Abuse, Part II: Spiritual Bullying

In Part I, Spiritual Abuse: Shape Up or Ship Out, I addressed the spiritual abuse of authoritarianism. In this post, I am confessing my sin of authoritarianism expressed in a specific scenario. Even as I recount it, I am horrified by what I could fully justify to myself and approve of for over 2 decades! It is perhaps even worse than my “worst sin” of losing $1,000,000. I am very sorry and repent of what I did. I now wish to be an advocate of anyone who has suffered similar spiritual abuses in the name of Jesus. Do share your stories in a safe place without reservation and let the healing begin, as perhaps I am attempting to do.

Spiritual abuse or “bullying” by churches/church leaders is a very sensitive, delicate and difficult issue to address, because the abusers are usually sincere older Christians who are leaders and who have been in their church the longest and who mean well. Abusive leaders truly believe that what they say, do and decide is for the good of the church, and even for the good of the people they are “abusing” in the name of “shepherding.” There is always an extremely fine line between shepherding and manipulation–which is spiritual abuse.

Over a decade ago, I was concerned and distressed that a married shepherdess and young mother in my fellowship was planning to leave UBF for another church. So, I told her husband who did not want to leave to threaten to divorce her if she left UBF, just as a threat, and not because he would ever divorce her. At the time I felt fully justified in what I did. I wanted her to stay in UBF (and remain in my fellowship, of course!). I would use whatever means to achieve this, even the totally inexcusable and horrifying threat of divorce. I justified this because my conviction then was that the ends always justifies the means. The “ends” was that leaving UBF was totally unacceptable. The “means” was the threat of divorce. But the couple soon left UBF. It took me over 10 years to finally call them up in order to meet with them and to apologize to them for what I did.

I am not at all saying that what I did is what other UBF leaders are doing. In fact, I was quite sure that I was more extreme than others … and very proud of it! I am like Homer Simpson who said, “I am a chronic underachiever and proud of it.” In my case, I was a chronic extreme spiritual abuser. Basically, my implicit language was “Either you submit to my authority and directives, or you’re no good.” But it was never explicit so that I could very easily deny it.

Spiritual bullying involves spinning the truth, avoiding transparency, guilt manipulation and promoting neediness. I spun the truth by threatening divorce but never intending for divorce to happen. I was not transparent or honest by not telling others exactly what I said or did, or I told only a few confidants. I used guilt manipulation to make them feel that the absolute worst thing they could ever do was to leave UBF, which to me was equivalent to leaving or betraying Christ. I promoted neediness in them by trying to make them feel that if they left UBF they would be helpless and useless, and that they absolutely needed UBF for their welfare and blessing.

Duke Tabor says in Spiritual Abuse: Shepherds Ruling Like Royalty: “(Abusive churches and leaders) are very concerned with outward appearances. (I needed them to stay to make UBF and my fellowship look good.) Both the spiritually abusive and those that have suffered from spiritual abuse are concerned with outward appearances. (I wanted to look good as a fruitful fellowship leader.) They will often spin the truth, or even deny facts related to the flaws or mistakes that they or their leaders have made. (I threatened divorce without intending divorce.) Spiritually abusive organizations do not promote transparency and honesty. (I justified this by convincing myself that this was for their good.) To do otherwise would undermine their authority and position as the ‘chosen of God.’ Spiritually abusive leaders may suck you in with a message of grace, but you will find out that only the ones that perform get the rewards and as such they inflict upon their followers a impossibly high set of standards for thought and behavior. This reinforced the followers need for their leadership and their need to submit to that leadership. (I made them unhealthily dependent on me and UBF for their Christian life and blessing.) Spiritual abuse at it’s heart is legalism and why Jesus said to beware of the leaven (teachings) of the Pharisees.”

People who are abused in churches have been likened to those who suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Only Jesus and mature, humble, vulnerable, gospel loving people can promote healing and reconciliation.


  1. God bless you Dr. Ben.  In your post I hear a man of God who is laying himself bare before the Lord and wanting to make a difference in the direction the church is going.  I know God is going to bring blessing and honor to your church. 

    • Thank you, Mary, for your kind, gracious and generous words. May God’s will be done, and God’s glory be revealed.

  2. Ben,
    Thank you for your article and I hope that you find true reconciliation through the love and grace of Christ with everyone you feel you had an abusive relationship with. 
    But I have to say a few things.  First, can we please stop using the phrase “spinning the truth.”  I understand that it was the term used in the book, but let’s just call it what it is.  Lying.  Abusive spiritual leaders lie to get other people to do what they want them to do.  Lying is a serious problem with serious consequences.  I think we need to stop taking it lightly as “truth bending.”  It is lying.  And Christ is never anywhere behind the lie.  There is no lie with good intention.  There is only Satan’s deception and sin. 
    I also have a problem with the suggestion that spiritual abusers are “usually sincere older Christians.”  And while I agree, they may think they are doing the right think in the name of the church, I do not see any way for people to justify their actions in the name of Christ.  You do not accidentally abuse people.  You do not accidentally lie to and about people.  You do not accidentally bully people with spiritual power.  You do not accidentally violate the rights and ultimately the freedom of others. 
    I do believe that a sincere Christian can do these things, but when they kneel down before Christ each night with an open heart that desires His love and desires to share that love with others, the Holy Spirit will reveal this to them and they will be prompted to repent.  Clearly this is what has happened to you.  God is very good. 
    In Christ is freedom and love.  When “shepherding” violates either of these in another human being, it is abuse.  And I agree, at its heart, it is legalism. 

    • Mark Mederich

      ‘Spiritual abuse or “bullying” by churches/church leaders is a very sensitive, delicate and difficult issue to address’

      ‘Abusive spiritual leaders lie to get other people to do what they want them to do. Lying is a serious problem with serious consequences. I think we need to stop taking it lightly as “truth bending.” It is lying.’

      we have to make doing right easy to address, by remembering Jesus bravely spouting out “woes” to the ‘learned/esteemed’ pharisees

    • Mark Mederich

      aw let’s grow up people:)
      coming back to truth/striving to do right/encourgin-helpin one another ain’t so hard!
      just gotta forget greatness mentality (anyone as smart as 4th grader know only God great:)
      money=source all evil but eliteness=source all trouble

  3. Thanks for your confession, Dr. Ben. I’m glad to hear a leader has admitted their sin, repented, and now works to prevent the type of behavior. By the way, have you ever read “Less Religion, more Jesus?” by Stephen Arterberry? It’s got similar content and it’s very good. I think that when one enter’s a church they should be told what spiritual abuse is, and if that person encounters it they should either say something or leave. If I had remained in UBF and “fished” people I think I would have started the first bible study with that. By the way, guess who’s getting baptised!

