Spiritual Abuse, Its Cause and Cure

Lately I have been thinking about the cause of the spiritual abuse we sometimes see in the Church of Jesus Christ, and the cure for this sad situation.

I have never known any individual who went "into the ministry" to become abusive. That certainly was not my intent, but it is what happened. And I am not the only one. We have to ask why, in the present system of church government, some become so dictatorial. We also need to ask why so many among "the laity" love to have it so. Finally we need to consider why many trained and anointed church workers become frustrated, "rebellious," and live as the walking wounded. I believe the reason is quite simple.

Give Us A King

Unknowingly we have rejected the rule of the Kingdom of God. We have rejected Theocratic Church Government as expressed in the Five Fold Ministry/Leadership model of the New Testament church. Like the ancient Israelites we have "cried out for a King." In I Samuel 8: 10-18 Samuel warned the Israelites what would happen when they were governed by kings. He said they would experience heavy taxation, and severe servitude.

Kingdoms have been built.
We have lived with,
loved, and languished
under the rule of
our own demigods.

Kingdoms have been built. We have lived with, loved, and languished under the rule of our own demigods. The people of God have been "taxed" to build monuments to men and movements. They have been compelled to bless with their affections, and anoint with God's money, many a king's edifice complex. We have even used scripture to justify and fortify a model of ecclesiastical government the Word abhors and God Himself hates. And our participation in an unScriptural system has brought upon us inevitable consequences.

Abusive Pastors

Our "Pastor" kings have the impossible put upon them. They are expected to be all things to all people all the time, and to fulfill all ministry functions, while not being equipped by God to do so. Some of the God serving, God loving ones begin to fast and pray more, read more books, study more, go to more seminars and conferences, all the while not realizing that they can only develop the gifts God has given them. He has not, and will not, give them all. When their best efforts fail they become fearful and frustrated, continually feeling like fakes and failures. Without even knowing it they become angry - angry at their weak selves, angry at their hard taskmaster God, and angry at the people who expect so much. Since they know that they have done all they can and the promised results have not materialized, it must be someone else's fault. They then, unintentionally, begin to abuse. They have used the Word to whip themselves, now they use it to whip others. If these "sheep" would only pray more, fast longer, worship better, work harder, submit more completely, and do whatever I tell them to more faithfully, all would be well.

Frustrated Sheep

Meanwhile, the sheep are frustrated. Their lives are unfulfilled. They are serving a system (one that is not serving them well) and not the Saviour. They have been taught to listen to the "Man of God," and they no longer have confidence to hear from God for themselves. They have been told that obedience will bring the blessings, but the promised blessings have not come. They too feel like total failures. Because they know they have been "bad," and God must be mad, they begin to beat up on themselves, which strangely makes them "feel better." They go to "church" and sit (and shout "Amen!") while their equally frustrated "shepherd" tears a strip off them.

The Renegade Five Fold

Then there are the renegades. The group of God called and equipped people into whose hands God has placed his Five Fold Ministry gifts and in whose hearts is a passion for Him. Even if "the pastor" does let them minister his insecurities often will not let them participate in the government of the local church. He has been taught that he must control that. He must have the absolute final say. He must exercise the power. That is what the religious system demands.

Because they have the gifts and calling that "the system" cannot use (unless it is to build up the kingdom of a man), they eventually wander away, beaten and broken, to form this little prophetic group, that tiny teaching ministry, this or that evangelistic organization. All the while the "pastor" is living a life of hell on earth because he is trying to do what can only be done by those he has driven away.

King Jesus

Oh how this scenario grieves the heart of our loving Father! The only monarch in the Kingdom of God is to be the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only head of the church. It is His body, His flock, and His bride.

Certainly not all "pastors" become abusive. Not all church members are discouraged and dysfunctional. Not all workers feel devastated and destroyed. But the present system does lend itself to abuse. God has given to the church a divinely designed governmental model, and it will not function well any other way.

Ministerial Monarchs

Many cry out for relief,
but they are not asking
for God's government.
They really just want
a better human king.

Samuel clearly describes the dire consequences that what would happen when Israel got the human king for which they were asking. In verse 18 they were told "ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you." I believe that there are many today who pray for relief from the grief of spiritual abuse. The Lord is refusing to answer. He will not answer as long as the "pastor as king" mentality pollutes the church. Many cry out for relief, but they are not asking for God's government. They really just want a better human king. God Himself wants to rule His people. The time has come for change, and only change will do. It is time for the establishment of Theocratic Church Government through God's Five Fold Ministry/Leadership Teams.

I Samuel 8: 10-18 NLT

Samuel passed on the LORD's warning to the people. "This is how a king will treat you," Samuel said. "The king will draft your sons into his army and make them run before his chariots. Some will be commanders of his troops, while others will be slave labourers. Some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, while others will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own servants. He will take a tenth of your harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants.

He will want your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but the LORD will not help you."

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