Hi Brethren, I found a site that has excellent material on spiritual
the workings of it. It's ...........www.caic.org.au/biblebase. I'm posting an
article which helped me understand this topic.
How Spiritual Abuse Redefines "Love"
I became convinced several years back that the true role of a Christian was
to become a professional lover.
What does "love" mean? It's more than the common concept of romance,
extends to the sacrifice and commitment required to keep a relationship
alive. For further study, look at the Greek words for "love" used in the New
Testament (there are many books on this topic).
What does "professional" mean? It means that loving by God's definition
becomes our entire reason for being -- our profession, or trade, and
therefore we need to keep our professional credentials alive by interacting
with other spiritually mature people in the same profession. In the case of
Christianity, part of the professional requirement is bringing other people
into the business.
A major characteristic of "cults" is their insistence on redefining
This webpage will specifically outline some ways in which WCG redefined
"love" -- thereby misleading people to believe that they were becoming more
like the Lord.
What is an Abusive Relationship?
Countless books have been written on the topic of spiritual abuse. For the
purpose of this webpage, I'm choosing to draw from a book by David Johnson
and Jeff VanVonderen entitled The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse (Bethany
House Publishers, 1991).
Spiritual abuse mixes our commitment with God with our commitment to
(specifically religious people and religious organizations). Knowing this
alone helps us to be healthier and more loving people, individuals who have
the commitment hierarchy in order:
First, commitment to the Lord
Second, commitment to mate and family
Third, commitment to religious and other organizations
So the following chart shows in the left column what the specific spiritually
abusive point is, and the right column how it helps erode our definition of
"love." Not all these spiritually abusive points necessarily apply to those
who encountered traditional WCG -- so the extent of the application is
limited to our exposure or experience.
WARNING: If you are seriously looking and studying this chart, you may
some disturbing things about yourself and the people around you, and you may
need to spend time in prayer or talking with mature Christians to have their
input on whether or not your perception or interpretation of situations is
correct. Therefore, please do not make any hasty conclusions based on initial
emotions -- take time to think through whether or not these qualities of
spiritual abuse really do apply to your experiences, and take time to
interact with several spiritual mentors.
Spiritual Abuse Characteristic Erosion to Our Concept of Love
"Shame-based Relationships" -- People learn to be or act powerless. Shame is
not the same as guilt, a constructive signal which is an emotional indication
of wrong actions or attitudes. Shame is a destructive signal about your
personal worth, a belief or mindset that you are a bad and worthless person.
(pp. 54-55) Shame induces feelings that people are:
not loved and accepted
not even lovable or acceptable
only loved and accepted if, when, or because they perform well
not capable, valuable, or worthwhile
very alone, not really belonging anywhere, to anything, or with anyone
Shame leads to spiritual isolation from what could be healthy and rewarding
spiritual interaction with other Christians.
"Performance Focus" -- With this focus, how people act is more important
who they are or what is happening to them on the inside. (p. 56) Possible
Perfectionism, or giving up without trying
Doing only those things you are good at (not trying new things)
Failing to admit mistakes
Inability to have guilt-free fun
High need for approval by others
Living a double life
"Idolatry" -- The "god" served by the shame-based relationship is an
impossible-to-please judge, who obsesses on people's behavior from a
distance, and is more concerned about appearance, how things look, what
people think and where the power is. (p. 57) Possible love damage:
Distortion of our relationship with the Lord
Inability to spiritually relate to true Christians
High anxiety built on other people's opinions
High need to control the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of others in order
to gain a personal sense of peace.
"Preoccupation with Fault and Blame" -- Forgiveness and personal apology
not enough when things go wrong -- people have to pay for their mistakes and
feel so defective and humiliated that they won't act that way anymore. (p.
58) Possible love damage:
Preoccupation with documenting past history and mistakes
Taking actions to be direct indicators of spiritual worth and value to the
Need to be right
Difficulty forgiving self
Difficulty accepting grace and forgiveness from the Lord
"Obscured Reality" -- In shame-based systems, members have to deny any
thought, opinion or feeling that is different from those of people in
authority. Interaction with people and places outside the system threatens
the order of things -- the system (or organization) defines reality. Problems
are denied or minimized, and therefore they remain (unless things change,
they remain the same). (p. 58) Possible love damage:
Conditioned to be out-of-touch with feelings and emotions
Guessing at what is spiritually healthy
Threatened by opinions different than yours, especially from a religious
Suspicious or afraid of others not part of your system
Denial of reality
"Centralized Teaching" -- What is true is decided on the feelings or
experiences of the religious leadership, giving more weight to them than to
what the Bible says. People can't know or understand spiritual truth until
the leaders "receive them by spiritual revelation from the Lord" or "until
the timing is right" or "until the people are ready," at which time the
spiritual leaders "impart" these truths to the people. (p. 70) Possible love
Worshipping men more than God
Minimizing the miracle of the Holy Spirit in the converted Christian
Doubting or questioning our individual responsibility to make choices and
learn from them
Inability to accept grace
"Image Management" -- Image managers are more concerned with how they
other people, and in a shame-based system, religious leaders are loathe to
admit error and slow to admit the truth. What counts less is the substance of
the spiritual material, and more on how it looks and makes people feel. (pp.
131-136) Possible love damage:
Managing the image which we make with our lives
Requiring recognition from others, under the claim of "respect"
Wearing spirituality on the outside, but not believing it in the heart
Making an Honest Assessment
I honestly find many areas on the above chart where I need to grow and pursue
the Lord more diligently (and ignore what people and organizations say). Most
of these problems stem from confusing the role of the organization with the
role of the Lord. There are many benefits from having organized churches and
ministries -- but the bottom line always is our direct relationship with God
and what he thinks about our lives.
Feedback from our friends and associates may provide little or no help
uncovering real spiritual problems to overcome. What other people think will
never amount to an assessment from the Lord, since God loves us
(Rom 5:8 NIV) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While
still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Rom 5:9 NIV) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much
shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!
(Rom 5:10 NIV) For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled
through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we
be saved through his life!
(Rom 5:11 NIV) Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through
Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
(Rom 5:12 NIV) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one
death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned--
Relying on other people, even spiritually mature religious leaders,
decisions for us is a formula for disaster. Spiritual leadership is about
sharing principles of living -- the human experience of making choices and
living through the disasters and successes we create is part of healthy
Christian growth. No church could hope to legislate all decisions which have
spiritual impact on our lives -- many have tried to do this but have failed.
People who believe such could happen are denying the miracle of the Holy
God's solution involves accepting the fact that as humans, we are far
perfection, and that by his grace, we are able to live day by day and learn
more about how to be like him. His covering of blood enables us to have a
direct relationship with him, and though we struggle with sin, we are not
beaten by the devil because he gives us new life through his spirit.
Satan (and perhaps other Christians) would have us assume that our moral
failures (and those of others) amount to a break or separation in God's love
and mercy for us -- this is not true, and God is even more willing to help
the Christian who asks for it. The Lord expects us to rely on him for help
and strength, and expects that he will to take the burden of sin on himself
through the Sacrifice.
For more study, it would be good to obtain a copy of this book, and
text honestly (having of course the opportunity for spiritual feedback from
Breaking free of spiritual abuse may seem difficult, and there are emotional
difficulties involved with it, but it is not impossible. The difficult part
comes in when we attempt our own salvation -- the Lord has provided his
spirit to be the way out of spiritually abusive actions, and only this spirit
can provide the lasting healing which we all need from sin. This healing
helps us to similarly make the church a place for collective healing from the
spiritual wounds and hurts from our past sins and experiences. We can use
God's offer of grace to cover up spiritual abuse in our own past, and move
forward to a more healthy concept of professional love.