Blog Post by Sister Diane Foster
A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. Isaiah 42:3
Reviewing Part One
More and more people are waking up to the devastating effects of Spiritual Abuse. The sounds of whistleblowing are reaching into our Yahudim Kingdom. So much so that both men and women are breaking away from the bondage in which they found themselves; someone reading this blog may know of someone who was personally involved in such an entrapment, or as Scripture reads, were laden with heavy burdens (Matthew 23:4). Cries, sometimes angry or confused, or hurt cries ring out and because of this, because of the screams and reports of these bruised children of Yah, many, such as myself, are asking more questions to offer love, hope, and most importantly, awareness.
There seems to be no one definition for Spiritual Abuse. Yet, it can rightly defined as: “any attempt to exert power and control over someone using religion, faith, or beliefs can be spiritual abuse.” Spiritual abuse can happen within a religious organization or a personal relationship. Spiritual abuse is not limited to one religion, denomination, or group of people. Abuse can cause severe trauma and significantly impact your mental health. It’s important to remember that abuse is never the victim’s fault.” (Webmd.com).
Abuse takes many forms: physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial, social, and spiritual. Each of these definitions is relevant across all denominations. Spiritual abuse is sometimes mislabelled as spiritual zeal or even spiritual maturity. (https://www.commongrace.org.au/the_characteristics_of_spiritual_abuse)
Spiritual abuse is not a recent phenomenon.
What the Bible Says About Spiritual Abuse
The thing that has been, it is that which shall be, and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Is Spiritual Abuse something new, or does it go back to biblical times? The clearest example the Bible gives us concerning spiritual abuse comes directly from the mouth of Yahusha Himself when He gives seven woes to the Scribes and Pharisees.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
“The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. (Matthew 21:1-4) (NIV).
And again Yahusha spoke.
Isaiah was right [Isaiah 29:13, emphasis mind] when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules. You have let go of the commands of God/Yahuah and are holding on to human traditions.
Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” (Mark 7:6-8,13) (NLT)
Yahusha spoke of the oral traditions of men when He said these things.
Be careful not to let anyone rob you of this faith through a shallow and misleading philosophy. Such a person follows human traditions and the world’s way of doing things rather than following Christ the Messiah. (Colossians 2:8- GW)
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:8-9 (ESV)
Halakkah is a Judaic term that describes the syncretic tradition of combining the laws of Moses (Mosiac Law) with oral Law. Halakkah is the totality of laws and ordinances that have evolved since biblical times to regulate religious observances and the daily life and conduct of the Jewish people. Quite distinct from the Law or the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), Halakkah purports to preserve and represent oral traditions stemming from the revelation on Mount Sinai or evolved based on it. Though Judaism acknowledges a continuous development of Halakkah, the Law is always viewed as an explication or extension of the original Law given on Mount Sinai. (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Halakhah)
This blog post uses the example of Halakkah for no other purpose than to show the similarities between it and how other religious assemblies regulate themselves. Hebrew cults use the Laws of Moses to observe the Sabbaths and Feasts, all of which are foundational beliefs. However, the daily life and conduct of spiritually abusive cults representing shallow and misleading philosophy (Colossions.2:8) do not resemble Qodesh conduct of a people set apart to Yahuah. Polygamy, fornication, isolation, physical and sexual abuse, silencing, and using Scripture for manipulation are not behaviors or attributes of Yahuah. Please re-visit Spiritual Abuse Part One to learn more about what defines this cult. This blog post suggests that as you read, identify Phariseeic tendencies. While doing so, keep your attention on correlations. It will be valuable to you as you move through this series.
What Draws a Person to These Camps and Organizations?
How do the tender hearts of Yah’s children become entrapped? What draws them? Many of these people are vulnerable. Some drawn into these communities are searching for a sense of identity. Some want to feel accepted or loved. Some lack validation. It does not take much for them to place themselves under the wings of authoritative types who legitimize them as a person with value. These wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) give them a false sense of security as they stroke their egos and offer them a place of order and structure. Many are drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, or people on the streets seeking a way to escape the ravages of their conditions. Many have no family to which they feel they belong. Some have no biblical training, and the wolves exploit their ignorance.
For example, Matthew 16:24 reads:
Then said Yahusha unto his disciples, If any will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
A thief hunting innocent prey could use this verse to cause the innocent to give up everything they have to follow this leadership. In this example, Yahusha’s disciples turn their will over to Him because their soul desire is to be His disciple and live as He lives. A soul tired of fruitless living, a man unable to find employment, a single mother, a couple lost in their spiritual direction, a marital or relational breakup, a job loss, or illness become targets. Anyone vulnerable is subject to an inability to think critically. There are the weak who leave everything behind: jobs, family, and familiar surroundings to become a part of a group they feel offers them an authentic spiritual life. Some wanting healing from childhood trauma and abuse of various kinds find themselves entrapped again. Just as the disciples turned their will to Yahusha, new converts turned their will to false leadership.
