Every Erection isn’t Lust…

… And What Does Modesty Have to Do with It?

Ezekiel 23:20 (KJV)
20 For she doted upon their paramours (illicit lovers), whose flesh (genitals) is as the flesh (genitals) of asses (donkeys), and whose issue (emission) is like the issue (emission) of horses.


I’ve promised several people I would write this blog, so here goes…   I started with the verse (above), simply to show that God is not afraid to speak about sexuality, and does so with language that makes us conservatives a bit skittish. Based on this, I conclude the notion that we should not talk about it, is not at all grounded in biblical truth. Especially using verses out of context, like Ephesians 5:12, “It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret” to justify covering up sexual sin and abuse, or to condemn talking about sexuality, in general. I’ve had that thrown my way too often by those wishing to cover up abuse in the church. It may be shameful to repeat what is done in secret, but it is not sin to repeat it, and putting guilt and shame on those who speak out, abuses that scripture.  Especially considering that the verses before and after talk about exposing and bringing to light those very things, . In context it says, “ And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.  But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” Surely, if the dark things of sexuality are to be brought to light, then talking about sexuality–particularly the ‘not dark’ aspect–is good. It is not evil, perverted,  or unforgiving to speak of the ‘dark thing’, nor is it in any way displeasing to God. And it  is not displeasing to God for us to take a good hard look at our misconceptions about sexuality. That established, this blog post is about lust–what it is, and what it isn’t–not about sexual abuse.

A variety of conversations influenced this blog post, not the least of which is the frustration of many women, and possibly a few men, regarding teachings on modesty in conservative settings. (To determine who I refer to by ‘conservative’, I would say ‘if the shoe fits–or the dress, as the case may be–wear it”. With the word ‘dress’ referring to’attire’, not ‘frock’, and serving as a figure of speech.)  Countless women, all being women who value modesty, have shared with me the pain and frustration of hearing, almost Sunday after Sunday, that it is their duty to prevent men from lusting. Some have messaged me, others have told me in person. Their heart cries go something to the effect of, “I feel raped…” or “I feel stripped….  as if I am only an object to be lusted after… when men preach like that… when they accuse me of immodesty, and I am already fully covered…” This coming from women with flowing skirts that reach nearly to the floor, and their hair tucked neatly inside a veil, women who are modest and beyond.

One encounter stood out, among all the conversations I’ve had, when a church leader’s wife explained how she felt, and how her identity had been lost in her culture’s teachings. “What do we (as women) have left? Who are we? We’ve been stripped of identity. We have no voice. We are treated like sex objects when all the focus is on covering us up….” She poured out her heart, asking deep questions about her purpose, and the purpose of every woman in church, and trying to reconcile her religion with the Word of God, and the prophecy in Joel 2 that God’s daughters will prophesy–speak out truth, boldly–and whatever personal wonderings she had. We spent some time talking about her feeling like a sex object, and feeling stripped of identity, by teaching that focuses on controlling every detail of a woman’s attire, rather than teaching modesty, self respect, and personal value.

This teaching is not only in her church, it is all around, this belief that how women dress makes men lust, or prevents it. And that teaching is utter nonsense. Modesty isn’t utter nonsense,  but that teaching is. Keeping in mind that what is perceived as modest varies drastically, from person to person, church to church, culture to culture.  Modesty is more about respect for ourselves, than respect for others–though that is a part of it–and with the best of intentions and most modest attire, there may well be someone lusting.  And the men preaching it every Sunday would be the first I would be uncomfortable around, as their minds are clearly already there.

In these conversations with women, about modesty and lust, the one thing I started to realize is that, for many of us, our understanding of what lust is has become about as skewed as the notion that women are responsible for that lust. I left these conversations asking, “What is lust, exactly?” and that got me thinking….

Is lust the physical response–natural, God-given response, I might add–to beauty? Is lust the desire a man or woman has, to be loved intimately, sexually? A desire that exists, even before marriage, simply because we are human? Is that desire sin? Is it shameful? Or is it, in fact, a God-given desire that should be ‘blessed’, rather than cursed, and brought under ‘management’ rather than suppressed, it’s existence denied, and made shameful?