  4. Thanks, Emily. I fully agree that “spinning the truth” is lying. But to accuse someone of being a liar (though true) might be harder to swallow than to say they are spinning the truth. My intention is not to excuse or justify lying, but to hopefully promote dialogue and transparency, so as to lead to an uncovering of the truth. This is still tough and humanly impossible, because those who are accustomed to “spinning the truth” for decades, it then becomes the “truth” and a “holy grail” that cannot be questioned or addressed.
    The upside of shepherding is that we all need mentors and role models to draw us to Jesus, our Chief Shepherd. The downside of shepherding is abuse, authoritarianism, legalism, behavioral and thought control, that draws attention to the human shepherd. It also causes a fear of man, rather than a fear of God (Prov 29:25).
    I hope that by being more and more aware of the downside of shepherding, our shepherding of people may be more Christ-like and lead to a transparent gospel community, rather than a sectarian tribal community that it can very easily degenerate to.

    • Mark Mederich

      i’m realizing pride (in this case religious pride) is the real problem;
      we tend to walk on eggs for the sake of ourselves/others, so they get worse;
      i guess Jesus knew he had to speak directly to demons in others

    • Joe Schafer

      Mark, at this rate, you’ll probably post the 20,000th comment as well.

      Keep up the good work!

    • Mark Mederich

      sorry, didn’t win the lotto, nor trying to monopolize, just got day off work but gotta go now; so leaving the other thousands comments to whoevers available:)

  5. Congratulations, Oscar, on your baptism!
    No, I’ve not read the book: http://www.amazon.com/More-Jesus-Less-Religion-Relationship/dp/0307458822#reader_0307458822 I love the titles of the 16 chapters. If you’re up to it, give us a brief or not so brief synopsis of the book.

    • I can’t find my book, I must have lent it to someone….

  6. I realize that the title is too long and cumbersome. Can someone propose a shorter title?

  7. My questions is do we?  Do we need mentors and role models to draw us to Jesus?
    I don’t know that we do.  I definitely do not think we need people to draw us to Jesus.  I think Jesus does that.  I do agree that Jesus puts important people in our paths at particular times to encourage us or to reveal something to us.  But the point is that we encounter each other as fellow travels on the journey of faith.  Not as “Hi, I’m your role model and mentor.  Follow me and do what I tell you to.”  We can help each other try to discern God’s word.  But in terms of spiritual life, for anyone to claim that they have figured out the walk of faith and all you need to do is _________, makes me very nervous. 
    Jesus calls us to love each other, not shepherd, not boss, not bully, not judge, not condemn.   We encounter others, they encounter us.  Believers, non-believers, new believers, long-time Christ followers.  And in each interaction, I think we need to be prayerfully seeking what God might be asking you to do for that person and what God might be giving this person to do for you.  We are brothers and sisters on this journey.  Not parents and children.  Not shepherds and sheep.  Not leaders and followers. 
    Brothers and sisters.

  8. David Bychkov

    BTW, I think healthy biblical shepherding/leadership is something we need to discuss/learn. As for me, during last time I’ve been tempted to totally reject any authority. Surely that’s not right. 

    • Agreed, David. We all need authority. We were created to be under authority–God’s authority. We should be stewards under God’s authority, and to disciple and mentor others to also acknowledge God’s authority over our lives, and to live in love, fellowship and community in the church.

  9. Thanks, Emily. I agree with you. Perhaps, what you and others are describing and have experienced in UBF is perhaps unhealthy unbiblical shepherding/leadership, which inclines toward authoritarianism and legalistism, based on behavioral conformity to UBF tradition and methodology, and being subject to unhealthy manipulative terms like “keep spiritual order” and “just obey.”

    But I think that if you met a person say like Mother Theresa, or like Billy Graham, we would likely volunteer to be mentored and shepherded by them, for we would gravitate to them because of their real and genuine Christ-like, Spirit filled humility, love and compassion. So, when Peter says, “Be shepherds of God’s flock” (1 Pet 5:2), he intends for all Christians to be role models and mentors for others in order to draw them to know the love of God through His Son and by His Spirit.

    That’s perhaps my feeble attempt to distinguish between biblical Christ-like shepherding, and the shepherding that may have been experienced in an authoritarian-like church such as UBF, where the shepherding can easily become a form of BITE (behavior, information, thought and emotional control), a term coined by Steve Hassan.

    • Ben – what I would make one addendum to what you said here – “he intends for all Christians to be role models and mentors for others in order to draw them to know the love of God through His Son and by His Spirit.”

      I would say instead “he intends for all Christians to be role models and mentors for EACHOTHER in order to draw EACH OF US to know the love of God through His Son and by His Spirit.”

      That is my issue with all of this. We speak as if the change is position is permanent – I go from “sheep” to “shepherd” and then I am one of the shining leaders of God’s church. I don’t buy it. I have seen too much abuse and been personally manipulated and abused by the so called “shepherds” of the organization. These are not shepherds, these are wolves and thieves – out for their own glory. It turns God’s ministry into a pyramid scheme. What then is the difference between that and Amway? really?

      There are times in our spiritual lives when we encourage and rebuke – only out of love for no other purpose than to help the other person – and there are times we need to be rebuked. And that rebuke can come from a teenager, from a peer, from an elder. It is all about helping eachother love Jesus more through dialogue with one another. The moment we stop engaging in a dialogue with to those around because of their “position” on the pyramid is when we are in danger of all of this abuse. And honestly, that moment came long ago.

      My goal in helping Christians now – during my BRIEF time of mentoring another person – is for one purpose only: to help them grow into Christians who can think and understand scripture BY THEMSELVES as whole Christians, who can dialogue with the Holy Spirit of God FOR THEMSELVES, and as a result help others (including me!) grow to love God more.

    • I totally agree with Tuf (how’s that for marital unity!)
      That is what I was trying to say.  I don’t think the idea of a spiritual leader over a follower is biblical.  It is not a vertical relationship but a horizontal one.  No one has this figured out and I would be terrified to be convinced that I knew exactly how God wanted to work in someone’s life and I did everything I could–lie, bully, guilt–to push them into that. 

  10. I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve been learning about the missional church.  I think a lot of this abuse will be avoided when the church recovers a proper sense of what it is and who God is.  What we need is a fundamental shift in perspective; away from a church-centered view of mission and toward a God-centered one.  This is what I’m getting from the missional church perspective.  We’ll make a lot less mistakes if we are letting ourselves truly be led by God, not our own ideas.  I agree with Emily.  It’s not a good thing to be so confident.  I think God really wants to shake things up a bit.

