism.

Deserving of persecution.

Not even worth an explanation.

How could it be any different?  The pastor is a temple of the living God.

It is this thought process that landed me in spiritual abuse.  Some people have asked me if I think the pastor meant for me to question my standing with God.  Here’s what I know.  The pastor is, according to his own words, “highly educated.”  He was well-versed on spiritual abuse in the first conversation I ever had with him.  So, how could he not know the ramifications of what was being done to me?  He had to know.  

Temple of the living God.  Indwelt.



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