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Consent in Spirituality – Confronting Abuse by Spiritual Leaders


Consent in church: The top half of a brown brick church is contrasted with the blue sky, and above it the #ChurchToo hashtag floats in white letters. Consent is an issue in protestant, as well as Catholic churches, and in other religious institutions.How do we’ve got a relationship with God that’s actually consensual? I’ve been pondering so much about this in mild of all of the instances of spiritual lecturers and leaders who preyed on parishioners, abusing them sexually and not using a single thought to the ability dynamic at play. These abusive non secular leaders could assume the connection is consensual, however how a lot consent does an individual actually have if the one pursuing them is a trusted, highly effective drive of their life? How does one have mutuality with somebody so excessive on a pedestal?

Let’s develop the query by infinity and think about our free will with God. I’ll always remember a dialog I had with a pal after we had been each in seminary. I requested her if she believed in hell. She mentioned, “NO. I don’t imagine God is a violent abuser.” Rising up in an evangelical Christian custom, I at all times had a query about consent associated to what they taught about salvation. If my option to observe Jesus is a selection between that or having the proverbial gun to my head (imagine, or go to hell), then is it actually a selection? It appeared like a spiritual model of the 70’s Nationwide Lampoon cowl, “Should you don’t purchase this journal, we’ll kill this canine.” You’re gonna purchase the journal!

A few years in the past, the empowerment motion towards sexual assault and abuse often called #MeToo spawned an analogous #ChurchToo motion. Ladies from all kinds of Christian denominations spoke out about sexual abuse by the hands of church leaders. Protestants who used to level fingers on the Catholic intercourse scandals now noticed the finger pointed at them for a similar crimes. It catalyzed entire new conversations about consent.

Did Mary even have a selection about bearing God’s son? Wouldn’t anybody visited by an angel and advised they’d be incarnating a holy youngster really feel compelled to say, nicely, OK?

Are we doomed to a life separated from God if we don’t say sure to God’s makes an attempt to heal and renew us?

Is God extra like a delicate lover who makes positive we’re able to take the following step in our relationship earlier than asking extra of us? Or is God transactional and pushy, utilizing God’s energy to press us ahead? “Do that and also you’ll be OK. Don’t do it and you can be in a world of damage.”

Most of the saints, mystics, and at the moment’s contemplative Christians line up on the facet of God as delicate lover, who makes use of divine lure and persistence with us, ready for us to completely consent earlier than the transformative work begins. My favourite a part of the welcoming prayer based mostly on Fr. Thomas Keating’s teachings names this consent: “I welcome what I’m experiencing this second in my physique as a possibility to consent to the Divine Indwelling.

Consent is of main significance in spirituality. Don’t permit anybody to coerce you into any perception, exercise, or relationship. Be particularly cautious of these in positions of authority and energy over you. And, sure, your consent is essential to God. Spend a while this week reflecting on what you’ll be able to wholeheartedly consent to in your relationship with God.


Teresa Blythe is a Phoenix based mostly non secular director, creator and coach of apprentice non secular administrators. To study extra about non secular route, try her e-book Religious Path 101. For a primer on non secular practices, take a look at her first e-book, 50 Methods to Pray. Her web site www.teresablythe.web comprises lots of details about the artwork and apply of non secular route.




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