My Brother Got In A Fight At Church.

My brother does not regularly attend church, and last Sunday he was yelled at in front of an entire Catholic Mass because he broke the communion wafer.

A lady at the altar accused him of “sharing the cracker with his girlfriend,” so my brother opened his mouth to show her the entire thing — already an embarrassing gesture — and the lady called him a liar.  Repeatedly.  My brother argued back, it became loud and heated, and then he walked out.

My brother didn’t know this was a rule, and neither did I — but even if it’s a rule, this is not how you handle things.

The most hurtful thing though is that my brother texted:

“I’ve never been picked on anywhere else except in church. When I went as a kid, those older kids bullied me.  I’m trying to find out the truth but these people won’t let me.”

I felt sick to my stomach.  I remembered when my dad took us to church a few times and those older kids mocked us every Sunday.  They only stopped after I splashed a cup of water in one of their faces.

This is exactly why I was an atheist for over half my life.  And I completely, totally, overwhelmingly understand my brother.

He is genuinely curious about faith — but the church has gotten in the way.  The egotistical few who care so much about their stupid “sacred” rules over living breathing human beings are the very reason that people think the church is a joke, and one jerk makes us all look the same.

I don’t mean to disparage the Catholic Church.  It’s not about that, at all.  I know the church sometimes gets an unfair reputation too.  But if your faith is making you more of a jerk and less gracious, there’s absolutely no point to your faith.  Zero.  It’s better you toss that out the window and start over.

If you’re using the Bible as a weapon against others instead of a mirror to truly examine yourself first, then you have nothing to do with God.  You’re in it for yourself.

I know that no church is perfect.  No community can cater to your every need.  And church-people don’t always accurately reflect who God is.  But every week, I keep hearing about how Christians are hurting other Christians, and I’m so helplessly outraged.  Not even normal everyday people do the kind of crap that so-called Christians do.  I keep remembering that my deepest hurts came from other ministries, from racism and nepotism and favoritism and gossiping and straight up two-faced betrayal.  I’ve met some of these popular Christian bloggers, and the majority of them were a-holes.  I’ve met some megachurch pastors, and a handful of them only lust after the money and the power.  Even deacons in the background be creeping for prestige like a title means so much to them.  I’m sure that I’ve been guilty of some of these things too.

I love my brother.  He’s one of my best friends and one of the greatest people I know.  He’s at least twice as smart as me and he’s been running his own business for over the last half-decade. He is not the kind of person to get in a shouting match this way.  And it’s amazing to me, a damn miracle, that my brother still wants to attend church.  He still wants to go next Sunday.  He still wants to know about God.  Even after being shouted down in front of an entire congregation, he is still seeking.  I think honestly that this is so much more grace than I’ve seen from even the best Christians that I know.

So I exhort you two things.

That 1) If you’re in a position of authority at church and you’re just a jerk, then step down.  Immediately.  Don’t lead again until you realize that unless your idea of God is making you more gracious, however imperfectly, then you’re still just playing around with religion.

And 2) If you’re in a position of authority at church and you have anger issues, then get some help.  Get counseling and mentoring and go to a recovery group.  Your anger doesn’t just “get better” over time.  Get the help, or other people will suffer.  You don’t want to stand before God to explain that one day.

Please pray for my brother.  Pray for our churches.  Pray for grace to permeate our ministries.

God, forgive us for lifting up our buildings higher than You.

— J



Originally posted here.

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17 thoughts on “My Brother Got In A Fight At Church.

  1. I hear ya. More and more people come forth with the same discouragement of church. Something has to happen with the hearts of those who live in that dwelling of legalism and authority. Even as recently as yesterday I was reading a post about the movie “Son of God.” Sure, it isn’t exactly like the Bible; sure it is Hollywood, and they made mistakes in it. But an entire blog post and dozens of Christian comments called it a cult, New Age or whatever they could think of. “it is leading people astray. It is evil and so are the producers.” If I am not mistaken most of the Bible characters were evil; murderers; Jesus haters; adulterers, etc. And God still used them? where do we have the right as “church people” to ex-communicate anyone because as you have said this woman called your brother a liar? I am sure that is the last thing you wanted him to hear. God didn’t give up on Moses when he desperately tried to talk God out of him becoming the Deliverer. God didn’t tell Abraham and Sarai; forget the promise of a son and you become the Father of many Nations; he didn’t tell David once king, after he had stolen his best friend’s wife and then murdered him it was over. He ruined everything. No; God kept him promises with all of them. Whatever these people think about “Son of God”, the “Passion” and they have already thrown “Noah” that is coming out in the grave (and I mean Christians) these movies are a whole lot better than most that is in the theaters or on TV. And Christians wonder why we are in the mess we are in? I am getting started here in my prayer time with God and will definitely pray for your brother.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts and your prayers. I still think the church is God’s plan for us, but the Westernized legalism is really tough to extract and navigate. And some responses on my other blog (the Tumblr) were quite upsetting, saying that this was “acceptable behavior” at a Catholic church. I shouldn’t have even mentioned the word “Catholic,” and if I hadn’t, it would be unacceptable behavior anywhere. I love my Catholic brothers and sisters, and I love them more than traditions.

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  2. I am also sorry for what happened The communion is not “the bread and the wine,” but it is the “communion of the saints.” It is a relational sharing. You might think about checking some of my writings on “Passover/The Lord’s Supper/Communion/The Eucharist/Breaking Bread.” Please let me know if you have any questions. Blessings,
    Senior Pastor/Equipping The Saints
    Philip 3:10, “That I Might Know Him”
    http://gravatar.com/cchurchchurchblog
    http://cchurchchurchblog.wordpress.com/

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    1. For sure. I bet even the church my brother attended had many faithful Christians. There is always a handful in every church that are power-hungry and callous, because they’re people.

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  3. Really bummed out for your brother and, as you say, it’s a miracle and so incredible that he is still interested after being treated in such a way.
    I think the church is sometimes the thing that gets in the way most of why people block out faith in God. I know this is the case for my husband. Praying for your brother.

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    1. Thank you. And yes, it can be both an incredible center for Christians to gather and grow, but also a huge stumbling block. Yet I still believe the global church is empowered by Christ, so despite her, I still love the church.

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  4. You have to know that I totally GET THIS! I am praying for your brother … along with every other person (including myself) who’s ever been slam-dunked by church people. I’m so GLAD that no one has to go to a church for God to find them. He’s amazing that way – He really doesn’t need us. 🙂

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    1. As always, I’m that guy defending the church and I still think she is God’s idea. But I think I know what you mean, especially considering the state of the church today.

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  5. You know the one thing that still gets me, and has helped destroy me, is where were the other 100-900-2000 people at Mass that day?? Why did no one hug go up and hug your brother? Why did no one usher that woman off to the side? Where the hell are all those passive doormats who each have a personal responsibility to live for God and act in heavenly love? Why is it the bullies, sickies, maybe even devil’s agents at worship control God’s people??? That woman is NOT the issue, though a concern. Here God gave that congregation a chance to live out love, and they failed. But I have to temper that down by saying some must show your brother love somehow or he couldn’t intend to stick around.
    Where are the believers? Who took their backbone and heart away?
    I had to find a new way to meet in companionship with others (still a must, no matter what experience we have) so I (we) are at peace, but why don’t people stand up for Jesus?
    Peace

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