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April 26 • Churchiness

Day 657

My entire life has been lived in faith-based environments, and often in leadership positions. I periodically marvel at the correlations between what the church is doing for its broken members on its best days, and what “secular” 12-Step programs are routinely doing for its members seeking recovery. My experience in the church is that generally, broken people must get well and have a great testimony and years of proving their wholeness before they are truly welcomed into the pious fellowship inside the church building. In the program, the only requirement for getting help — spiritual as well as practical — is being broken, and wanting to be sober. So many of my well-intentioned and faithful religious friends believe that it’s their job to protect God’s institutions. They often do that by not letting people take steps toward salvation without the guidance of the wise who can make sure they are ‘ready’ before their witness is exposed to the world. I’m not speculating here, I’ve had this conversation too many times, and I’ve argued from both sides of the issue. This would be like telling the active sex addict that “...we can’t take a chance on you embarrassing us in public, so make sure you get your shit together before telling anyone you’re one of us.” In the church, the pressures of perfection are intense, or at least were (still are) for me. I think that must keep a lot of the very people who need the church the most outside looking for companionship among those who understand them and cry with them instead of judging them. I don’t intend this as a slam against the church. All of the institutions that people manage have weaknesses, and I think this is a glaring one, among many strengths, of the modern (or post-modern) church. Love and grace, as taught by Jesus, are the cornerstones of Christianity, and they are the pavement on the road to recovery. While a lot of my righteous friends will disagree with me, love and grace are powers that can be shared and exercised without a Bible College knowledge of salvation or theology. I believe God, my Higher Power, is always involved when love and grace are in play, but the people who are living in the light of it don’t always know it or recognize it. Yet, it still changes people, even sex addicts. I pray for the serenity, the courage, and the wisdom to share graciously with others, wherever I may find them, who are where I was.




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