come on church you’re moving too slow

come on church you’re moving too slow June 18, 2013
church too slow cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
😀 click on this image to go to my shop 😀

I applaud churches who are breaking out of their shells and affecting change in the world. May their numbers increase!

But I predict someone is going to raise the objection that it was the tortoise that won the race. But that’s a different analogy. That’s about patiently heading towards a desired goal. The tortoise wants to get there.

This is something else. This analogy is about resisting movement towards justice and equality for all. The church doesn’t want to get there.

The fact that the church has been around for two millennia might not be a testimony to its long-suffering patience. It could be a testimony to its ability to slyly avoid its own destruction by protecting itself.

The turtle’s number one defense is to retreat within its shell until trouble passes. This reminds me of the way the church deals with critical issues today such as women’s rights, racism, sexual abuse, sexuality and gender, same-sex marriage, corruption among its leaders, and so on. Rather than confront these issues head on, the usual response is, “Be patient. Let’s take this slowly. No need to rush into it. Leave it with us and we’ll look into it.”

It reminds me of the U.S. military wanting to retain the right to prosecute its own sexual assault cases rather than turn them over to civilian courts. We know how that’s going to turn out. Hardly any go to prosecution now and hardly any will in the future.

But, unlike this cartoon, the church is never fined for going too slow or taking too long dealing with abuses, inequalities and injustices within it’s own ranks or in the world. It just continues plodding along.

You know the drill.

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  • Susan

    Long years ago when I was in Bible college, I was in the choir. We did tours to churches, and at the end of each concert we sang, “The Church’s One Foundation.” The parody version went like this: “Like a mighty turtle/moves the church of God/brothers we are treading/where we’ve always trod…

    Your post reminded me of that. And it is true.

  • Caryn LeMur

    David: just a long thought, and certainly not the main point of your cartoon – I am a former enlisted person and former officer. I have taken food to the homeless veterans that live in tents in the woods. I was the child of a career enlisted man. I have therefore lived the mil life, and I have seen the far end of the results.

    One major reason that the military should not turn cases of military-to-military sex abuse, is that we have a right to be judged by our peers… who understand what the mil life does to the human mind.

    This does not mean we are more lenient… on the contrary, we tend to be more demanding of the accused when the victim has the lower rank . We also have standards by which we judge accusations of rape (some are false accusations with self-induced wounds). We also listen carefully to determine ‘assault’ versus ‘sexual assault’… because our minds may no longer see the gender of our fighting companion. We are brutal towards child abuse or child rape, because it violates our sense of ‘military community trust’ so deeply.

    The church leader can depart the spiritual battlefield at any time. We cannot depart the military life at any time. The church leader can prepare for a second career at any time; we are much more constrained by our duties. It is rare for a church leader to risk death for carrying the gospel into enemy territory; it is not rare for the military member to risk death for carrying a uniform into enemy territory. Church leaders seldom carry a buddy’s body out of a kill zone, and seldom weep beside the box holding the body of a fellow soldier.

    The sexual abuse by the church leader is within a heavily blended community having disparate experiences and differing perspectives – it seems there is a church on every corner of some cities. However, the sexual abuse by the military member is within a cloister community with similar experiences and similar perspectives – a mil base/post does not exist on every corner. In my opinion, the accused has the right to be judged by a representative sample of their respective communities. The church has little proof that they are a cloister; the mil community has much stronger proof.

    Therefore, please be careful comparing the mil community to the church community. Even though the scripture uses some aspects of ancient mil life to help us understand spiritual truths, the mil life and church life are not a perfect analogy or paradigm by which to judge the other. I laugh when ministers call their own self ‘a soldier of Christ’ – they most often live on the parade grounds shining their shoes.

    Lastly, I have never fed a homeless ex-minister living in tents during winter… even among all the released/paroled sex offenders deep within the woods, there has not been one ex-minister… they seem to all blend back in to the work force somehow. Yet, I have fed many veterans, and perhaps 30% were ‘trigger pullers’ – they never quite came back… some never will.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • The world doesn’t need “change” (not the kind that a self-centered creature like us brings). Obama (“change”) is showing us that.

    The world needs a Savior.

    What ‘we do’ is what got us into this mess to begin with.

  • Seamus King

    If what you say is true, sexual assault would not be the unchecked, rampant epidemic in the military that it is today. I’m a veteran of the US Navy, and I could not disagree more with your perspectives on this or your ignorant biases against ex-ministers. I have had friends leave the ministry (some were forced out unjustly by congregations) who became homeless. It isn’t always so easy to rebrand oneself when you have a 10 year work history as a pastor of a small church, a worthless Th.M degree, mountains of student loan debt, and a family to feed. You know not of what you speak.

    Having served in both communities (military and ministry), the comparisons are more than valid and more than fair. In both cases, it always comes down to power, and those who have it wanting to keep it and acquire more.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    I’m glad I’m not in YOUR church, rushing forward to embrace the neatest new fad without asking “is this a wise choice?” I’d MUCH rather be in a church that takes 600-1200 years to study the issue.

    It seems to me that embrace of women’s equality has brought us nothing other than divorce, abortion, contraception, and broken homes. And you want to *repeat that error* with same sex marriage? Why would gays want to embrace that horrid putrid stinking mess?

    I’m to the point where every time a progressive claims “This analogy is about resisting movement towards justice and equality for all.” I want to scream “NO, it’s about discrimination for the groups you care about against the rest of humanity!”

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Isn’t that Onward Christian Soldiers?

  • klhayes

    Change is the only constant we have….can’t remember who said it.

    The world is changing, even if people don’t see it or don’t want to see it. All the things that horrify very conservative people (abortion, divorce, birth control, homosexuality, speaking out about abuse, etc) have been around since the beginning of time. We just are more out in the open about it at this time in history. The church is going to be forced to deal with these issues as the pews become empty and the tithing dries up. They are going to be the ones left behind.

  • Caryn LeMur

    Dear Seamus: Having served in both services and ministry myself, but not having your experiences, I submit we shall have to disagree.

    I am sad to hear that your minister friends are living in tents in the woods… having lived in a car at one time with a pregnant wife, I understand how hard that can be. Having visited the men many times in their tents, I do know of what I speak.

    It is difficult to ‘rebrand’ ones own self. I did that as an enlisted person, as an officer, as a truck driver that became a computer scientist, and as a man that became a woman. Rebranding is difficult, indeed. I submit I have had those experiences and therefore have a resume from which to speak.

    I have been deacon, elder, pastor, evangelist… yet always part-time. When I rebranded myself from church work to prison work to worship leading to taking food to the woods as a woman… I submit I do know what I am talking about.

    I am not sure it always comes down to a question of power – though power is a strong inducement to become nonnegotiable. Those with power often have difficulty sharing it (in my experience). There is also the question of history and systems of legality – the church has no formal legal system that can invoke prison sentences (in my experience); the military system does have a legal system and the ability to invoke prison terms.

    Nonetheless, please do share your experiences, that is, your resume. You clearly have strong experiences of pastoral work and work rebranding. You have accused me of ignorance – but I have offered my resume. It is now your turn to offer the same.
    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn