Tag Archives: PTCD

Religious Trauma and the Binding of Isaac

13 Jul

I have featured Julia’s work, and recently came across this on her blog regarding the Sacrifice of Abraham.

“Deceived, tied up, and held at knife-point — all by his own father? Because God said so? Talk about traumatic!” an older lady exclaimed.

Here is the blog post.

I stopped reading the story of Abraham’s sacrifice to my children when they are younger.  My first born was shaking after I read him the story from a Bible story book, and he still asks me if I would ever kill him if God asked me to do it.  There are many stories in the Old Testament for which a young child is not ready to understand from a developmental point of view.

Julia makes the beautiful point that even when “God provides” during or following trauma – it does not cease to be traumatic.  The trauma still affects the individual – often in painful ways.

I have suffered religious trauma.  I am a victim of spiritual abuse, and struggle with something that I call – “Post-Traumatic Church Disorder.”

You can read more about my own story here.

Julia makes a beautiful point when she states,

It’s hard for the hurt and the hope to coexist. But I think that’s what the story of the binding of Isaac, and the story of any religious trauma, has to tell. It’s not an easy story. But it’s a good one.

Julia Powers is a writer and seminary student at Duke University Divinity School, where she is pursuing the M.Div. degree with certificate in Anglican Studies. Her primary professional interests revolve around pastoral care & counseling, spiritual formation, and young adult ministries. For fun, she enjoys blogging (www.juliapowersblog.com), dabbling in iPhone app development (www.emojicheck.com), reading, and spending time with friends and family.

Posts related to Spiritual Trauma:


Another Celebrity Pastor Fail – Clayton Jennings

1 Jan

The Christian Post released a story about the Indiana Celebrity Pastor – Clayton Jennings who has gotten into a lot of trouble.  Having recently returned to my homeland of Indiana, I had only heard bits and pieces from relatives about this gifted and talented evangelist who had connections with my childhood church.   Continue reading

Be Not Afraid – A word to those hurt by the church

26 Jul

This article is part of a series that I have written on PTCD called Post Traumatic Church Disorder.  If you want to read the series, please search on the site using the abbreviation – PTCD.


This is the most repeated commandment in the Bible.  It was spoken to Joshua as he was about to enter the promise land.  It was spoken by the angel to Mary as God’s plan was revealed to her.  It was spoken to the disciples in the midst of the storm.

A commandment that we as frail humans need to hear.  Maybe because a relationship with God is built upon faith, and fractured by fear.

FEAR from Flickr via Wylio

© 2011 amboo who?, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Fear has always come between humans and God.

It was fear that drove Adam and Eve to hide in the garden.  It was fear that caused the disciples to scatter.  It is fear that drives us to endless diversions to escape the reality of our world.

When it comes to PTCD, we are frozen by fear.  We fear those who claim spiritual authority.  We fear the Bible because of how it had been used against us.  We fear anything that reflects our past trauma as it may subject us to flashbacks that return us to our place of abuse.

God commands us to not fear.  Fear is instinctual when faced with the unknown. 

As a child, I awoke from a late afternoon nap to find myself alone in a dark house.  Muffled voices emerged from somewhere outside the house.  A fire blazed in the darkness.  I became afraid, and did what any normal child would do.

I grabbed a flyswatter and ran to the front porch.  (Okay, so maybe I wasn’t quite normal.)

Once there, I huddled down in the darkness waiting for something to happen.  Something bad.  Apparently something – that I could overcome with my tightly-gripped flyswatter.

In my fear, I didn’t see any other options.

I could have turned on some lights.  I could have pushed away fear to realize that the spooky house was still my home.  I could have overcome my emotions to realize that the voices were strangely familiar.

In the midst of your fear, there are other options.

You may not see them.  You may need someone to see them for you.  You may need someone to talk you through them.  You may need someone to hold your hand.

Faith from Flickr via Wylio

© 2012 Eric Eberhard, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

These options require faith.

In the darkness, I can reach for a light.  In my panic, I may recognize the voice.  In my isolation, I can find those who care.  I can exchange my frozen fetal position into a bold, running embrace.

For this is the life of faith.

Be Strong and Courage.  Do Not Be Afraid for the Lord your God is with you, wherever you will go.                                                                                                                                                  Joshua 1:9

When Church Hurts

7 Jul

This story was written by Julia Powers, our new blog manager here at EA Resources, and was originally published by the blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. Julia has written in this story, as well as at her own blog, about the issue of Post-Traumatic Church Disorder (PTCD), which we have been discussing here in recent months.

church_pew.resizedSeveral years ago, I didn’t want to go to church ever again. Yet several weeks ago, I started an internship at a church. I can’t help but wonder: How on earth can a person go from wounded by church to working at a church?

Leaving Jesus?

When I was 16, a few well-liked pastors at my church—including my youth pastor—were very suddenly and mysteriously laid off. The abrupt leadership changes, accompanied by changes in worship and preaching styles, led many families to leave the church en masse. A sense of shock set in for many of us youth as a veritable spiritual safe haven was pulled out from under our already-wary adolescent feet.

