Spiritual Abuse: What Motivates Abusers? Fear?

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What motivates those who spiritually abuse? Is it fear?

I recently read this quote by John Steinbeck and was thinking about it in the context of spiritual abuse and those who use their position of authority to control and abuse church members.

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What do you think? Is it fear that is motivating spiritual tyrants to bully and abuse?

53 comments on “Spiritual Abuse: What Motivates Abusers? Fear?

  1. I think for many people abuse itself is not their intended behavior, but rather the abuse is born of their supposed need to have everything under their control. For someone who can’t live without being in control, if maintaining that control requires hurting people then people get hurt.

    Hurting others can also have other motivations, of course. Greed, malice, pride, pathology. But in the power/control context I think it can – in bad cases – lead to hurting people if that’s what it takes.

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  2. I think fear may be part, but only part—– I am more of the opinion that most of these abusive people are extreme narcissists (which the ministry attracts in droves)– a narcissist is not fearful (I don’t think) they are just evil. They cannot even fathom that they are not completely worthy of all the power they wield. They truly live a life as if they are entitled to everything— meaning, your praise, your adoration, your obedience etc. At the first moment they realize that you are not properly ‘feeding’ them the wrath and punishment come back on you— not so much because of fear, but because they truly believe you have done some great and terrible thing by not ‘feeding’ them– it is if you are ‘starving’ them of what the need to sustain their life. The life of a Narcissist is very difficult to fathom, but if you read about it, most of the time these abusers in the church are Narcissists and that is the reason it is so difficult to get anyone to believe you. If they were truly just power hungry (which some are) they would be easier to catch, easier for others to see — but because they are the ever changing chameleon, charming, lying, narcissists— it takes much longer and then even when evidence is more than obvious– the ones under their spell will still refuse to see.

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  3. The world, the flesh and the devil corrupt. The world, flesh and devil may lay hold through fear, shame and guilt, but ultimately abusers abuse when they are consumed by a sense of entitlement and a lust for power and control. Power, once tasted, is satisfying only in the sense that cocaine satisfies. The first thrill quickly wears off, so that the addict must indulge that for which he lusts in ever-increasing measure.

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  4. I think many have good intentions, but they do fear being found out. Meaning, that they don’t have all the answers and aren’t as Godly as people expect or they expect of themselves.

    I find honesty to be one of the most threatening things to church leaders….and that is sad.

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  5. Do you think they have it in their mind to control others at first, or as Gary suggested, once it is “tasted,” it then becomes their motivation?

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  6. I have no doubt there are some wolves among the flock who are deliberately exploiting God’s people for their personal gain. The New Testament itself includes examples of this. What can be difficult to discern are genuine pastors who fall into temptation and start believing their own press.

    When you’ve got hundreds or thousands hanging on your every word, and all sorts of apparent good things happening, surely it’s the Lord’s work? Why should anyone be allowed to stand in the way of what God told pastor ____________?

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  7. I think many also fear losing their living.

    I know many in the ministry no longer want to be a pastor, but don’t have the skills to try and re-enter the mainstream workplace with only a MDiv from a Bible College.

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  8. “Do you think they have it in their mind to control others at first, or as Gary suggested, once it is “tasted,” it then becomes their motivation?”

    According to an article in Psychology Today, what narcissists fear most is losing their narcissistic supply. They crave the adulation of others. “Narcissists require others for for (sic) than attention: they rely on them for the overarching “narcissistic supply”: anything that builds them up and confirms their superiority, gradiosity, and entitlement. They are terrified of losing it.”

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells/201110/what-borderlines-and-narcissists-fear-most-part

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  9. I’m sure the fear factor is in there, buried deep and most likely conceived in an early or childhood experience, but… I’m with Tim on the control-based theory as a big part of their motivations. Perhaps Steinbeck had it right: The abuser fears, and so uses control to address the fear, which often leads to sins and crimes of which, if prosecuted, the abuser would lose control, and so the abuser, out of fear, again controls, which leads to fear, which necessitates more control, which results in more fear, etc., etc., etc!

