If there is anything that we humans are adept at, it is that of abusing one another. Often, if we are not abusing someone else, we are abusing ourselves. If not ourselves or one another, than nature or God. All of us, to varying degrees, are either abused or ourselves abusers.
Though many religious people balk at the term abuse as it is used in the vernacular of psychology, they are only balking at the modern term that is what has been historically known as sin. To abuse is to sin.
Spiritual abuse is not often discussed or treated. Just as emotional and psychological abuse leaves invisible wounds, so too is spiritual abuse an invisible abuse. The common denominators in any kind of abuse is the objectification of the victim and a refusal to respect the natural boundaries of another person. Spiritual abuse not only tramples the boundaries set between individuals but also abuses the boundaries set between each individual and God. A spiritual abuser is one who places themselves between their target and God.
Each victim of spiritual abuse suffers the exploitation of their natural inborn need for God. We all need the full acceptance and unconditional love that comes only from God. There is no spot within us that is more sacred than that of personal relationship with our maker. A spiritual abuser will insert themselves in that sacred spot of intimate communion and usurp the authority of God in the life of the person that they want to control.
Jesus reveals Himself to whom He chooses but a spiritual abuser seeks that power of revelation to create a god of his or her choosing in the mind or minds of those under his or her influence. There is no more useful tool to a spiritual abuser than religion. Focus upon religion takes the focus off of God and places it instead upon the failings of human kind. Then rules and rituals are set into place to remedy the shortcomings of each individual. These are all burdens too great to bear and produce only failure. Failure produces shame, guilt, and self-hatred which are all useful manipulative tools. When a spiritual abuser is successful in causing the victim to focus upon their own failings, causing confusion in someone who truly desires to please God, they can then insert themselves in the seat of authority that only God rightly holds. He or she then has obtained the stature necessary to also twist every Biblical teaching meant for human good to the purpose of maintaining a seat of power in the life of his/her victims.
I speak in Christian terms because I am a Christian but there are spiritual abusers from many different religions. They are persons who make their living from religion who desire what the world offers rather than a life of service to God. Just as the religious leaders, the Pharisees, of Jesus day, had their livelihood threatened by Jesus and sought to kill him, so too are the power seeking religious leaders today threatened by individual relationship with God. They seek to kill that relationship and replace it with dependence upon them. By this you will know them, they do not point others toward God but instead, direct others to continually look upon their own sinfulness and to the abuser for the answer for relief. Those who are of God point toward God.
As a Christian who has suffered spiritual abuse and even for a time, was made like my aggressors, I have found the cure. I cling to Jesus and allow no one between me and Him. I need no other direction or validation than that which He gives me. I am dependent upon no religious leader in my walk with God. In Jesus alone, I am safe from the spiritually abusive and they have no power over me anymore.
Jesus is the light and when my eye is upon Him, I am filled with light. If I allow another to set my eye upon darkness then I will be filled with darkness. If my eye is filled with darkness then how great that darkness has become and I have become helpless prey to those who live in darkness. Here’s to living in the Light!