By Lovanda Brown
WPRV Lead Journalist
Here at WPRV, we pride ourselves in our ability to participate in open dialogue and free exchange of controversial issues. Today, the topic on the table is Church Hurt.
I was raised during a time when going to church every Sunday was not an option. Come Sunday morning, your church garments were pressed, hair was combed, and ruffled socks were folded to perfection. There were no excuses that could prevent one from attending church. If you were sick, "You better get up and have them pray for you at the altar, girl." If you were too tired, you were promptly lectured on Jesus' sacrifice with lines like, "Jesus was tired carrying that cross, too! You don't even know what tired is!" And if you just "didn't feel like going" well, feel free to insert your own experienced consequence here. The list goes on. Now that I am older, I am grateful to have been raised during that time. I am completely indebted to my grandmother for her role in introducing me to Christ. Just the same, I had no idea that my relationship with God, established since I was a baby christened before his altar, could have been tainted by the members firmly planted throughout His house. Today, I'd like to discuss church hurt. I don't believe there is a greater cause of spiritual death.
I cannot tell you how many stories I've heard concerning people who had been hurt by members of the church. I have my own testimony regarding this. Here's the thing: this form of hurt can open the door for any and everything that is preached about. This can instill pride, self-righteousness, DOUBT, confusion, and any spirit you can think of that is not of God within the strongest man. Take a moment to examine these instances with me. I've seen God save the most promiscuous individuals to downright pathological liars. We know nothing is too hard for Him. We know His yoke is easy and His burden is light, but do you understand just how difficult it is to save someone who already knows about God, but has been hurt by His people? Everything becomes a platform for debate.
You'll find it difficult to get through to this particular set of people. You should anticipate arguments like, "Well, the Bible was written by man anyway." You'll also encounter heavy use of "scripture molding." Take for example, "Well, the Bible says to live everyday as if it is your last, so I'm going to do what I want" or "Jesus said all I need to have is a clean heart, so I'm going to do what I want!" I'm sure you know them well. Just the same, can you remember what you thought to yourself when you heard similar arguments? Be honest. Did you sit down with this person and ask what led him/her to that conclusion? Did you examine his/her tone? Did you simply stop and ask them, "What happened?" What I'm finding to be more prevalent within the church is lack of both patience and compassion. No one is asking questions, anymore. It's written all-over finger-tipped handshakes and half-hearted hellos. Being an active member of this generation, I can see what is missing.
There are young adults walking around with pain that is so thick because they have been running from the effects of trauma their entire lives. There are young adults who feel as though they can't identify with members of the church because of the projected perfection stemming from each one of them. There are members of my generation who have been taught: “If you can’t fix it, seek professional help and medicate it.” There are young adults still holding on to words that have been said to them by people who claimed to be Christ-like. People have been shamed, persecuted, belittled, judged and disrespected right within our Father's house, and it's not talked about.
I truly believe in my imperfections. I don't relish in them and I'm not proud of them, but I believe in them. I believe in my story. I believe in Our Father, and I still believe in His people, but I'm having a hard time being a member of this generation who knows the truth. People my age have questions about the church that I can not answer because it doesn't make sense to me either. How do you encourage children of today to read the word for themselves when quotes from the Bible are used vainly and improperly to persecute them? How do you encourage young adults of today to go to church when the leaders of their households (and yes, some churches) have confused them with hypocritical behaviors? How does one face a rebellious generation, most of whom, were created by members of the church themselves? How do you walk away? Keep in mind, I am in now way aiming to bash the church. My Father’s house is where I find healing for myself, but since I am not an ordained Minister I thought I’d ask questions for those who look to me for answers—for those who are too afraid to seek answers for themselves.
More than the aforementioned questions listed, I have one question that stands out: Have you or someone you know been through this? Let’s talk! We’d like to know! Post your thoughts in the section below.