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  10. I figure I might as well fly a flag of truce with Ken and come out and see I’m in total agreement with him here, based at least on my anecdotal experience, I think fear rules in the lives of most abusers I’ve seen. Even the malignant narcissist (in my opinion) I served as an elder under was ruled alternately by fear and control.

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  11. Well… I’m pretty sure it’s not the “Fear of the Lord.”

    Great comment, Sandra. Interestingly, fear of the Lord and His wrath was a recurring theme for sermons by my bully pastor. Seems like he’s using projection.

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  12. Power reveals more of who a person is at their core. I don’t think power itself or fear in and of itself corrupts.

    Sidenote, I watched the first part of this year’s Bachelorette a couple days ago, and a guy was kicked out because he became embarrassingly and rudely drunk during the first meeting between the men and the bachelorettes. Like alcohol has a way of showing more of one’s self that one normally keeps hidden, power does that as well.

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  13. When you’ve got hundreds or thousands hanging on your every word, and all sorts of apparent good things happening, surely it’s the Lord’s work?

    I think Matthew 7 has some related commentary on that.

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  14. In my experience, there was a fear that if my questions and concerns were addressed, the decisions that the leadership (senior pastor) had made would have to be defended, truth would be exposed, and wrongs would need to be righted. I believe in my experience, there was a desperate need for the senior pastor to be “right” at any cost and anyone who tenaciously pointed out a problem had to be made the problem in order to divert attention away from the real problem. Is that fear? Maybe. Is it power/control? Perhaps.

    Does it matter? Not really. Abuse is wrong no matter what the motivation.

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  15. It could be NPD, or fear in general, but another part of things, I think, is a lack of faith. If you do not trust God to keep things together while you do your little part, you will start to use measure to control people.

    Now certainly we can debate about levels of control, levels of abuse, and the like, but if you really believe that God’s Word is sufficient to reach God’s people with God’s Gospel, you don’t need to sweat the little stuff.

    Another thing that I’ve seen a lot at work–I’ve had the misfortune to work at some companies on the downturn–is that the long knives come out from the most unexpected places when people don’t see a chance to stay or advance.

    Again, does that person believe God when He says that the very Gates of Hell will not withstand the march of the Church, or does he not?

    (sound like the dance track of Sandra’s comment? Guilty, and sorry!)

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  16. Abuse is all about control and power. So, I can understand this statement in that a loss of control and power is an abusers fear. An abuser could certainly use the fear of losing control as a motivator to maintain power.

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  17. Speaking as someone who has been excommunicated, formally shunned by many families in a small community, had the “gates of heaven locked” to me by elders who “hold the keys”, and who furthermore remains an unwilling member of this church (even though I submitted my resignation of membership as a member in good standing before it was refused) I think there is a two-part answer to your question:

    1. Initially, there is a retaliatory anger by leaders who are infuriated that their positions have been questioned or challenged by basically a nobody. At this point it has to do with pride alone, and has nothing to do with loving the errant believer or upholding the honor of Jesus Christ or the reputation of his church.
    2. In the lengthy aftermath lies the litmus test of those leaders. They have one of two choices: to let their hearts be naturally softened by the Holy Spirit and to allow themselves to be convicted of the huge harm they have done; or, to dig their heels in as a counter-response to the Spirit’s conviction to acknowledge the truth. I believe enlisting other people (elders, the congregation), to fuel their anger gives them the courage and justification to continue the hardening of their own hearts.

    In any case, it really is about the worst kinds of control: those fueled by pride, money or both. Just my 2 cents.

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  18. I agree that many abusers are narcissists. Ten years ago, when I became aware that I was living with a narcissistic minister, I began researching the availability of printed information on narcissism in the church. I went to a mainstream christian publishing company in my town. The employee informed me that there were NO books in print on the subject of narcissism in their store/warehouse. Also, there were no books in print that he could find anywhere that had been written on Narcissism in ministry written from a Christian perspective. As long as no one is revealing, they can keep hiding and destroying.

