Spiritual Abuse: When People Ask You, “Are You Working Toward Reconciliation?”

Spiritual Abuse, What Not to Say, Jonathan Hollingsworth, Reconciliation

 

This is the second 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 will be working through all six of Hollingsworth’s statements/questions of what not to say to someone who has been hurt by spiritual abuse. Last post, we covered when people say, “No Church is Perfect.”

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

“Are You Working Toward Reconciliation?”

The last thing a victim of spiritual abuse needs to do is go right back into the environment that hurt them in the first place.

If someone has been attacked by a dog, would you tell them to go back and risk getting bitten again? Christians who insist on reconciliation in the face of spiritual abuse are forgetting one important thing: Abusive people can’t always be reasoned with.

Not only is it dangerous to ask a victim to make amends with their abusers, it also puts an undue burden of responsibility on the victim to come up with a solution. It’s like saying, “They’re the ones who hurt you, but now it’s your job to make it right.”

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Oh boy! I, too, had this said to me. In general, it was said by people who had never experienced spiritual abuse and who were uncomfortable with the topic or what I was feeling. They were uncomfortable knowing that I was not free from the heavy weight of spiritual abuse. They may have meant well by wanting me to be free, but in reality, there may never be reconciliation. Would God want me to restore my relationship with an abuser? I think not – unless the abuser did a 180-degree change and fully repented.

I don’t know what the deal is, but some Christians believe that you aren’t acting like a Christian if you respond with emotions that people label as negative. (For the record, I don’t think of emotions as negative or positive – they just are.) It’s like you are expected to maintain a smile on your face at all times, so expressing strong emotions like anger, sadness, grieving, etc, is not a welcomed sight. I think they believe that if you reconcile, then you can get the smile back on your face again – and everything will be hunky dory (do people still say that?) Anyway, it really isn’t that simple.

They don’t understand that spiritual abuse is a process. There are periods of sadness and anger. There is a grieving process, and it takes time, sometimes years. Some people will deal with it for the rest of their lives in one way or another, but it won’t be as paralyzing as it was in the beginning of the process.

Asking a spiritual abuse survivor if they are working toward reconciliation is not helpful. It puts the onus on the survivor. It tells the survivor to hurry along and get fixed so others can feel comfortable.

 

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Spiritual Abuse: When People Tell You, “No Church is Perfect”

Spiritual Abuse, What Not to Say, Jonathan Hollingsworth

spiritual abuse, ken garrett, cults

 

Being hurt at church is tough, and sometimes it’s a lonely journey. You may have experienced something that other congregants have not experienced. Some people may have good intentions, but say things that are not helpful, and in fact, may be hurtful. This can lead to more isolation as you don’t know who is safe to talk to. This can lead hurt people to stay away from church entirely.

One of the most confusing things about spiritual abuse is that not everyone is able to identify spiritual abuse. I remember dropping hints to people seeing if they would acknowledge my experiences or even add to them. Thankfully, many did, and I didn’t feel alone.

I posted an old article by Jonathan Hollingsworth, What Not to Say to Someone Who’s Been Hurt by the Church, on Twitter and the SSB Facebook page which seems to have resonated with a lot of people. 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.

Remember, one of the best ways for others to learn about spiritual abuse is for them to read the personal stories of others. When people can identify with your story, and you are naming it as spiritual abuse, it opens their eyes to the reality that what they experienced could have been abusive. Some people can sit with that uncertainty for years, but it will be one person’s story that will wake them up to their spiritually abusive reality.

Here is the first bad response that many of us have heard:

“No Church Is Perfect.”

Jonathan Hollingsworth writes:

Instead of empathizing with those who have been hurt by a church, some Christians go right into defense mode.

They might argue that the victim just had a “bad experience.” Or they’ll say the church is full of imperfect people who are “only human” and make mistakes just like the rest of us.

But can we agree that these excuses only distract from the problem? No one wants to be told to “focus on all the good things the church does” when they’ve been hurt by one. It doesn’t matter how many thousands of people have been positively affected by a church or ministry. The good experiences don’t cancel out the bad ones.

