• Topics and Concerns Under-Reported by Christians or Abuse and Survivor Sites

Depending on my level of interest and schedule, I may, in the future, write separate blog posts discussing some of the topics I am listing below.

Some of the survivor or abuse recovery sites, forums, groups, and blogs I visit (whether ones owned by conservative Christians, liberal Christians, or ex Christians) do a wonderful job of exposing the problems of things such as authoritarianism and child-abuse (and wife-abuse) cover-ups by churches.

Those are certainly important topics that are deserving of coverage.

Some abuse or survivor blogs will cover some of the issues I have mentioned below, but only by way a “token” post or two.

I can think of one such blog that has, yes, done one to three posts per most of the topics you see below (which I think is wonderful), but then, literally a year or more goes by never for these topics to be brought up ever again, even if they have said in an older post they will be consistently covering said topic(s) in the future.

In my humble opinion, I think people would be better served if maybe one or more of the issues I am listing below are discussed in a cyclical fashion, say, of approximately one post per every three to four months.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lack of ministries to, or coverage by, churches or Christians in general, or on abuse sites specifically, over other topics, such as (in no particular order)…

-MENTAL HEALTH MALADIES and TREATMENT 

Here is an article from CBS News, April 2017:

More Americans suffering from stress, anxiety and depression, study finds

More Americans than ever before are stressed, depressed and anxiety-ridden, and many are unable to get the help they need, a new study suggests.

And this:

Suicide-Related Cases Increasingly Common in Children’s Hospitals, Study Finds – May 9, 2017

With depression and anxiety rates rapidly increasing among younger individuals, there has also been a concurrent dramatic increase in hospitalizations due to thoughts of suicide and self-harm, a new study finds.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee looked at data from 32 children’s hospitals across the U.S., identifying inpatient and emergency visits between 2008 and 2015 by those between the ages of five and 17.

I have read studies via other sources over the last several years that say that there are a large number of Christians who are also afflicted with mental health issues. This is not just a “secular” phenomenon.

Christians, just like Non- Christians, not only occasionally suffer from physical ailments, but also from emotional or psychological ones as well.

Seldom do Christian (abuse / survivor) sites regularly cover any of this (please note I said “regularly”), as well as regularly critique the shoddy, dangerous, or ineffective ways these problems are treated by other Christians (e.g. biblical counseling, Nouthetic Counseling, or purely spiritual means, such as the thinking that one can just “pray the depression away”).

In spite of the high prevalence of mental health problems even among Christians, and that the usual “treatments” and suggestions offered by pastors and Christian authors are “Quack Remedies,” I just don’t see issues such as depression, bi-polar disorder, PTSD, anxiety, and so forth, addressed regularly by Christians.

And there are a lot of hurting people out there who need to discuss these things, and maybe be pointed to more helpful forms of treatment.

Because churches, Christian teaching, and pastors fumble on how to assist people who do have mental health problems, it can result in things such as…

Church Sued Over a Suicide Says It Will Change Training – May 1985

LOS ANGELES, May 19A Protestant church that was sued for clergy malpractice because a young member committed suicide says it will reform its counselor training programs…

The parents, Walter and Maria Nally, sued the Grace Community Church after their son Kenneth, 24 years old, shot himself in 1979. They said Mr. MacArthur and other members of the counseling staff had discouraged him from seeking outside help and had never told them about their son’s suicidal tendencies.

Christians are suffering daily, for years on end, some even dying, due to these things, but it receives precious little exposure or push-back on a regular basis from spiritual or abuse recovery blogs, which I find very odd.

-DEATH / GRIEF / MOURNING

The majority of Christians are just as bad or ignorant about how to minister to someone in grief as the American secular culture is.

After my mother died a few years ago, I witnessed firsthand at how so many people, Christians included, are either too ignorant to minister to someone in grief, or are too selfish or lazy to do so.

I remember in the months following my mother’s death, when I asked some of my online friends why they were seemingly ignoring a small number of posts I wrote here and there about how I was dealing with my grief and missing my mother (they were not leaving me replies), some of them, even 30-something adults, and one woman friend who was in her late 40s or early 50s at the time, replied they “did not know what to say.”

Still others stayed totally quiet rather than inadvertently say something that may be construed as insensitive.

Totally ignoring the person in grief (or actually visiting them but never allowing them to talk about their deceased loved one) due to such a fear is just as, or maybe more, painful than saying a well-meaning yet insensitive comment.

(Being totally ignored while in grief, or having friends avoid the topic of your deceased loved one even when with you, is very hurtful.)

Most people in grief need your company, and many of them need to and want to reminisce, talk,  or cry about their dead loved one with you as you sit by them.

A few years after my mother died, I did a lot of reading about grief.

One of the things I found is that, according to studies contained in these articles, is that modern Americans do intentionally ignore the topic of death completely and are simply disconnected from the fact of death due to societal changes.