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  19. Is it fear that is motivating spiritual tyrants to bully and abuse?

    Chicken and egg. . .

    Yes, it’s FEAR of losing power and control.
    It’s fear of being exposed for the wicked, criminal, unethical, bullying, hard-hearted, people that they are.
    It’s fear of being shamed and humiliated. (Shame and humiliation would be vital pre-conditions for them to humble themselves and repent! )

    But its LOVE of power and control.

    So in my opinion (and I align with Dr George Simon Jr here, I think) the love of power and control is the number one, the fulcrum, the hub of their personality and character. The fear of losing that power and control is secondary: you don’t fear losing something unless you love that thing in the first place.

    Steinbeck seems to have coined an arresting phrase, as writers often do, but his phrase dangerously opens a chink for abusers to justify their actions and manipulate others.

    Mr Abuser reads Steinbeck’s words and thinks “Hey, I’m not a bully; I’m just suffering from fear! Y’oughta feel sorry for me! “

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  20. You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight… (‭James‬ ‭4‬:‭2‬ NIV)

    When someone else stands in between a person and his/her desires, the reaction is to violently, if necessary, remove that other person/obstacle in order to attain the desired thing. Sadly, I would imagine any and all of us are in danger of falling into that pattern of abusive behavior at some level, since we all have such powerful desires capable of blinding us to how nasty we can become in our pursuit of those desires, whether they take the form of money, power, sex, control, fame, or some custom blended elixir of some or all of them.

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  21. I think one trait of most or even all spiritual abusers is self-righteousness. They believe themselves to be a cut above most all other people – especially the people that are under their spiritual leadership. But how does a person rise to a position where they can bully and abuse others in the first place? I think they are keen on understanding human nature and learn what works to manipulate others into subjugation. But then one would have to ask why do they want a position of power in the first place? I would say that leaders of this sort are motivated by pride and ego, and thoroughly enjoy having accolades showered upon them. Most of these types of leaders also want to be financially secure, so they learn techniques on how to bamboozle others into giving them their money. Actually, now that I think about it, it seems to me money is a HUGE factor why leaders bully and abuse. Having money gives a person power, and the more money they have, the more power they have.

    But I think all of these traits are tied in together that make the abuser who he is. He craves power, and money, and the love of the praise of men, And because he is self-righteous, he believes he has a RIGHT to have these things. He believes himself to be privileged and uniquely gifted in some way more than others (pride and ego) and therefore deserves his special status. And in the spiritual tyrant’s mind, they don’t see themselves as bullies or abusers, but only getting from others what they deserve to have because of their self-perceived uniqueness. Fear comes in when anyone would try to expose them for who and what they really are. They will defend what they believe are their rights and privileges at all costs, even to the point of lying, stealing, and slandering others.

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  22. what I believe I saw was pastors of two churches wielding control plus manipulation because they could not fathom any other thoughts or behaviors that were contrary to their way. They could not be wrong. Control of people maintains that they are correct. That they do not need to change. They certainly do not need to give a human freedom to develop independent thought. If you face this leadership with any notion of indicating that you have an independent idea, thought, suggestion that is contrary to their system of what they have laid down as law, then you meet with a push of power. [ somewhere in my post I began to use ‘you’ for ‘I’. Maybe because I am trying to heal in freedom and safety out of the clutches of power plays].

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  23. So true Darlene. Many within leadership love the gongs of their own swelling words from the elevated leadership system. Rare is the churched individual that will take or have the time to listen, care, and pray with the lower laity as a confided friend. And when people fail us, we turn to Jesus who is are True and Trusted friend for everything we need, seen and unseen.

    I may be on the back porch on this one and please feel free to correct if necessary. While fear may be the true self motivator in secretly seeking and desiring power over people, this in part requires a conscience that is functioning and working in an individual. So what about those people in our society/community/churches who have no conscience at all?

