***Preface: This post is NOT intended to rail upon the church for the sake of venting blatant negativity. Though some have perceived this to be my purpose, it is more to call us all out to deal with issues in the church that cannot continue to be ignored. You may see your community to be engaged significantly in these battles, however, the church in general is behind in taking proactive steps to help people deal with some of these challenges. I welcome your thoughts.
I have spoken to Christian leaders, who when you challenge the status quo of practices and long held beliefs, would rather dispute your right to speak than the efficacy of what you are saying.
In the last year through reading extensively, speaking to people in similar circumstances, praying, counseling, investigating, and searching my heart, I have come to some decided conclusions. One of which I would like to expound on here.e
A little back ground preceding my observations is in order. I am adult who is a survivor of an abusive childhood. I have a repeated pattern of destructive behavior that I have dealt with most of my life. Included in that is an addiction to pornography, many failed relationships, poor parenting, job difficulties, depression, all in all a majority of my years spent in despair and hopelessness. I am an authority on what not to do to be successful in life.
What are the churches real feelings about people like me who are trapped in deep pain and repeated negative behaviors? I believe there is no real comprehension of what is truly going on, and NO desire whatsoever to find out,
You might challenge my contention, but I would submit that half-measures are as good as none at all.
What comes to mind as I write is, lip service.
:support for someone or something that is expressed by someone in words but that is not shown in that person’s actions
I am weary of churches who say they want to reach the men caught in the grip of porn but aren’t willing to be real about their own issues, and/or aren’t willing to do the messy work required to provide lasting solutions. No one relates to the man trapped in this vile cesspool of filth more than the one who was in that same place and has found freedom. But we want perfect people to lead us, we all want a leader with a pedigree, a slew of degrees, and we want leaders who are untouched by the slime that our world is overflowing with, the thing is, there aren’t any!
The only flawless people that exist are those who hide the reality of who they are from others, and one of the biggest flawed beliefs the church has adopted is the lack of relational thinking it will accept when considering someones past in regard to their current actions.
What do I mean by that? I am talking about traumatic experiences that don’t just go away when you get saved. Does the adult who as a child was either verbally, emotionally, physically or sexually abused just flip a switch when they are saved and everything is OK? NO! Do you realize how many adults you interact with every day; leaders in your church, fellow choir members, Sunday School teachers, and co-workers, who are ravaged by the memories of pain they have never dealt with in a healthy, safe way? And how does the church help but by shaming them and condemning their sin, without considering what has led to the behavior. Is that the sort of church anyone wants to be a part of? Is that a place where you will be vulnerable and transparent?
Analogous of this would be to say that any number of events that happen in our lives actually mean nothing, and that there are no long-term effects to our lives or thinking. When you left school did you forget how to write? No. When that close friend or relative died, did you merely forget them, or do tears well in your eyes sometimes when you remember what they meant to you? The truth is we are changed to our core by what happens to us, especially when those things happen in our early years.
I believe in the church and its ability to provide a place of true healing for the wounded soul.
But we cannot only preach against sin from the pulpit. The church will not flourish and its purpose be fulfilled in trying to stay relevant by putting sermons online, having Twitter accounts, instagram and a Facebook page alone. We need resources spent that aren’t visible to the naked eye to provide healing to wounded hearts, and depth of relationship that breeds true authenticity, not just the catch-phrase authenticity so popular today. That means getting in the mess, and not discarding people based on a simple formula that saves the church from the possible misunderstandings, conflict, and scandals it is trying to stay above.
The church will gain strength, and its people be able to withstand the influences of the world only when it ministers to the most wounded and traumatized people in it’s body.
Those who come to Christ in the future will not last, and indeed the church itself lose its relevance and will fail in its purpose, if it continues unchanged on its current course.
Important followup blog – Some solutions