    • Thanks, Sharon. It is our perpetual sinful default to be anthropocentric. It requires fear and trembling to be Theocentric, Christo-centric and Pneumatocentric. I can’t wait for you to share with us what you are learning.

  11. Thanks, Tuf, Emily, for marital unity! I love it. Thanks especially for helping me to articulate and clarify what I meant in words, especially “each other.” Without a question, real relational unity must be BIDIRECTIONAL, never unidirectional.

    Unfortunately, relationships in UBF have been mostly framed in a hierarchy system, which practically translates to a unitlateral top down power communication. As you alluded to, I believe this is unbiblical, anthropocentric, and clearly unhealthy.

    Christ is the ultimate head of the church (Eph 5:23; Col 1:18), not a person, while the rest of us in the church are a loving family of brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, parents and children in the Lord, who are all equal co-heirs with Christ.

  12. Thank you, Dr.Ben for the article and the sincere testimony. It is very good that you acknowledge your church mistakes and abusive sins as a shepherd and a church leader. But I agree with Tuf and Emily that there is too much “goodness” in discribing your and sincere older christians’ abusing others. I also agree with Joe when he said that his daughter is his sister in Christ. I think it is better to say “the rest of us in the church are a loving family of brothers and sisters and the Father”. Luther said that he would better have the Mother in Heaven. Still the spiritual order is just this – the Father and his children. Even Jesus is our brother and friend and he was born and laid in a manger and in a most glorious moment in his earthly life he went to Jerusalem by a donkey. There was no abuse in Jesus but transparency and vulnerability and love. Jesus is the good shepherd and “the Chief Shepherd”.
    Is there a need to have a shepherd or a mentor? There is such a need but only on the way to Christ and to be born again. After that there is no such need for Jesus himself shepherds a christian’s life. A christian is able to learn good things from other christians “by themselves”. And in UBF real abusing and legalism start after sheep’s being born again. When sheep hear “you must write and share testimonies every week and participate in 9 weekly (rebuking you) meetings and in fishing others…” many don’t want to come any more. And they are right. There is much hypocrisy in UBF shepherding and rebuking (e.g. in my former chapter the director hasn’t fished “a single convert” for the last 20 years and hasn’t share any testimony though he rebuked all the rest at almost every meeting for “bad fishing” and pride and “bad testimonies”). Jesus was not a friend and a brother only for abusers and hypocrites, he rebuked them. I think about some Jesus’ rebukes especially in Mt.23 and they are not so “good” for abusers and sincere older christians. e.g. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are”. I thank Jesus for these are his words and his opinion about abusing and legalism. So I believe Jesus understands and comforts the abused and is their good shepherd.

  13. Thanks, Vitaly. Perhaps I credited “too much goodness” in describing older Christians abuse of others. But I am thinking that just as a prostitute can’t see that prostitution is a sin, also Pharisee like Christians (which includes all older Christians and leaders) can’t see their “older brother sins.” It is still a sin. That’s why older Christians like me absolutely need to be accountable to other Christians who can help me see my blind spots. Thus, I am very thankful for your comments here. Also, for Tuf and Emily’s and others.
    As I wrote this blog, I didn’t realize how horrified I would be–by using the threat of divorce–until after I wrote it. Was I not a Christian then? I believe I was. But I was completely 100% blind to my spiritual bullying tactics in the name of shepherding. Yet it does not in any way justify or excuse or minimize or rationalize what I did. I did hurt and wound others, for which I am sorry and wish to apologize to all who bring it to my attention.
    I am very sorry to hear of “you must write and share testimonies every week and participate in 9 weekly (rebuking you) meetings and in fishing others…” and “hypocrisy in UBF shepherding and rebuking (e.g. in my former chapter the director hasn’t fished ‘a single convert’ for the last 20 years and hasn’t share any testimony though he rebuked all the rest at almost every meeting for ‘bad fishing’ and pride and ‘bad testimonies’).”
    By God’s grace and help, this may be boldly and publicly and fearlessly addressed more and more, so that such horrific practices and hypocrisy may end.

  14. Darren Gruett

    I think the concept of authority in UBF has been muddied because of a couple of things. No doubt, cultural backgrounds have been used to interpret the concept of authority in the Bible, and this is a big problem. But I also think that the leadership structure that UBF employs fosters an incorrect view of authority. The Bible speaks of leadership by overseers (also called elders or pastors; see 1Ti 3:1); but in addition to that, we have a general director, chapter directors, continental directors, campus coordinators, fellowship leaders, and shepherds. So I think that an unbiblical model of leadership is also one of the reasons that these kinds of issues with authority come up again and again.

    • David Bychkov

      I think in the structure which you mentioned the root problem is church vs. parachurch. For parachurch organisation it’s prbably ok to have all this posts. but is it ok to have them in church? and how to deal with it in UBF reality, which, according to the Wikipedia “UBF began as a parachurch organization. In time, the ministry became a church and began having Sunday worship services.”

    • It is good that UBF started as a parachurch, it should go back to a parachurch.
      So often the mission of the church as a whole is confused with the mission of Christians indivudually.

    • Hi MJ, This issue I’ve been wrestling with for a while. Even tried to write article about the confusing and mess provoked by this interesting and unusual combination. Though it is not that easy :)

    • Mark Mederich

      ‘The Bible speaks of leadership by overseers (also called elders or pastors; see 1Ti 3:1); but in addition to that, we have a general director, chapter directors, continental directors, campus coordinators, fellowship leaders, and shepherds.’

      seems like alot of titles: for prestige of holders? for control of holdees?

      overseer implies person watching over flock; elder implies guide; pastor implies concerned care;
      the rest are hogwash, system of control

  15. Darren Gruett

    David, I agree with you completely. If UBF was a missions organization, then this kind of structure would be perfectly acceptable. I should add that this kind of hierarchy also goes against the biblical principle of churches being local, autonomous bodies. What UBF should do is go back to the model outlined in Scripture and spinoff its mission endeavors as a separate entity or organization.

  16. Thanks, Darren, David. For sure we need a sound biblical view of leadership and shepherding. It seems that we have inadvertently practiced eisogesis by interpreting the Bible to fit our preferred idea based on hierarchy, authority, seniority, and Confucius.
    Since this has been going on for 50 years, to address it seems to be too painful for those who have bought into such a system and have stopped questioning it. In fact, questioning it or addressing it has been unacceptable for some.

  17. Darren Gruett

    Ben, you are so right. This is the difficult thing about the Word of God. We have to heed what it says even when it goes against our own way of thinking or the way we feel. I sit through so many Bible studies where people just want to reaffirm what they already believe, instead of being challenged to change their thinking in areas where they are wrong. I went through this myself when I came around to accepting the Doctrines of Grace. Although it was difficult for me, it ended up being a major turning point in my walk with God, and I am forever grateful for that.

