5 Uncomfortable Issues The Church Needs to Talk About

Tearing down a few taboos in the Body of Christ

BY ZACHARY K. PERKINS GOD / CHURCH December 09, 2013

It has been said that the Church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners. Yet, most of us would much rather pretend to be a saint on display than call for an ambulance.

Week after week, many of us walk into a church, sit by people we have known for years and yet would never dream of sharing our innermost struggles with. While a large part of this is our pride, another factor is a Church that seems unwilling to talk about certain uncomfortable issues, choosing rather to ignore them, try to cover them up or simply reject people who bring them up.

There are many issues the Church as a whole needs to address, such as creationism, activism, environmental stewardship and many others. But there are many more issues that individuals in the Church are dealing with—issues that the Church Body should be talking about. In Galatians 6:2, 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.

Many of these issues need to be dealt with professionally first. But that should not be the end of it. Research shows just listening to someone and showing them you genuinely care for their situation can be a huge part of that person’s healing process.

This is far from a comprehensive list—these are a few of the issues many people in churches around the world are dealing with, whether they admit it or not. And as people increasingly leave the Church, often over issues such as these, it is becoming more urgent that the Church talk about how to care for every one of its members.

Addiction

At AA meetings and therapy sessions, talking about addiction makes sense, but for some reason, it’s not a topic most church people want to hear about. Certain addictions are definitely more socially acceptable to talk about than others. For example, it’s OK to bug Frank about his smoking, but John’s alcoholism is more hush-hush.

And 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.

Sexuality

Sex and sexuality tends to be a loaded topic in the Church. Certain corners of the Church have been very vocal in their broad condemnation of premarital sex, but that’s where the conversation (for lack of a better word) tends to stop. We rarely engage the topic of sex on a personal, individual level. There’s a generally accepted idea floating around that, once two people are married, they enter into a carefree, blissful lifetime of sexual fulfillment that needs never be discussed in any meaningful way.

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.

I know of a few people in my life who love Christ and want to abstain from sin, but they are struggling with sexual sin or sinful desires. There are married couples for whom waiting to have sex turned out to be the easy part, as both parties brought into their marriage a series of expectations that turned out to be flawed. There are very few people they can share this with, but that also means they carry this burden alone. If many churches stopped treating sexual issues as a personal choice, where it could be turned on or off like a light-switch, then maybe we could start to create more safe places where people can share their burdens with each other and find out they’re not alone.

Sincere Doubt

In many churches today, there are Christians, even pastors, who are struggling with doubt. They have absorbed all the recommended apologetics. They have cried out in prayer. They are struggling to believe that God is good or that He’s there at all, yet they continue with the motions. They put on the smile while setting up the coffee table. They mouth along to the words in the worship songs, but it all feels hollow to them. I know this because I’ve been one of these people.

One of the most vital ways the Church can handle doubt is to stop acting like everything about faith is obvious. The Church can recognize that we all have doubts from time to time, but we cling to a hope that’s beyond rational explanation. Churches can also stop trying to hide the hard parts of the Bible under the rug or downplay the significance these ethically questionable parts play in a person’s doubt.

Mental Illness

Those in our midst who deal with mental illness, either personally or second-hand, are typically silent about the struggles they experience. In our society, there still exist a lot of stereotypes about mental illness, and because people either don’t want to deal with it or they’ve been hurt, they will choose to avoid opening up about it. The problem is, if these issues go untalked about, then they often will go unresolved.

In some churches, people who do reveal their illness will go without professional help in lieu of prayer. When prayer doesn’t work, the person dealing with mental illness feels like a failure or like they don’t have enough faith. The Church needs to create an encouraging environment where people can be directed to right help and then receive spiritual healing alongside their physical healing.

Loneliness

There are droves of lonely people in the church, and that includes senior pastors and priests. The isolation comes from a lack of identification and identification comes through open communication. When we can be vulnerable and honest with one another, we understand each other in a profound way.

A lonely person may walk in to a church alone and leave alone each Sunday. Although they appreciate the free coffee and donuts the fellowship hall offers, what they really want is fellowship. Taking time to get to know the people around you and then reaching out to them outside of the church will allow for a greater, more stable community.