    1 Timothy 4:1-2 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their consciences seered with a hot iron…..” KJV

    1 Timothy 4:1-2 “Not the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared…..” RSV

    Case in point. I recently purchased some items from a young lady starting up her own business. She is currently unchurched and we have spoken about Jesus in casual conversation with no antagonism on her part what so ever at this point. It took quite some time for her to send me my products via the mail, for she procrastinated in not tending to my order as promptly as she should have. I received an apology via my email plus a beautiful, hand written post card with another touching apology and many, many thank-you’s from a grateful heart. She explained that from now on she will send in my order right away to the corporate headquarters because it takes them some time to process and send out the order to her, then passes it on to her customers. She learned a valuable lesson and I was deeply moved by her “I am so sorry’s,” so mercy and grace become an easy, natural reaction to her honest and pure regrets. This young lady has a conscience.

    Could it be that many within leadership positions, whether a pastor, deacons and deaconesses, church boards, bishops, priests, popes, those who desire to be first in religious communities, similar to that of Diotrephes, just plain lack a conscience?

    3 John verses 9-10
    “I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge my authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, prating against me with evil words. And not content with that, he refuses himself to welcome the brethren, and also stops those who want to welcome them and puts them out of his church.”

    Do those whose consciences have been seared with hot irons even have or experience fear or are they too far out in the pasture to even have such emotions. Let us be real, honest, and upfront here…..how many times has a churched person apologized with a pure, contrite heart, for a wrong THEY did against you? They named it, claimed it, and truly felt bad for hurting you because they were hurting inside and needed to apologize and reconcile with you, and with our LORD Jesus.

    This case scenario I am sorry to say, has never happened to me within the institutional church thus far, and this should be the place where people have consciences that have not yet been seered. Could it be that fear is not even an emotion that is experienced by someone who has wielded their authority and power for so long? And when one ceases to have a conscience, they cannot love our LORD nor anyone else for that matter, so it becomes easier and easier to lord it over other people. Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

    Can people without a conscience truly know fear? My question is not is not intended to counter or to cause unjustified arguments here, for my heart’s desire is to seek and know truth. Perhaps pride, power, and fear are lock, stock and barrel, whereas humility, meekness, and weakness compliment each other quite well. Open for feedback.

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  24. I think certain abusers have a lot of fear, others don’t but use fear tactics to gain control. This happens from politics down to school-yard bullies.

    Family of mine that are still part of an abusive, legalistic group of Christians seem to be afraid of everything: the weather indicates God is displeased and is coming soon; current events/politics “proves” the world is ending; alleged persecution (some of it is real, but most of what they hear/read is manufactured to scare people into buying legal protection or supporting certain ministries that will “fight back”-HSLDA is the group I’m thinking of); even their kids are afraid to go to college because of all the sin and debauchery and atheists on campus.

    These people are truly afraid of just about everything, and lying/covering up the truth is a common occurrence. How they do not see they are lying is beyond me. They are both controlled by abusers higher up the totem pole, and are abusively controlling.

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  25. Celeste said: “I agree that many abusers are narcissists. Ten years ago, when I became aware that I was living with a narcissistic minister, I began researching the availability of printed information on narcissism in the church. I went to a mainstream christian publishing company in my town. The employee informed me that there were NO books in print on the subject of narcissism in their store/warehouse. Also, there were no books in print that he could find anywhere that had been written on Narcissism in ministry written from a Christian perspective. As long as no one is revealing, they can keep hiding and destroying.”

    Part of the problem you’re talking about, from my perspective, is because of the widely held belief in evangelistic circles that mental health is a matter of “taking thoughts captive” and sin. Psychology is seen as a humanistic tool, that excuses sin rather than confronting people with their sin and convicting them/challenging them to deal with it.

    “Narcissism” is a term from the realms of humanistic psychology, and therefore should not even be named among believers.

    (Okay, I paraphrased a scripture verse and most likely twisted it dreadfully. Sorry about that.)