When my husband sees a beautiful woman–modestly clothed, or not–he has a choice to make. Will he ‘look on her, to lust after her’, or will he see her through the eyes of respect, as God looks on her? Will he ‘ogle’ her, with sexual intent and impure thoughts, or see her as God’s beautiful creation, worthy of honour, respect and protection? Whether she is a prostitute, and scantily clad, or a woman covered head to toe–Christian or not–or a woman in church looking like the prostitute, he has a decision to make. And, regardless of her self-respect or lack thereof, she is worthy of his respect. Each one is God’s creation, made in His image and likeness, and ought to be treated with the same level of respect as if it was Jesus standing in front of him. And he does.

Is he human? Yep. Pretty much. Is it possible for his body to respond to visual stimuli? I expect so. Does that threaten me? Not at all! I trust him, as a godly man and loving husband, to handle his sex drive well, and be intentional about how he  responds to temptation or opportunity.  It is his responsibility to deny what the flesh desires, and live out his commitment to holiness. And, like King David, he has to make a covenant with his eyes, and a commitment in his heart, to live with integrity and honour. And if the beauty that stands or sits before him, triggers a bodily response, causing an erection or stirring some sexual desire,  he has to make that choice again, to look away,to walk away, or do whatever it takes in order to honour and respect the woman in front of him.  But that bodily response is not lust, it is not sin, it is not shameful. It is human reaction to sexual desire and stimulation, and it must always be mastered and brought under personal authority–authority God has given each one of us. And the desire, itself, is part of how we humans are wired–not just the men–and that makes it sacred, not perverted. The sin is not in the desire, or the temptation, it is in our response and our handling of it.

Lust is a deliberate indulgence in, or pursuit of, impure sexual gratification, or ‘unrestrained sexual desire’ , as one dictionary puts it. I once read a quote that went something like, ‘Lust is sexual desire that dishonours the object of its desire, and has no regard for God.’ And that ‘objectifying’ of the person being lusted after, says it all.  It is wrong to treat someone as an object to obtain, conquer or dominate. And making a person feel like they are only a sex-object does just that. This over-sexualizing is done through using someone sexually, and it is done through teaching with an over focus on modesty to extremes the Bible doesn’t address. Tacking on the notion that men can’t help themselves, sexually, takes it to a whole new level, as does adding warped personal judgement like, ‘You might as well be naked if …’ when a person is not covered neck to ankle or doesn’t wear cultural attire. That is perverse, and it is not biblical. It says something about the warped mind of the teacher, and turns the audience into sex objects to be lusted after. Rather than promoting holiness, it promotes lust and perversion. It is for men like this, that I wonder if God does not feel compelled to draw a curtain over the mountains, lest they should imagine breasts and wander down a path of sexual lust. (If elbows supposedly look like breasts, and must therefore be covered to keep men’s minds pure, how much more the mountains!)

These misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what lust is–condemning even natural God-given responses–and imposing guilt on women for men’s responses to that desire–has done great harm to the body of Christ. It has heaped shame on young men and women unnecessarily–and likely older ones too–and left them struggling in their faith, believing there is something wrong with them. They feel defeated, fearing they live in lust when, in reality, the things they feel are natural, God-given desires that they are managing well.

The young woman who longs to be held in the arms of a loving husband, desires a beautiful thing. For her to desire sexual love as part of that experience, in marriage, is natural and wonderful. Even biblical. The young man who longs for a wife to hold and love, isn’t a pervert, nor is he lusting. He is acknowledging that God created him with the desire for relationship, and sexual love as part of that relationship. There is nothing evil  about it, and it isn’t lust. To say we didn’t have those desires before marriage, for most of us if not all of us, would be blatant lies. For those who lived in denial and pushed those desires into oblivion, the same truth still applies–the desire was there, we just lied to ourselves about it, and that is not noble either.

When God made us sexual creatures, in the Garden of Eden,  He blessed us as sexual creatures. “Male and female created He them, in His image….” or something like that, it says several times. Our sexuality does not frighten God. He said ‘it is very good’, and blessed us, sexually. To teach anything less is a slap in the face of the Creator, and a disgrace to us, as His image bearers.