Americans, these articles were saying, would rather “brush it under the rug” and hide it because it’s such an uncomfortable or unpleasant topic for so many.

Due to how dead bodies are now handled and buried, it changed the nature of how or if or when Americans are faced with the reality of death.

Until modern funerary practices, from what I read, your average American was confronted with death and seeing actual dead bodies up close and personal far more often than they are today, for in some regions, a dead relative’s body might, for example, be placed in a coffin within the family’s home for a few days before being buried.

These days, the dead body is immediately carted off to a funeral home, then buried not too long after.

One result of all this is death is pushed out of mind, because it’s out of sight. The unfortunate end result is that when your friend’s spouse or mother dies, you’ll feel at a loss as what to say or do for your friend.

In this day and age of the internet, though, I cannot let people off the hook.

For my friends who plead ignorance, because they had no idea how to comfort a friend who was in mourning, all they had to do was go online and Google a phrase such as,

“How to comfort a friend in mourning,” or “Things to avoid saying to someone in grief,”

and Google will pop up a billion page results, some written by psychologists, psychiatrists, or organizations that are dedicated to the topic.

For example:

7 Things You Should Never Say To Someone Who’s Grieving

9 Things You Should Never Say to a Grieving Person

8 Common Condolences Not To Offer Someone Grieving A Loved One’s Passing

How do I know this? Out of curiosity one day, I went to Google, typed in such phrases, and found all sorts of magazine articles, blog posts, and forums about grief.

I did so just now, as I was constructing this post, and found those three links above – and there were many more.

I hate to be paranoid, but it makes me wonder if my online friends were telling the truth or just too lazy to go research the topic to find out how they could’ve aided me when my grief was at its height (and I was not even bothering them that often about it).

I do not see churches, Christians, or survivor or abuse blogs discussing grief, or how to reach out to those in grief, and providing practical guides and tips of things to avoid saying or doing to the person in grief.

Considering we’re all going to die one day, or someone close to us will eventually die (if not sooner, via an illness or car accident), shouldn’t we all be prepared for this?

Shouldn’t Christians be educating other Christians on how to react to or help someone who’s loved one has passed away?

– SHAME / EMOTION / EMPATHY

I feel sub-categories under ‘Death and Grief’ that could be discussed by Christian abuse / survivor blogs could pertain to Shame, Emotion, and Empathy.

I’ve noticed that many Christians are uncomfortable or are impatient with anyone who shows emotion, is vulnerable, and hence, will shame or lecture a grieving person who approaches them for help into silence and into repressing their feelings and pain.

I don’t believe many Christians understand what empathy is, don’t know how to show it, or feel they are not obligated to extend empathy to a hurting person, which also plays into this phenomenon of not helping the person in grief, or not knowing how to.

-UNANSWERED PRAYER

Why does God answer some people’s prayers – and almost immediately? – while other Christians pray for years or decades for something and that ‘something’ never materializes? This can be a very painful issue to grapple with.

If or when this topic is addressed, the usual Christian response is to victim-blame, to insist if your prayer is not being answered, you must have unconfessed sin in your life, you’re not praying hard enough, etc.

This is another topic that isn’t addressed too often in churches, and it doesn’t seem to come up on abuse / survivor sites.

-ADULT SINGLENESS

Most Christians remain blissfully unaware of a shift in American demographics, where there are now more single adults than there are married couples.

For First Time, More Singles In U.S. Than Married Couples – 2014

About the only singleness most Evangelical Protestant and Baptist groups recognize are young singles – those around their mid- 20s or younger. Single people past that age do not come into consideration, for the most part.

The situation grows worse the older the single becomes.

Churches and online Christian publications, if addressing singles, relegate singlehood and the particular struggles singles face, to younger 20- somethings who are still in college, and occasionally to providing peppy career advice to the recent college graduate who is just starting out in the world of work.

If you’re 30 or older, especially 35 and up, you’re a non-entity in Christendom.

Most churches, Christians, and denominations prefer to “focus on the nuclear family.”

Churches, Christians and most denominations revere marriage and parenthood, but offer nothing for anyone who is over the age of 30 – 35 who is single, childless, and childfree – no magazine articles, tips, blogs, sermons, no practical help, encouragement, no social functions at churches – nothing.

For the Christians who have been clued in to this societal change, they are not happy about it. They do not value singleness but remain stubbornly fixated upon promoting marriage and parenthood, and they sometimes do so at the expense of singleness (as though singleness is second rate or a disease that needs to be cured).

Such Christians don’t bother to meet the needs of singles or to understand them, their needs, or to even consider the different types of singleness.

Most Christians do not realize that some people who are single or childless are either single and childless by circumstance or by deliberate choice.

Christians don’t bother to understand the different types of singleness and life stages of singleness; singleness can be different at age 44 than it is at age 32 or at age 23.

Some singles are happy being single, while some prefer to be married.