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  26. (and hopefully anyone reading my comment, just above, will realize that it is heavily laced with sarcasm. It is incredibly frustrating to talk with christians about very real problems due to brain chemistry imbalances, and have them dismissed with enjoinders to confess it as sin, pray harder, *try* harder…)

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  27. What motivates those who spiritually abuse? Is it fear?

    How about “JUST BECAUSE I CAN!”?

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  28. Katy, that’s a lot of food for thought. I think I would add to that, the need to be right. I kept telling people after we left our old church, that I didn’t think our ex-elders had evil intentions, but that their hearts were “in the right place” so far as they were trying to serve their god in the only way that seemed right to them.

    I still don’t think they are necessarily possessing evil intent. I think their impulse to control comes from honestly thinking that they know the right way, and theirs is the only way, and they want others to know and follow that way as well.

    Is it concern for others, or merely to validate their own view? I think many of the people in that church would express their motivation as concern for others. But it’s also gratifying to be with “like minded believers” as it validates your choice and makes you feel more “right” about what you’re doing.

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  29. How about they abuse because they really believe they are doing God’s will???!!!!

    Guys, you have to go to Wartburg and read their link on Village Church. However, MAJOR trigger warning. These guys put a woman under church discipline because she did not seek the will of the Village Church elders before she filed for annulment of her marriage to a pedophile and resigned her membership without their permission. HE is not under discipline because HE is has submitted to them, but SHE is under discipline because she resigned her membership without their approval — she will not let them “care” for her!!!!

    OMG, I am dying!!!!!

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2015/05/21/the-village-church-child-pornography-and-a-hero-makes-a-statement/

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  30. Barnabas,
    I am rendered speechless concerning your posted article……with tears. Consciences….seered or not seered?

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  31. @Barnabasintraining

    That does it. I’ll never risk my children’s safety and well-being to demands to “obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.” Been there, done that. TVC didn’t even follow the law to report Jordan’s crime relating to child pornography. Karen is the criminal for not submitting. Blech!

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  32. Yes, Barnabasintraining, add that to my “need to be right” comment above. They really believe they are doing God’s will.

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  33. JA, I just spent the last hour or so reading those documents. It sounds like the missions organization did their — would you call it “due diligence”? But the church… To pursue to that extent… stalkerish and creepy.

    If I were not trying to maintain some form of anonymity for the sake of some of my family members, I could relate some similar-sounding stalking behavior.

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  34. Barnabasintraining, I am sick at heart after reading TWW/Village church docs. Usually, I respond internally with anger when I read story after story of pastors who fail to model the tenderness & grace of Jesus.

    My heart is pained & I can feel sadness & sorrow taking shape inside of me…going to need something more than Taylor Swift music to shake this story off.

    One of the many things that stunned me is how these men of gawd cloak their control of Karen in flowery, sickening sweet language. I am dying right along with you.

    Back to the thread, I don’t have a clue what makes these dudes tick, but I have learned from the comments. I have some peace knowing that the majority of the people here see through all this manipulation & abuse. I don’t remember who coined the following but for me it rings true. These guys egos are so monstrous that they ego.
    EGO stands for
    E.dging
    G.od
    O.ut

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  35. One of the many things that stunned me is how these men of gawd cloak their control of Karen in flowery, sickening sweet language.

    That’s what made me go apoplectic. These guys really think this is GOD!!!

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  36. I think Darlene posted something about pride or arrogance– that is probably an underlying foundation of what moves these ‘leaders’ to be bullies. And most people know that pride and arrogance are some of the most detestable attributes according to God. Even though for some it is about money– the CC in Coeur D’Alene is a tiny Podunk church– not sure if 50 people go there. Pastor Rick works part or full time at a job— I believe men like that are extremely needy for praise and worship of themselves— That would be why a little Podunk preacher would WANT to be affiliated with the CC name. He would want that because he wants to ‘seem’ bigger than he is. That goes back to the pride, arrogance and narcissism.

