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The Ugly Truth of Spiritual Abuse

BNG posted an article this week recounting the story of CJ Mahaney being asked to preach at a preaching conference called Together for the Gospel. Mahaney’s focus for his Sunday sermon was on how churches should support their pastors and not question them. The reason his sermon was so controversial was because Mahaney has been accused of multiple accounts of child abuse since the 1980s and using the leadership of his church to cover up this abuse. Should this man be allowed into the pulpit to preach with these allegations?Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about spiritual leaders engaged in child molestation or abuse. The Catholic Church has been brought to task for this very same issue.

The vast majority of cases where this church leaders are convicted of sexual abuse and molestation of children are in patriarchal systems of religion. This isn’t coincidence. Patriarchal theological teaching, interpretation, and doctrine are the breeding ground for spiritual abuse i.e. the use of spiritual or biblical interpretation in order to justify sexually molesting, abusing, or raping another person.

When we as members of congregants deny that sexual abuse, molestation, and rape are possibilities in our congregation, we deny that 1 in 6 women have been the victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes. Perhaps the reason we are seeing a decline in church attendance and spiritual affiliation, is because of the rampant spiritual abuse that is taking places in our churches (yes, is taking place) with multiple church employees and congregants involved in coverups.

This is an ugly truth. We don’t want to admit that our churches are the places inflicting pain and hurt on people. We want to believe our churches are places of hope and healing.

Church can be that, but not until we bring to light the ugly truth of spiritual abuse.