    • I think dialogue, repentance, Bible study and doctrine study are some of the keys to correcting these issues. And related to your comment Darren, I heard this at my men’s study this week: The pastor who taught the study (about forgiveness) said he learned nothing new about forgiveness in preparing for the study. But he was greatly encouraged to practice forgiveness. So Bible study is not always about learning anything new. It sometimes (perhaps often?) should be about motivating us to do what we already know.

    • Mark Mederich


  18. Darren Gruett

    Brian, I agree with you on that point. I did not mean to imply that we should always study the Bible to learn something new, or that reaffirming old beliefs is bad. Whether it is one or the other we should always be convicted and exhorted to do what it says. That is what I meant when I said that people should be challenged to change their thinking when it is not in line with Scripture.

    • No problem, Darren. I was intending to further explain your point, not contradict it :)

      This is a good discussion, and one that seems to come up in UBF circles every few years. I only want to add one point to the conversation: In my experience, the spiritual abuse is primarily abuse of Scripture. UBF spends SO much time in Bible study that you eventually stop thinking for yourself and find that you cannot even consider viewpoints different from UBF ideology, all because that ideology is bound to Scripture via proof-texting and springboarding methods.

      I know this because I was a prime Bible abuser :(  Here is a quote that begins to show how the root of nearly all abuses in UBF stem from incorrect Biblical doctrine:

      “Brian defends things that are only a small part and not the core of the real problem, and he does so by quoting the Bible selectively. None of his Bible interpretations can pass a thorough analysis. He has no interest in really learning from the Bible, but the Bible is only a means to justify UBF practices. I call this Bible abuse.”

      We’ve already had these kinds of discussions in the past, in 2005, to almost no avail. Perhaps the discussion above will be more effective…I am thrilled to read your confessions, Ben. We need far more people to come to such realizations.

      (Note, I consider the person critiquing me in the quote above to be a very good virtual friend these days!)

  19. Abraham Nial
    Abraham Nial

    Cannot imagine someone persuading my Korean-wife to threaten me with divorce when I was considering leaving ubf! J Thank God that did not happen because we share similar visions for our future.
     ‘Abuse’ or ‘abusive’ are such terrible words to be heard in Christian circle. Although this happens in many unfortunate ways, abuse of spiritual authority is the most subtle one. I checked antonyms for ‘abusive’ and found words like ‘complimentary’, ‘kind’, ‘respectful’. We all need leaders, especially men and women with ‘spiritual authority’ who can give us guidance, direction and vision to progress in our lives and ministry in complimentary, kind and respectful ways. How we wish those Christ-like qualities in our leaders! Dr Ben earlier practiced the ideology of “end justifies the means”, but he has changed and is willing to advocate against abuse of spiritual authority. Glory be to God for this conversion!
    The ideology of “end justifies the means” continues to be Satan’s major strategy to deceive those in authority even from the Garden of Eden time. Using this, Satan deceives fallen men to attempt to escape and or rebel against the ultimate authority of God. In other word, “end justifies the means” violates the Kingdom life style (Mt 6:33) and as a result well meaning and born-again believers tolerate and promote unrighteousness in personal and public life.
    Abuse of spiritual authority is rooted in lack of trust that God can control situations which are out of the control of the leader, combined with excessive self-righteousness. A method worked and gave good result does not make it automatically godly. Further, we need not make that method our ‘core values’ for all time and purposes. Abuse of spiritual authority is also due to loosing sight of eternity and having a hope in Christ only for this life (1Co 15:19,32). Are we shepherding people only for this life? Are we building up a ministry only for this life? Do we want to enjoy all the position and fame only here and now? Our present life and mission are but internship for eternal, glorious assignments yet to come (Rev 20:4), for the planet Earth, under the leadership of Jesus who will be the King of kings and Lord of lords. Even apostle Paul did not want to be distracted from such a hope (1Co 9:27). Just as Satan is whispering to make us abuse God given authority, God is watching and faithfully recording how righteous are we going to be with the given authority, to determine our eternal rewards.
    I am sure that Ben’s article and the comments are not going to go well with many present chapter directors, national directors, continental directors, gen directors and so on. But it is my sincere prayers that instead of being like Moses’ generation that came out from Egypt and experienced many powerful miracles in the wilderness yet almost none qualified to enter the Promised Land except two, many of these leaders in authority may read and have time of sincere reflection and a re-conversion experience like that of Ben filled with glorious hope for eternity.

    • Amen, Abraham. I am reading your comment with tears of joy and pain mixed together. You nailed the core issue: Do we have hope in Jesus only for this life? If so we are to be pitied more than all men. So many times my life in UBF seemed to be only for this life, and not preparation for the life to come.

      It is sad that marriage has been used to manipulate young people into conforming to  UBF ideology. Even baptism has been used to coerce people to obey “world campus mission”. I saw so much of this and sat by idly “minding my own business.” I even witnessed marriage by faith used to coerce a homosexual into marriage. So whatever good deeds have been done in UBF, such deeds are, in my opinion, trumped by abusing marriage in the name of “being a blessing” or “for God’s glory.”

    • Thanks, Abraham. The “hardest” sins to overcome for Christians are not “prostitute-like” sins, but “Pharisee-like” sins. I know I need others to personally and constantly call me out, because I can’t see (and don’t want to see) my own Pharisee-like sins: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/04/01/blind-to-our-blindness/

    • Dear Abraham,

      Thank you for your comment. It really hit home. Our vision should be heaven bound not earth bound. Also Ben, I liked the link to the blog about blind to our blindness. May I say that it was an eye opener. These days we are preparing for our Easter conference. We have four speakers. Three of them are in their early 20’s under 22 and then there’s John. They wrote all their messages on their own. When I read them I was deeply moved by the insight they had. I learned so much. When John read our daughter’s message he commented that it was better than his message and he decided to revise his message. Several of our students decided not to come but I was so happy about the spiritual insight of our messengers that even if only the messengers and I go to this conference it would be enough. Also we are going to another city and another church (not UBF) will sponsor our conference. They will house us, and feed us. They are so excited to have us and we are so excited to go there. We want to be a blessing for them. 

  20. Ben, your postings sound a lot like Jimmy Rhee’s articles from 2000, where he wrote: “Remember if something is true, it can stand being questioned; if it is not, it needs to be questioned!” And your prior post regarding sexual abuse sounds like what happened in Winnepeg in 1990

    The pattern just keeps repeating, over and over, more subtly perhaps. May our Lord end the pattern of abuse this time around. 