It is time to reclaim the wonder and holiness of our sexuality, and consecrate ourselves to God, teaching our sons and daughters the truth about holiness and purity, including how to respect those who do not respect themselves, or don’t live up to our standards. When we lift the burden of false guilt from our children, they will find it easier to walk in holiness before God.

I understand that my views are conservative and outdated to those who accept ‘anything goes’ in the area of sexuality. And my views are liberal, bordering on blasphemy for those who have a list of man-made laws they like to tout as ‘scriptural’. I am not offended by either disagreement, nor do I believe I have the ‘best’ and ‘most right’ understanding. It is simply the understanding I have, and I embrace it. To pretend anything more or less would by hypocrisy. What I do know is that what we have had isn’t working. Holiness in the church, as it has been presented, is a myth, going by at the percentages of people who struggle with sexual sins and addictions–and it is time to acknowledge that. For us to pretend it’s ‘out there’, and judge harshly, when we are as human in the struggle, is deceptive and serves only to keep us in bondage.

I have watched people break free from addictions, and abandon homosexuality simply by adopting a biblical view of God-designed and God-blessed sexuality. By recognizing who they are in Christ, and discovering they are unconditionally loved by God, many have overcome the depression that goes with sexual struggle. Therefore I speak with bold confidence in this regard, and I do so without judgement for those who disagree–you are accountable for you, I am accountable for me. And I speak without apology for my beliefs, no matter who is offended.

Change does not come without disturbing ‘the way things are’, and it does not come without offence.

The Message that Changed Me Forever

The stone bench had grown familiar, my senses numbed, so that I hardly thought of the discomfort. The prison cell was dark, damp and cold, yet, somehow, strangely comforting. I felt at home. I had memorized every square inch of my surroundings, every stain, and every mark. At least what I could see in the dim light of day. I wasn’t happy, exactly, and I didn’t pretend to be. I was trapped. Caged in. Held captive by iron bars in the window, placed so high no human could ever reach from within, surround by cement walls, and a heavy metal door blocked all but the tiniest hint of light from whatever lay beyond. There was a lock and, I assumed, somewhere there was a key. Not that I cared. Or even wondered. It could have been in my own pocket and I wouldn’t have bothered about it. I had no desire to leave. Nothing to leave for, or to. This was my ‘home’ and had been almost as far back as my mind could remember. Other realities had long faded, and when I thought of them, I wondered if it was real, or just some ‘other world’ I had imagined. Yes, this was ‘home’…. but, then, what did I know about the meaning of the word?

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When I paid any attention to it, I realized my parched tongue hurt. I touched my chapped lips. They burned. Moist red on my hands indicated they were bleeding. Again. I wiped my hand on my tattered old shirt, once a pure white, now faded and marred with sweat, blood and time. Just another stain. Another mark. Proof that I was still alive. Surviving. I washed my clothes, from time to time, in the puddle that collected in  the corner of my cell.  At least I did, to a time. Anymore it made no difference.

Thirst. It had been a long time since I had a drink of clean water. Just how long, I couldn’t say. I walked to the corner of my cell, picked up the rusty tin and held it to my mouth, sipping just a swallow of the stagnant water. At least it was wet. I looked in the bucket, now emptied of its last drops, and whispered a silent prayer for rain. To whom I prayed, or why, I had no idea. It just slipped in quiet desperation, without a thought, or a speck of faith to accompany it. The hole in the foundation had saved my life often, providing water in a puddle in the corner. Ironic, how a curse for one man is a blessing for another.

My stomach growled. I squinted, looking at the dried loaf at the end of the bench. It tempted. Each week someone pushed one loaf through the bars, without a word, letting it drop into my cell. It was how I told time. And each week I broke that bread into seven pieces, knowing it had to last. Sometimes the kind stranger didn’t show up and I found myself worrying they may be deathly ill, or even dead. The relief when the loaf arrived a few days late was more the knowing my ‘friend’ was alive, than the loaf that fell into my cell. But always, when the loaf came late, there was extra. I turned away from the portion that remained. It was the last piece.

