2 Samuel 12 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
This depiction of tenderness and sweetness marred so cruelly by death grabs my breath and won't let go. Even King David rose up in rage. "So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”(v. 5-6)
When innocent, vulnerable souls trust those in charge for protection, nourishment, and sustenance, only to be used, manipulated, and betrayed, it is not unlike the story of the poor man and his little ewe lamb.
Both were oppressed. Both knew injustice. Both were sinned against. Both were helpless in the hands of one bigger, stronger, and more powerful than they.
Physical rape is one of the ultimate damaging, horrific crimes against another living being. It assaults the most intimate, private element of the body, deeply affecting the heart, mind and spirit. With force, it seizes and plunders—it is the abuse of power over the powerless. It violates the sacred, with brutal desecration.
Spiritual rape violates the soul.
God as a weapon
Religious abuse, especially from those closest to us, plunders the most intimate aspects of our existence. When we are told what to think, when those in authority assume the position of Holy Spirit, when God is re-shaped by human hands, when those in leadership control thoughts, behavior, and being in the very name of God, He has been used as an instrument of violence.
A parent who manipulates thought and behavior using the name of God, "the Bible says," fear of hell, death, disappointment, worldliness, the world, the falling away, the mark of the beast, and a hundred other threats, seizes, plunders, and exerts force . . . and mis-represents the true God to trusting, innocent beings created in His image.
Within Christian families, a child who accepts Jesus becomes a brother or sister in Christ. And Jesus said, "as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."
This does not diminish the importance for instruction in righteousness, or the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But using religion as coercive means demonstrates utter lack of faith and trust, putting authoritarian parents in a very dangerous position.
Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. John 6
As a son starts to walk by the Spirit, an earthly father should encourage his son’s decision-making and guidance to come from a personal relationship with the heavenly Father, not himself. To the degree that the father makes the decisions and dictates the lifestyle of his believing son, to that degree he hinders his son’s spiritual life. A father’s role should decrease just as John the Baptist’s role decreased when Jesus appeared (John 3:30).
This applies to daughters, too.
Will the Real God please stand up?
“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." Luke 12
To those taken advantage of, spiritually, particularly in the realm of a religious family,
to those used and manipulated to advance human interpretations, ideals, and intentions,
to those who feel helpless, exhausted, and afraid,
to those who want to discover truth and know who the true God is, really . . .
. . . there is hope.
Because He wants to be known by you.
True shepherds balance truth with humility, mercy, and grace.
True shepherds do not take the little ewe lambs. They do not kill, eat, and consume them. Rather, they feed and nourish.
Recovery from Spiritual Rape
Much like incest—which is sexual abuse within the family—familial spiritual abuse is especially repugnant. Out of every place on earth, family should be the safest haven, opening inviting arms as shelter for ravaging, brutal storms.
When dysfunction occurs, when humans are humans, when they say, "I will be like the Most High," wounding happens.
And the little ewe lambs are taken.
1) Acknowledge truth
King David wrote Psalm 51 following his exposure by the prophet Nathan. Verse six has been a lifeline for me throughout spiritual abuse recovery.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
We tend to gloss things over, especially when it comes to those we love most. We defend and make excuses; we elevate our own flaws as though this justifies abuse. But advocating denial keeps us in darkness, unhealed. When we invite the light of His truth to expose the violation, the rape, the abuse we sustained, He has space to work. It is frightening to venture towards the darkness. It can be messy. But He makes everything beautiful in its time, and who the Son makes free, is free indeed.
2) Renew the mind
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12
In addition to overcoming denial, we must be willing to let God sort through the wheat and chaff within our minds. For me, this required that I let go of everything I had always believed except for Jesus and the cross, and beseech God to replace lies with truth.
Within a spiritually abusive environment, mind control runs amok in the hands of authoritarians, who use good things for selfish purpose. It is vital we allow God to correct errors in thought, belief, doctrine. We must be a living sacrifice, serving Him and not the theology of man, and this necessitates renewal of the mind so misshapen and injured by abusive principles.
To be conformed to this world is to be pressured from the outside. This fleshly mind Paul decries in Colossians 2:
why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—“Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
The antidote for worldly thinking is transformation: change from within.
3) Learn to express truth
1 Peter 1:13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Spiritually abusive methods which implement mind control rely upon re-interpreting or eliminating individual thinking and acknowledgment of feelings. Whereas feelings are not always a barometer of truth, they can reflect crucial internal conditions. As you journey towards recovery, you will feel many different feelings, such as anger, grief, loss. The old way, the way which conformed to our religious world, instructed us to deny these feelings, to die to ourselves. Yet how does convincing ourselves to believe a lie—I shouldn't feel anger, this is just my flesh, I cannot allow this sadness, for I should have the joy of the Lord—have any sort of merit in a quest for healing?
How often did denying these feelings lead to deep, lasting wholeness?
For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun? For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity. Ecc. 2
We tend to over-spiritualize, but Paul cautions against the mind corruption which distorts the simplicity of Christ. My exhortation for those struggling with overcoming pain from spiritual abuse is to try a new way. To be truthful with yourself, with God. To be transformed—changed from within, through the work of the Holy Spirit. If you feel, then feel. If you need rest, then rest. A foundational element of spiritual abuse is the drive to do . . . to pray more, fast more, read the Bible more, witness more. Perhaps as you re-discover the true God, the one who bids come, rest, you will find that the journey to healing requires you to stop.
Comfort for the weary
Jesus prayed, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. This is a beautiful, gut-wrenching prayer—literally, as He hung upon the cross. He knew of their ignorance, He knew that His torturers did what was right in their eyes, and the eyes of religious law. But that did not stop the spear which pierced His side. Did not stop His agony as He cried out, My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?
It did not stop His death.
We who bear the rape of the soul have wounds so deep, pain so great, because it affects the core of our being which is created in the very image of He who is used against us.
He is abused when we are abused.
We can take comfort, joining Him in the fellowship of His sufferings.
that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
There is hope even for those who have inflicted this destruction. The Jesus who took our place on the cross for our sins, with whom we have fellowship of sufferings, who became sin for us, endured at once the pain of the abuser and the abused.
And His mercies are new every morning._______________
The Stolen Years