Ever been manipulated? Most of us have. Ever been spiritually manipulated? If you’re part of any type of religious community it is likely that you have or at least the attempt has been made and perhaps you recognized it for what it really was at the time and were able to avoid it. Spiritual manipulation can take many forms but it most often boils down to one word, should. You should do this because [God said so] / [this scripture says this] / [you don’t need the information, you just need faith] or something along those lines. The way that spiritual manipulation typically works is that anyone that dares questions whether this is something that should be done or should be done differently or should be done cautiously is painted as “less than.” They have “less faith” or are “less spirit lead” or some other “less than.”
I’ve been in a number of Church meetings where well-intentioned people will say something that they really believe like, “If we had enough faith then this wouldn’t matter.” While what they say may have some truth to it it is also a tactic that avoids having to actually present a clear case for what should be done. Let me state this as clearly as I can. If God is in it then it can absolutely withstand the light of day and all of the scrutiny in the world. If God isn’t in it, then spiritual manipulation is a tool that can get you what you want without having to make the case. In cases where spiritual manipulation is evident instead of following blindly it is my opinion that one should instead follow very carefully with their eyes wide open.
So, how does this apply to marriage? Let me ask you this, how much spiritual manipulation have you fallen for in your marriage? Certainly there are things that we should do in regard to our marriage but how do we differentiate between the real should with the manipulative should? The fist answer is, Holy Scripture. If God’s Word says it’s a should then you can rest assured that it is but be careful of those that manipulate scripture in an effort to spiritually manipulate you. Second, ask God. Prayer and mediating over an issue or a situation can lead to some enlightening moments in the face of spiritual manipulation. Lastly, trust the Holy Spirit within you. I’ve been able to recognize it going on around me because the Holy Spirit alerts me to it. When someone wants you to exercise your faith and turn off your common sense, that is a time to look for it. Those who tend to get the most upset are most apt to fall to the temptation of using spiritual manipulation. Those that are too emotionally involved in the decision are the one’s most apt to fall to the temptation of spiritual manipulation. Those who believe they somehow have a special express lane to God’s will are the one’s most apt to fall to the temptation of spiritual manipulation. Leaders are apt to fall to the temptation of spiritual manipulation.
As spiritually mature believers we need to be able to recognize God’s yoke that is easy and His burden that is light (Matthew 11:30) and be aware of those that seek to put us under a yoke that even they could not carry (Luke 11:46).
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