Spirituality can make you grow tremendously on a personal and social level. But, it can also make one vulnerable to a lot of unbiblical facets of supposed ‘religion’. Spiritual abuse is not a common topic, especially in view of other areas of abuse like physical and emotional abuse, it may be the least talked about kind of abuse.
Spiritual abuse can be defined by any attempt to exert power and control over someone using religion, faith, or beliefs. A lot of people have been manipulated spiritually and in specific in the church, by both leaders and members of the church.
Martha is one such individual who went through a long journey of learning and re-learning about the Christian Faith, but fell prey of abuse before this. She was a part of a ministry ran by a lady who called herself a prophetess, who claimed to hear the voice of God concerning her life.
Martha explains “There is a partner who was in my husbands life where he used to support him financially. This partner had given him a car. The prophetess told me that she has been given an instruction by God, she said that we were supposed to sow a car in her life and that we are going to be elevated.” Depending on your level of maturity one would believe or question one such instruction.
So many people are taken advantage of by spiritual heads and they obey in the quest to live a more righteous life.
There are ways to heal from this kind of abuse. Just like dealing with any kind of wound and healing, in this case the bible is clear that God can heal you.
It is important to leave any abusive relationship, and in this case a toxic spiritual relationship as soon as you realize what is happening to you. But, in all this, there is the question, what is the way out?
Rev. Jesse Mwai of Christ is The Answer Ministries gives a few pointers of how to get out of spiritual abuse and warning signs of a fellowship/church or ministry that could spiritually abuse you:
- If you find yourself in a church where there is a financial price tag to everything. Where all you hear about is money, or you cannot receive prophecy without removing money. Where there is no financial accountability, that is a sign of spiritual abuse
- There is a lack of sound biblical teaching, you can never place the sermons and validate them. Remember, it is only sound biblical teaching that transforms people.
- They claim exclusivity unless you come to that church, unless you join their group they give conditions like ‘you are not born again’. No one church can say that they are the only way to heaven.
- There is fear, threats and manipulation that is propagated. You no longer even have control over your own life and finances.
- Your pastor or man of God is unreachable. We are not called to be inaccessible to one another. There is room for order but we are called to be accessible.
In explaining woundedness and healing, Rev. Jesse says, “Woundedness must bring us to a place of healing. When you are feeling wounded it is important not to put your trust in the arm of the flesh but in the one who was tormented with our iniquities. His name is Jesus. Healing is available and takes a process.”
Being more deliberate and intentional about our spiritual growth, being keen to question the doctrines we are exposed to against the word of God for ourselves is an important thing to do to steer clear of spiritual abuse.
Seek God, and not man.