“The Church is a Whore… and she’s my Mother.”

Disclaimer: This piece includes an overtly Christian perspective that is normally absent from my posts.

“The Church is a whore… and she’s my mother.”

– St. Augustine. 

This is a provocative quote from St. Augustine, but it’s a powerful one. The Church has provided us with our spirituality and our core values. It has blessed us with the faith that nurtures us through trials and tribulations. Yet, the body of Christ is a Frankenstein monster; it’s a toxic leper that causes people to run in the opposite direction.

The Church is the body of Christ and the body of Christ is composed of people. It is hundreds of denominations loosely bound by several fundamental Christian beliefs. Just like Frankenstein, the body of Christ stumbles around and often strikes fear into the hearts of those that come into contact with it. Human fallibility is an inescapable component of any human institution. The Church is a human institution. 

St. Augustine (354 - 430 CE)
The Church is a Frankenstein monster.
Too often, the Church caused more suffering that it alleviated.

The body of Christ has harmed many people. It has abused many people. Its collective sins rival the collective sins of the most ambitious and deranged psychopaths throughout human history. But she is our mother. She raised us and cared for us. We are her children. We are indebted to her.

How do we stay true to our spiritual parent and simultaneously make amends for her sins? It’s become fashionable to criticize religious institutions. Secular critics have no shortage of reasons for their criticism. Instead of denying their claims, we must acknowledge their feedback and take steps to re-align ourselves with the loving rubric of Christ. 

We are all cells that comprise the sinews, bones and muscles of the body of Christ. It is our job to mirror the example of Jesus to everyone we interact with. As each cell moves closer to the emulation of Jesus, the entire body of Christ moves closer to fulfilling its purpose: faithfully representing Jesus to everyone we interact with. 

The first step in making amends for any transgression is to apologize. It’s our duty to apologize for the sins of the Church and to provide love, friendship and respect to the Church’s victims. 

“The Confessional Booth from Blue Like Jazz.” 

Don Miller was a student at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Reed is perhaps the most secular institution in America. Princeton Review named Reed “the college where students are most likely to ignore God.” In his book Blue Like Jazz, Miller tells a story that almost perfectly exemplifies the tight rope that every Christian must walk – the balance of honoring our spiritual mother, while simultaneously making amends for her transgressions. 

Every year, Reed College puts on a festival called “Ren Fayre.” The campus is shut down and staffed with security so that students can party hard without worrying about legal or academic repercussions. Students and non-students get drunk, high and, quite often, naked. The college even brings in a medical unit that specializes in treating bad drug trips. 

Many young LGBT+ Christian students felt that the festival was a good time to come out of the closet since “Ren Fayre” typically entails an exodus of all Christians from the school and the town. Less Christians on campus means less ridicule and judgment. Donald Miller and his friends decided to run a confession booth on campus during the festival. But this confession booth was special. In it, the representative of the Church (Miller) was apologizing for, and confessing, the sins of the Church to anyone that was willing to hear a confession. What followed was… beyond moving. It was a rare exchange of love.

"Blue Like Jazz"
The seal of Reed College

A documentary filmmaker recreated Donald Miller’s confessional booth and included it in his documentary, “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers.”

It is featured in the clips below.

What are other ways that we can be faithful to our spiritual mother – to the Church – while still following the loving example that Jesus provided us with in the Gospel?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.