Spiritual Abuse, Jonathan Hollingsworth
This is the sixth and final blog post referencing 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.
Here are the previous articles highlighting Hollingsworth’s key statements/questions of what not to say to someone who has been hurt by spiritual abuse:
- 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?
- Spiritual Abuse: Stop Being So Bitter!
Here is the final question on what not to say to someone harmed by spiritual abuse, followed by Jonathan Hollingsworth explaining why it is not helpful:
“Is This Worth Dividing the Church Over?”
How it might affect the congregation should never be the deciding factor in whether or not to expose abuse.
This one especially hits home for me. When I escaped my abusive situation in Africa, my pastor wanted to sweep the whole ordeal under the rug. My silence, I was told, was for the greater good of the Gospel. It wasn’t a suggestion—it was an ultimatum. If I didn’t keep quiet, he warned, I would bring division to the entire congregation.
One of the most effective ways to silence a victim is to fill them with a false sense of guilt. The victim is led to believe that talking is only going to make things worse, and whatever happens as a result is their fault.
Certainly, exposing spiritual abuse can divide a congregation. But that’s not a consequence of the victim talking. It’s a consequence of the abuse perpetrated in the first place.
There’s one thing that’s even more important than knowing what not to say to someone who has been hurt by church. And that is to simply listen. Source
by Julie Anne
When someone exposes abuse, it creates conflict. Let’s face it – not many people like conflict. Some people like to avoid it all costs. When someone is exposing spiritual abuse, they are putting the abuse (conflict) on the table for all to see. It’s not pretty. It shows people that the church which is supposed to be safe, trusted, and a refuge – is no longer.
For some, it is much easier to shove it under the carpet to get rid of it. It’s easier to act like it never happened. Come on – let’s just move on because otherwise, this could turn into a huge mess.
Does it divide the church? Yes, it may. Some will stick on the side of remaining silent, while others decide that a foundation of lies is not something they want to be part of, and so they leave.
What have you noticed when exposing critical abuse issues? Is it worth dividing over? Who wins?