I wondered, often, who my kind stranger might be. The cell was to be my slow and painful death, starving and abandoned. Yet this stranger’s gifts sustained me. I wondered how many other cells there were, and did anyone bring them bread? I was fairly certain it was a child—I had heard the voice, faintly, a few times—but couldn’t be sure. And, if it was a child, where were they getting the bread? It occupied my mind and, in a way, boosted my will to live. I needed to be there to receive the gift.

The lock rattled. I jumped. Startled out of my reverie, I cried out in fear. “Who is it? And what do you want?” My mind raced, immediately. Who knew I was here? My captors were long gone, assuming I was dead, and apart from the child and the bread, no one had ever bothered about me.

The key scraped loudly, the lock clearly rusted, and the rattling continued. The visitor persisted and, at long last, removed the lock. The door creaked loudly as it swung open and light suddenly filled the room. In truth, it wasn’t a bright light, but to eyes that had not seen more than a distant ray, it was nearly blinding. I raised my hand, covering my eyes, parting my fingers to peer through them.

A man stood just outside the door. “May I come in?” he asked.

“It’s really quite a dirty place,” I said, my voice as rusty as the lock. I was suddenly aware of the filthy ‘toilet’, off to one side, offering nothing more than a hole in the floor. I cringed, not willing that anyone would see my condition, or my ‘home’. “I’m not sure you want to come in. You’ll get your clothes soiled. Besides, I don’t even know who you are, or what you want. Why would I let you in? Why would you want to?”

“Please, just let me come in. I have some good news for you, if you’ll hear it,” the visitor said, his voice tender, and filled with compassion.

“Good news? For me? What on earth could you have to say to me? You don’t know me and….” I paused. “Oh, never mind, what do I have to lose? You can come in, I suppose.” I mumbled as I motioned, somewhat carelessly, for him to sit beside me on the stone bench. My mind raced, filled with questions I dared not ask.

He sat down and I looked at him just long enough to see if I recognized anything about him. His brown eyes held a rare gentleness, something I had not seen often in my life. Even in the days before I was thrown in this dark pit… though there had been someone, once… but it had been so long ago… one of the memories I doubted were real. His eyes drew me in, yet I dared not hold his gaze, knowing how repulsive I must be and fearing the memory that threatened. Keenly aware of the present, I tried not to imagine the stench of the place. A stench to which I had grown so accustomed it didn’t even bother me. But it had, at first, and suddenly I remembered. I wanted to tell him to leave, to lock the door behind him and never come back, but I couldn’t speak. His voice interrupted my rambling thoughts.

“I was sent here by the king, to unlock this door and release you from this prison,” the man said.

“Why that’s ludicrous!” I blurted out, scoffing. “Why would the king send you? And besides, I don’t want to leave! Every week a child brings me a loaf of bread, and I collect water from the rains. I have lived here so long that I’ve all but forgotten how to live in any other world. I have no place to go, no future and no life outside of this place anymore. And, even if I wanted to leave, who would want me? I deserve this place. I did dreadful things before I was thrown in here. Paying for my crimes in this way assuages my guilt. So, if you don’t mind, please leave. Just go.”

“The prison door is open, you are free to walk out of here, on the king’s orders,” the man said. “He has granted a pardon for all your crimes. What’s more, he arrested the men who threw you in this place and is having them sentenced. But that’s not all. I haven’t even told you the best part of all…”

“Sir, I don’t know who you are, or why you are kind to me. I don’t know why the king sent you, but I cannot leave. Whatever the rest of this ‘good news’ is, it doesn’t matter, so don’t even tell me…. I don’t want to hear any of it. It will only torment me when you are gone.” I pointed to my ankle, at the shackles that held me further entrapped. A large iron ball had been placed in the middle of the room, and the chain attaching me to it allowed me just within reach of the stone bench, the toilet, and the puddle–my water supply. Never, not in a million years, would I move it from its place. The shackles that once cut my circulation, when my flesh was healthy, now scraped against my bony body, calloused from the rubbing.

The man pulled another key from his pockets. “Ah,” he said, “but the king sent that key, having taken it from your captors. He ordered me to unlock it also.”

