Spiritual Abuse, Reputation
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:
- Spiritual Abuse: No Church is Perfect
- Spiritual Abuse: When People Ask You, “Are You Working Toward Reconciliation?
- Spiritual Abuse: It’s Not Gossip to Talk about Abuse.
- Spiritual Abuse: What Are Nonbelievers Going to Think?
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
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?