Of course, every church is different and while one church may be stronger in one area, it may be weaker in others. These are just a few issues that we as the Church Body need to be willing to address. And as we talk about them, we must remember to address them with humility, understanding and grace, keeping in mind our role as fellow hospital patients, not museum curators.

Zachary K. Perkins

ZACHARY K. PERKINS

Freelance writer, blogger, full-time husband and father of three. Zach is also co-founder of Theologues.com, a website for Christians to grow in learning about their faith. You can find him on Twitter or his blog.

6 thoughts on “5 Uncomfortable Issues The Church Needs to Talk About

  1. I am Miss Barbara Adams.,From united states of America.I will start by saying to all that have experience heart break and also cant do with out there lover should please stop here and read up my story, So as you will know how to go solving or getting your ex back from this spell caster..AND AGAIN I WILL WANT TO ALSO TELL ALL THAT THIS SPELL CASTER I WILL WANT TO TELL THE WHOLE WORLD ABOUT IS HARMLESS AND DO NOT HAVE ANY SIDE EFFECT, BUT TO RESTORE AND GIVE YOU BACK WHAT YOU DESERVE, COS WHEN I MEET WITH THIS SPELL CASTER THAT WAS INTRODUCED TO ME BY THE WIFE OF MY BOSS IN MY WORKING PLACE, HE MADE IT CLEAR THAT HE CAN CAST SPELL ON SO MANY OTHER PROBLEMS EXCEPT IN GETTING YOUR EX OR MAKING YOUR LOVER TO LOVE YOU MORE THAT WILL SUITE YOU. Last year December, My lover was cheating on me and was not also give me the attention that a man should give to a woman,And really that was troubling my mind and tearing my heart apart to the extent that i was not concentrating in the office the way i use to before the break up by my lover.And before that incident,I always see how my boss use to love his wife so much. I was binging to think that i was not doing the right thing to him that will make him love me forever,So i really gathered my courage and went to my boss wife office to ask her the secret that made her husband love her so dearly,In the first place she refused in telling me,She asked me why i am asking her such a question,That if is it not normal for every man to love his wife.I told her the reason that made me ask her about this question,That my lover started cheating on me lately,When i knelt down before her for her to see my seriousness in this issue that i went to ask her,She opened up to me by telling me that i should not tell anybody about what she want to tell me,The wife to my boss started to say to me that she used a very powerful spell on his husband to love her,And the spell that she used is harmless, But the spell is just to make him love her and never to look for any other woman except her. I QUICKLY ASK HER HOW DID SHE GET TO KNOW THIS GREAT,POWER,DR OLOKUN AND PERFECT WORK SPELL CASTER,she said that a friend of hers also introduce her to him. Then i also ask her how i can meet with this spell caster.SHE SAID EVERYTHING TO ME,THAT THE NAME OF THIS SPELL CASTER IS Dr. OLOKUN TEMPLE.My next question to her was how can i get this wonderful spell caster,She said she is going to give me the email of the spell caster for me to contact him for my problem,Really she gave to me this spell caster email and i contacted him and explained all to him,And after every thing that needed to be done by the spell caster, In the next two days, My lover that hated me so much came to house begging for forgiveness and i was so glad that i have finally gotten my heart desire..I was so grateful to this spell caster for what he has done for my life.. So i made a promise to him that i will always continue telling the world about his wonderful work towards me and also to other that came to you before and also the people that will also get to you from my story that i narrated online now..I will want to say to the entire world that you should not cry over noting again, That there is a great man that has been helping individuals to restore there Joy and smile in there faces !! The direct email to get this man is : drolokuntemple@gmail.com ,This is what i want to tell you all out there,That is thinking that all hope is lost ok..Thanks

