Blog Series: Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery by Pastor Ken Garrett, Wk 3

Spiritual Abuse, Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse in the church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery


Okay, we’re back to our ongoing series on spiritual abuse using excerpts from Ken Garrett’s dissertation on spiritual abuse, Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery. We will use excerpts from Ken’s dissertation as a springboard for discussion.

Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery

Pastor Ken Garrett

In the Introduction, Ken offers helpful definitions. Here is Ken’s definition for cult:

Cult – While most of the terms and ideas that I introduce are simple and easy to grasp, it is apparent in the project that I struggle greatly with the term cult in describing a Christian church. I will better explain and seek resolution to the struggle in subsequent chapters. But for a basic, consistent definition of the word, cult denotes a small, religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous.

While ideology and doctrine always have a role in the health or dysfunction of any religious group, increasingly a group’s status as a cult is derived solely from its actual treatment of its members, and not from its creeds, beliefs, and theology.

I agree with Ken’s definition and note that the treatment of members is key. When I looked at my church, the stories I read about Sovereign Grace Ministries, Doug Phillip’s church (Boerne Christian Assembly), Doug Wilson’s Christ Church, this is the pattern that has been explained to me. The people adopt a culture created by the cult leader, aka pastor. Not only do they adopt this culture, but they cultivate it, endorse it, enforce it, even to the extent that sometimes the pastor/cult leader doesn’t have to do all of the talking. He has raised his faithful devotees to model his expectations. Since all members are “on board” with this culture, any new person who comes to the group and questions it will be the odd man out.

spiritual abuse, Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery

Pic by Ken Garrett, taken on recent trip in Europe.

It does not feel good to swim against the tide, so there is pressure to join the group in their way of doing things. Next thing you know, that new person has become one of them and will also spread this culture and group think to additional new members, forgetting that at one time, they, too, had once questioned aspects of it. Continue reading

“Taking marriage seriously” – what does that mean for a Christian?

Christian Marriage, divorce, domestic violence, abuse, marital counseling, extramarital affairs


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-Taking marriage seriously- means taking the vows seriously and having real consequences for breaking them. The idealists and perfectionists who are trying to turn -marriage- into a protected space for all man.png

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My friend, Valerie Jacobsen posted this statement on her Facebook page and I asked permission to share it. I found it powerful, and yet, so contrary to the way marriage is handled in the church – especially when abuse is involved. I’m sick and tired of women being forced by their pastors/elders to bear the brunt of evil in their marriages by staying in their evil and harmful marriages.

I do not believe for a second that it is godly advice for pastors tell abused wives to remain married to their chronically evil and reviling spouses. If marriage is supposed to be representative of Christ and the church, an abusive marriage is a mockery to Christ. It seems that pastors would want to help rid the church of the blot of evil when there is an abuser clinging to his marriage and refusing to change his evil ways.

Women who leave their chronically cheating and/or abusive husbands are saying NO to evil. It is their husbands who abandoned the marriage long ago when they started their evil ways.

We need to stand beside these women and tell them they are free to go when pastors tell them otherwise. Pastors who give this bad advice are not living with this evil. And I’ll bet that they would not say this kind of thing if it were their daughter living with an abuser. Let’s stop this crazy business!

 

 

 

h/t Hannah Smith for image (taken in Hawaii)

 

 

Book Review Series – “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Wives Give Sex. All the Time.

The Power of a Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, Sex in Marriage, Submission


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Screenshot from The Transformed Wife Facebook Page – 6/15/17

-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5   Chapter 6

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Chapter 7 – This Thing Called Sex

Oh, goody…the sex chapter! Before I started reading this chapter I thought to myself: “Self, I wonder what wise words Lori will give women about sex? Let me guess…It will be about how husbands want sex all the time, and how wives are to give it to them anytime.”

Lori’s opening sentence:

Men like sex…a lot.

