Hurt By Church

Country Church

I had an unusual conversation Friday night.  A friend of mine (I’ll call him Redleg) and I were together with a man who was hurt by the church – and he’s not going back.  He was very open about it and I found the dialogue very interesting.  It sounded like he was very active in a large church at some point, but now he isn’t.  In fact, his theology has totally changed to a “many roads lead to God” type of belief system, and he admittedly doesn’t care about eternity.  At some point, he let it slip that it all hinged on how the church reacted to his divorce.  A linchpin.  He got hurt and that was it.

Nothing was solved.  We listened and tried to encourage him before our time together was over.  I’ve heard about people such as this, and quite frankly, I’ve been disillusioned by church over the past couple of years also.  In fact, my family is winding down a year long search for a new place of worship.  So I could totally sympathize with his resentment toward how he was treated.  But whatever happened caused him to abandon his faith and that makes me sad.

The thing I’m still wondering about  happened after he had left though.  Redleg and I honed in on two totally different aspects of the man’s dilemma.  I lamented how the church reacted while Redleg felt as though the man was running from truth.  I know the Bible is firmly against divorce, as am I.  I further know that we need to speak truth and be a light to those around us.  But I couldn’t help think that if the confrontation had been handled in love, this man might not be floundering in his faith.

Somehow, truth and love have to coexist.  Is the modern church doomed if they can’t?  Redleg is a “truther”, and I’m a “lover” – and we are still friends.  We admittedly don’t know the entire circumstance that brought this man to where his is, but isn’t it odd how two believers went totally different directions in response to it?

(photo credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli)



15 thoughts on “Hurt By Church

  1. Perhaps our expectations of the “Church” and the congregation are too high. God didn’t disappoint him, the congregation did.

  2. Redleg’s story is all too common; perhaps the specifics change but the big picture is pretty much the same. The health, wealth messages going out would have you believe everything should be rosy. That isn’t backed up in scripture. I have my list of Redlegs that I pray for and continue to talk to. May God grant us a loving heart and patience to love them into the arms of Jesus.
    A Servant

  3. Although I had been the Church secretary, women’s league chairwoman, youth group chaperone, Den mother, girl scout cookie chairperson, PTO secretary at the parochial school….so many things, and cut the church grass on Saturdays…,I had even started a food bank and a furniture barn at our church as a parish project for nursing school. When I got my divorce, I was in an apartment with my kids, I had left my husband our bed. I had lost my job due to his behavior. I had a new job, but it would be two weeks before I would have a paycheck. i went to our pastor and asked for a mattress and a couple of bags of food (from the furniture barn and food pantry that i had created) to get through the next two weeks with the kids. I did not mention that my husband was gay. Something he had been suppressing throughout the marriage…a problem I could not fix.

    He says to me, this man of God, “Well, as much as we would like to help you, your husband, his family, have been faithful, TITHING members of the Missouri Synod, for literally generations. I don’t see how we can help you.” I told him that I would rather eat rats and sleep on the floor than to have to beg for Christianly compassion.

    I never told him my husband was gay. My children were staying, living in that community. I felt strongly that the greatest gift I could give him was the freedom to pursue his happiness….But I have not been back to a church since and that was twenty years ago.

    1. That is an awful shame and a tragedy. I’m so sorry that happened to you. Where is compassion I wonder? Rest assured, Jesus wouldn’t have acted that way – and if He is to be our model, we shouldn’t either.

  4. “isn’t it odd how two believers went totally different directions in response to it?” I don’t think it is odd at all. We have different gifts and they should ALL coexist in the church. I have three dear friends. Friend A loves me and she is my goto when I am upset and just need to be comforted and accepted. Friend B loves me too but she also is like your truther friend. When I need clarity or want to solve a problem she is my goto friend. Then there is friend C. She lets me talk until I have solved my issues and doesn’t cringe when I share my “mean” side. I wonder what gift that woulld be…maybe mercy.

    1. That’s exactly what you need inside the body of believers. I agree with that. I think, however, outside we lead with love and work truth in. Do you see my quandary?

  5. That is sad. It’s too bad that ‘being hurt by the church’ dictated His belief and faith in God. So sorry to hear that.
    “Somehow, truth and love have to coexist.”
    –Well said. Let’s look at how Jesus treated the woman at the well. Or how about the woman caught in adultery. I hear you big time here. And we all have our circumstances and life experiences. Does God really look at everything as black and white? I don’t think so. He sees us all as individuals with individual needs, feelings, experiences and the like.
    Thanks for sharing

    1. Blessings to you as well. Thanks for stopping by. Those are two excellent examples of how Christ interacted with people. We should all try to be so compassionate.

  6. Thanks for the follow. Really, most times a fellow christian can push another out from the presence of God. It is one of the many cross we need to take so that we can follow Jesus Christ as He instructed us. Each one has to take his cross if really you have decided to follow Him. Really, we expect much from the church and we also forget that what makes the church is not the building but humans. All the same, it takes the grace of God.

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