The kind man knelt, then, on that dirt floor and worked at the shackles until they came off. At once he began massaging my feet, his warm tears falling. He kissed the wounded ankle. I cringed, embarrassed that he would touch my wounds, so filthy, repulsive. Yet I was amazed at his tenderness. “Please, sir…” I started to speak again, but he interrupted, raising his finger to my lips.

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“Shhh….” He continued working on my ankle as he spoke. “There is something you need to know, if you are to understand why I am here….” the tears turned to sobs, as he spoke and he had to pause, from time to time, to compose himself. “The king is my father, and you… you are my sister. We never stopped searching for you after you disappeared. Not a moment has passed that you were not in our hearts and on our minds.”

Still weeping, he looked deep into my eyes and in that instant I recognized him. His father had adopted me, many years ago, and loved me like his own, from the start. I had never known such joy as I did then. But, alas, I had begun to listen to other influences who lied to me about my adoptive father. Gradually, at first, my heart had pulled back, as I began to question his heart, his motives and his intentions. With time I had become hardened, bitter and angry and, eventually, I had run away while still quite young. The men who had lied about my father, had taught me to steal and murder for them, and when they had no use for me anymore, especially when they discovered I kept some of what I stole in hopes of one day escaping, they had raped me, beaten me and tossed me in this prison.

Now, haggard and worn, my father had found me. I sat in disbelief, my mind reeling from shock, my soul buried in shame, unable to form words. I didn’t deserve him, but oh how my heart longed to go back… A deep ache tugged at my heart. A place deep inside that I thought had died long ago, began to throb with desire.

The man stood to his feet, and reached out his hand, “If you are willing, I would like to take you home and my father and I will care for you. You will regain your strength, and your father will welcome you with open arms, but the choice is yours. You can choose to stay here, or you can come with me.”

I stood to my feet, holding his hand for support. I had resorted to crawling mostly, of late,  so weak from malnutrition and dehydration. My body trembled and I was about to sit back down and declare defeat, resigning myself to my fate, when he picked me up and carried me out of the prison. Weary, I collapsed in his arms as he returned me to my father’s house. He ran to the gate, when he saw us, and threw his arms around me, with no apparent notice of my tattered rags and the stench of my years in prison.

Home. What did I know about the meaning of the word? In that moment, in my father’s embrace, my heart remembered… And in that moment I knew where I belonged.


Isaiah 61:1 (NKJV)

The Good News

61 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound…


I stumbled across this writing while sorting through items from as many as twenty (or more?) years ago. A hand scribbled expression of my heart, recounting in allegorical form, the wonder of what I felt when I encountered Jesus, and the gift of adoption God offers us through Jesus.

Many things of life experience make no sense to me and leave me wondering and uncertain, yet always some ‘loaf’, or kindness, sustains me. Many times I don’t know where the ‘bread’ comes from, and when I feel there isn’t any way to survive without the ‘rains’, God carries me through deep hunger and desperate thirst.

How easily I slip into various prison cells, when the struggles of life overtake me, and how quickly the Son returns to meet me in that dark and broken place, reminding me who I am, and Who adopted me. He offers me one constant assurance: The Good News is for me, in every broken place I enter. And it is for you too. We are loved. We are bought with a price. The adoption papers are signed the moment we accept Jesus as the Son of God, who died for us. And that thought comforts me more than any religious ‘knowing’ of where I stand has ever offered me. And for this truth I thank my Father. I am His. I am loved.

© Trudy Metzger

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Spiritual Abuse Part 20__Jesus, More than Enough

About ten years ago I met for a chat with Sandy, a woman who was extremely abused by the church she attends. Twenty years since the abuse started, and with ongoing abuse, she is still in that church accepting it as normal. She pursues ‘God’ most religiously and complies with all rituals and church expectations, but dare to mention the name of Jesus, or talk about relationship with God, and she begins to squirm.

“Do you love Jesus?” I asked her one day in the middle of a religious discussion.

“I love God,” she responded in a matter-of-fact, but slightly raised voice.

“But what do you do with Jesus?” I asked again. Her answer was the same as the first time. Talking about Jesus as the only hope for freedom from the bondage of both religion and sin is not comfortable. She fears an intimate relationship with God through Jesus because it is unfamiliar to her, and past religious abuse makes it unsafe. It is much easier to master the externals.

