Church

Living a Double Standard

My feelings of guilt and shame towards a same-sex attraction began at an early age. I experienced frequent sexual abuse from an older male friend during most of my teen years, and hustling for money soon followed.

Years later, I was baptized in a Mennonite Brethren church as a public declaration that I would follow Christ. My secret desire was that maybe now my attraction and sexual fantasies towards men would disappear. They didn't, and the fantasies soon turned into years of acting out behaviours.

I attended several MB churches in different provinces over the years, all the while living a double standard. I became addicted to cruising public places that were well-known to the gay community as places where homosexuals could meet for anonymous sex – a behaviour very typical of this community. Frequenting gay bars was a given.

Life in the gay community has been tumultuous and everything but a happy time. I would be in the arms of a lover on Saturday night and then actively participate in a worship service on Sunday morning. My life was such a lie – a secret I was able to maintain for many years.

The Under-Discussed Damage of Spiritual Abuse (Part 2)

This is a two part article. See: Part One

Therefore, concerning what is being asked of or expected from us, which approach are we seeing from the particular leadership in question?

This?

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity. Titus 2:7

Or this?

And many will follow after their sensuality, through whom the way of the truth will be maligned. 2 Peter 2:2

The Under-Discussed Damage of Spiritual Abuse (Part 1)

This is a two part article. See: Part Two

When someone mentions the term, "spiritual abuse" today, sexual molestation of a child often comes to mind. We have too many accounts of priests, pastors and Sunday school teachers preying on the children in their care. And yes, sadly, that is spiritual abuse.

But this kind of abuse can also take on a more subtle form as well. Its definition hinges on the manipulation of power enforced by a spiritual authority figure, with the abused party feeling helpless and coerced.

Children, of course, spring to mind as the most vulnerable. But the net spreads wider.

And a heartbreaking reality emerges: loving God does not exclude us from being hurt, even in the seemingly Godly setting of church. We are all susceptible when it comes to spiritual abuse.

"...Many spiritual abuse victims find themselves struggling to make decisions, and may even have a hard time disciplining themselves to do basic everyday functions such as getting out of bed and brushing their teeth. For so long, we allowed the group/leader to think for us, formulate our opinions for us, and make decisions for us. No wonder so many of us struggle for many years learning how to find ourselves again after leaving a spiritually abusive situation..."
"Spiritual Identity Crisis?" www.churchabuse.com
Used with permission.

Restoring the Church as a Primary Care Giver

Ten years ago, few of us would have considered chemical dependency, sexual addiction, or eating disorders suitable topics for polite conversation within the church community. These were among the "silent issues" in the church. Today, however, addiction, compulsive behavior and abuse are widely recognized as problems of enormous personal and social significance. Consider these statistics (Washton, Bundy, Willpowers Not Enough, Harper Perenial, 1998).

  • At least six million Americans are addicted to cocaine.
  • Between five million and ten million are addicted to prescription drugs.
  • Ten million Americans are alcoholics.
  • More than 50 million Americans are addicted to nicotine.
  • Countless more are addicted to television, shopping, exercise, sports, and even cosmetic surgery.
  • It is estimated that every addict directly affects at least ten other people.
  • Divorce impacts Christian families as often as secular couples.
  • Abortion is the choice in 1 in 5 pregnancies, since 1973 Roe vs.Wade over 25 million performed.

Emerging Awareness

The Christian community is not immune to these difficulties. Many life-long Christians struggle with addiction. In addition, many people come to Christ hoping to find freedom from the bondage of addiction. Often these new Christians expect their problems will immediately disappear as a result of their conversions. Eventually, however, many discover that true healing requires a lengthy process of righting the wrongs of their past. Some of these people who suffer from addiction, compulsive behavior, or abuse find it difficult to be part of a church community. They may find that within their church, self-defeating behavior is denied, ignored, or minimized by those who use religion to shield themselves from life's realities

Pastors and church leaders are becoming

Hold Your Hands OutPremium Content

Can you hold out your hands in front of you, open, palms up, with all that you have and all that you are or will ever become held in them?

Can you keep them open like this, open to the Lord?

Then you are beginning to know THE TRUE FAITH!

Will you refrain from grasping, self-promoting, or gloating? Will you love those He gives you to care for, as they continue on their journey, passing through your hands? Or will you have your own agenda for them, push and manipulate by fear or condemnation and guilt?

Will you give what He tells you to give, and let go what was never yours in the first place? All is His!

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Do You Want to Be Enriched?Premium Content

Proverbs 11:25-26
A generous person will be enriched,
and one who gives water will get water.
The people curse those who hold back grain,
but a blessing is on the head of those who sell it.

A generous person will be enriched . . .

We are living in a times of great need. Government leaders from all over the world are scrambling, doing what they think they should to stop imminent economic collapse. Unemployment is soaring. Housing prices are plummeting.

A generous person will be enriched . . .

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Finding a Church to Support Your Recovery Premium Content

Because recovery is a spiritual journey, it will result in spiritual changes as well as emotional and physical ones. That is one reason, among many, why having a supportive faith community during recovery can be crucially important. In addition to the resources of a therapist and/or a support group, having a safe community of people with whom to worship and learn can be a big help.

Finding such a community may not, unfortunately, be easy. It is not difficult to find congregations with a performance orientation and a spirituality rooted in shame. That is not always the case, however, and it's well worth the effort to find a congregation that is at least sympathetic to recovery. There are, of course, no perfect churches out there - just as there are no perfect support groups, perfect therapists or perfect programs. So, give careful thought to what you really need from a church during this time in your life. If you have a supportive group and a therapist, you may not need a congregation to have recovery programming. It may be more important to have a place where you can experience grace-based worship and teaching.

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When Your Church Disappoints You

Recently someone commented, “Church causes more problems than it solves.”

It’s not a new notion. Churches have had issues since they were established more than two thousand years ago. Many of Paul’s letters specifically address some dysfunctional church activity.

The basic problem with church is it consists of people, and we tend to be fairly messed up. Church would be a great place if it weren’t for all those people.

I’ll bet Jesus had a similar thought. This world would be a cool place if it weren’t for all these messed-up people.

Involving Mission Recovery Participants in ChurchPremium Content

Note: Even though this was written for rescue missions, it is of value to anyone working in the recovery field.

Over twenty years ago, Rev. Maurice Vanderberg, Executive Director of City Union Mission in Kansas City, hung the purpose of their new Christian Life Program on their chapel wall. It is a statement that should describe the intent of all rescue mission recovery programs:

    "Our goal is to see every man becomes a mature, contributing member of a Christian community."

People become homeless because they are disconnected from meaningful relationships with others. They don't know how to access social support systems. And, for most, their trust level is at about zero. As they complete our residential recovery programs, we must assist them to become "plugged-in" to places where they will experience the support, nurture, and encouragement they need to grow in faith and in sobriety.

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Diamonds, Horses & Grass (poem about Marriage Renewal)

If you find yourself losing the joy in your life
And your blessing is more like a curse
And you wonder what's wrong with that sweet little girl
That you've taken for better or worse,

You look at her now and hear yourself say,
"A11 she does is gripe and complain."
But maybe if you took a look at yourself,
You would find what exactly has changed.

Now, you didn't used to call on that girl
With chicken hanging out of your teeth,
Your pants undone and your hair not combed
With whiskers you've had for a week.

You'd take three baths and put on cologne,
Shine your shoes and wax your car.
Then, you'd stand at a mirror and work on your hair
Till you looked like a Hollywood star.

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