October 9, 2006

Community, Church and the Closet. . .

I was reading evangelicaloutpost's October 3rd comments on an interesting post from Andrew Sullivan dealing with Mark Foley’s fall. Mr. Sullivan wrote that “We are all human, and my own life has its own share of emotional and sexual mistakes. Equally, the news about Mark Foley has a kind of grim inevitability to it. I don't know Foley, although, like any other gay man in D.C., I was told he was gay, closeted, afraid and therefore also screwed up. What the closet does to people - the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds - is brutal. What I do know is that the closet corrupts. The lies it requires and the compartmentalization it demands can lead people to places they never truly wanted to go, and for which they have to take ultimate responsibility. From what I've read, Foley is another example of this destructive and self-destructive pattern for which the only cure is courage and honesty.”

I would like to add to Andrew Sullivan’s remarks that any behavior having to be kept secret takes a lot of energy and lies to stay secret. Living with that kind of pressure is going to have those kind of results. How much healthier it would be for all of us if the church was to be the open arm community it is to be, instead of the accountability Gestapo it has become.

Of all the issues facing the church today, the lack of community (NOT accountability) is the one that seems to be sucking the life-force out of the body. Accountability should infer communion with one another, support and encouragement for one another. But I have been a part of groups where LOVE of the unconditional and tough kind, was nowhere to be found. Maybe I have just been unfortunate in my choice of sucky accountability groups, but I don’t think so.

Most of us are not good at being wholly transparent – usually we only choose to share those things that we consider safe to our reputations. Of course, the longer the group is together, the more comfortable we should feel and the more we should share. But. . . that takes time and commitment.

I want to backtrack here – the church should be the safest place to share our hurts and struggles. Should be, but it’s not. . . because we are all caught up in coming together with our masks still in place.

You know Jesus loved people. He called them out but He loved them.

We are good at calling people out, but we fail miserably when it comes to loving them.

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