  2. Over 20 years and three different churches, I have had a lot if heartache. When I experienced being cheated on and my husband turning gay, and subsequently getting divorced (16 yrs of marriage, 4 kids), I shared my pain with my “church family” and with my friends at work (who are mostly unchurched). The church members gossiped, accused me of things, ostracised me, and all the women couldn’t tolerate a newly single attractive woman being in the same room with their husbands for small group or Youth group. Even though we had been “the best of friends” as couples and our kids had grown up together. I was left lonely, hurting, and devastated that those people had pretended to be my genuine true friends for almost two decades, then kicked me when I was down. Likely because my ex was their beloved and talented organist. On the other hands, my work friends were kind and compassionate, and were very supportive. I have learned my lesson, and will never trust church people again. They hurt others too much. They are much more judgemental and mean than the general population. Now I go to a different church, where I slip in the back, worship quietly, and guard my heart. I am just glad that I learned from my experience, so I won’t make myself vulnerable again by sharing anything personal with those who have not earned my trust, simply because they go to my church. Just going to the same church or proclaiming to be a Christian is not any reason for me to trust a person – all kinds of cruel people gather together in churches all over….

  3. Over 20 years and three different churches, I have had a lot if heartache. When I experienced being cheated on and my husband turning gay, and subsequently getting divorced (16 yrs of marriage, 4 kids), I shared my pain with my “church family” and with my friends at work (who are mostly unchurched). The church members gossiped, accused me of things, ostracised me, and all the women couldn’t tolerate a newly single attractive woman being in the same room with their husbands for small group or Youth group. Even though we had been “the best of friends” as couples and our kids had grown up together. I was left lonely, hurting, and devastated that those people had pretended to be my genuine true friends for almost two decades, then kicked me when I was down. Likely because my ex was their beloved and talented organist. On the other hands, my work friends were kind and compassionate, and were very supportive. I have learned my lesson, and will never trust church people again. They hurt others too much. They are much more judgemental and mean than the general population. Now I go to a different church, where I slip in the back, worship quietly, and guard my heart. I am just glad that I learned from my experience, so I won’t make myself vulnerable again by sharing anything personal with those who have not earned my trust, simply because they go to my church. Just going to the same church or proclaiming to be a Christian is not any reason for me to trust a person – all kinds of cruel people gather together in churches all over….

  4. Over 20 years and three different churches, I have had a lot if heartache. When I experienced being cheated on and my husband turning gay, and subsequently getting divorced (16 yrs of marriage, 4 kids), I shared my pain with my “church family” and with my friends at work (who are mostly unchurched). The church members gossiped, accused me of things, ostracised me, and all the women couldn’t tolerate a newly single attractive woman being in the same room with their husbands for small group or Youth group. Even though we had been “the best of friends” as couples and our kids had grown up together. I was left lonely, hurting, and devastated that those people had pretended to be my genuine true friends for almost two decades, then kicked me when I was down. Likely because my ex was their beloved and talented organist. On the other hands, my work friends were kind and compassionate, and were very supportive. I have learned my lesson, and will never trust church people again. They hurt others too much. They are much more judgemental and mean than the general population. Now I go to a different church, where I slip in the back, worship quietly, and guard my heart. I am just glad that I learned from my experience, so I won’t make myself vulnerable again by sharing anything personal with those who have not earned my trust, simply because they go to my church. Just going to the same church or proclaiming to be a Christian is not any reason for me to trust a person – all kinds of cruel people gather together in churches all over….

  5. Over 20 years and three different churches, I have had a lot if heartache. When I experienced being cheated on and my husband turning gay, and subsequently getting divorced (16 yrs of marriage, 4 kids), I shared my pain with my “church family” and with my friends at work (who are mostly unchurched). The church members gossiped, accused me of things, ostracised me, and all the women couldn’t tolerate a newly single attractive woman being in the same room with their husbands for small group or Youth group. Even though we had been “the best of friends” as couples and our kids had grown up together. I was left lonely, hurting, and devastated that those people had pretended to be my genuine true friends for almost two decades, then kicked me when I was down. Likely because my ex was their beloved and talented organist. On the other hands, my work friends were kind and compassionate, and were very supportive. I have learned my lesson, and will never trust church people again. They hurt others too much. They are much more judgemental and mean than the general population. Now I go to a different church, where I slip in the back, worship quietly, and guard my heart. I am just glad that I learned from my experience, so I won’t make myself vulnerable again by sharing anything personal with those who have not earned my trust, simply because they go to my church. Just going to the same church or proclaiming to be a Christian is not any reason for me to trust a person – all kinds of cruel people gather together in churches all over….

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