abuse for pay

abuse for pay cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Abuse For Pay” (cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward)

Someone wrote this note to me yesterday:

Your keen awareness of the more subtle abuses of the church, delivered to me in snippets each day on my news feed, has been so validating for me – it has been healing my soul a little.

This is exactly what I do! I thanked that person for articulating it back to me so clearly and simply.

You see, most people inside the abuse don’t see it… neither the abuser or the abused. It has become so normalized that to even raise questions about it provokes rebuke in return. It’s typical of abusive situations. When you suggest it’s happening, the family comes back hard: “Keep your nose out of our business! How dare you! You don’t understand our family!” I’ve seen it thousands of times. I know cops who say that the most dangerous calls are intervening in domestic disputes.

It’s happening pervasively people. I have friends and family and know a lot of people willingly participating in their own abuse… some subtle and some overt. But that’s just how things are done.

For many it’s the tradeoff for belonging.

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  • David; Several years ago, the Lord asked a friend of mine; “So, how do you know your deceived, if your deceived?” I think pastors, like politicians, start out with the best motives, but over time, come under the influence and pressure of trying to either win the approval of others, and or their support. In the process, they gradually lose sight of what it was that set them on that path originally. Like you, I’ve been a pastor. But it wasn’t until I left that behind, that I realized that didn’t matter how good my intentions had been, the fact still remained, I had become as caught up in the deceptions of leadership as the next guy, and was too deceived to see or recognize it. As Graham Cooke has often said, “We are all Pharisees’ in the journey of getting healed.”

  • yep. i agree with that shawn.

  • How could you have taken money to abuse your congregation, David?

    It doesn’t seem like you, at all.

  • How could you have taken money to abuse your congregation, David?

    It doesn’t seem like you, at all.

    Or was it not you, but others that you know of?

  • Shary Hauber

    Because of our low self esteem we actually welcome emotional abuse. It is reinforced by teaching that emphasis the sinfulness of the human race making us without value. We inflict it on others to try to prove to ourselves no one is better than us. We forget God’s grace and mercy.

  • theoldadam:
    Leaders/pastors don’t start out intentionally abusing anyone – or taking money for it. But it is the evil reality of most organized religions, that regardless of how many good intentions leaders start out with, they mean nothing under the pressure they come under in order to please the masses, their particular denominational mandates, and to be able to put food on the family table.

    We start out with our convictions like flag ships; wanting only to share the good news, change the world, and impact lives. But as time goes on, little compromises, become bigger ones; tiny deviations from the original vision become ‘”more relevant” mandates; the vast sums of money it takes to keep the machine going become the catalyst for where the ‘church’ is going next. It all begins to erode our minds and our hearts.

    Then one day we wake up and discover we’ve become someone else entirely, and it takes the grace and divine empowerment of God to help us walk away from all that (because when we do, we will loose our lives, our identity, our income, our friends; possibly even our families – and no one will understand) in order to try and locate our lives, our values, and our hearts again.

    So unless you’ve been a leader, or have been married to one, tread very carefully on judging what David is trying to share. Looking at a persons life and the decisions they’ve made, is very different than being there. I would venture to say ‘adam’, that the entire reason David is a gracious as he is today, is because he has been there, he did walk through it, and discovered the grace and love of God to leave it all behind in order to recapture the man Abba always intended he should be. If he hadn’t, we probably wouldn’t be here, on his blog page, having this discussion.

  • I’m sure there are a lot of abusers out there.

    But there are many good and faithful stewards of God’s Word and good pastors, as well.

    That fact seems to get overlooked…too often.

    Thanks, Shawn.

  • Caryn LeMur

    Shawn: a stunning answer. Thank you for being so open. I will have to think about your words for a time.

    Old: the cartoons are about opening eyes and conversation. Are you wanting cartoons for complimenting good servants? your thoughts?

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • David

    My experience as a pastor in several churches was just the opposite. The congregation were the ones that doled out the abuse.

  • Carol

    We become victims when we are not willing to take responsibility for our own lives.

    I have never known a victim who was not complicit in his or her own victimization.

    Having said that, I have also known people who stay in toxic relationships because leaving would have devastating affects on others. Many women stay in abusive spousal relationships because they do not have the career potential to support their children. Chuck wagon power keeps people in abusive relationships more than any other factor. I think that is why many pastors remain accept abuse from their congregations and why many lay people remain in abusive work situations.