    And this pattern is not unique to UBF:

    “Many pastors in South Korean churches (and some Korean-American churches and Korean-American Christian groups – Berkland Gracepoint and University Bible Fellowship) show off their strength and absolute authority over all church-related matters by acting like despots, dictators, kings and emperors of their small empires. Many pastors in South Korean Protestant churches criticize the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church, but many South Korean pastors behave as if they are the Pope of their local church.”

    • Mark Mederich

      who taught them? (well-meaning english/american missionaries?)
      religion must be controlled by Christ so that it does not control us
      (Jesus was Lord of Sabbath so His Spirit can heal anytime, anywhere He pleases,

    • Mark Mederich


  21. Thanks, Brian. Jimmy Rhee taught me the Bible in UBF for the 1st 5 years of my Christian life in the early 80s. I love and respect him. I didn’t know he posted anything.

    Interestingly, Jimmy wrote about the way we understand humility from Num 12:3. I also blogged about it, because humility has been incorrectly communicated as “Be humble like Moses and don’t respond to anyone who complaints against you”: http://bentohwestloop.blogspot.com/2011/09/moses-himself-needs-humble-savior.html Surely there are instances where you do not need to respond. But this is clearly not the blanket way to define what Christian humility is.

  22. I realize that some have accused me and this site for “UBF bashing.” My explanation is that the old school mind set of some leaders is an authoritarian top down model that can never be questioned or addressed, because “God appointed some as leaders but not YOU.” So any critique, justified or not, is categorically labelled as criticism, immaturity, pride and unthankfullness. Perhaps this would qualify as AD HOMINEM (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”).

    • Ben, I’m not sure what word to use (my wife could probably tell me :) But your articles and thinking lately is clearly not bashing, but critical thinking. Bashing, in my mind, would be hateful “ad hominem” attacks filled with proof-texting and springboarding.

      Your thoughts are more like a critical thinker who has these qualities, as opposed to assuming the “party line” or fighting to maintain the “status quo” (i.e. “chee”).

      – Raises important questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely

      – Gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively

      – Comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards

      – Thinks open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences

      – Communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems, without being unduly influenced by others’ thinking on the topic.

      I contend that we should make right judgments about ourselves, about God, about people, about the world, etc.; and such thoughts are not passing judgment on others. I am so blessed these days because people around me ask questions like “What was God teaching you through that book you read?”

  23. Ispent about 16 years in ubf. I have had difficulty with how teaching the Bible was/is done in this shepherd and sheep model. “You learn from me.” One of my first Bible students (Ben) came to study with the mindset that we could mutually encourage each other. I never said anything, but in my heart I thought “I am the teacher, you are the student, you learn from me.” I brought some of my friends in my earlier days in ubf and people would ask me, “Are these your sheep?” ” These” like they are posessions or things. It embarassed me that they would ask such a thing because they were my friends not sheep. Even after I received the title “Shepherd” I was uncomfortable with it. I always believed that I was Jesus sheep not someone else’s sheep and that only Jesus was and is my Shepherd. Imagine how I felt when i brought 3 friends to church one sunday..Someone commented to me, “wow, you brought 3 sheep!” I hated it and yet I felt important. A few years later I stopped inviting family and friends all together and also stopped inviting students on campus. The entire shepherd/sheep and 1:1 bible study tracking each week became embarassing and burdensome because my focus and dare I say that the shepherd/ sheep model seemed wrong to me. There were even conversations about what actually counted as a 1:1.

    A couple years ago I made a decision that I wanted my actions to reveal Jesus in me, not my Bible studies, fishing frequency or words. If Jesus can be revealed through my love, care and concern for others and they ask me about my actions then I can share my faith in Jesus and the supreme aewsomeness that is Gods grace and love. In other words I can share my testimony. No more fishing attemots each week or one to one studies. God provides numerous opportunities to share my faith and Jesus love every day with others. I am now free to do so with joy and willingness.

    One to one mentoring can be good and helpful, but only at certain times. In ubf too many people have this title of shepherd and lead 1:1 Bible study. I don’t trust the one to one format simply because it puts one person in position of power over the other. This is where a lot coersion, persuasion, abuse, and manipulation occur. (this can happen in groups too). I know someone who decided not to go to a conference and their Bible teacher spent an hour and a half persuading them that their decision was wrong and un-biblical. UNBIBLICAL!!!!????? It drove this student to tears. I think there is too much risk in the 1:1 model. If someone needs a mentor, then seek and refer to those who are qualified to do that. True pastor, counselor, therapist, etc.

    I’ve been meaning to meet with a friend for lunch soon. It will not be a 1:1, but meeting with a friend, sharing our lives and praying together.

  24. Thanks for sharing, Chad. I think that all shepherds, 1:1 Bible teachers and leaders who preach, lead and teach the Bible would benefit from reading this quote by Frank Viola in his short book: Straight Talk to Pastors:

    “Brothers, none of us thinks that we lord over God’s people. But let me tell you something: If your people are afraid of you, you are lording over them! Your motive may good. But if your people feel controlled by you, you are lording over them! Brothers, if your people feel that they have to get permission from you to make decisions in their private lives, then you are lording over them! Because you are putting fear in their hearts. You are making them feel controlled. You are telling them what they can and cannot do in their personal lives . . . like whether or not they can attend a meeting held by another Christian. Therefore, you brothers are lording it over God‟s people!! And if that is not what it means to lord over God‟s people, then you tell me what it means to lord over them?!!”

  25. Moses Marji

    Dear Dr. Ben,

    Over the years at UBF I had some observations about orders that were not biblical from shepherd to sheep. At the same time deeply each individual is accountable in his or her personal relationship with God. I really appreciate and love the tone of your words above which reflected peace and acceptance in your heart. So, it seems that God put peace in your heart.

    With a relationship of shepherd and sheep we tend to feel that this person should listen to what I say to him or her for no reason but because I teach him or her the bible. If they do not listen we tend to call them rebelious, proud and disobedient to the servant of God. Several times it happens that the leader mock the bible student if he does not listen to a certain direction and then abuse him or her publicly in Sudnay message since you can not reply to a message. That message which you can not deny because it is true and from the bible words but it was applied so wrongly to abuse spiritually to that student to “teach him a lesson” — spiritulal lesson. And more offten that lesson turns to teach the leader where he or she sees God’s hand working with the student and if they recognize it they repent surely. When you look at it from a prespective of Man to God relationship, we can not but marvel how all these spiritual abuses work as well as trials and help the individual grow more in the word of God. Does this mean I promote this spiritual abuse. Surely not. I recall that these times helped me to draw closer to God. Now on the other hand, from the leader ( The abuser side) Also it goes back to a relationship between Man and God, since the abuser needs really to sit down with him or herself and reflect on the real motive in their hearts which led them to the abusive behaviour and repent before God.