Oh, self, I am not disappointed in you. P.S. Lori, women like sex…a lot…too! Continue reading

John Piper, Sexy Stones and Political Stones? Help!!!

IMG_5856John Piper does it again. A recent tweet from John Piper has me scratching my head. I need an interpreter, please!

The Dangerous Teachings of Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife

Lori Alexander, Depression, Suicide

-by Julie Anne and Kathi

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Lori Alexander (Facebook photo)

Lori Alexander runs a blog and Facebook page called The Transformed Wife. Her Facebook page has over 21,000 followers! She models her ministry using the Titus 2 idea of older women teaching younger women. After 23 years of a difficult marriage, she claims her marriage improved after she applied God’s principles to her life; so she feels qualified to share with her followers how she learned to submit to her husband, and thus, have a happy marriage.

Lori appeals to women who want to be godly and obedient wives, serving their husbands. But as Kathi and I read her articles, we are alarmed by some of her teachings. Some of them put wives in harm’s way. Other teachings minimize serious mental health issues, or attempt to solve them by simply praying.

We are thankful to a reader on our Facebook page that brought to our attention Lori’s recent actions. Lori wrote a post this past week about depression and suicide among women and linked the post to her Facebook page.

We were sent this screenshot which shows a woman stating that she contemplated taking her own life. Lori’s response is to go to the Bible for strength. Thankfully, another reader responded with the advice to seek help immediately through the suicide hotline. Continue reading

Blog Series: Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery by Pastor Ken Garrett, Wk 2

Spiritual Abuse, Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse in the church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery


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Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery

Pastor Ken Garrett

Ok, here we go, plowing through Pastor Ken Garret’s dissertation about spiritual abuse. I used the word plowing intentionally. For some of us, it will be work. It is not enjoyable to be reminded about difficult experiences. However, some push that pain under the rug and haven’t been able to process it in a safe environment. If you feel ready to do that, come along and join us. Even if you don’t feel ready, you can still read. And for those who have never experienced spiritual abuse, I’m grateful that you are reading, too. Having compassion and understanding is so important in helping someone who has gone through spiritual abuse.

Just an FYI, Ken has removed his dissertation from his blog because he plans to publish it into a book. Ken has graciously allowed us to continue using his original dissertation for this series. (Thanks, Ken!!!)

Well, let’s dig in. Here is the very meaty paragraph we will start with this week:

Abusive churches, past and present, are primarily characterized by strong, control-oriented leadership. These leaders use guilt, fear, and intimidation to manipulate members and keep them in line. Followers are led to think that there is no other church quite like theirs and that God has singled them out for special purposes.

Other, more traditional evangelical churches are put down. Subjective experience is emphasized and dissent is discouraged. Many areas of members’ lives are subject to scrutiny. Rules and legalism abound. People who do not follow the rules or who threaten exposure are often dealt with harshly.

Excommunication is common. For those who leave, the road back to normalcy is difficult, with seemingly few who understand the phenomena of spiritual abuse.

Continue reading

Lori Alexander’s Damaging Advice Regarding Depression

Lori Alexander, Depression, Counseling

-by Kathi

Lori Alexander recently posted a YouTube video on her channel titled, “Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself.”

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I have to ask this first: Why are people still making videos of themselves in their cars? I guess Lori was driving somewhere, had an inspirational moment about self-pity, and just had to record her thoughts right away. Does she want us to know that she actually does get out of the house?

Lori tells us that she has had years of illness, brain surgery, and problems with her neck and back, and watched those around her enjoy life. But her illnesses didn’t stop her from feeling sorry for herself. She learned from Oswald Chambers that self-pity is Satanic, therefore she wants nothing to do with self-pity.

Lori offers the following teaching for how to deal with suffering:

  1. Repeat: “The joy of the Lord is my strength” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
  2. Listen to praise songs.
  3. Study I Peter and Philippians over and over. Renew your mind with God’s truth.
  4. Understand that you cannot be thankful and grateful if you are full of self-pity.
  5. Kick out self-pity quickly.

