The Church Hurt Me

(This blog was originally published by Nathan Neighbor on June 1, 2015)

I hear a common phrase in working with people that saddens and confuses me:

“The church hurt me.”

It saddens me because I get it.  I don’t mean to be that guy, but I am pretty sure my church wounds run deeper than most.  I understand when people have a hard time trusting, engaging, believing again after men and women of faith have betrayed them.  It is both a painful and disorienting experience.

It confuses me because the statement itself is just not true.

The church itself is an idea… it’s a collective community of people who have been baptized into the same body and are committed to similar ways of engaging God.

And it is impossible for that (the above mentioned) to hurt you.

The fact is, when we say “the church hurt me,” what we are often unwilling to say is “Insert Name(s) Here hurt me.”  It’s often easier to say that an entity without a face, name or relationship hurt me because it is then impossible to connect to the pain of being betrayed by a specific person that we loved, trusted or believed in.  If “the church” hurt you, then there is no responsibility to forgive, engage conversation, restore or mend what has been broken.  It’s a great strategy to generalize our pain, and not touch the deep wound and betrayal.

… because, if I say “John hurt me,” there is now a face and a name and a relationship.  Now I have someONE to forgive.  With this declaration, we are in a much greater need for a savior.

The fact is, if you are going to be in relationship with others, you will get hurt.  Generalizing that hurt by blaming on the church, the company, the government, the man, etc. is a great strategy to avoid the pain, but in the end lead to bitterness and death.