The very name of Jesus cries for relationship. For grace. For mercy. For forgiveness. For love. For being accepted as we are. This is an uncomfortable thing for an individual who has been severely violated and has spent most of his or her life trying to win and earn that approval. They don’t know how to simply receive love and acceptance, no strings attached. That requires trust–something a victim finds difficult. It also requires authenticity–admitting that I am sinful and my attempts are ‘filthy rags’–and that requires humility, something performers do not have in abundance.

Rebelling against God, because of Spiritual Abuse, rather than turning to performance, requires the same hardness toward God. To pursue God and religion, trying frantically to earn His approval, while closing our hearts to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is a hardness of one kind. Closing our hearts completely to God, denying Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and living a life of sin is a hardness of another sort. The root is the same: pride. But it looks different from a distance. Religiosity has a way of appearing better, somehow… even holy and righteous. Rebelling in sin looks worse, at least from a distance, and the self-righteous will be quick to judge, like the story of the Pharisee and the Publican. They will religiously pass on detailed prayer requests, that amount to nothing more than sanctified gossip, outlining the sins of the rebellious.

God says we are all sinners and our attempts at being acceptable through our own goodness or righteousness is like filthy rags–not acceptable. Only the death of His Son, Jesus is enough. (Isaiah 64:6)

Imagine if your son heard that someone was going to bomb a large stadium filled with people. Suppose that he intercepted the bomber and lost his life, along with the bomber, and the people in the stadium lived. A few witnesses testified to your son’s heroic act. Imagine if, when the people in the stadium heard about it, they came by to see you bringing gifts–trophies, certificates, diplomas–anything to make themselves look good. What if you started talking about your son, and they looked at you as if you’re crazy, and said they don’t want to hear how your son saved them? What if they insisted on being the centre of attention and did not care about your son’s sacrifice that saved their lives.

God is a good Father. When God came to earth and inhabited human flesh in the body of Jesus Christ, He remained fully God. However, the body He lived in was fully flesh and God watched His Son Jesus die for our sins, die to make us acceptable. It is arrogant, and a slap in the face of God, to think that even one small act on my part can assist in that saving when Jesus already gave His life. To put complete faith in Jesus, requires humility.

The cultural practices, beliefs or doctrines that I embrace, without making them a Salvation issue, are a perfectly acceptable gift to God. They hold no redemptive power, but neither does it offend the heart of God. To attach it to Salvation is sinful and perverse. But any gift given as a form of pure worship to God, rather than to try to make ourselves acceptable, is a treasure in His heart.

If you are caught up believing in cultural practices as a means to get to heaven, or if you fear eternal separation from God if you let them go, I encourage you to take those beliefs to God and ask  Him to redeem them. He won’t ask you to stop doing them–they don’t bother Him, and there’s no more salvation in abandoning them than in keeping them. But He will offer to break their power of you. He came to set you free.

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/

Spiritual Abuse: Introduction

Tears literally poured down her face as she spoke the words, sheer desperation in her voice, yet with hope and confidence in her words. “Trudy, they want me to repent and come back to believing what they believe. But I can’t do it. I just can’t do it now that I know Jesus.” These were the words spoken by a young woman–meaning my age or younger–who spent her entire life going to church, practicing a religion. After one encounter with Jesus, she saw that her congregation didn’t teach Jesus, but taught religion.

She went on to tell me how her family felt she had shamed them by leaving. They felt rejected even though she repeatedly told them she cared and loved them. It wasn’t good enough. If she refused to return to her congregation, she was not welcome in the family. She was shunned.

The church pursued her as well, telling her she would go go hell if she did not repent and reinstate her membership. By all external appearances she still held to every rule, every standard. What had changed was her belief system. She traded religion for relationship and she could not keep silent about that relationship with Jesus. She spoke with respect and honour even though she was deeply wounded by her family and the church.

Eyes pleading, she asked, “Trudy, what do I do? It hurts so bad!”

It is difficult to look into that depth of pain and know there is nothing that can be done to resolve the circumstances. The circumstances may never be made right. In that moment the only thing I can offer is to bring Jesus to the pain, and the pain to Jesus. The only thing I can do is help people in this situation understand how God sees them, how He loves them, how He grieves with them, and help them see in the Bible, that God is not like that!