    Another thing that helps to show how completely self-centered they can be is that they know nothing about you as a person. The Pastor in Coeur D’Alene treated me like some sort of common street sinner— he asked and knows nothing about me at all. He doesn’t know how many degrees I have, he doesn’t know what they are in, he doesn’t know my grade point average, he doesn’t know if I went to Bible College, he doesn’t know if I have a degree in Bible college, he doesn’t even know if I am an ordained minister or not.LOL I find it amazingly amusing that they are so full of themselves they cannot even imagine another person may actually ‘know’ something or have something valuable to input into their lives. It never occurs to them that a situation might be because God wants THEM to grow and recognize their own sin and shortcomings.

    But, the most obvious test of their hearts (no matter what their shortcomings or motivations are)— to me, t he most clear test is this—– I have asked this Pastor if we could just go forward in love and kindness and gentleness with each other publically so we can be a good example for God. And the answer is NO– What type of twisting and perversion does a Pastor have to do to condemn someone so much that they not worthy to have love and kindness and gentleness from the Pastor? This is a test that most of these narcissistic, evil pastors cannot pass– they cannot bring themselves to actually love someone whom has had the audacity to disagree or offend them in their HOLY PERFECTION. Those are the most dangerous people in the churches– openly and arrogantly and purposefully withholding love and kindness and gentleness from another Christian— So, they are without hope – because if they are unable to love like Christ, they are completely and fully lost.

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  37. I think in the end it’s just idolatry. Exaltation of the abuser’s self above God, and therefore certainly above anyone else. Idolatry always brings darkness, and as the abuser’s life–thoughts, words, deeds–gets darker their abusive behavior increases.

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  38. What strikes me about the notes in the TVC tragedy is that the elders do not even acknowledge that a reasonable person could view the criminal viewing of child porn as a kind of adultery that would warrant divorce or annulment, and they don’t acknowledge voluntary withdrawal from membership.

    Put differently, it’s in that bin of “do we really believe what the Bible says about this?” You’ve got good likelihood that the husband committed what was a capital crime in the OT and divorceable in the NT, and you’re quibbling about minutiae? Seriously?

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  39. Bike Bubba,
    Perhaps the elders simply wanted to be the orchestrators of the divorce, and Karen jumped the gun and denied them the privilege.

    Oh, wait. Her ex-husband repented and placed himself under their authority. Therefore, he is in the clear, so of course there is no reason now to dissolve the marriage.

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  40. Perhaps she ought to have resigned her membership first, and then annulled the marriage. But would she have been able to come up with a good enough reason for leaving? (according to the bylaws, that is)

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  41. I think that shunnedandthreatened is correct about this. The other explanations offered do not offer a solution. The fact of the matter is that approximately 1% to 4% of our population are on the narcissistic/psychopathic spectrum. Not all psychopaths and narcissists are serial killers – in fact the vast majority of them are not. But, ALL psychopaths and narcissists do not have a conscience, and that is something you must understand and accept. They are incapable of redemption, either spiritual or temporal. All of them seek to victimize non-psychopaths, and they do it to obtain a dopamine rush in their brains for “pulling a fast one” over others. Dr. Robert Hare of the University of British Columbia (one of the world experts) calls the psychopath “an intraspecies predator”. The terms psychopath, sociopath, narcissist, and antisocial personality disorder are largely synonomous. I don’t split hairs between these terms – I just call them psychopaths. They are defective non-humans as far as I’m concerned.

    Another thing you must know is that being a member of the clergy is one of the top ten professions for a psychopath. Think about it… you get to berate others and make them feel guilty for their sins, while at the same time acting like the devil and receing adoration from the masses. As a pastor or priest, you get to control and manipulate others for your own financial or sexual gains. And often there is no accountability. And it doesn’t matter whether we are talking about Romanism, Islam, Protestantism, Mormonism, or whatever. For the psychopath, there are no principles or ideals and no sysytematic theology that they adhere to, it is “just business”. They are seeking and obtaining narcissistic supply as a member of the clergy. They can scam the old ladies out of their money while having a good time with the young church secretary.