When I heard this said to me, it minimized the abuse and said that I need to toughen up and put up with what I was experiencing. It’s kind of like telling a victim of domestic violence that their violent husband is not perfect, just cut him some slack. It also could imply that other churches could be worse.

Did anyone say this to you? How did you react/respond to this unhelpful response?

 

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Negative Google Reviews are Still Keeping People Away from My Spiritually Abusive Church 6 Years after Lawsuit

Chuck O’Neal, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, Spiritual Abuse, Negative Google Reviews, Defamation Lawsuit


 

The other day, I got a call from my good friend, Michelle, who used to attend the cult/church we attended. Her husband used to be on staff at the church (Beaverton Grace Bible Church) and was fired. That led to a big shakeup where we got to see our ex-pastor’s true colors, and we eventually left.

Fast forward a few years, I was still reeling about the spiritual devastation that many of us experienced after leaving the place. I was especially concerned about the percentage of young adults who turned their backs on Christ and were headed down dangerous paths sexually after sitting under his oppressive and legalistic teachings. It was because of this harm done to many of our families that I decided to leave a negative Google review on the church’s Google page. I did not want any more families to go through what our families had faced.

Somehow, my ex-pastor was able to talk Google into removing my negative Google reviews, so I started a blog, and within a week, I was served a subpoena. He sued me and 4 others for $500,000 in a defamation lawsuit.

After the defamation lawsuit he filed against me went viral, literally hundreds of people left negative Google reviews (some challenging him to sue them!). It was amazing to get so much support considering our church had about 100 members at the most!

Over the years since winning the lawsuit, Google has removed some of those old reviews, but others still remain.

I was thrilled when Michelle texted me this:

 

Beaverton Grace Bible Church, Chuck O'Neal, lawsuit, spiritual abuse, cult


So . . . . leaving negative Google reviews do work!  But you might get sued if you leave one. If you get sued, it will probably get dismissed in court. But I cannot guarantee that.

 

 

Tom Chantry: Update on His Molestation, Child Abuse, and Assault Charges; and Looking Back

Tom Chantry, Molestation, Child Abuse, and Assault Charges, ARBCA


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Back in his heyday, Pastor Tom Chantry was a highly respected commenter at Pyromaniacs blog hosted by various Calvinist dude-bros such as Phil Johnson, Dan Phillips, Frank Turk, et al. We know he has been on trial for child abuse, molestation, and assault charges.

Today, I looked to see if I could find some old comments of Tom Chantry’s on the Pyromaniacs blog. On Google’s first page after searching: Tom Chantry and Pyromaniacs, I came across one of Pyro’s blog posts entitled, Pornographic Divination. Sure enough, Tom responded in the second comment.

Let me tell you a bit about the brief Pyromaniacs post.  Continue reading

Lori Alexander: Children Should Visit Their Incarcerated Molesting Fathers

Lori Alexander, Child Sex Abuse, Spiritual Abuse

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-by Kathi

We’ve seen the type of advice Lori Alexander gives to wives experiencing domestic abuse. Just when you think she couldn’t stoop lower, she addresses children visiting their incarcerated fathers who sexually abused them.

It all starts when she defends Michael and Debi Pearl’s teachings which leads to a teachable moment for the child. Continue reading

John Piper – God Purposely Plans Our Pain

Desiring God, John Piper, Discipline, Hurt and Pain

 

Screenshot 2018-08-24 at 6.34.59 PM

-by Kathi

Desiring God recently tweeted an article from 1997.

Broader context of the tweet:

It says that God is disciplining us; he is teaching us and correcting us and transforming us. In other words, God has a purpose and a design in what is happening to us. God is the ultimate doer here. Verse 6 goes so far as to say, “[God] scourges every son whom he receives.” Who is scourging? Who is whipping? (See Hebrews 11:36). God is. God is not a passive observer in our lives while sinners and Satan beat us up. He rules over sinners and Satan, and they unwittingly, and with no less fault or guilt, fulfill his wise and loving purposes of discipline in our lives.

God uses sinners and Satan as part of his purpose to cause us pain?

God plans the hurt in our lives?

Thoughts?