The biggest issue, though, was lies from leaders. Church leaders denied problems and discouraged questions, reminding us to “respect our elders.” They started threatening individuals not to leave, even informing me that “Jesus has a plan for this church, so if you leave you’re leaving Jesus.”

Guess I’m leaving Jesus, I thought.

But leaving Jesus, it turns out, isn’t that simple. Because Jesus is the very embodiment of truth, he is able to speak more powerfully than lies, threats, or any other church hurts we experience. “If you continue in my word,” he says in John 8:31-32, “you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Click HERE to continue reading.

In short, the path Julia describes for moving forward when church hurts:

  1. Remaining a disciple of Jesus Christ to the best of your ability through prayer, Bible study, service to others, and sharing life with others — whether or not that looks like being a member of any particular church.
  2. Regaining trust in churchgoers and church leaders through one-on-one or small group meetings, conversations, counseling, or whatever works for you.
  3. Returning to church at your own pace, allowing yourself hearty doses of discernment, patience, and hope.

PTCD – A Message to those who have been wounded by the church.

30 Jun

This article is part of a series that I have written on PTCD called Post Traumatic Church Disorder.  If you want to read the series, please search on the site using the abbreviation – PTCD.


baggage claim - hosanna

Baggage Claim – Hosanna Lutheran Church, Lakeville, MN

Having just been hurt by our own faith community (after serving on staff there for 12 years), we were more than just fearful to step into a new church.  We were petrified.

After years of therapy and support, I finally admitted that something was wrong.  I had Post-Traumatic Church Disorder.  This is something that I believe affects thousands of people – a number that only continues to grow in a western church culture driven by consumerism and a corporation mindset.  This is a group of people who are not simply not from the church (“Nones”).  This group is called the “Dones.”

For a time, my wife and I attended a Hosanna Church in Lakeville, MN.  I attended because my wife had found a connection with a group of women.  I attended because it was a megachurch where I could hide.

I still remember the first time that I walked through the door, and they spoke these words, “God led You here.”  In that moment, I could only hope that those words were true.  I am not sure what else was said that night.  I sat and hoped that God truly did see me.

During our time there, Pastor Ryan Alexander spoke to those who have been hurt by the church.  I believe his message could be part of your path towards healing.  The series was called “Baggage Claim.”

Here is the link.


David - Prof 2Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to equip churches and parents to minister to emerging adults.  If he can assist your community, you can contact him at gdavid@earesources.org.

What I am Listening To – Tell Your Heart to Beat Again

17 May

The last several weeks, I have made some huge transitions in life by moving across the nation and changing jobs.  This has greatly affected the time that I have to write and post.  However, I am not done, and I have plenty of material that I have been producing.  EA Resources has also hired a staff member to help me keep up with the work, but I will share more about that in a later post.

I have been sharing some posts for those who have been severely hurt by the church.  I use the expression PTCD (post traumatic church disorder) to describe those who have so wounded by the church that it qualifies as a traumatic experience.

I am a survivor of PTCD.  This week, I wanted to post a link to a song that has given me great hope and encouragement through this journey.

Danny Gokey is the artist, and you can check it out here.brian gokey


The Wounded’s Mite

29 Mar

This post is part of a series of writings on spiritual abuse which I describe as PTCD which stands for Post-Traumatic Church Disorder.  For more articles on this topic, please search for the tag PTCD on my website.  

Photo courtesy of Aaron Robert Photography. Copyright 2014. http://www.aaronrobertphotography.com

Every Sunday, I used to sit up front. I wanted to be up close, in the action, and able to absorb everything.  Being fully engaged used to be so easy, and came so naturally.  It didn’t really cost me much.  It was actually quite enjoyable.

Then my life was changed.  A new weather pattern entered my world with raging winds and pouring rain.  A period of darkness interrupted only by the flashes of lightning.  In its wake, I was left spiritually wounded and scarred forever.

Now my front row seat is empty.  As I enter the church, I slide into a back row hoping not to be noticed.  I may or may not sing.  I will certainly not greet those around me.

Others watching may judge my mood and posture.  The ushers may be frustrated that I refuse to move into the center of the row.  My neighbors might be put off by the fact that I didn’t greet them with a smile and hearty handshake.

They do not understand.

They do not know the sacrifice it is for me to walk through the door of a church, or the struggle to be in a room crowded with Christians. They cannot see my emotional turmoil as music about God’s love fills the room.  They do not comprehend the inner fear as someone on a stage claims they speak with God’s authority.

I am thankful for all those who are singing, and speaking, and greeting.  I am not cynical towards your actions – for I was once one of you.  May you worship from the overflow of your life.  May God see your sacrifice, and be pleased.  I am not down-playing or judging your hearts.

I am only sharing a different story – my story.  A story that I do not own, but one which I share with thousands of nameless victims.  A story written and planned by God.  He knows my silent tears, He sees my down-turned face, and hears my wordless prayers.

As others watch, what I give at church may not appear to be my best.

He, however, knows the amount of my sacrifice.

Small, but costly – it is my mite.


Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.

Luke 21: 3, 4


David - Prof 2Dr. G. David Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of EA Resources, a non-profit designed to provide resources to parents and churches who minister to emerging adults.

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