Marry Your Toxic Spiritually Abusive Church

Marry Your Toxic Spiritually Abusive Church December 15, 2017


After going through some old links in a bookmarks folder I have been revisiting many people that NLQ has quoted extensively in the past. I was looking for links to a pretty terrible book review site we used to follow and checking up on what the many child-collection by adoption blogs were up to.

The bad reviews site is gone, which is good because the review had opinions like thinking that poor sappy fundamentalist hero-child Elsie Dinsmore was too rebellious and needed more beating. Terrible ideas wiped away from the web, whew!

Most of the mega-adopters have added at least one more child and are planning more adoptions in the near future, even the overwhelmed ones. No surprise there.  Adeye Salem is still trying to hook up adopters with adoptees and fund-raise now that she totally abandoned her plan to have an orphanage in Africa.

One of the blogs I haven’t visited in awhile is Smartter Each Day by Jessica Smartt. One of her recent posts that provoked both laughter and anger is titled People Need to Stop Dating Churches and Get Married to One.

I groaned openly reading this one. The author was trying to make a case that being married and making that ’till death do us part’ promise needs to happen when we join a church too. We need to commit no matter how we feel.

Sure, everyone has seen church-hoppers, people who will come to a church a few weeks or month, proceed to find something they don’t like before hopping on over to another church. During my years in fundytown those folks reputations proceeded them, I’d even heard pastors tell parishioners ‘Oh don’t pay any mind to so-in-so because they are a CHURCH HOPPER and won’t be here much longer’ indicating that they weren’t worthy of consideration or listening to their point of view.

Sounds like an ecclesiastical bunny to me, that term. I always watched with amusement with the perpetual church hoppers attempts to take over other churches. A lot of the people hopping, not marrying the church, had more to do with their desire to run that particular church and when things did not go their way quickly they moved on. Most of the time it was a blessing to see them go.

Here’s a couple of screencaps on Jessica’s thoughts on staying in a church no matter what:

Jessica1Churches form and reform all the time, the members ebb and flow away for a wide variety of reasons. As long as people have preferences there will be that tension push-pull of church membership.

Jessica2What she never touches on is why many people walk away from church or even leave religion altogether to becomes ‘Dones’. Many times it involves abuse, spiritual abuse, either from the pulpit or the other members. It takes many insidious forms, like prayer gossip, or having people who are supposed to be like family, sisters and brothers in Christ say and do the most mind-boggling judgemental actions towards you. Spiritual abuse drives people away, hurting and broken, that’s a fact and it’s not something as simple are disagreeing on what color to paint the church nursery.

As long as the spiritual abuse continues unabated the church in America will continue to dwindle to a pale shadow of itself. Telling people who have suffered at the hands of churches and members to stay no matter what is akin to telling a woman being beating routinely to stay with her abusive husband.

Don’t judge others for leaving.

Don’t marry a known abuser!

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  • SAO

    It seems to me that you should periodically evaluate your commitments. I don’t mean every few years deciding if you will stay married or not, but asking, what’s good, what could be improved, how to I make that happen? And if those questions prompt questions about the commitment, then honor them. Because a solid marriage (or other commitment) won’t be in danger from an evaluation by a serious person. And a commitment that is only sustained by ignoring problems will eventually fall apart anyway.

    I think you are right that the Christian fundamentalists are driving America away from religion. I watched some clips of Roy Moore state that he was going to wait on God to deliver him the election. Most people think there’s a special place in hell for people for perv and prey on teenaged girls, but he sounded 100% sure that God would support him.

    When people belong to a church/synagogue/mosque, Christians/Jews/Muslims are the people they see there. Usually they are people with similar values to them, good people. But when someone doesn’t see that, they only see people like Roy Moore, priests accused of being pedophiles, or the many leaders of the Christian right supporting Trump or Moore, then Christianity starts looking like a hypocrisy.

    The nones are the fastest growing segment in America and it’s worth considering that many people who grow up in families that go to church regularly fall away from that practice in college and often don’t pick it back up until they are settled, married and starting a family giving them 5-10 when the Roy Moores do more to represent religion than their neighbor who helps out with the soup kitchen.

  • There’s no reason someone should stay in a church in which they are unhappy any more than they should stay in a job in which they are not happy. If one has the means to seek out a better opportunity, one should do so! Maybe her church is dying for any number of reasons and she’s focused on shaming people into staying.

  • katiehippie

    This looking down on church hoppers was very looked down upon in the Lutheran church I used to go to. How could you just pick the church you liked when you KNEW that the Lutheran church was the “right” church. They didn’t seem to care when they lost members because of horrible pastors and such. I’m sure they are still shaking their heads at me and thinking I have just fallen away for a time. Yeah, like forever.

  • Shan

    That’s the common wisdom many mainstream Christians hold on young college age Nones; they just fell away for a time, but they’ll be back once they’re married and have kids. That, after all, truly marks you as an adult in their eyes.

    However, more and more Nones are leaving the church and coming back….never. With all the issues with child abuse, the emphasis on hatred rather than love, the fading social pressure of attending, and their own memories of how bad church is keeps them away for good.

  • Thank you for this post! The church I was raised in had that attitude that you were to basically be married to your church, that you were in covenant, and that core/staff members who left were covenant-breakers who would be cursed for their behavior. (When I expressed a desire to go overseas, I was told things would go badly for me if I left without Mr. Pastor’s approval.) Even then, I questioned it, since if what they said were true, then the planet would be in worse shape, for everyone without our group would be in bad shape. And, I realized there is much more to the world than just our little bubble (and began to feel like I was in Plato’s Cave, hence my avatar), and that our insularity was fertile ground for inaccurate (and bigoted) stereotypes, as well as xenophobia and ethnocentrism (and I now add racism, since the group is overwhelmingly white and my mom was one of a few African-Americans there).

    Also, let’s say that what I have read about spiritual abuse online describes a good portion of that church. After I started reading about spiritual abuse and the aspects of it and noticing them, my friends starting, in telling me their experiences, listed other things I had read online. (Some even uswd the term “spiritual abuse”.) So, yeah, the church was abusive as well.

    However, I got out in March, enrolled in a local community college, and am now thriving. I still go to church, but have not settled on one; instead, I visit a different church each week.

  • gimpi1

    Personally, I think a good rule of thumb is that any group that insists that they must have control over your decisions and that doing anything without their direct approval will, “go badly for you,” is a group to avoid. Groups that have positive benefits for their members don’t need to threaten people with curses if they leave. Just my observation, take it for what it’s worth.