Spiritual Abuse: Stop Being so Bitter

Spiritual Abuse, Reputation
Jonathan Hollingsworth

spiritual abuse, Jonathan hollingsworth

This is the fifth blog post referring to an article by Jonathan Hollingsworth, What Not to Say to Someone Who’s Been Hurt by the Church. The article resonated with a lot of people, so I thought it might be a good idea to discuss these unhelpful statements one by one here, and give people the opportunity to share their experiences.

I am working through all six of Hollingsworth’s statements/questions of what not to say to someone who has been hurt by spiritual abuse. The posts are as follows:

Here is the fifth question on what not to say to someone harmed by spiritual abuse, followed by Jonathan Hollingsworth explaining why it is not helpful:

“Stop Being So Bitter.”


People who have been hurt by a church have a right to be angry. Not only is anger an appropriate response to injustice, it’s a healthy response if it’s channeled the right ways.

So why do Christians have such a hard time letting each other express negative emotions? Why do we always have to fish for some deeper spiritual problem like a root of bitterness or unforgiveness?

The other day I heard someone put it this way: “Religion will molest you, then accuse you of being bitter about it.” Do you see the double standard? When victims react to being hurt by someone in a church, we treat them as though there’s something’s wrong with them. This is why abusers are so often exonerated. It’s easier to justify letting the abuser off the hook if both parties are “in the wrong.” Source

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by Julie Anne

This topic comes up quite a bit. We are told we need to hurry up and be done with it. If we don’t get over it on “their” timetable, we are labeled bitter. I have difficulty with that. No one can determine another’s heart, the pain someone has gone through, or how long it will take to recover from spiritual abuse.

Maybe it makes them uncomfortable because we represent the reality that: church is not always a healthy place; and there is a wake of sadness, anger, disillusionment left in thew wake. Or maybe they think our grieving will prevent people from coming to Christ – you know – that outward-appearance requirement that we must always look content. Maybe that is true, but then shouldn’t their anger be directed towards the ones who harmed us?

What you experienced someone calling you bitter? How did you respond?

SSB Sunday Gathering – January 13, 2019

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

-by Kathi

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Scripture is taken from the Book of Common Prayer, Readings for Epiphany and Ordinary Time Until Lent, Year 1 and may be found here.

Psalm 113

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, you his servants; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.

The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people. He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children.

Praise the Lord.

Isaiah 40: 1 – 11

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Hebrews 1: 1 – 12

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”?

Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”?

And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.”

But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”

John 1: 1 – 7, 19 – 20, 29 – 34

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.

Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

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May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

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Feel free to join the discussion.

You can share your church struggles and concerns.

Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.

What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?

Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

Photo credit: Kathi

Spam Alert

I was just informed that spam comments were posted on the blog. I get literally hundreds of these a day. I may have hit a wrong button when I was in the process of deleting spam earlier. Yikes. 

These are VERY BAD spam links. Trust me. Don’t click.  Just hit refresh and hopefully you won’t receive them!  I’m so sorry if you clicked on one of the links!  Oh boy, this is bad.  ~ja

Naghmeh Panahi, Ex-Wife of Former Iranian Prisoner, “Pastor” Saeed Abedini, Posts Public Statement on Facebook

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