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This is a two part article. See: Part Two
When someone mentions the term, "spiritual abuse" today, sexual molestation of a child often comes to mind. We have too many accounts of priests, pastors and Sunday school teachers preying on the children in their care. And yes, sadly, that is spiritual abuse.
But this kind of abuse can also take on a more subtle form as well. Its definition hinges on the manipulation of power enforced by a spiritual authority figure, with the abused party feeling helpless and coerced.
Children, of course, spring to mind as the most vulnerable. But the net spreads wider.
And a heartbreaking reality emerges: loving God does not exclude us from being hurt, even in the seemingly Godly setting of church. We are all susceptible when it comes to spiritual abuse.
"...Many spiritual abuse victims find themselves struggling to make decisions, and may even have a hard time disciplining themselves to do basic everyday functions such as getting out of bed and brushing their teeth. For so long, we allowed the group/leader to think for us, formulate our opinions for us, and make decisions for us. No wonder so many of us struggle for many years learning how to find ourselves again after leaving a spiritually abusive situation..."
"Spiritual Identity Crisis?" www.churchabuse.com
Used with permission.
An ethical person ought to do more than he’s required to do
and less than he’s allowed to do.
and less than he’s allowed to do.
You can’t mandate morality.
Call it what you want — morality, ethics, or character can’t be codified. Laws, rules, and regulations are always lowest common denominators. Attempts to legislate moral behavior simply create a cottage industry aimed at finding loopholes or avoiding detection.
by Gary DeMar
Abortion opinion has shifted in the past thirty years from majority approval or indifference to majority dissent because more Americans are aware that abortion kills a preborn baby. Technology has given us a window to the womb. Take a look at the GE 4D Ultrasound. The images are astounding. If the media ever tell the truth about homosexual behavior, public opinion will change. Homosexuals know this, so they are working overtime to get laws on the books that will eventually negate any later shift in public opinion.
He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper. But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13
Pinocchio - the adorable little story about a marionette who wants to become a real boy. It touches on this real theme, as well as the power of dreaming and the ability to love.
And yes, there's also the lesson about lying, hence Pinocchio's growing nose every time he tells a fib.
And that reminds me about the often chaotic journey of recovery when it comes to our addictions, compulsions and issues.
A lot of us having growing noses, don't we?
Addiction - related issues are subtle, tricky things which seem to sneak up on us from "out of nowhere." A lot of us may not look "the type." We may not look like such creatures as an alcoholic, a drug addict or a person struggling with eating disorders. We may appear to have "normal" looking noses, so to speak.
In the past two weeks, I've become aware of two pastors (same denomination, different churches) who are wallowing in self-pity and self-indulgence. Both claim depression and overwhelming personal pain. One used the term "burned out." A Christian who is "burned out?" Who cannot go on in ministry or service for the Lord? Oh . . . my . . . goodness!
On the one hand, I'm angry at these brothers. How dare they, as servants of the Lord and leaders within the Church, be so self-centered as to put their own desires ahead of the desires of the Lord? And, on the other hand, I'm filled with pity for these men who are so deluded in their beliefs that they can justify "crises of faith," doubt as it were, without feeling the least tinge of remorse or fear of God's judgment. (And if they are fearful, not fearful enough to turn back to the narrow path.)
"Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"--but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13
Is it possible for a Christian to live without sinning?
I could say that I don't sin-but then I would be lying! There is no way that a person could live free of sin. Pride, selfishness, deceit, greed, lack of faith, or lust... all of those things are sin. But, remember, sin is not always what you do wrong; it is also what you fail to do right. Sin includes the needs around you that you ignore: It is the neighbor to whom you have not witnessed, it is the sick friend whose children you have not offered to baby-sit.
"Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same — will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 5:19
A great many people are careful about breaking large commandments and committing heinous sins — while they commit "little sins" continually and without scruple.
They would not tell a direct lie for the world — but their speech is full of little falsehoods!
They would not steal money from the purse or drawer of another — and yet they continually commit small thefts! For example, by mistake the grocer gives them a penny too much change — and they do not think of returning it. Through the carelessness of a postal worker, the postage stamp on a letter is left uncancelled — and they take it off and use it a second time.
They would not purposely try to blacken a neighbor's name or destroy his character — and yet they repeat to others the evil whispers about him which they have heard, and thus soil his reputation.
They would not swear or curse in the coarse way of the ungodly — but they are continually using such minced oaths such as, Gosh! Gees! Heck! and other mild, timid substitutes for overt swearing.
They would not do flagrant acts of wickedness to disgrace themselves — but their lives are honeycombed with all kinds of little meannesses, impurities, selfishnesses, and bad tempers.
Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
No struggling or praying will enable you to stop doing certain things, and the penalty of sin is that you gradually get used to it, until you finally come to the place where you no longer even realize that it is sin... The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Matthew 23:26 NASB
You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.
God is always ready to forgive -
but we must never become complacent about sin and think it doesn’t matter. Rather, we must do whatever we can to avoid temptation and deal with sin when it happens.
God does not want us to take a neutral attitude toward sin.
Though He loves the sinner, He does not love sin. It is sin that separates man from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), yet He does not desire that any perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
The one who begets a fool gets trouble;
the parent of a fool has no joy. Proverbs 17:21NRSV
Foolish children aren't born, they're made... by their parents. As Americans, we are so brainwashed with certain ideas, often we aren't even aware that we are allowing our children to raise themselves, rather than taking the constant responsibility to teach them as we should. Recently, on the Wrightslaw web page (a service for parents who have children with disabilities), an Indian child specialist commented about how American parents ask their children, rather than simply telling them (or compelling them). In other words, we give our children choices, as if somehow having options is a teaching tool. (In fact, there are teachers that teach that way in the classroom, often to the downfall of education.)
Presenting options to a person assumes that the person can
1 Corinthians 5:12-13 RSV
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Drive out the wicked person from among you.
Scripture talks a lot about not judging others. And then, Paul comes along and commands us to judge others. It seems to contradict itself. This isn't the kind of judgment that brings condemnation or punishment, but rather is the kind of judgment that calls into question. It is, in fact, the judgment that is done in love and demands that another believer turn away from their sin.
Matthew Henry says: