I've noticed an increase in the number of people who have blogged about their experiences with spiritual abuse in the church and problems with authoritarian leadership. I think I know some reasons why.
Often, people who blog about such things are criticized for doing so, sometimes harshly. After all, if you have a problem with somebody, aren't you supposed to go directly to them to deal with it? Well, not exactly, and that's where an explanation can be useful.
You see, there is a big difference between one person sinning against another in ordinary things and people using positions and systems of power (with the supposed backing of God and the threatening of excommunication or hell for dissent) in accomplishing the sin. In the first case there is a much easier path of recourse; in the latter there may be none at all. Try confronting a friend who dealt you a minor insult. The whole thing might be solved and over with in a couple of minutes. Your friend may not want to insult you because he is your friend, and he will realize his pettiness and the greater value of God and friendship. Now try confronting a group of church leaders who view the confronting of church leaders as one of the most heinous things one can do. How far do you think you will go with that one?
With nowhere else to go, and with no real way of getting the problem solved, telling others about the story may be the only way to go. And this isn't merely the airing of dirty laundry. This is the exposing of evil deeds that are purposed in the heart of those who commit such things. Look to the example of Jesus and the bible to see how these types of problems are dealt with.
What did Jesus do with the ruling religious leaders of his day? Where are the examples of private, personal confrontation? Rather, Jesus spoke openly and publicly about the evil deeds of the religious leaders. His concern was for those who might be affected by their teachings and deeds. Where is the concern for "protecting their good names?" And what did the Holy Spirit think about all of this? Well, he decided to inspire four gospel writers and several apostles to write these things in a number of books and a church to collect those into one larger book! And what did Zondervan think about all of this? Zondervan, without consulting descendants of these religious leaders to see if exposing these deeds would tarnish family images, decided to print millions of copies of the book! And what did you and I think about all of this? We bought the book!
I hope in all the hoopla surrounding the stories that expose such things we remember that the pain and hurt caused by power and systems are a different animal and warrant a different response than that of personal offenses. More to come.