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8 Signs That You Might Become the Victim of Religious Abuse

March 1, 2017



Many of us desperately cling to being able to prove to our more “conservative” friends, church members, and family members that we were still passionate about Jesus. Often to no avail.


Despite affirming biblical authority, a belief in Christ’s death and resurrection, and that it’s God who transforms us into Christlikeness, many of us who wrestle with difficult questions are rejected as “heretics.” Once receiving that label, it seems we are then fair game for abuse.


Heresy used to mean a rejection of a central teaching of the Bible, but has come to mean anything that doesn’t fit what I believe. So sad.


I’m no longer worried about that. I simply want to follow Jesus wherever he takes. That is NOT a plea to “reject” the sorts of evangelicals who have rejected you: but to not allow that pain to define and stunt your spiritual growth.


Take heart. It seems to me that God is the God of the rejected.


Here are 8 signs that you might be fair game to be abused.


You have Questions


If you have questions about what the Bible says or policies and traditions of the church you may be in trouble. Some love to judge those who are wrestling with difficult questions about God and the Bible, or those who come to different conclusions. Of course, truth exists; but the truth is that we can’t know truth with absolute certainty.


The only truth we can know is Jesus. But even here we read in the Bible things like: “Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known” (1 Cor. 13.12 CEB).


Absolute certainty is a myth. Heresy matters, but it shouldn’t be defined by those who have “all the right answers.”


You can live with not having every answer and enjoy asking hard questions.


Perhaps you used to think that all the answers about God and the world were a simple matter of research.


But then something changed. You found yourself in love with Jesus in a new way. New questions arose out of your relationship with God and you realized just how small you are. The only response was to either give up on faith or live with questions.


You’ve had to part ways with a church due to the questions you were asking.


This is the case repeatedly. I have heard numerous stories where young (usually, but not exclusively so) people were forced out of a church for quietly pondering new things about God. One day, you were at a youth retreat and the next day, upon your return, you are summoned into the senior pastor’s office.


You don’t hate science and can see how Genesis and Evolution Science can be compatible.


For you, genre matters when approaching the Scriptures. The Bible didn’t fall out of the sky one day but is embedded with cultural and stylistic markers of any ancient book.


Yes, God created the universe, anfd the Bbile are His words but you have no problem seeing that God accommodates for deeper truths–including in areas of science. So did God create the world? Yes! Does the Bible describe how this happened? Not really…especially not in a “literal” sense. Fighting the anti-evolution war is counter-productive and leads many young people to eventually reject God.


You wish certain Christians would stop giving God a bad name.


Political action. Lobbying. Being against everything and for nothing. Hating and condemning everyone that disagrees with you and your interpretation of the Bible. Enough already–you shout!


You think forcing our nation to follow biblical mandates is killing the church and her witness.You might be like me, committed to nonviolence. Jesus taught it. You follow Jesus. Makes sense.


Well, not to the many Christians who believe that the west is God’s gift to the world. Christians that believe in the myth of a Christian nation continue to force Christ into the center of our public life and to justify violent foreign policy. This Jesus is cool with bombing innocent people if the ends justify the means… especially Muslims in other countries.That’s nuts.


Let’s accept the fact, Canada is no longer a Christian nation. It is useless to demand it to act like one. Let’s love our neighbors rather than defend some innate rights we think we should have. Let’s promote equality. Let’s create an alternative culture of inclusion and love. Let’s stop bickering. It’s mean. It’s judgmental. And its counter to who God is.


You tell your non-Christian friends, “I’m not that kind of Christian.”


You already broke a cardinal rule of evangelical culture: you have non-Christian friends and your primary goal in life isn’t to merely convert them. In fact, your view is that you would still be friends with these folks even if you knew that they would never agree with your belief system. And to these friends, you’re a radical. “You’re a Christian and you care about that…?” Those kinds of comments warm your heart.


Here you are trying to be a neighbor-lover through friendships and you get scolded for it. It’s not  you don’t want your friends to become followers of Jesus, but you know that this is only possible by being authentic, not a salesperson.


You think God’s primary response to the world is love.


God became a human to die for the brokenness of us all. God doesn’t hate non-Christians. God is passionately “for” them. Loves them. And loves us all.


Here’s what is beautiful about the God I discover in the face of Jesus: he shows us what God is truly like. This Jesus taught virtues like generosity, justice, humility, nonviolence, and love. This is the God I make it my goal to emulate, a “God [who] so loved the world that he gave…”


So, have you experienced rejection from segments of the church, your family, or your friends? Know that you are not alone. These 8 signs are only a few. The bottom line is this: How will you respond to rejection–like Jesus or in anger?



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