    I witnessed many who have very simple and pure faith here in Africa which stunned me and made me realize how Jesus is so simple and so pure. It is very beautiful. There is work of God going in every part of this world and mostly with simple pure people. Which goes back to the point that we have become a pharisee like in many occasions at UBF which started with trying to frame the bible within culture instead of pending the culture to the bible. You will be stunned of how similar the hierarcy of our ministry is some how similar to that of many worldly companies. Order is required at any place and specially spiritual order, but I beleive we have to stop a second and distinguish betwee spiritual order and spiritual abuse which just fill the pride of the leader.

    Each person has to come to God with sincer heart individually, no one will go to heaven because he or she are in UBF or any other christian organization. I beleive we have a lot of work to be done at our ministry ( UBF) which is desparately needed. I am sure many people who left UBF are very angry becuase of abuse they received at some degree, and if they were around for some years I am very sure also if think in their mind for a second they also abused those who were under them at some degree or some point. Authority and power are dangerous thing, and when they are given to someone who is immature OR follow blindly without thinking it can destroy souls. This is the main issue Muslims suffer from.

    God bless you and be with you.

    • Thank you for sharing, Moses, and welcome to ubfriends. You captured some realities of this issue quite well.  This is very much how I often felt the past year and a half:

      “I am sure many people who left UBF are very angry becuase of abuse they received at some degree, and if they were around for some years I am very sure also if think in their mind for a second they also abused those who were under them at some degree or some point.”

      I’m thankful that the days of anger are getting to be very few and far between. I would clarify my situation however. During my 24 years I rarely, if ever, experienced the direct “spiritual abuse” Ben mentioned. My time in UBF was, for the most part, good. I think there are two main reasons for my escaping the direct abuse: 1) I never challenged the authority of UBF leaders and 2) I was considered a “hope carrier”; someone who obeys the UBF ideas and supports UBF leaders

      My problem is that I turned a deaf ear to those who did experience the abuse directly. I stood by silently defending the leaders who mistreated others (whom I thought were weaker than me) with all kinds of training. Doing this for many years made my conscience numb and my heart calloused.

      Now that I’ve shed the cloak of UBF in my life, I can look back more honestly. I can see that my life in UBF was very much like “The Truman Show“. I’m not sure if this would be called “abuse”, but it is certainly manipulation and deception.

      UBF leaders had created situations that I thought were real, but the situations were really just a show to train me to be loyal and obedient to UBF. Life in UBF will be full of difficult and often harsh training if you don’t conform to the UBF lifestyle. But life in UBF will be rather good if you silently obey your shepherd and promote UBF ideas. But by doing so, you end up living in a movie set, where the script is constantly being modified and where you are constantly acting out part of the Bible.

      My happiest day these past year was when I walked out of the “movie set” and into real, human life.


  26. Moses Marji

    Dear Brian, when I look at my experience at UBF which is still running for 17 years and counting, I was sent to Africa with my family, and we are working with some other christians from different churchs from time to time without losing focus, they really appreicate our contributions in the body of Chirst of what I learned at our ministry ( UBF). So, I really checked as well and I believe you will agree with me that we work on spiritual discipline very well. So, it is very helpful and very beneficial, for the students who just met Jesus and need spiritual training, at the same time this student become a mature individual spiritually and participate in the work of God as a coworker.

    When ever I studied the bible with my bible teacher especially the last few years before leaving for Msn work, we together put aside all what we learned before and we dug deeply in the word of God to understand the passage after prayer for God to move our hearts and help us understand it. I spent many beautiful bible studies. At the same time I faced some trials during my years at UBF from older and younger members– mostly form older. But when I measured the benefits and the work that has been done weather it is bible study or spiritual training, I can not but be thankful to God who led me to UBF. It is a unique ministry with mistakes that could and should be dealt with it from the inside. I beleive all of us still need the christian comunity and we strive for it.

    In the new mission field since we moved 7 years ago we faced issues as well with our coworkers which related to authority, wrong teaching, misunderstanding and mistrust, but I consider it indiviual. I really beleive that there are very faithful people among us who are sincere and mature enough to distinguish that we need change in certain areas. And I truly beleive that we can do it from within the ministry.

    I will give you an example, while we were serving in Africa we faced first hand the issues of spiritual abuse. My shephered in the US understood deeply my situation and supported me. So I made an ultimatum to poineer a new chapter and I did since 2008. I beleive Maria and John also are working in a separate chapter as well. We can change from within and God made us to be able for him.

    I am not sure if you noticed that for the last two years there are some changes that are going on in UBF addressing the issues which divert us from the bible. When I look at it from different prespective, I will tell my shephered, I have been in this organization and it is part of me, I do not want to be in a movie set and also I do not want to leave UBF this is my take. And I will please God accordingly. If I am faced with hardship then bring it up and there are many will stand with you without leaving.

    I am sure it is not easy to leave UBF but it is easier than facing mistakes and wrong ideas that do not go with what the word of God says. But we have the right to stand up on the truth and you will be surprised that many at UBF will stand on the truth with you. And there are many as well who are comfortable with the old ways of things and do not want to change. With more voices and clear biblical facts I pray and beleive that they will change too. It will take some time.

    You stayed at UBF for 24 years and I beleive you can start as well your chapter and work from there to make a change, Abraham can as well work from his new chapter in india to change the practices that are not following the word of God. I beleive in this way we can change and be changed.

    There are no churchs without mistakes and without a need for revival or without certain practices that were needed to be rooted out. We need to be reminded constantly to go back to the bible. This is the history of the church and the history of sinful mankind I beleive who always go back to his or her old self.

    My heart goes to everyone who faced unnecessary hardship and man maid trials which hurt some people. There are many that have ligering bitterness who are in UBF or left UBF. I pray that God put peace in their hearts as he did Dr. Ben and others.

    God bless you Brian and I pray deeply that God use you the way he intends.

    • Thanks Moses for your 2 heart felt comments that touched me personally. Thank God for your heart’s desire to make Christ known. Thank God who gave you grace and peace even while you experienced wrong teaching, mistrust, misunderstanding, etc. May God be with you as you serve in your mission field and pray for UBF.

    • Hi Moses, just a few replies, thanks:

      “So, it is very helpful and very beneficial, for the students who just met Jesus and need spiritual training, at the same time this student become a mature individual spiritually and participate in the work of God as a coworker.”

