Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jesus Wept. Why Can't I?

In recent years, there have been changes in many American churches, with regard to how those churches and their leaders deal with people who are in crisis.

There was a time when people who were suicidally depressed were advised to consult with their pastors. There was a time when church leaders believed that they had moral responsibilities to such people. No more!

We are now living in the age of the "happy face" church. It's not about real ministry anymore. Now it's all about marketing and maximizing the number of people in attendance, even if doing so means marginalizing certain people and dismissing their very real needs as unimportant. It isn't good public relations for churches to admit that there are struggling people in their midst. Therefore, Christians who admit that they are less than perfect, and who admit that they have sometimes been depressed to the point that they have been tempted by thoughts of suicide, are shunned, even to the point that such churches sometimes refuse to engage in any further communication with such people. Never mind that such Christians may be struggling with a wide variety of issues, including poverty and persistent unemployment, as well as the shameful legacies of neglect passed on to them by their abusive alcoholic parents. There is no room for such people in the Church, unless of course they are extremely adept at burying their pain (in the name of "forgiveness") and pretending that all is well when it is not.

That's not the way things ought to be. The church leaders who have abdicated their responsibilities to such people ought to be deeply ashamed of their depraved indifference to such people. Pretending that suicidally depressed people do not exist within the Church will not make such people go away, but it may very well drive them over the brink and cause them to do the things they've contemplated doing. If and when such things occur, their blood will be on the hands of those who turned them away when they cried out in desperation for the help which they needed.

No comments: