I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the sad reality this cartoon depicts. The church is hurting people at an ever-increasing rate. I help people who, for whatever reason, have left the church or at least have questions about it. But I also want to challenge the church to stop hurting people. It’s one thing to help people find their own validation, voice, and freedom. It’s another thing to challenge the system that created the victims in the first place.
I know the church can be good at taking care of people who enter it wounded. At least for a time. The church’s goal would be to eventually convert this person into an active member of the congregation.
But what about people who get wounded by the church? Why does the church fail to help these? We could talk about the normal reasons like not being able to accept responsibility for hurting people; or denial that wounding occurred at all; or embarrassment that the church actually did hurt someone; or the commitment admitting it is harmful may require.
But I think the number one reason why the church fails to help those it wounds is its obsession with usefulness. That is, the church is interested in how useful we are to its agenda. Generally, the church disdains neediness and loves usefulness. Pushed to its logical conclusion, the church punishes neediness and rewards usefulness. This is why, no matter how much we’re hurting, as long as we’re contributing… financially, volunteering, or otherwise… we will be rewarded. Otherwise, we will be left behind.
The number of victims the church has created and left in its wake is baffling. I suggest it is epidemic. But nobody cares because what’s to be gained by caring for them? They are like how many perceive rape victims: used goods, finished up, disposable, a shameful tragedy to be dismissed and forgotten. Who wants to keep victims around? They are a constant drag on the system, an expense, an irrecoverable loss, a sucking parasite, a write-off, dead wood, an extra-grace-required, a burden that prevents the church from achieving its goals.
Dragging people out of the river is important. But stopping who’s throwing them in upstream is even more urgent.
This, I feel, is the task before me.
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