Here are three articles today worth checking out.
What is spiritual abuse?
Spiritual abuse is the use of faith, belief, and/or religious practices to coerce, control, or damage another for a purpose beyond the victim’s well-being (i.e., church discipline for the purpose of love of the offender need not be abuse).
Like child abuse, spiritual abuse comes in many forms. It can take the form of neglect or intentional harm of another. It can take the form of naïve manipulation or predatory “feeding on the sheep.” Consider some of these examples:
- Refusing to provide pastoral care to women on the basis of gender alone
- Coercing reconciliation of victim to offender
- Dictating basic decisions (marriage, home ownership, jobs, giving practices, etc.)
- Binding conscience on matters that are in the realm of Christian freedom
- Using threats to maintain control of another
- Using deceptive language to coerce into sexual activity
- Denying the right to divorce despite having grounds to do so
These students heard plenty of messages encouraging “social justice,” community involvement, and “being good,” but they seldom saw the relationship between that message, Jesus Christ, and the Bible. Listen to Stephanie, a student at Northwestern: “The connection between Jesus and a person’s life was not clear.” This is an incisive critique. She seems to have intuitively understood that the church does not exist simply to address social ills, but to proclaim the teachings of its founder, Jesus Christ, and their relevance to the world. Since Stephanie did not see that connection, she saw little incentive to stay. We would hear this again.
While I want to be loving to the men around me and keep their struggles in mind when I dress, this is not the main point of modesty. As I said in my response to Rebecca VanDoodewaard’s article challenging all women to wear skirts, “We’ve done a disservice to the virtue of modesty if we whittle it down to the way we dress. Our thoughts, our speech, and our behavior are also a reflection of modesty. It has to do with our humility before a holy God and our proclamation of the gospel story. I aspire to modesty, but I am careful to say that I am not actually there. Calling myself modest is kind of like calling myself humble. The Lord is still patiently working on me.”