Spiritual Abuse, Reputation
This is the fourth 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 first post, we covered when people say, “No Church is Perfect.” The second post, we discussed was Spiritual Abuse: When People Ask You, “Are You Working Toward Reconciliation?” The third post dealt with gossip, Spiritual Abuse: It’s Not Gossip to Talk about Abuse.
Here is the fourth question on what not to say to someone harmed by spiritual abuse, followed by Jonathan Hollingsworth explaining why it is not helpful:
“What Are Nonbelievers Going to Think?”
Have you ever read a headline about a Christian going public against a church or ministry and thought to yourself, “Is this providing a good witness?” If you’re more concerned about the church’s reputation than you are about the abuse itself, you might have your priorities mixed up.
As Christians, we can get so preoccupied with how outsiders view the church that we put appearances before the truth. When we try to control the narrative, we substitute the reality of the church for our own ideal of the church. All we’re showing the world is that we prefer a false witness over a bad one.
Oh boy, can I relate with this one! I’ve lost Facebook friends after someone asked me this question and I wouldn’t budge. There have been a couple of times where I have posted about a church abuse case. In both situations, they private messaged me, reprimanding me for not being a good witness by posting so much negativity. They actually get pretty upset when they can sense that I won’t relent.
I don’t waste my time arguing anymore. I just thank them for their concern.
Here is the reality: everyone knows there are problems in churches. Christians would get more respect by being honest and identifying problems instead of covering them up.
Have you, too, experienced this kind of response?