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The Error of Blaming Religious Trauma on Christianity

2 Timothy 1:7

God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

A subject of a critical nature has come up for deliberation. It concerns the connection often made between religious trauma and Biblical Christianity. It is essential, as followers of Christ, to address these claims not with hostility, but with the love and understanding that our faith encourages.


Religious trauma, a term coined to describe the symptoms of psychological harm experienced by individuals who have a history of damaging experiences with faith, is a real and painful experience. Yet, it is imprecise and erroneous to attribute this trauma to Biblical Christianity.


Firstly, it is crucial to understand that Christianity, in its purest form, is a faith of love, kindness, and forgiveness, centred around the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christ himself preached love above all, urging us to 'Love each other as I have loved you’ (John 15:12). Christianity, therefore, is not a faith that encourages trauma or harm, but one that seeks to heal, mend, and restore.


However, we must also acknowledge that, like any institution involving humans, churches are not immune to misuse and misinterpretation of its teachings. When religious doctrines are manipulated or used as a tool for control, harm, or abuse, it can lead to instances of religious trauma. But this is not an intrinsic facet of Biblical Christianity; instead, it is a result of human failing and misuse of religious teachings.


We must remember that the message of the Bible is one of love, respect, and understanding. As in Ephesians 4:2: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." The Bible does not teach us to inflict pain, create fear, or use religion as a tool for manipulation or control.


Moreover, it is crucial to understand that religious trauma is not exclusive to Christianity. It can occur in any religious context where doctrines are misused or misrepresented, causing psychological distress to individuals. By blaming Biblical Christianity exclusively, we risk oversimplifying a complex issue that spans across all religious and spiritual practices.


In addressing religious trauma, our primary focus should be on fostering a safe, loving, and inclusive environment in our places of worship. We should offer support, understanding, and counselling to those who have experienced such trauma, helping them to heal and rebuild their relationship with God.


As we explore this subject of religious trauma, let us be guided by the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us strive, not to condemn, but to understand. Let us, not assign blame, but seek reconciliation. Let us, not incite division, but encourage unity in Christ's love.


In conclusion, it is erroneous and unfair to attribute religious trauma to Biblical Christianity. We must be careful not to confuse the actions of individuals, or individual institutions, with the teachings of a faith that, at its core, preaches love, compassion, and understanding. Let us continue to strive for a church that reflects these values, offering healing and support to those who need it most.


May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.