Some singles are never-married (even into their 40 and older), while some are widowed or divorced.

So far, the only solution I’ve seen to addressing singleness among conservative Christian commentary or churches is to strongly pressure younger singles to marry immediately (early marriage).

First of all, this view assumes that all singles who remain single are deliberately avoiding marriage, which is not the case for many.

Secondly, the fixation on encouraging younger people to marry does nothing to assist those who are already past the age of 29 who are divorced, widowed, or  never-married.

I think there would be a market for discussing mature singleness (as opposed to “20-something” life stage of singleness, which is already covered quite thoroughly by Christians) for any of the abuse / survivor blogs that would care to feature it on their blogs or groups on occasion. The needs and concerns of this group is rarely highlighted.

-AGEISM

Many conservative churches and denominations like to act as though they are counter-cultural, but like secular society, they are just as youth focused.

The large mega churches, who are obsessed with drawing as many new people per week as possible, seem to feel that being “relevant” is key, and being “relevant” in turn, means copying the youth culture… smoke machines, large video monitors, pastors in skinny jeans, and cool happening rock worship bands.

Younger people can tell if or when an adult is acting like a try-hard, and it’s a turn off.

When I was in my 20s, I could tell when people in their 40s or older were trying to act cool to gain some kind of influence over me, and it came across as fake and desperate. Today’s 20 somethings are the same way – they can spot the phoniness as well.

I have a feeling that many of the things older people are looking for (from churches or from Christians) are pretty similar to what the younger people are really looking for – to get their needs met; answers to life’s problems; a sense of community. I think people would find those things more appealing than another coffee shop in a church foyer.

Who is really bringing attention to this on a regular basis?

For more:

Aged Out of Church Even in our congregations, midlife has become a joke. by Michelle Van Loon

In Which They Are Overlooked in a Sea of Hipsters by Sarah Bessey

But one theme emerged that I hadn’t looked for, over and over: Women, in the middle of their lives, who felt invisible and ignored by the church, the same way they feel invisible or ignored in our culture.

In closing, I’d like to say I would be tickled if the ex Christian, liberal Christian, any conservative Christian, or abuse / survivor blogs would discuss any or all of these topics far more often than they do. I think there is a need for it.

I don’t mean to be bratty or entitled about it, though. What other bloggers, group moderators, and forum moderators decide to focus on is their choice.

I saw a lady drop in at the Wartburg Watch blog to give a stern tongue-lashing to hostesses Deb and Dee in their comment section for not allowing their blog to be used as a mega-phone to shout down Donald Trump.

She suggested that any blog that claims to care about victims and abuse but who don’t want to continually eviscerate a politician she does not like is not ‘really’ in support of victims.

I do not care if a person is for or against Trump, but I found it pretty arrogant that this person was equating a blogger refusing to turn her blog into a platform to bash a particular person she dislikes as being anti-victims or uncaring.

I’ve been a moderator or writer either on other people’s well-visited forums or on other blogs, and I’ve had people, after they see my writing, ask me to write editorials or articles about topics that are of interest to them.

I myself am not opposed to someone asking me nicely to blog about a certain subject on my blog. The key there is “nicely.” If you’re rude, pushy, or demanding about it, or act as if I do not write about your topic of choice I am a big jerk, good luck with that failing approach.

So, when I ask for any Christian abuse / survivor sites or associated sites to please write more often about the subjects I listed above, I don’t mean so in a negative, nasty, pushy, entitled brat kind of way.

There is just a need there that is not being filled by other Christian sites, and it’s unfortunate.


See Also:

Not Exactly Always Hospitable for Non-Liberals: Ex or Liberal Christian Sites and Spiritual or Abuse Survivor Blogs & the Christian Trump-Bashing Infatuation 

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6 thoughts on “• Topics and Concerns Under-Reported by Christians or Abuse and Survivor Sites

    • If I recall from articles I read over a year ago, yes, the church got off in the lawsuit.

      But it does not change the fact that JMac, his church, and a lot of Christians of various denominations do not foster an atmosphere that makes Christians who do have depression (or other mental health problems) feel comfortable discussing them, or to admitting to having them.

      This is discussed more in the book, Why Do Christians Shoot Their Wounded?

      Such Christians are hostile or suspicious of non-spiritual means to treat psychological maladies, and often push spiritual-only means as treatment, such as prayer, church attendance, or Bible-reading.

      Having depression or anxiety is considered by such Christians as being a personal failing or due to personal sin, when often times, that is not the case.

    • There is nothing more depressing than determinism. Whether it is practiced the Calvin way or the more extreme Islamic way. Both are soul killers.

    • I don’t understand why you are posting this material.

      Are you critical of Christians who use psychiatry, therapy, medications, or psychology for treatment?

      • Not at all – but I think a lot of people are pretty naive about the profession. I also think medication can be very, very helpful under some circumstances.

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