Uncovering Spiritual Abuse: Avoiding Difficult Conversations

Although many ministers called for the Methodist to make a decision about the LGTBQ question during General Conference this week, a group of bishops has been commissioned to study the LGBTQ issue and possible restructuring of the Methodist denomination. Putting this conversation on hold is asking those who are a part of the LGTBQ community to continue to put their lives on hold. For those who have been living without being able to fully express who they are, this decision is disheartening.

But it isn’t only disheartening. Putting off and avoiding difficult conversations that continues to ask people to silence part of themselves is a form of spiritual abuse. By avoiding difficult conversations, we are perpetuating exclusion and discrimination within the church.

If you find yourself expressing the same sentiment as expressed at the Methodist General Conference, ask yourself, “Are there people in the LGTBQ community in my community of faith?” If you answer yes (which most people I have talked to do), but find yourself qualifying this statement by explaining, “But it’s different here. Our community of faith isn’t ready to discuss the LGTBQ issue.”

Whether you are ready or not, it’s time as spiritual leaders to be different and not use our power and influence to continue to exclude, silence, and oppress. It’s time for us to not be participants in spiritual abuse anymore. It’s time for us to have those difficult conversations. Instead of creating space that is comfortable for us, let us create spaces and places for the outsider, for those who have had to hide part of who they are to worship, for those who have and continue to experience spiritual abuse.

Let us join the divine and make all things new instead of continuing the old that discriminates, excludes, and oppresses.