      >>> Agreed. The key point I would like to make is that such training is beneficial if done without binding the person to you (as a leader) or to UBF (as an organization). If spiritual training leads a person to depend on you as their “lord” instead of Jesus as the Lord, the training was harmful. If the training goes too long, and then the person becomes dependent on the training (UBF), then the training is harmful. Almost no one in UBF understands these things. My challenge to anyone in UBF: Could you live one month with no UBF activity? 


      “So I made an ultimatum to poineer a new chapter and I did since 2008.”

      >>> Yes, that is what you must do to bring change to UBF. Such pioneering is the “hope” of redeeming UBF. By no means do I think people should follow my example; I am “taking the fall” so that others in UBF may find freedom.


      “I am not sure if you noticed that for the last two years there are some changes that are going on in UBF addressing the issues which divert us from the bible.”

      >>> Yes, I am well aware of the few good changes :) I believe such changes would not have occurred without the recent actions of Ben, Joe and myself, along with a few others.


      “I am sure it is not easy to leave UBF but it is easier than facing mistakes and wrong ideas that do not go with what the word of God says. But we have the right to stand up on the truth and you will be surprised that many at UBF will stand on the truth with you.”

      >>> Perhaps it is a matter of perspective, but my leaving UBF was THE hardest task I have ever done. My pioneering was not like yours; I was sent out as a means of obedience training. I have brought about far more change by leaving. I agree: together we go! UBF and exUBF go on together. 


      “There are no churchs without mistakes and without a need for revival or without certain practices that were needed to be rooted out. We need to be reminded constantly to go back to the bible.”

      >>> I’m not talking about a few mistakes in UBF. I have been blogging and talking about major, corporate problems that are beyond individuals and chapters. I am talking about the historical, Christian doctrines of Lordship, grace, rest, cross, mission and discipleship, which are almost completely misunderstood or missing entirely from the fabric of UBF. 


  27. I found these definitions useful:

    Spiritual abuse “is the inappropriate use of spiritual authority (the Bible, ecclesiastical tradition, or church authority) to force a person to do that which is unhealthy. Often it will involve a forceful or manipulative denial of that person’s feelings and convictions.” Steven R. Tracy, Mending the Soul  (Zondervan, 2005), 32–‐33.

    There are 4 characteristics of a spiritually abusive religious institution.

    1) Power posturing occurs when the “leaders are preoccupied with their authority and continually remind people ofit.”

    2) Performance
    preoccupation takes place when spirituality “becomes a matter of external performance, not internal character.”

    3) Unspoken
    rules such as “’Don’t ever disagree with your pastor or you are disloyal and unspiritual’” are “not discussed openly but are enforced rigidly.”

    4) Finally, spiritually abusive religious institutions have a lack of balance. That is, “spiritually abusive churches have little or no spiritual balance, and the leaders exhibit either extreme objectivity (‘you must have graduate degrees to have any spiritual knowledge’) or extreme subjectivity (‘the Lord gave me this message, and you must accept it’).”

  28. Noah Montefalcon

    Hello, Dr. Ben,

    Sorry I don’t have much time to read others’ comments. Anyway, I won’t lie to you. Spiritual Abuse is very much common in the Philippine UBF ministry based on my observation on my first 3 years living a common life with them. Once again, the most remarkable issue is “Marriage by Faith”. 

    Let me share a story; Once there was a Shepherdess who just repented after all the leaders found out about her secret relationship with one of the shepherds. That shepherd involved was kicked out and the shepherdess repented. She shared her testimonies sincerely every week, and she go fishing, even alone. A week later, her shepherdess leader summoned her on a meeting with another young shepherd. Obviously they are to be engaged “by faith”. The young shepherdess refused. Her reason is that “she’s not yet ready.” Then her Shepherdess said, “How come? While you were in a secret relationship, you were ready.” And what’s worst, the Shepherdess leader said “you’re gonna regret that decision.” The Shepherdess leader might have a good point but that young shepherdess told me that she feels like her Shepherdess cursed her. I know for some of you it’s not a big deal, for me it is. Personally, I’m not a spiritually abusive person but my problem WAS being a spiritually compromised shepherd. 

    Anyway, same challenge – (I rejected someone 2 years ago) –  happened to me but my Shepherd didn’t cursed me. He just told me that he respects my decision and that I should pray for what I’ve decided. No offense and no biased, but that is one gracious shepherd I had.

    But thanks to God, because of your continues visit to our ministry, everything’s gradually modified. From being strictly legalistic to loving and gracious individuals. We’re grateful and thankful. 

  29. Thanks for sharing Noah. I think I vaguely heard about the story. Because we are sinful, we do not become “less sinful” when we become Christians or when we become a leader or shepherd. All my blogs and thoughts regarding spiritual abuse, authoritarianism and unhealthy leadership indicts myself!
    I believe it is crucially important to discuss spiritual abuse openly and honestly so that God may help us to change by God’s help, mercy and grace. Spiritual abuse DOES HAPPEN in likely every church including UBF. If we do not discuss wrongs that have happened or are still happening, we will invariably perpetuate the wrong. Evil continues and grows when good people say nothing. Accepting God’s sovereignty is never an excuse for irresponsibility, indifference, dishonesty, or silence.

  30. I’ve listened to numerous Eric Ludy sermons, and have come to trust his words. Most of the time he “nails it” for me.

    This recent sermon speaks to the topic of your article Ben, and is a must-read for us. Is it just me, or does Mr. Ludy explain what many senior UBF leaders have been doing for 50 years?


  31. Someone asked here on ubfriends if I would ever go back to ubf. Here is another video in a good series that describes why I won’t. Narcissism is prevalent among ubf directors. Going back only feeds their hunger in an unhealthy way. Healing for narcissists can only come through separation.

  32. Just passing on some good info I found (due to someone linking to the image above on a similar topic).

    Kingdom in the Midst: “Touch not God’s anointed?”

    Here is some relevant and excellent advice from the article above. Also, the author gives some good biblical advice after this:

    “There are a few things that should send up all kinds of red flags should you see them in the pastor of your church:

    1. Any claim to divine power or authority. Contrary to the “Lord’s anointed” teaching and those scary dying deacon stories the traveling evangelist told you, pastors are people, too. This is not to say we should disrespect them; we should not. Even when they do and stay dumb things. It does mean, however, that they are not God-like. The New Testament does not speak of church leaders in the same way David talked about king Saul. Pastors fill a divinely established office, but they are not divine, inerrant or infallible.

    2. An insistence on unquestioning support. While some pastors act as if high school boys need more accountability than anyone else, the truth is pastors need as much accountability as anyone. Pastors need more than one person who will ask them hard questions, force them to rest, ensure they are spending enough time with their spouse, and that their own time in prayer and the Word is not suffering. Any pastor who demands or expects unflinching support has replaced God with his own ego, and is leading himself and the church down a destructive path. Such a demand often arises from his own irrational fears or sinful desires but, rather than doing the painful work of humble self-examination efforts are made to squelch any questions.

