Remember Jesus’ words, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”? Many have looked at that verse and proclaimed that the Church is like a hospital. But doesn’t it sometimes feel more like a museum?
According to Zach Perkins at Relevant Magazine, there are 5 Uncomfortable Issues The Church Needs to Start Talking About.
“Paul urged the Church to ‘Bear each other's burdens,’ so maybe with more grace and love we can turn on the light in the darkened rooms of each other’s hearts and let our churches become safe havens for the uncomfortable things we have to deal with.”
First Perkins cites Addiction and Sexuality as taboo topics that need to be more honestly and openly addressed, writing,
“…yes, in many churches, a person's addictions can become fodder for gossip. However, if the Church were to first approach one another as family, then addicts in the Church might feel safer to be vulnerable about their struggles. Often, they just need to be loved and feel safe enough to know they can expose this part of themselves in a community where the addiction isn't crushing them every second.”
He also notes that Church conversations about sex rarely move beyond, “don’t have sex until you’re married.”
“There are strong believers struggling with their sexual identity, brokenness and frustration in churches across the world, and among their Christian friends and families, they don't dare say a word about it.”
“Jesus’ response to doubt was often, why? He proposed neither a condemnation nor an accolade, but a dialogue. Jesus cared about the hearts, motives, and fears of those who questioned him, who struggled with unbelief. Practically everyone to whom Jesus ministered expressed genuine doubt or asked provoking questions. But Jesus healed them anyway. Jesus answered their questions (John 3). Jesus told them things about themselves, causing them to look at life in a new way (John 4). When extraordinary faith was shown (Luke 7) Jesus was astounded and overjoyed. But he certainly did not condemn all others of lesser faith. He knew that it takes time for people to overcome cultures of fear and questions.”
In Ray Pritchard’s piece, “Faith and Doubt at Christmastime” he writes,
“Faith and doubt always go together. There is no such thing as 100% faith. After all, if you had certainty, you wouldn't need faith at all. In heaven we will not need faith because we will experience ultimate reality. But between now and then, our doubts spur us on to greater spiritual growth. Doubt can be a good thing if it moves you to study, to think, to investigate, and to ask hard questions.”
Perkins’ list wraps up with the topics of Mental Illness and Loneliness. The Evangelical community recently faced a major reminder of mental illness when Pastor Rick Warren’s son Matthew took his own life after a lifetime of struggling with depression and mental illness. In the aftermath, Warren shared,
"It's amazing to me that any other organ in your body can break down and there's no shame and stigma to it…But if your brain breaks down, you're supposed to keep it a secret... If your brain doesn't work right, why should you be ashamed of that?"
Two additional issues that Churches rarely address with grace are those of Miscarriage and Abortion – specifically healing and recovery for women who have already had them (as many as 1 in 4 women have dealt with one or the other, or both).
Teske Drake and Kim Ketola have written several pieces for Crosswalk on this subject, including Carry Each Other’s Burdens: Ministering to those Enduring Miscarriage, Hope and Healing After Childbearing Loss, and Healing Abortion's Guilt and Grief. In her piece Pregnancy and Infant Loss: A Biblical Stance for Support, Teske Drake wrote about National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, saying,
“Despite the prevalence of loss and the progress made in terms of awareness and support, isolation –feeling as though ‘I’m the only one’ – is a key characteristic of women’s experiences with miscarriage and infant loss. Today, families throughout the world will publicly acknowledge the lives of their little ones who were gone too soon in honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Communities will rally support and for a brief moment families will experience a sense of solidarity in the midst of their unique, yet often disenfranchised, grief. As Christ followers, shouldn’t our support extend beyond a designated month? How can we incorporate an awareness and sensitivity to this very real and prevalent issue?”
What do you think? Has your Church found ways to deal with these hard topics with grace and wisdom? What other issues would you say the Church needs to address more openly?
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com
Publication date: December 10, 2013