Definitely spiritual abuse with me . . . (may trigger)

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alliematt

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Definitely spiritual abuse with me . . . (may trigger)
« on: October 15, 2016, 04:52:53 PM »
I saw "spiritual abuse" and thought, oh boy, can I relate.

I was part of a cult in college.  That sentence is very hard to write.  I was raised believing I was a Christian, and then this group told me I wasn't and showed me Scripture to "prove" it.  So I became part of their group, and while I learned a lot that was good, I left feeling like I couldn't measure up. 

We were expected to invite lots and lots of people to church, Bible studies, and other events.  We were expected to be at every church service and every church event, including weddings, baby and bridal showers for people we didn't know.  (I'm not against going to such events if you don't know the people.  What I'm against is being guilted into doing it.)  We were expected to be constantly studying with people to get them to become Christians (read, part of the group).  I never helped anyone become part of the group, and I felt like a failure because your "spirituality" and standing in the group was directly tied into the number of people you brought in.  Sometimes I still feel like a failure.  The term used was "bearing fruit", and Scriptures were used to "prove" that you had to "bear fruit" or you would be cut off--in other words, you didn't get to heaven if you didn't convert anyone. 

I went to another church after I left college that was deliberately trying to get away from this teaching--and they went so far to the other extreme that it was just as bad.  Finally, I told my husband we needed to leave. 

What few people just seem to get is that everyone can use the Bible to "prove" that they are "right".  In my particular group of churches, we have a history of wanting to do things "strictly by the Bible", and while that's good, it leads to legalism.  And people DO use the Bible and the name of Jesus to lie.  There are days I can barely trust anyone who teaches the Bible.  And I have been out of this group for *over* 20 years.  I don't know how to put my fear to rest.  The so-called "good news" of the gospel is, "turn or burn, and after you turn, you'd better make sure you don't burn."  There's no love of God there.  There's no reassurance.  The church I attend now does try to focus on the love of God, but I find myself wondering, what if they're wrong?  What if they lie?  Our church has recently made several significant changes in their worship style, and as a result, many people I know have left and we have received a lot of criticism from other churches in our denomination.  And there are people that use Scripture to "prove" that the changes we made were sinful.

I believe in God, I want to worship God, but what in the world do you do when everyone says they are right, everyone can prove it by the Bible, and too often, they come to diametrically opposed conclusions?  They cannot both be right.

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woodsgnome

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Re: Definitely spiritual abuse with me . . . (may trigger)
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2016, 05:40:43 PM »
Hi, Alliematt :heythere:.

As you noted, "what in the world do you do when everyone says they are right"? My own journey started out as one big spiritual abuse situation--especially from denominational outfits (it hurts to call them 'schools'--they used spirituality/religion as a mask behind which they felt free to abuse their 'lambs'). I touched on this sordid tale long ago on this forum and only mention it here as background.

Even after I got outta *, I still wondered about spirituality's role in my life. I studied endless philosophies and slants ranging across a wide swath of religious and other approaches to living a meaningful life.

My conclusion was: to just live as best I can. And stop the pursuit of the perfect fit. None of 'em can do that for me anyway; when all the truth peddlers are finished, in the end I'm still lonely and only I can sift through the messages for what resonates in my heart.

But moving even further, I've determined that okay, all (even my abusers  :'( ), can have what's called spirituality/religion if they want. I've come to prefer the view that all of life is 100% spiritual 100% of the time, that your life as you live it is never not spiritual. Some first nations tribal groups reflect this in their language--some have no word for what we call spirituality, period. Yet they're considered very 'spiritual' by many, based on how they've chosen to live their lives, not on any rigid doctrines or creeds (although some have them as well).

That said, I'm okay with a variety of approaches if people see it as beneficial for themselves and/or others, unless and until they are abusive, as my early childhood experience was. So personally, I probably fall into what's called apatheism--I'm apathetic about the what part of anyone's beliefs until they cross those lines touched on earlier.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2016, 05:46:59 PM by woodsgnome »

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Miss C

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Re: Definitely spiritual abuse with me . . . (may trigger)
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2017, 05:32:57 AM »
Allie,
I can totally relate. Everyone thinks they're right. Everyone thinks they've got the truth. I think no one does. Some might have bits and pieces, but we can never know for sure what is or isn't the truth. There may be no such thing. The Bible is amazing, but it has also been used to justify abuse, to justify almost anything. For me it was used to isolate me, to put me in a state of intense fear and subjection. I don't think this is what was intended. I would hope for a sense of freedom, mercy, love. It seems to me that taking ANY spiritual path to the end, results in pulling away from people and love, when this is the opposite of what brings many of us tremendous meaning in our lives, connection with others. As a Buddhist I became turned off by detachment when after a year I noticed myself pulling away from family and friends.
I too have abandoned the search for truth, because otherwise I know I will fall into another cult. Twice was enough for me. I feel for you.

I would say, they can both be right, in their minds. But there is no "one" right, in my view. We are too limited to see the awesomeness of divine possibilities. There might be infinite "rights."