 

Bill Hybels, the Willow Creek “System,” and Why the Women Needed to Speak Publicly

Bill Hybels, Clergy Sexual Misconduct, Willow Creek Church


Bill Hybels, Willow Creek, Clergy Sexual Misconduct

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Classical Conversations #4: A CC Veteran Gives Advice to New People Considering Classical Conversations

Classical Conversations, High-Controlling Groups, Deleted Comments, Blocked Commenters, Noble Gibbens, Leigh Bortins


delete comments, block people on Facebook, no-talk rule

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Classical Conversations #1: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Classical Conversations, Homeschool, Classical Education, #ClassicalConvMadeKnown

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BREAKING NEWS: Dr. Paige Patterson Terminated, Effective Immediately: No Title, No Housing, No Ongoing Compensation

Paige Patterson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, SBC, #Churchtoo, #ChurchToo, #MeToo

 

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A new statement was just released at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: Continue reading

What Does Responding Biblically Really Mean?

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This will be short and sweet. I’m in the final crunch of school with only 2-1/2 weeks until graduation (woohoo!!).

Responding Biblically seems to be thrown around a lot. I just tweeted this because I was thinking about a recent debate on Twitter (which I will write about when I get more time).

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I think this phrase can be used in bad ways. I’d like to open this up for discussion.  Who gets to decide what is Biblical or not? Can you see how this phrase can be used to exert power over another?  Do you have any examples of this you would like to share? Does a pastor saying something is more biblical carry more weight? 

K.B. Davies Says Domestic Violence is No Excuse for Divorce Even in Case of Death

mind-the-gap

-by Kathi

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K.B. Davies frequently comments on Lori Alexander’s Facebook page, The Transformed Wife. Lori allows his comments to stay and doesn’t challenge them. Why Lori leaves comments from men like K.B. and Trey unchallenged is mind boggling. Personally, I would distance myself as far away as possible from someone who uses the Bible to support domestic abuse. The fact that he comments on a women’s-only teaching page is for another day.

Digging a little deeper, he blogs and markets himself with the following: “Transformational Change Agent. Thought Leader. Spiritual Coach. Author & Speaker. Self Development. Personal Growth.”

K.B. Davies recently posted this on his Facebook page: Continue reading

Lori Alexander, Advocate of Women Staying Married to Their Abusers

 

-by Kathi

deleteLori Alexander at The Transformed Wife continues to advocate that there is no room for divorce for a spouse experiencing physical abuse.

A commentor at her post, For Those Considering Divorce – Stop!, speaks about her mother’s best friend who would show up with bruises and black eyes. With valid reasoning she questions Lori about not divorcing due to physical abuse. Continue reading

Sovereign Grace Church Leaders Remove Wife from Women’s Small Group Leader Position after Couple Asks Questions

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Both Jeff Owens and his wife Sarah recently sent out a thread of tweets regarding a recent experience they had at their former (unidentified)  Sovereign Grace church. I think these tweets deserve a wider audience.

What you will read is not healthy at all, and people need to understand the dismissive and bullying behavior employed by Sovereign Grace church leaders when they are encouraged or questioned about having an independent investigation of the decades-old sexual abuse allegations involving many children, many churches, and the mishandling of these cases by church leaders.

Sovereign Grace leaders are still using the same tactics that we’ve heard from personal accounts for years: no one gets to question authority or criticize authority without repercussion. Folks, this is spiritual abuse. Let’s call it what it is.

I have copied the tweets below for easier reading, but if you would like to see the original tweet threads, click on the hyperlink in Jeff Owens’ tweet below, or Sarah’s link within his tweet.

In the tweet thread, there is a reference to Rachael Denhollander. If you are unfamiliar with Rachael Denhollander and her experience in exposing Sovereign Grace ministries mishandling of sex abuse cases, here’s a good article to start:  My Larry Nassar Testimony Went Viral. But There’s More to the Gospel Than Forgiveness.

Before we get to the tweets by Jeff and Sarah Owens, I wanted to share a section of the Sovereign Grace Local Church Polity with you. I have bolded parts pertinent to the communication by congregants to elders and leaders: Continue reading

God Loves Victims More Than Saving an Abusive Marriage

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Personal Story: What Did the Church Teach You about Yourself?

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