I have heard these testimonies of pain frequently. The above story is not a one-time event, but a blend of repeated cries from women and men, deeply wounded by, typically well-meaning, religious leaders. Usually the leaders—be it Bishops, Priests, Elders, Ministers, Preachers, Pastors or other leaders—are only trying to ‘protect the flock’ from what they perceive to be deception or sin. That never makes it right. Spiritual abuse is wrong in every way, regardless of the intent of the heart, because it completely violates the heart of God and misrepresents who God is!

God called leaders to ‘shepherd the flock’–using biblical terminology, 1 Peter 5:1-3–not to control through manipulation and abuse. Never did the right to control enter into the equation in God’s leadership guide and it is not to be part of New Testament church life. Never can it or should it be accepted or blessed as such. We’ll touch on that again in another post.

Does this mean a church should be a ‘free for all’ and ‘do as you please’ with no one to hold the church accountable? By no means! But that’s a topic for another day. Today is merely an introduction to a very complex and multifaceted problem.

John 3:16-17         16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.     17. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through

The topic of spiritual abuse has been on my heart for weeks, but how does one go about tackling it? I’m not certain… but I’m about to find out. I want to spend a few blog posts looking at some of the ways that often well-meaning humans misrepresent the heart of God, especially within the context of spiritual abuse either in churches or Christian organizations.  Iwill not attack on them—that would serve no purpose whatsoever—but rather looking honestly at the pain, and then hearing what God says in His Word, for the purpose of inner healing. In the process we will explore the impact abuse has on victims because of lies they believe about God and themselves, and find God’s truth to break down the lies.

We will look at what we do know about God, based on stories in the Bible and especially drawing from the life of Christ, and explore the mystery of His heart and His character. Since He is Emmanuel, ‘God among us’, it seems most appropriate to watch God and learn the right way from Him. The best way to become like someone is to study the individual as closely as possible on a personal level. Jesus is ‘God in the flesh’ and therefore the best example and role model.

When we know someone personally and someone else comes along and tells the untruth about them, we are much more likely to take a step back and say, “No… I know that person. That can’t be right.” So to know Jesus, and know Him intimately, equips us to stand against the damage of spiritual abuse. Ultimately, spiritual abuse is rooted in misconceptions about God. If we know God intimately and personally, we have nothing to fear from Him or people around us—“…there is no fear in love…”—but when we don’t know Him we can be tossed about by the control and misrepresentation of men and women who profess Christ, but live out of selfish ambition.

Knowing God is the key to standing against spiritual abuse, manipulation and any form of spiritual control. God placed us here with the freedom—or God-given right—to choose our path, our faith, our allegiance. It is wrong that any human would try to take away what God has given us as a gift, and attempt to control and manipulate the mind through fear. God did not. Why should they?

That does not, however, remove God’s Word as Truth and authority. It doesn’t mean we should disrespect leadership. That is also not biblical.

In this series, as always, but especially here, I welcome feedback, suggestions, questions, thoughts challenges and anything you would like to share. I don’t have all the answers, but God’s Word does, so that is where I will go for answers. My one request is that we speak kindly and respectfully when we disagree, and that we don’t do any personal attacks. This can be a very sensitive topic and stir up a lot of anger in those who feel violated. The anger is not surprising or wrong, but what we do with it is critical. If you have suffered spiritual abuse, please don’t name the individuals responsible—I can’t approve that for my blog. If you need to vent or get something personal off your chest, or if you need prayer, email me at info(insert ‘at symbol’)faithgirlsunleashed.com and I will respond and will pray for you. Alternatively, if you would like contact information for a professional counsellor, I will be happy to do my research and try to connect you with someone in your area. (Canada and USA only) I am a certified life coach, speaker and trainer, not a counsellor.

As much as possible, I will post at least once a day—on a good day twice. If you share a story or a question, I may refer to it in my blog but will not share your name, location or any details that would expose you or make you vulnerable. If you do not wish for me to refer to it, please explicitly say so.

I look forward to finding God’s light, in a dark and painful journey. There is hope in every dark experience.

© Trudy Metzger 2012