    3. Excusing sin at the leadership level. In these church there is almost an obvious and ongoing double standard between the top pastor, the other leaders and the rest of the people. Those comprising the “inner circle” are often beyond criticism, having any transgression short of murder swept over the rug. This behavior has been seen in other places besides FBC Hammond.

    4. Preaching the same things over and over. Preaching the whole counsel of God takes a lot of work. Avoiding the comfortable ruts of routine comes from immersing one’s heart and mind in the Word of God. Pastors who refuse accountability will soon find themselves preaching what they know. It’s all they can do. When pastors do not study, they do not learn, they are not changed. They have nothing to give. The same jokes, stories, verses and “hobby-horses” are signs of an inner breakdown.

    5. A seeming obsession with a single subject matter. The Bible instructs us, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” A video of Jack Schaap simulating masturbation during a youth sermons can be found online. It is so graphic even the Chicago Magazine writer was nonplussed about it. When a “man of God” refuses correction from those around him, he has already refused correction from God’s word. At that point the mind overflows with garbage. It might be sex, materialism or power, but that which is inhabiting the pastor’s heart will make its way out.

  33. Love the 5 points, Brian. Thanks.

    1. For sure, as an older Christian leader, I fill “a divinely established office, but I am NOT divine, inerrant or infallible.”

    2. I personally need to be accountable to those around me in the church. I ask those in the church to hold me to Heb 3:13.

    3. I must not be treated any differently or deferentially than anyone else in the church, and definitely not be defended when I mess up.

    4. Acts 20:27 (the whole counsel of God) happens to be my 2013 key verse.

    5. Please exhort, encourage, correct me and please, please, please, stab me in the front!

    • I for one will always exhort, encourage or correct with blatant, to-your-face honesty. But I’m sure everyone here already knew that :)

    • Yeah, it does seem like we’re both “in your face” birds of a feather, that are a rare unwanted species in some churches.

  34. Having read a number of articles on spiritual bullying I can confidently say I have experienced it. Not long ago I left my place of work which is a faith based organization. Someone I looked up to really twisted the truth as she expounded on who I was as I was going through self discovery. Some things that were said to me were not said gently & have left me bruised.

    It has been hard for me to talk to anyone even my own family as I don’t know how to explain it. I have found it hard to trust people as I don’t know who has my interest at heart.

    Your article was very interesting, and encouraging at the same time. I am currently experiencing a lot of anger, resentment, shame and guilt. I took a sabbatical break and am trusting God for healing restoration for this season. Remember me in ur prayers

  35. Lucy, I’m sorry to hear that you are going through this. I will pray for you. If you like to read, you might like The Cure, by McNichol, Bruce, etc. It really helped me and a lot of others. Thank you for sharing.

  36. Just tagging this article again. For what it’s worth, Eminem’s Recovery album (and others) has helped me immensely to recover from spiritual bullying in ubf. Just replace “woman” and “girl” with “ubf” and “shepherd”, and replace “rap” with “blogging” and Eminem describes me and my process of recovery the past two years.

    25 to Life, Cinderella Man, Going through changes, and No love especially helped.

    These (clean) lyrics from “25 to life” nailed it for how I felt:

    I don’t think [ubf] understands the sacrifices that I made
    Maybe if this [shepherd] had acted right I would’ve stayed
    But I’ve already wasted over half of my life… I would’ve laid
    Down and died for you… I no longer cry for you
    No more pain [shepherd].. you
    Took me for granted took my heart and ran it straight into the planet
    Into the dirt I can no longer stand it
    Now my respect I demand it
    Imma take control of this relationship
    Command it, and imma be the boss of you now
    And what I mean is that I will no longer let you control me
    So you better hear me out this much you owe me
    I gave up my life for you, totally devoted to you while I’ve stayed
    Faithful all the way… this is how I get repaid?

    And also these lyrics from “No Love” (cleaned up)

    Been to hell and back, I can show you vouchers
    I’m rolling [blogs], I’m smoking sour
    Married to the [ubf] game but [ubf] broke her vows
    That’s why my bars are full of broken bottles
    And my night stands are full of open Bibles

    It’s a little too late to say that you’re sorry now
    You kicked me when I was down
    But what you say just (don’t hurt me)
    That’s right [ubf] (don’t hurt me)
    And I don’t need you (no more)
    Don’t want to see you (no more)
    Ha, [shepherd] you get (no love)
    You showed me nothing but hate
    You ran me into the ground
    But what comes around goes around (yeah, yeah)
    I don’t need you (don’t hurt me)
    That’s right (you don’t hurt me)
    And I don’t need you (no more)
    Don’t want to see you,
    Ha, [shepherd] you get (no love, no, no love, no, no love, no, no love)

  37. Thanks, Brian, I’m beginning to realize that Eminem is quite cool.

    As you and others already figured out, some older UBFers just have NO IDEA that they have been controlling and manipulating you (in the name of shepherding) while you were in UBF, which resulted in PTSD-like issues–feeling stymied and oppressed–all of which did not help you (and others) to become an actualized individual Christian, but only a clone and a vastly inferior shadow of your true self.

  38. @Vitaly, this is “hilarious spiritual abuse” (which is of course an oxymoron): “I think that your director put at least some sense in the “trainings” and our director did complete nonsense.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2013/06/21/confronting-error-condemnation-or-conversation/#comment-8736

  39. Too many ubf second gens/ubf people have told me too many stories of abuse, including sexual abuse. I am stepping away from this blog for an indefinite period of time.

    I can be contacted on my blog: http://www.priestlynation.com

    I will also continue to pay for and own this ubfriends.org domain.

    Grace and peace.

    • And just in case anyone is wondering, NO I will not share any details and YES the reports are as of this week. Oh yea, and NO ANSWER to my “Letter to the Committee” from the committee. All I got over a month later is a polite “you’ll get a response from the ethics committee soon”.

  40. forestsfailyou

    People change, and I always look back and wonder “If I had met this person long ago instead of when I did meet them, would we have become friends? Would we have have hated each other?” And when I read this I realize that if I had met you 10 years ago Dr. Ben, I would have thrown down. My polemics and diatribes would have been legendary.

    • Then as a (conflict craving) polemicist myself as well as an agent provocateur who never ever backs down from any fight, we would have simply had a jolly explosive time together!

  41. Mark Mederich

    those who have bullied shall be bullied (stuff Jesus never said, but shoulda said:)