7 For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction insound[f] doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, sincethey are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. (Titus 1:7-11)
In reference to the above scripture, authors David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen in their book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, have this to say:
This passage opens to us the additional problem of placing heavy performance weights upon struggling people by means of misusing or abusing Scripture.
Instead of using the Word as a sword to pierce through the thoughts and motives of their own hearts, many spiritual leaders have used it as a stick to drive others, for a variety of reasons: to keep others from holding them accountable; to protect their image; to uphold a doctrine they have based a whole ministry upon; to keep funds coming in; to build religious kingdoms in order to bolster their own spiritual self-esteem. In other words, it's possible that some leaders teach the Word for personal gain, not to heal and to free.
Verses Misused to Label People Who Question Authority as Divisive
Pastors use this verse to "mark and avoid" (shun) members they deem are divisive. This is not the correct interpretation. This is really about marking and avoiding false teachers, not congregants. False Teachers Who Mark and Avoid Church Members
attempting to challenge church doctrines that are biblically unsound.(monax)
The Titus passage is about false and divisive people teaching or preaching, not about pew-sitters. Context is important. Check out the verses before and after. (Arce)
The following is from Biblegateway.com in connection with Titus 3:10 verse: 8750 false teaching = Scripture repeatedly warns against false teachings, which deny or distort some aspect of the gospel. The origin of such teachings is attributed either to human error or to demonic inspiration. (ja)
Verses Pastor Use to Puff up Their Position as Authority
Psalm 105:15 - "Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm."
This verse is in a Psalm that recounts the marvelous protection that God showed to the Patriarchs, the Hebrews, Moses, etc. in the context of the patriarchal narratives of the first five books of the Bible. Verse 5 recounts the protection that these people receive from kings and other rulers who might try to harm them. False teachers use this to suggest that they are such “patriarchal” and leadership types, and should thus be especially, divinely protected from EVERYONE. When they cite this verse, they also present themselves as being very, very threatening to other leaders, such as government authorities, other church leaders, etc., and are in need of divine protection as they conduct their “prophetic” ministries, etc. (Ken Garrett)
1 Timothy 3:1 ESV - "The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.”
Setting aside the question whether pastors are always overseers, the use of the word office in this verse gives rise to a strong inference of overseers being vested with authority. Trouble is, the word office in this passage does not translate any Greek word. The word office was simply inserted into the English translations. More specifically, the Greek word episkopes, meaning something along the lines of overseerage or overseership, is translated “office of overseer.” I believe that the passage, if translated literally, should read something like “If anyone aspires to overseerage (or overseership), he desires a noble task.” Young’s Literal Translation reads, “If any one the oversight doth long for . . .”
If all this sounds too awkward for English language ears, I suggest something like, “If anyone aspires to the MINISTRY of overseer, he desires a noble task.” The use of the word ministry in place of office makes the passage compatible with Jesus' own teaching and injunction: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25b-28 ESV). A similar analysis would apply to every appearance I have found of the word office in the ESV New Testament, at least insofar as there is no standalone Greek word for any appearance of the English word office. (Gary)
Obey Pastors, Elders, Church Leaders
Hebrews 13:17 - below are posts I did early in the blog, in March, right after being sued:
Obey Those Who Rule Over You, and Be Submissive, Part 1
Obey Those Who Rule Over You and Be Submissive, Part 2
Malachi 3:8-10: This verse can be used "to attempt to compel giving as a legalistic requirement (to the preacher and his ministry kingdom, of course) rather than as a matter of heartfelt determination: “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (ESV). (Gary)
Arce notes: "Some of the tithing passages, and this is one, apply to the priests who were supposed to bring the tithes and not keep all of them for themselves. As in preachers taking whopping salaries and benefits, instead of feeding the poor, clothing those in need, and housing the homeless."
Verses Used to Enforce Mandatory Church Attendance
Hebrews 10:24-25: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV).
In my experience, even pastors I would not consider abusive tend to use the “not neglecting to meet together” phrase in this verse to encourage attendance at church functions, especially services. I would be in agreement if the verse were to be used to promote the kind of face-to-face, participatory, fellowship in which all present could actually stir up one another to love and good works and encourage one another. However, I submit that the verse is being used manipulatively, or at least inappropriately, when the intention is to promote attendance at events where the laity, having little if any opportunity to interact with one another, have no choice but to be passive observers—excepting only when doing what they are told to do (stand, sing, sit, give, etc.). (Gary)
Verses Pastors Use to Control How to Dress/Wear their Hair, etc.
1 Peter 3:3-4 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.
1 Corinthians 11:6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. (Shannon H)
The following notes are from Pastor Ken Garrett. Thank you, Ken!!!
Please feel free to leave any verses that pastors use to abuse, control, coerce, manipulate, threaten, etc, in the comments. Even if you are reading this post months later, go ahead and comment. This post will be linked in the Spiritual Abuse Resource area and will be the master list. Thank you in advance for your contributions. I think this is going to be very beneficial to have a comprehensive list.
I am very grateful for the contributors to this article. The names of contributors are listed at the end of each item they contributed in parentheses.
photo credit: Ryk Neethling via photopin cc