Lori acknowledges that depression and self-pity may be due to a bad childhood, abuse, or “whatever.” (Seriously, “whatever?” She is so empathetic.) Here’s the thing, folks….Lori Alexander is not a trained counselor and has no business telling people how to deal with depression!

Lori’s advice is dangerous because victims of childhood trauma and adult victims of abuse don’t just “kick out self-pity quickly.” Our brain is a complex creature and no one deals with trauma the same way. Telling people to “get over it” is not helpful and is more damaging. It is spiritually abusive to tell people that if they can’t stop feeling sorry for themselves then they don’t trust in God. Don’t fall for this lie. Continue reading

Let’s Discuss: The Keepers, Netflix Documentary Series about the Murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik and Systemic Sexual Abuse

The Keepers, Netflix, Cathy Cesnik, Systemic Sexual Abuse, Catholic Church, Spiritual Abuse, Clergy Sexual Abuse



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The Keepers is a new documentary series airing on Netflix. I have watched 5 of the episodes and it is excellent. If you have seen Spotlight, it is similar, however, the investigative reporters in this case are two grandmas who have spent the last three years compiling details of the case and trying to get answers as to who killed their beloved former high school teacher, Sister Cathy Cesnik in 1969.

Like the movie, Spotlight, the series uncovers systemic sexual abuse of female students at Archbishop Keough High School in Maryland by Father Maskell who was a counselor on campus. When I refer to the word “systemic,” I mean it is a whole system of cover-up and abuse. Father Joseph Maskell was not the only one who committed the crimes. His friends in high places also committed sexual crimes and helped to conceal the crimes: police officers, businessmen in the community, etc.

The first episode lays the groundwork for the story and introduces the main characters. Then, the second episode goes into repulsive, unimaginable sexual abuse descriptions. This episode is definitely difficult to watch and I would caution those who get triggered by topics of abuse to be very careful watching it. The second episode was the most difficult for me to watch, but this is important information to know how insidious these crimes were, not only sexually, but spiritually.

Because this documentary series is being discussed so much, I wanted to have a post specifically to address it, and especially to be a place where people can discuss how it may have affected them.

So, let’s use this post to discuss how the show may have affected us and try not to include spoilers for those who have not yet watched it.

Below, I have gathered a variety of links that may be of interest. I encourage you to check out the first link, especially. It is excellent.

Note:  While this sexual abuse scandal – also connected with the systemic abuse cover up with cases around the world uncovered by the Boston Globe Spotlight team occurred in the Catholic Church, Protestant churches are not exempt from these types of scandals. We know of the  Sovereign Grace Ministries sexual abuse scandal which is still ongoing. I am personally aware of several others that are “under the radar.” No one church group is exempt from systemic abuse.

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Related Links

A website was set up for the movie here:  The Keepers. I am very impressed with the information presented at the site, from information about the series, to helpful resources for survivors, therapies, systemic abuse, how to help, etc.

The following links are related and may be of interest:

Book Review Series – “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Don’t Argue. It’s That Easy.

The Power of a Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, Marriage, Submission


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-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5

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Chapter 6 – Easy Conflict Resolution Continue reading

New Blog Series: Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery by Pastor Ken Garrett

Spiritual Abuse, Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse in the church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery


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As I was reading through Ken Garrett’s dissertation, I had to stop and soak up what I had just read. It took time to process and I felt like if I continued reading, I might miss something. It made me want to reflect on how his words matched my spiritually abusive experience.  Mind you, Ken and I have spent hours talking/texting about spiritual abuse, how it has affected us and others. So, his words were nothing new to me, but they made me stop and think. We both have a heart to take what we have learned to help others. It dawned on me that Ken’s dissertation might be great for a series here, so I asked him if this was something we could do here at SSB, and he graciously agreed. (I knew he would because that’s the Ken that I know.)

Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery

Pastor Ken Garrett – Somewhere in Italy on vacation recently after submitting his dissertation: Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery, and earning his DMin.

So, my goal is to do a post once a week, using portions of Ken’s dissertation as the jumping off point. It was in reading blogs about spiritual abuse that I realized I was in a spiritually abusive church. Reading personal stories that mirrored my own story made me feel like I was not going crazy, that what I was experiencing was real, and it was harmful. Ken’s dissertation is perfect for this venue. He’s a spiritual abuse survivor, he’s studied spiritual abuse in an academic setting, and he’s also a pastor downtown Portland, Oregon.

If you know of someone who has been harmed in the church, please pass this post along. If you know of church leaders who could benefit from learning about spiritual abuse from someone who has done academic research and is a pastor, this might be good for them as well.

Spiritual abuse like other forms of abuse doesn’t just go away. It becomes part of who we are. Does it mean that we have to abandon our faith? No! But it might look different than it was. And we will discover that that is okay.

The goal of this series is to interact, to learn from each other, to support each other. We’re going to start off with the Prologue from the dissertation. If you want to read ahead, feel free to do so. You can find Ken’s dissertation here.

~Julie Anne


PROLOGUE: A HOUSE OF MIRRORS

Continue reading

Book Review Series – “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Lori’s All About Submission and Ken’s All About Control

The Power of a Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, Control, Submission


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-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4

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Chapter 5 – What Submission Looks Like Continue reading

SSB Gathering – May 14, 2017

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

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-by Kathi

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12: 9-15)

Today’s Gathering is going to be different than the usual Sunday. Mother’s Day can have different meaning and significance to everyone. If you have a mother in which you have a healthy relationship with, love dearly, and who loves you back, we rejoice with you. If you are a mother and have healthy relationships with your children, whom you love dearly and they love you back, we rejoice with you. If you are a mother figure to incredible people in your life, we rejoice with you.

However, there may be some here in which Mother’s Day brings conflict and turmoil. Perhaps you have struggled to become a mother and it has shaken your faith and relationships with other Christians; we mourn with you. If you are an adult child who lost a mother and the grief is overwhelming today, we mourn with you. You may have an unhealthy relationship with your mother in which there was abuse or mental instability; we mourn with you. Maybe you had a good relationship with your mother, but your religious views and faith have changed which has changed your relationship; we mourn with you.

The following was written by my dear friend, Tracey. Tracey struggled with infertility and relating with women and families in the church. I think we can all agree that the church has placed motherhood on a high pedestal. Sometimes that pedestal is unreachable to women and that may cause added pain and grief to the reality of not being able to bear children. At the time that I met Tracey I was a church goer and can honestly say that I never once thought about how women who struggle with infertility felt in the church. She opened my eyes with her raw honesty and I am forever thankful for that gift.

Tracey has given me permission to share her words with you today. I hope that you find them helpful. No matter how you feel today, please know that we rejoice and mourn with you. Continue reading

John Piper Responds to Dad’s Question Regarding His Child’s Extreme Anxiety about Hell

John Piper, Christian Parenting, Glorious, Hell, Anxiety


john piper, fear, hell, children, spiritual abuse

Photo from Twitter

At John Piper’s Desiring God website, they feature Ask John series in which listeners send their questions to John Piper for response. The following question came from a dad named Michael who asked John Piper the following:

A question from Michael:

“Pastor John, how can I talk to my 6-year-old son about hell? When any loved one has died who has also been a Christian, I have told him they have gone to heaven. But if somebody dies who is not a Christian I do not want to lie and say they have gone to heaven, but I do not know how to teach him about hell. He has extreme anxiety about death and I am afraid talking about hell may make him more anxious. He also gets very upset when he makes any kind of mistake or when I have to correct him. I do not want him to worry that if he disobeys that he will be sent to hell. How in the world can I teach him this?” Continue reading