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Church Trauma and Christianity

Church Trauma and Christianity

Many people find it hard to equate trauma with the church. A church is supposed to be a place where everyone is happy and filled with Gods Holy Spirit. In most cases many people do find that the church they attend is a force for good. Lives have been positively changed and people are generally happy.

There is however a downside to church attendance. This downside is usually experienced when members realise their minister is not as perfect as he appears to be. Sometimes its not only the senior minister or pastor that dissappoints members but other members of the church who are in positions of authority.

Church trauma and Christianity have been linked to a numer of factors. These factors include:

  • Discovering that what a member has been taught their whole life is  a lie.
  • Sexual abuse which can be physical or verbal or being forced to look at graphic images of sex acts.
  • Gossip amongst members and a betrayal of confidence.
  • Threats of being shunned and ex-communicated for having an opinion.
  • Gender bias.
  • Racial discrimination.

The above list is just an example of some of the factors that can be traumatic for members.

Repercussions of Leaving the Church 

Once members choose to leave the church or if they are ex-communicated it can wreck havoc on a members life. As a result of a member being tied to a particular church they may also lose their job and their lodging, and they may find that their close family members will also reject them.

church trauma and christianity

Religious Trauma Symptoms 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Lack of Self-Confidence
  • Feelings of Shame and Guilt

Counselors and pyschologists have the necessary skills and expertise to help victims of church trauma, however there are limits to the help a victim can receive from these therapists. This is because many therapists are not familiar with religious doctrines and often they are not able to dig down deeper in order to release victims from the torment they are experiencing. An example of this is the feelings of guilt and shame coupled with the belief that all sinners will be tortured in a fiery Hell for ever and ever.

Getting across these barriers is only possible with Bible knowledge. Christian eschatology which is a branch of study within  Christian theology is the study of the end or end things. It looks at subjects of discussion like death and the afterlife, Heaven and Hell etc. Whilst there are different views on these topics, ex church members have more than likely developed a fear of what is going to happen to them based on their relationship with the church.

Churches who claim to be Gods spokesperson and Gods only channel of communication on earth eg the Jehovahs Witnesses have damaged their members in a horrific way as they have been lead to believe that walking away from this organization essentially amounts to disowning God.

Members who walk away from their churches usually go through predictable stages as they grieve the loss of a simple, unquestioned faith. The phases are denial and anger, depression, bargaining and then finally acceptance. It is however extremly difficult for some to get to the acceptance stage.  If you need to find a safe space to talk about your journey after leaving your church please reach out to us by clicking on the image below:

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