    However, when lay people remain in an abusive church situation where they have the chuck wagon power the chains are psychological rather than financial. Of course, being told all one’s life that one is a worthless “sinner” and will be damned for all Eternity for leaving the fold does not exactly empower a person to take responsibility for one’s own life.

    Many of the people I know who describe themselves as “spiritual, not religious” refer to faithful church-goers as “the sheeple of God.”

    “There is no worse present than freedom. To view freedom as a privilege is to surrender to the absurd ideology that man is free by nature, that he is made for freedom, and that only minor obstacles like economic or political constraint prevent him from being fully free. This fails to take into account that whenever man has made a beginning of liberty he has taken fright, retreated, renounced his freedom, and sighed with relief at being able to put his destiny finally in the hands of someone else. Freedom is the most crushing burden that one can lay on man. In his vanity and boasting man pretends that he wants to be free. He also has a visceral fear of confinement, conditioning, and servitude. What he calls his love of freedom, however, is really his rejection of imprisonment. It is a revolt against slavery, which he cannot tolerate. Once a little freedom is offered him, however, he starts back at the sight of the void which he must now fill, the meaning he must now provide, and the responsibility he must now carry. He prefers the happy state of belonging to a group. He wants a mediocre happiness which brings no risks.”–Jacques Ellul, The Ethics of Freedom

  • Carol
    Real freedom comes from knowing and embracing who you are in the unqualified love and grace of the Father. Experiencing that kind love, that kind of grace, that kind of freedom, is the most profound thing imaginable. But it isn’t the message of ‘sinner’ that brings us into that life altering revelation: it is the message that we are ravishingly loved by God, and that is there nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ, and there is nothing required of us to earn it either. We are the Beloved. We are the pre-chosen of God, before the foundations of the world. It is for freedom that Christ set us free from the death empowering chains of sin. The only burdens found now in this Christ purchased freedom, is how to live life loved – and entering His ‘rest’.

  • Carol

    Shawn, what you say is true, but we still live in a world that has not realized the power of Grace to heal and repair our individual and collective wounds.

    Grace may be free, but it isn’t cheap. Jesus repeatedly told people to count the cost before embracing the life that leads to love’s freedom. We have only to contemplate the Cross to lose any illusions about the cost of following Christ.

    We are fortunate to live in a nation that protects us from the “red martyrdoms” that Christians in many parts of the world risk by becoming a Christian believer, but that doesn’t mean that, although faithfulness will not make God love us any more or faithlessness will make God love us any less, there are not “white martyrdoms” that will result from attempting to confess our faith with our lives and not merely profess our faith with our mouths.

    In our corporate consumerist American culture which celebrates hedonistic materialism and where aggression and a lack of ethics often results in short term economic gain [at the expense of long-term sustainability], taking a public stand for universal human values is likely to result in the end of career advancement or even job loss.

    “It is, however, a power to endure hardship, not a way to avoid it, that authentic Christianity holds God to give. Escape from suffering is not promised to them who would follow the Christ. What is promised is victory over suffering, in the conviction that the moment’s personal affliction weighs but little in the scale of everlasting values.” –George Hedley, The Superstitions of the Irreligious

    “Resistance to oppression is often based on a love that leads us to value ourselves, and leads us to hope for more than the established cultural system is willing to grant … such love is far more energizing than guilt, duty, or self-sacrifice. Love for others leads us to accept accountability (in contrast to feeling guilt) and motivates our search for ways to end our complicity with structures of oppression.” ~ Sharon Welch

    “You do not become a ‘dissident’ just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.” — Vaclav Havel, Czech dramatist and statesman

    “Civilization depends upon vigorous pursuit of the highest values by people who are intelligent enough to know that their values are qualified by their interests and corrupted by their prejudices.”
    –Reinhold Niebuhr, Does Civilization Need Religion?

    “A nation, a people, may be best known and judged by the things it values most – the things it loves most. Does it value temporal or eternal things? Does it value its own children and their future, or present consumption and pleasure?”–Dr. Robert Moynihan

    “The myth is the public domain and the dream is the private myth. If your private myth, your dream, happens to coincide with that of the society, you are in good accord with your group. If it isn’t, you’ve got a long adventure in the dark forest ahead of you.”–Joseph Campbell, Author (1904-1987)

  • Your first mistake was falling for the whole Christianity story. Think for yourself and become an atheist.

  • Caryn LeMur

    Carol: thank you for posting one of your quotes, which ended in “He wants a mediocre happiness which brings no risks.”

    Somehow, that is echoing in my mind.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn