In anticipation of the Nov 8th release (note: it’s been bumped back a week!) of my new book, Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church, I am making my way through a 5-part blog series on misconceptions and misunderstandings of spiritual abuse. You can read prior installments here, here, here, and here.
We come now to the final misconception in the series: “Talking about spiritual abuse will just lead to false accusations against pastors.”
As I have engaged the topic of spiritual abuse over the last several years, I have observed a repeated sentiment that pops up again and again. It is basically the idea that while spiritual abuse might be a problem, the real problem is false accusations against pastors. The concern is not so much about protecting the victims of abuse, but protecting church leaders.
Now, let me say that I understand this concern. False accusations do happen. People do lie. And churches need to take that possibility very, very seriously.
The problem with this misconception, however, is the way it frames the issue. It is suggestive that our default position should be a posture of suspicion toward the victims—as if the norm is that people lie about their pastors and the accuser is probably yet another person who just hates the church.
Now, to be clear, this is different than saying the accused is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Of course, everyone should be regarded as innocent until they are proven guilty. But that’s not the same thing as a presumption that the accuser is probably lying. Those are two very different things. And the latter is deeply problematic (not to mention unbiblical).
So, here are a few additional considerations that I think can bring more balance to the discussion. [Read more…]