The Blog

Spiritual Abuse -- "The Deacon's Meeting"

Aug 17, 2023

You know exactly what I'm talking about . . . . you've been called into a meeting with the pastor, your spouse and maybe a few elders or deacons. Maybe it is your family that has been called in. You may be a couple, a family, a spouse or just a singleton that wandered into what you believed was going to be a meeting for your benefit. 

We care about you. We want what is best for you. You are safe here. 

You want to believe it. I mean, these are shepherds, right? You've devoted the past decade to this community -- serving, giving, following. You have donated time, money and gifts to this group. You have tried. 

Perhaps you have experienced feeling ambushed. You walked into the meeting and it seems as though everyone else has a blueprint for the meeting except for you. As though they prepared. 

They are smiling. Smiling through the emotional crucifixion. Smiling through the accusations. You feel fuzzy and can't think of what to say as you listen.

We think you need to work harder on your marriage. 

We don't think you need to go to the police for the abuse.

We understand you have been abusive, also.

We have heard an entirely different story from your spouse; it takes two to tango.

We need to have you step down from leadership/teaching/music for a season. 

We believe you are not submitting/forgiving/honoring your spouse. 

You just stare as they speak. You realize you have no advocate. Decisions have been made behind closed doors. It's them against you. Your mind flurries -- What does this mean? Am I still part of the church? The Church? Am I a bad Christian? What is wrong with me? Am I crazy? You feel speechless. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Humiliated.

You leave feeling like a child who got spanked. You were in trouble. And betrayed. People talked about you behind your back without even asking you about what happened. "Safe people" shared your secrets. 

They don't believe you. You aren't seen. And, clearly, no one listened to you. 

Somehow, you stepped out of line. You aren't fitting. You asking for help caused some sort of threat to the leadership. 

If they actually acknowledged the abuse in your marriage, they would have to acknowledge how they are abusing the congregation. There is an imbalance of power. They like it that way -- it works for them. 

After this meeting, your nervous system seems to be in overload. Nowhere is safe, anymore. If there was safety, you THOUGHT it was church. If church isn't safe, is Jesus safe? What are they representing? 

Months and years later, you will look back on this meeting and feel disgust. They played with your life and misrepresented God. They caused you so much stress you can't set foot in a church, anymore. You are suspicious of Christians. The joyful, happy, praise-filled services look hypocritical now, knowing that there are men reaching their hands to the Heavens in the service and crushing spirits from their thrones. 

In the name of Jesus. 

This, my friends, is spiritual abuse. It is also called religious trauma. It is, in my opinion, the more heinous of abuse genres because it obscures a clear view of God and it gives permission for the other types of abuse. It sets the psychological stage for twisting Scripture, producing dogmas to keep others down. It creates a power-dynamic in families where men are entitled to hurt those they were supposed to protect. It fosters a microcosm for narcissists to thrive. What better place for an abuser to hide than a place where the abuser is lifted up as a leader? A priest? A king?

There were two types of people Jesus had hard words for -- the religious abusers of His day and child-abusers. Shockingly, the brick-and-mortar churches of this moment in time-space history are CHOCK-FULL of both. How it must grieve our Lord who was so gentle, so loving, so beautiful. And eventually, of course, He was crucified, too. 

You are in good company. 

I promise that, just like Jesus, you won't stay down for long. Those who "rise again" become true heroes, super-blooming into resilient, wise and remarkable sages and healers. I have been amazed by all of those who contributed to MCCC's latest project -- all with a story of church or family betrayal. 

If you have suffered spiritual abuse, please take heart. You have an incredible future. 

Take time to heal, cocoon and grow. We believe in you. 


Love, Megan