“Beaten Down Boundaries”

“People who have misused their spiritual power have disrespected or beaten down your boundaries.  They have shamed you out of your ‘no,’ clouded your will and intruded into your life with religious agendas.  They have violated your spirituality by playing ‘Holy Spirit.’  Having an opinion has come to equal lack of submissiveness.  Having a right not to be abused is selfish.”  (Johnson and Van Vonderen, p. 47)

Note Johnson and VanVonderen:

How Things Look

“As in all unhealthy relationship systems, in a spiritually abusive system the most important thing is how things look.  So the ugly and messy relational process of meeting people’s real needs get sacrificed for a better-looking but false peace.  Note the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, who promoted a legalistic system of works to gain God’s favor.”  As a result, the people were “distressed” and “downcast,” laboring under religious expectations in order to stay on God’s good side per the legalists of their day (see Matthew 9:36).  Note how different Jesus’ mission is in Matthew 11:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy,and My load is light.”

(vv. 28-30).


Accurate Representations?

“If the spiritual relationships you have in Jesus’ name don’t give you rest, but rather make you more tired as time goes on, then they aren’t representing Jesus’ purpose accurately.  He came to lift from the backs of tired people the burden of trying hard to earn God’s approval.” (The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, Johnson and VanVonderen, p. 32)

On Guard

It’s not wrong to notice legalism, legalistic families and churches, and to protect yourself from being abused.  Noticing a problem does not make you the problem. In Acts 20:28 Paul urged the Ephesians to “be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock.”

We’d do well to heed his advice.

Stay tuned for “Spiritual Abuse Indicators”

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