I've been hearing chatter about gaslighting lately. This occurs when a person uses manipulation to plant feelings of confusion, turmoil, and anxiety in one's mind. Once these feelings are established, the manipulator will use them to control victims. The victims will often feel weak, unintelligent, and lost.
Unfortunately, some church leaders will use gaslighting as a way to get their congregation to follow their authority. By cleverly weaving an agenda into a sermon, the pastor will instill guilt and use it to get his members to carry out his latest vision from God.
Note: I am not talking about real sin against God. I am speaking of a church leader using manipulation to influence members of a church to get them to carry out a mission.
Here's an example of gaslighting from my childhood church: The Pastor delivered a sermon about questioning his authority. He preached that he was sent directly by God and to question him was to question God. He frequently twisted scripture out of its original context to solidify his message. One of his favorites was Hebrews 13:7 (KJV) "Remember them which have the rule over you...whose faith follow..". The pastor preached that this meant he was to be obeyed and followed in all things-without question. To go against this was to disobey God and disobedience towards God would result in swift church discipline.
Gaslighting does not belong in the house of God. Jesus does not want us to feel controlled, manipulated, or mixed-up.
Matthew 11:28 (NIV) states: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."