For Those Hurt by the Church

God’s word speaks to those hurt by the church. Yet the most insidious effect of spiritual abuse is the way it tends to reshape one’s view of God and His word. Scripture is weaponized as red flags are ignored. In his post, “Bully Pulpit: A New Series on the Rising Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church,” Michael J. Kruger supplied a solid definition of spiritual abuse:

Spiritual abuse, then, is when a spiritual leader—such as a pastor, elder, or head of a Christian organization—wields his position of spiritual authority in such a way that he manipulates, domineers, bullies, and intimidates those under him, as a means of accomplishing what he takes to be biblical and/or spiritual goals.

If You’ve Experienced Abuse in the Church

What do you do when you’ve been damaged by the church? In another post, Dr. Kruger offers the following exhortations:

  • Lament: It is right to grieve over an unjust world (Ezek 34: 7-10, Eccl 4:1).
  • Remember: God is near the oppressed and broken-hearted (Psalm 9:9; Ex 2:24).
  • Know: Human courts are fallible, but God’s court is perfect (Rom 12:19; cf. Deut 32:35)
  • Pray: Ask God to bring the abuser to repentance.
  • Hope: Look to the perfect Shepherd of the Sheep who loves you and has redeemed you.

Dr. Kruger closes with the following:

After God delivers a scathing rebuke of the bad shepherds of Israel in Ezekiel 34, he doesn’t stop there. He offers a glimmer of hope: Just let the following promise sink in:

“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness . . . I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. (Ezek 34:11-16).

Yes, our ultimate hope is that God himself will come and be our Shepherd. And he is a Shepherd who does not abuse the sheep but lays down his life for them. That Shepherd is the Lord Jesus Christ, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays his life down for the sheep” (John 10:11).

Resources for Those Hurt by the Church

for those hurt by the church