Here are five serious warning signs that you or someone you know may be experiencing spiritual abuse.
The Rich and the Poor
Some signs could be when the members of a church are being taught (forced) to give to the church until it hurts. Where the pastor drives a BMW and the congregation an old station wagon, the pastor could be fleecing the flock as Paul warned Timothy they “are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Tim 6:5) while “in their greed they will exploit you with false words” (2nd Pet 2:3) and “peddle the word of God for profit” (2nd Cor 2:17).
Contrary to Scripture
Sometimes the sign is that someone is spiritually abusing you is that they want you to do something unethical while cloaking it in a “ministry for the Lord” but mark this; anyone that teaches things contrary to Scripture is taking advantage of their audience. God’s leadership must never try to pressure anyone to do anything that the Bible forbids. If they do, then you can be sure of this; they are not God’s leadership but instead, might be masquerading as an angel of light and it shouldn’t surprise us because “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2nd Cor 11:14).
Fear and Intimidation
I remember about twenty years ago hearing about a church board member who was threatened by another board member to bring false accusations up against him if he didn’t vote for an item before the church board. What made it an even more difficult situation was that the man who had threatened him was the oldest and longest tenured of the church board members but he was also an elder and this man seemed to run the church more than the pastor or deacons did and even the board. He seemed to dominate the board meetings by fear and intimidation. That is nothing short of spiritual abuse and I pray someone warned him about what James wrote: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1).
Refusal to accept Medical Treatment
If someone refuses to seek medical help for a very serious condition, they might be putting their life at risk. This is very serious because just recently a lady posted on Facebook that she was having chest pains and had a history of heart disease but wrote “I claim healing in the name of Jesus.” Of course God can heal her but I believe He would expect us to use common sense and seek treatment, just like we would for a broken arm. Can you imagine this woman having a broken arm and not seeking help and saying “I claim healing in the name of Jesus?” Even so, some tell you that you have no faith if you go to the doctor, just pray and believe and you’ll be healed. That could be a sign of spiritual abuse.
Focus on the Man
The focus at our worship services is Christ and the Word of God. I have been wrong at times about certain verses and scriptures but I later came back the next Sunday and told them I made a mistake but a leader that never admits any wrong, maybe believing that they never sin, or that makes himself the focal point of everything in the church, you might be experiencing spiritual abuse. I once told the church during a sermon, “Today, part of my sermon will be perfect! The part where I read out of the Bible.” You get my point?
I know there are more than these five warning signs of spiritual abuse. Maybe you can leave a comment and add one that I missed. If I did, I apologize, but I do hope these help you recognize the signs of being spiritually abused and that this helps you avoid that spiritual pitfall.