Dear church | On whores and unanswered Holy things
by You Have My Word
Dear church, understand that this is not an attack. I have burning questions and I entreat you to remember my heart as you read this. It is a heart looking for answers – looking to reconcile. A heart hoping to understand a little bit of why you do what you do, why you are what you are, and why some parts of that are lost in translation.
I know it is not your intent to hurt people. If only we were judged on intent and not our actions – I, for one, would have “sinned” a whole lot less. Let me say though, that just because you don’t intend to hurt, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Quite frankly, there are too many people who have burnt their fingers lending a helping hand in service of the greater good – the greater God. There are too many people who now build their own secret shrines because the safety of the public sanctuary has been tainted with hypocrisy and pride.
I’ll admit I am part of the reason that security has been breached. I have lied. I have manipulated you. I have held secrets. I have shamed your name. I have failed you in the simplest ways. I have disrespected you and judged the way in which you demonstrate Jesus – I am the worst example of all. I know all this, and although I am sorry, I am not ashamed. When did you start to expect seeing shame and guilt in the process of conviction and redemption? Do you think it will drive people faster to being more like The One who saves? Perhaps I’m being presumptuous; perhaps I am projecting my own insecurities and irregularities onto the walls of your temple. The questions still remain.
Dear church, how dare you front as open-minded and open-armed, but turn to shun the first abrasive opinion that doesn’t quite fit the ideals you stand for? To use an age-old cliché to illustrate my point: Jesus dined with prostitutes, thieves, lepers. Somehow I don’t see prostitution fitting into His perfect ideals. How then do you assume it your right to judge imperfect people when your ideals are often imperfect too? Yes, I fully support striving to be more like Jesus; I know the eternal value of being a body of people after God’s own heart. What about my heart? Will you turn a blind eye when you hurt my heart in your plight – however noble? I’m not convinced that was the original design.
I am fully aware that you are a conglomerate of seriously messed up individuals. For goodness sake, I’m enough of a testimony to that. So hear me when I say I don’t expect perfection. I do, however, expect you to level with me when shit hits the fan.
Dear church, why is it so hard for you to admit when you come short? Surely, transparency would make it easier for us to confess our own failings? I’m not suggesting that your role is to make my path of faith easier – for the cross is no light effort. Anyone with wooden splinters in their hands and back will know. I am suggesting though, that as you encourage my honesty, you too practise this same ritual of openness. After all, we all fall short – you, no less than I. My hope is that in a free space, there will be an increase of grace and compassion as there is an increase of light shed in darkness.
I imagine I am airing words that many people have lost courage to pen, and rather reverted to an enigmatic poem or a song asking God to open their eyes and change their hearts, and that’s all very well. I, however, am more of a Scotch-neat kind of believer. Ask the hard questions and sure, you’ll get hard answers but at least they’re answers.
Dear church, brace yourself then for this next question: sex. Why can’t we talk about it honestly from the front of a building, or in our study groups, or in our homes? Why is discussion concerning masturbation and kinky toys and swingers and queers and affairs saved for quiet, clinical offices and store-shelf sections you’d hate to be seen in? I have no children of my own, yet I can almost guarantee that your eleven-year-old knows more about all these things than… anyway. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’m far off. Further than that, I’m going to outright say that just because someone has sex before marriage, it doesn’t make them a whore. Can we stop speaking about them as despicable abominations? I am not condoning it, because I know how sacred the bond of marriage is. Why is it that in a “welcome”, “forgiving”, “Christ-like” community, so many feel disregarded, damned, deemed well-past worth saving? According to you. Where is your mercy?
You praise with the same hands you use to punish. My fists are not exempt, and I am trying my best to start worshiping with bruised knees more than bruised knuckles.
All this being said, you should know that I have encountered God. I have encountered Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I do not doubt His faithfulness, though I do doubt my faith. Not because He has failed me, but because I constantly fail Him. I cannot question His Word, for He spoke and there was life. That is a power I will never fully comprehend and so I count it an honour to have unanswered Holy things burning in my mouth. I know the church is somehow magnificent – but only because our blemishes are made beautiful through Him. Let none of us claim this glory as our own.
Dear church, I am flesh and bone and blood and heart – just like you. If you have no answers, I do not hold it against you. I would rather you said “I don’t know” or “Let me think on it” rather than conjure your own “truth”. Don’t tell me to just “Look in the Bible” – I have, and I’m asking questions because I don’t see all the answers I seek. Help me. Please.
I am only human, yearning for Holy.
Yours in deep humility and humanity,