For anyone who still wants to follow Jesus after having been treated devilishly by those who claim to be His followers (His shepherds, even!), Hebrews 13:17 might stick in the craw.

Jim Jones, one of the most famous cult leaders ever, none of whose followers can learn about Hebrews 13:17 now because they all drank the Kool-aid. Literally.

Here are a few versions you may be familiar with.

KJV: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves. . . .”

NIV: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority . . .”

Amplified: “Obey your [spiritual] leaders and submit to them [recognizing their authority over you] . . .”

And of course this verse is held over church people’s heads.

You church people. OBEY your “SPIRITUAL AUTHORITIES,” which is US, the church “leaders.” SUBMIT to US without question or challenge. (If you don’t, you will be excommunicated and shunned.)

This verse has been used to get church people to check their brains at the door and obey like happy robots (even if it’s not to the degree of committing mass suicide).  Can this possibly be what the Bible teaches?

To understand, we have to consider several things.

First, there’s the context of the whole Bible. It’s really amazing how much this is ignored when people choose out “proof texts” to wave in other people’s faces.





This article has now been incorporated into the book Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind: Book 2 Patriarchy and Authority. You can find that book here.





Besides and, these are the blog posts I referenced in this post:

Reflections on my 62nd birthday: “What if your life were written as a story?”

5 reasons for church small groups to replace “transparency” with “integrity”

A Cry for Justice also has a post on this topic, here.




Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.

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