A commenter told me yesterday, “It’s amazing you still have faith.”
My answer to her? “Jesus. It’s allllllll Jesus.”
In the recent years that I have been studying the dangers of Legalistic Christianity, I have seen the many, many heartbreaking consequences.
Most common is the abuse of power. The sect of Patriarchal Christianity is a favorite among abusers, for it ultimately gives them license to abuse the weaker around them, all in the name of “god-given authority”.
Countless victims bear false guilt and shame for the abuse others inflicted upon them.
Pastors have unwittingly torn down their flock entrusted to them, in an attempt to cover up sin and darkness that needs to brought to the light.
Many raised in legalistic churches have experienced crushing burnout from trying so, so hard to follow all the rules.
But I think one of the most egregious consequences of this false “gospel” is the misrepresentation of Jesus.
The children of Legalism were taught that God is the one you must fear above all, rather than one you can go to for grace when you fail. They were taught to be wary of His wrath, never being taught the verses that explain how His wrath was already poured out fully on the cross, and there is NO condemnation left for those who belong to Him.
The children of Legalism grow up into wounded and traumatized adults, struggling to function in the very society they were sheltered from.
They wonder why their marriages fall apart after practicing “fail-proof” courtship.
They wonder why they experience far less love in the body of Christ than in the non-believing community around them.
The abused woman that fled her marriage to save her life seeks refuge in her church, only to be condemned and shunned by her pastor.
The chronic illness sufferer is chastised for not having enough faith or for hiding secret sin in their heart.
The adult children of Legalism are riddled with scars and when they look around for the source of pain, they can come up with no other to blame than God himself.
I believe the real tragedy of Legalistic Christianity is that it fatally wounds its once most devoted followers, and them leaves them with no one to turn to. Jesus implores us to bring our burdens to Him and allow Him to carry them, yet we are taught He is not safe.
This week I received some news which shook me to my core. Consumed with grief and anger, I’ve found myself awake night after night fighting lies from the enemy that I am not good enough.
After a tumultuous few days, somehow I am still standing, and my only answer for that, my friends, is Jesus.
People wonder why I am still a Christian and I tell them it’s because Jesus is my EVERYTHING. He is my Rock and my Refuge. He is the only truly safe one I can turn to in the midst of my pain.
If I sin against Him, He welcomes me with grace-filled arms.
If I begin to doubt Him, He begs me to come to Him with my questions so He can fill me with His peace.
When someone hurts me deeply, and I am blinded by the waves of grief and anger, He is the one I can turn to for comfort and His strength gives me the courage to fight for another day.
His love is immeasurable, and His grace unending.
If I could say one thing to the wounded children of Legalism, it is that Jesus is your sanctuary from the pain, not the cause of it. He did not inflict your scars — abusive people did that in His name.
Please don’t turn cold to the One who can heal your heart.
He is waiting for you, in all your brokenness.
** The drawing below is from fellow cult survivor, Josh Staller. He published this a few years ago with the caption, “Beware the wrath of a Gentle Man.” Jesus is just as angry as you are over the abuse done His name. And one day He will bring justice.