Most of the members are recruited. It is no strange event to see recruiting teams on the streets and parks with Bibles in hand, falsely teaching the word of Yah. Their clothing and well-organized conventions make them attractive to those seeking identity and community. Enlistment occurs from a friend, the internet, social media, dating apps, and other sources. They seem to offer hope. Often, a false sense of ethnic pride is an attraction, causing the ignorant to feel more favored than other ethnic groups. The Bible clearly states that all who believe in the Son Of Yahuah are His (John 3:16). Additionally, those grafted into the Body of Yahuah partake of His promises.
How Do The Vulnerable Become Entrapped?
All human beings are subject to manipulation and have discovered that they were being or have been manipulated by another at some point in their life. Even a child can manipulate a parent once they understand their behavior and thinking patterns. Manipulation is not as complex as it may first seem and, when directed skillfully, gives the manipulator much power and control. Satan told Eve, “Surely you shall not die.” And though she had a personal walk with Yahuah, she believed him! Satan is the master manipulator! He has not stopped doing what He did in the garden on that fatal day. Those who spiritually abuse others, especially on a large scale, are master manipulators.
To avoid making this blog post too dense, the author will speak of the commonalities of manipulation using a model called B.I.T.E. However, knowing what the Bible says about easy persuasion is essential before moving on.
For Those Who Have/Had a Personal Relationship With Yah
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Yahusha to a different gospel, which is not another, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Yahusha. (Galatians 1:6-7)
Wolves in sheep’s clothing trouble the thoughts of those vulnerable with perverted persuasion as they feed them false doctrine.
For Those Who Were Never In Relationship With Yah
What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious Law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are! (Matthew 23:15)
Snaring: The Psychology of Entrapment
(Behavior, Information, Thought, Emotion)
Behavior. This category explores how manipulative groups regulate and dominate their members’ actions and behaviors through strict rules, rewards, and punishments, limiting individual autonomy.
Information. Examining the tactics of manipulative organizations to control information flow through censorship and propaganda, restricting members’ access to outside perspectives.
Thought. Focuses on psychological techniques used by such groups to shape beliefs and attitudes, suppressing critical thinking and promoting conformity.
Emotion. Explores how manipulative organizations manipulate emotions, fostering dependency and loyalty through love-bombing, guilt, and fear-based indoctrination.
Steven Hassan, PhD is an expert on Undue Influence, brainwashing, and unethical hypnosis. Click here to learn more.
No additional explanation is necessary for each term (behavior, information, thought, and emotion) connected to some form of spiritual abuse. Behaviors are regulated, there are restrictions to outside perspectives, and psychological tricks are used to shape beliefs (“surely you will not die”) and emotions. I particularly like fostering dependency and loyalty through love-bombing (a form of psychological manipulation and emotional abuse involving a person going above and beyond for you to draw you into a relationship with them). A man feeling deprived of manhood and independence receives a position of power. A woman feels vulnerable, who lacks security or support receives shelter, love, and companionship. Love-bombing is a fertile ground of persuasion for these common vulnerabilities.
Signs of Spiritual Abuse Entrapment
- Cults operate under a system of control and intimidation, and new members are often recruited using deceptive, manipulative tactics.
- A religious cult often twists spirituality to suit the purpose of the leader or leaders, and those who question or criticize typically find themselves punished.
- Illegal activities are rampant in religious cults, which thrive on isolation and fear. Often, these illegal practices involve physical and sexual abuse.
Some walk away, some run away, and some describe breaking free as escaping. Many do not mind sharing personal experiences of how they escaped the control of spiritual abuse. As part of this series, CSCM would like to hear your experience. There is also a link for those who will answer questions regarding your story. Our purpose is to expose Spiritual Abuse and dispose of the spiritual, emotional, and psychological effects it leaves on the individual.
If you would like to share your story:
Parts Four and Five
To Be Covered:
- Is there a correlation between Spiritual Abuse and narcissism?
- What have others said concerning their experiences in these groups, and how did they escape?
To Be Covered:
- Tallying questionnaire responses and hopefully sharing testimonials.
- Recovering From Emotional, Spiritual and Financial Bondages of Spiritual Abuse.
BACK ISSUES OF PURPOSE