Wednesday, 7 October 2015

There's Something Terribly Wrong With Our 'Christian' Culture

A few years ago, as a church leader, I experienced bullying and spiritual abuse when one man wanted to 'lord it over' his peers. When the oversight board was called in to help mediate, those men simply took the side of the bully. After experiencing further abuse and an incredible miscarriage of justice, I ended up resigning from leadership and later leaving the institution.

Just a few weeks ago, as an office manager, I needed to deal with a situation where one staff member had been trying to 'lord it over' her peer. When the boss was called in to help effect justice, he simply took the side of the bully. After the victim was further traumatised, and she and I were treated with nothing but injustice, I ended up with no choice but to resign from my job.

Two separate situations - one a church and one a workplace. So what did they have in common? Well, both times pernicious behaviour was ignored; both times justice and integrity were lacking; and both times the events occurred in places which prided themselves on being 'christian' organisations!

Screen shot from The Princess Bride
But to misquote Inigo Montoya, "They keep using that word 'christian'. I do not think it means what they think it means!"

According to the online Oxford Dictionary the word christian, used as an adjective, means:
  • relating to or professing Christianity or its teachings: or
  • having qualities associated with Christians, especially those of decency, kindness, and fairness.
Now, there was precious little "decency, kindness, and fairness" on display in either of those situations. So I'm left with the question, "Does christian culture relate to demeaning and damaging others, and does it teach us to bully and abuse others?"

Whether you've encountered this reality personally or not, even a cursory glance online or through social media would certainly seem to indicate an affirmative answer is in order. There we find 'pastors' abusing people as well as their assumed positions of 'power'; churches ignoring or defending this behaviour; victims being blamed and shunned; countless blogs detailing injustices perpetrated by 'christian leaders'; and online 'christians' berating and belittling those whose beliefs differ from their own.

We have created a culture so toxic and so harmful that multitudes walk away from it each day - battered and bloodied - and yet we don't even blink an eyelid! We keep smiling and justifying our behaviour and telling ourselves how evil our victims must be. And we do it all in the name of our god!

Where did we get the idea that we are representing Jesus by beating up our brothers and sisters? Who in their right mind would think that treating others with contempt and injustice is a godly display? When will we open our eyes and realise that something is terribly wrong with us?

Why does 'christian' culture seem to create so much pain and hurt when its purported intention is to foster a community of Christ-followers who are known primarily for their love? If we are truly disciples of Jesus, why do we look (and act) so unlike him? 

I've said it before and I'll continue to say it - we've got something seriously wrong guys!

Worse still, our failure to love even our fellow believers (let alone our 'enemies') serves as a warning to those outside the family of God that our religion is dangerous - that instead of creating communities of love, compassion and justice, we generate a culture of anger, arrogance and abuse.

And it is true far too often. We are dangerous. Our culture is toxic. And we totally misrepresent the one whose name we bear!


  1. I think that our "Christian" culture is actually the corporate culture. When it comes to relationships within the church, at least from the top down, it is far closer to a human resources mindset than what we might expect to be friendship out family. In most cases, as it is in the business world, the higher you are in the hierarchy the more valuable you are likely seen as a commodity. That is why, for the most part, the only time that you see leaders dealt with is when they have reached the point of hurting the franchise. In most other cases the more valuable commodity is going to win out when there are abuses.

    If that's not a scheme of the devil, alive and well in our Christian culture, then I don't know what is.

    1. As horrible as it seems, I believe you are correct. It's the 'brand' which is protected at all costs - people matter only in so far as they add value to the 'product'. To make it worse, it's like that 'product' is sold as some sort of cure-all wonder drug, when it's actually a form of poison.

      I guess that's also why my years of loyal service both in the church and the workplace counted for nothing. You're only as good as your next day of usefulness. (And whistle-blowers always get crucified - if your questions threaten to uncover the toxicity of the product, then God help you!)

  2. Only just read this and my immediate response is to say I hope you're OK....resigning from your job is no small thing and many would have kept quiet and protected their job at the expense of standing up for someone else. I admire your integrity and courage xx