Dear Body of Christ,
My spirit is grieved about a new theory that some folks are embracing. I started hearing about it a couple of years ago, and it’s just wrong. It’s a trick of the enemy to keep us from growing spiritually. This trick of the enemy harms people in the Church, and I hate it.
The problem is this:
Sorry, family, but correction is not spiritual abuse.
Apparently somebody wrote a book. I haven’t read the book, because I do read The Book (the Bible), and I know what it says about this. (I don’t want to read the other book, so please don’t send me any emails about it, ok?)
We have to understand that books can be written about all manner of things, and magazine articles can be written about all manner of things—such as an editorial article from decades ago which opined musical instruments shouldn’t be in the Church, and people were seduced, and an entire denomination abandoned Biblical worship because of it.
And then there’s, you know, Wikipedia (the encyclopedia anybody can edit), and all sorts of people out there that can say anything they want from their own lens or own perspective rather than God’s.
But the problem is, just because somebody believes something, or writes about it, doesn’t make it true. We have GOT to understand this if we’re to stand against the wiles of the devil.
There’s only one truth, and His name is Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate, whose written Word, the Bible, is inerrant and infallible.
So back to this thing about spiritual abuse.
Apparently somebody, somewhere, wrote a book. And some people, somewhere, have gotten on this bandwagon about spiritual abuse. And all of a sudden, spiritual abuse is the new buzzword.
Now, I’m not saying that spiritual abuse isn’t possible.
It is possible, and I’ve actually been through it. And I definitely believe that there may be any number of churches or even cults out there who are, in fact, abusing their people. I hate that, and the people involved need to leave or be rescued. Yes. Absolutely.
There may be other situations that are actual spiritual abuse also. Or, if you prefer—and I do—you could chalk up those situations to bad theology, bad people skills, bad management skills, unholy attitudes, and just plain bad shepherding.
But this isn’t a blog post about what IS spiritual abuse. This is a post about what ISN’T spiritual abuse.
And what ISN’T spiritual abuse, my friend, is CORRECTION.
I have been corrected multiple times. But you know what? I value that correction. How can I grow without feedback? How can we be safe without boundaries?
Boundaries exist for our safety. God allows us to receive feedback from our brothers and sisters in Christ, and from our leaders, for a reason. It’s because we need such feedback (and sometimes correction) to help us grow.
Feedback, correction, and boundaries exist to keep us safe. They exist to help us see our weak spots. And if we will listen to those who offer us such feedback–even when it hurts, and even when it’s unexpected, and even when we’d rather not hear it–we can grow and avoid going down paths down which we should never go.
See, the Bible says that whom the Lord loves, He corrects. Hebrews 12:5-11 tells us:
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?
For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.
Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:5-11).
If you are an earthly parent, and your small child keeps trying to touch a scorching-hot stove, you would do something about it, right? You would correct your child, and you would be a terrible parent if you saw your child in danger and you did nothing about it.
Well, spiritual parenting works the same way. Our fathers correct us for our own good. They actually have a mandate from God, because they are our spiritual fathers, to correct us when we need it. In love, yes, but still to correct. They would be terrible parents if they didn’t.
And I’m tired of hearing us in the Church pull the “spiritual abuse” card when we get corrected, just because we don’t want to be told we’re wrong …
… or out of order …
… or in sin …
… or that we need to simmer down.
And it needs to stop.
Brother, sister: correction is for our own good. And God has placed our leaders over us because, well, WE NEED THEM. Romans 13:1 tells us that God Himself has placed us under the leadership of our authority figures:
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”
I know correction hurts sometimes.
Like I said, I’ve been corrected before. I will tell you right now that it’s not always pleasant. It’s not fun. I do not enjoy it, not even one bit. But I need it, and God in His mercy has allowed me to be corrected. He has put people in my life who give valuable feedback that is helping me grow.
In the future, I pray the Lord would help me line up with His will and His Word so perfectly that I don’t need any correcting. I don’t want to disappoint my spiritual fathers and mothers, and I don’t want to sin against God, and I don’t like the embarrassment of needing to be corrected.
But if I do–God help me–I pray He’d correct me, because I know He gives more grace. And I’d rather be kept on the straight and narrow path (even if it hurts) than wander into rebellion or sin.
So in closing, I’d like you to consider this:
If you’re in a truly abusive relationship with some people or group, please leave.
But if you’re being corrected by your spiritual fathers, or by your brothers and sisters in Christ who love you and have a broader perspective than you do, who can back up their actions and directives with the entire Word of God, taken in context:
Please don’t start claiming spiritual abuse.
I’m sorry that you’re upset, beloved, but I beg you to embrace the correction God has sent your way, believing that He knows better than you do.
Even when it hurts.
Because the quicker you do, the quicker it will be over and you will have learned and grown from it. The faster you listen to godly feedback, the more quickly you will become like Jesus.
Do everything you can to avoid needing correction, of course. Submit yourself completely to God and to His godly leadership that He has placed over you, as long as it lines up with the Word of God.
But if you mess up and do something wrong, hurting yourself or the Body of Christ, and your fathers correct you, know this, beloved, directly from the Word of God:
Correction is for your own good. It’s called “good fathering,” and it’s essential when we’re doing life together as the Body of Christ. It’s not spiritual abuse.
Have you been corrected and seen it help you later? Please leave your thoughts about this below!