    Psychopaths love philosophies and theologies that EXCUSE their behaviours. They love authouritarian church power structures such as hierarchies and elder rule (as long as they control the elders), they love church discipline so they can accuse and abuse the bretheren. They love Word of Faith theology becuase it allows them to scam and emotionally manipulate people out of their hard earned money. They love Calvinism because it allows them to declare themselves saved while declaring others to be unelect. They like the theology where THEY “have the keys” and thus have control over your eternal destiny. I can go on and on….

    So why do so many Christians refuse to learn about psychopaths/narcissists? Why won’t they confront the real explanation for the existence of evil? I think I know the answer to that one, but I’m curious as to what y’all think about this.

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  42. Just reading a few comments in the thread and thinking about this. It seems to me that *some* are motivated by fear of losing the power, but the taste of power is like the taste of blood to a leopard. Once some people have tasted it, they are addicted for life, outside of a miracle.

    So….narcissists – yes. Fear – yes. Power hungry – yes. We’re dealing with a group who have as many variations in their motivations as there are individuals in the group. I am striving to be more and more careful of painting with a broad brush these days.

    Just thinking about what the scripture would indicate as motivations for abuse of power (and people)…

    1. Unsaved wolves in sheep’s clothing who come intending to destroy – Ravening wolves, Matt. 7:15; Grievous wolves, Acts 20:29
    2. Men rising up within the church seeking a following – Acts 20:30
    3. Greedy men who love money and err from the faith – 1 Tim. 6:10
    4. Men who abuse because their people are spiritual masochists – Jer. 5:31
    5. Men who don’t trust God to do His own work, they don’t trust the Holy Spirit nor the word of God. (Is. 55:11 and John 15:26). (I’ve seen a lot of abuse on this ground.)
    6. Unsaved people who think they are saved but are not, and so they can’t trust, grow, or be conformed to the image of Christ – Heb. 4:2. Hence, they have to resort to other means for keeping their power/control.

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  43. I thought of another one.

    7. Listening to the wrong spirit – Luke 9:54-56 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

    Obviously some men are listening to Satan who loves abuse and destruction.

    I’m sure there are many other examples from the Bible too.

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  44. Regarding Ryan’s comment, here is the Mayo Clinic on NPD and antisocial personality disorder.

    http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/definition/con-20025568

    http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/antisocial-personality-disorder/basics/definition/con-20027920

    Mayo makes it very clear that this is very serious and difficult to deal with, but they do not say that the case is uniformly hopeless. Let’s not make the narcissists in our world into a superhuman “Michael Myers” from the Halloween movies, OK? Note also that the main treatment for both disorders is talk therapy–in other words, one communicates with the afflicted in order to bring him back to reality. It can be done.

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  45. As you mentioned your particular former pastor had a tiny flock, so that abuse can be and is anywhere, I am wondering if there are any non-abusive churches that exist? Is the structure of church what sets them up for abuse? There seem to be so many. How do you decide when a certain teaching or pastor is too much to endure? I find I can’t endure any church. They all seem to deviate too far from Scripture with no recourse to change or address the issue.

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  46. Dr. Robert Hare states very clearly in his book “Without Conscience” that psychopaths cannot be cured, and that therapy can actually make them more dangerous and manipulative. There is no redemption or cure for them.

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  47. Ryan; you’ve got Dr. Hare, I’ve got the Mayo Clinic’s opinion. It’s also instructive that Hare’s etiology differs from DSM.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_D._Hare

    Hare admits that when he says psychopathy, he’s referring really to a distinct thing to what the rest of the psychology world refers to, so you want to be careful about your terminology and you definitely don’t want to carelessly throw about accusations.

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  48. Bubba, as mentioned before, I don’t split hairs on the definitions. Also, notice that I did not accuse any specific person of being a psychopath or a narcissist. So do not accuse me of doing something I did not do. Also, the question still remains as to why Christians don’t want to confront this issue.

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  49. I don’t think fear has anything to do with it. I think abuse comes from a psychopathic lust and insatiable desire for power and control over others, coupled with abject cruelty and a lack of empathy.

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