The Church Is A Whore, But She’s Our Mother

ProstituteHow many times in the last month have you criticized your local church? It’s programs, pastor, mission efforts or lack thereof.

I’m sure it’s always been this way, but it seems that as of late, every time the local church comes up in conversation, it’s spoken of critically.

I’m sick of it.

Pastors, stop deconstructing the church.

Christians, stop bad mouthing your local fellowship the way you talk about that restaurant of yours that’s gone downhill.

The great Catholic social activist Dorothy Day once wrote:

As to the Church, where else shall we go, except to the Bride of Christ, one flesh with Christ? Though she is a harlot at times, she is our Mother.

In other words, our local church has its problems, but it’s all we’ve got. And we shouldn’t want it any other way.

Think about this the next time you’re tempted to speak critically of your church:

God lives in the messiness of the church.

Speaking to the believers in Ephesus, Paul writes, “You too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:21).

How awesome is that?

God is living in you, me, that crazy lady who always lifts her hands during the third song and that guy who always dings your doors in the church parking lot?

We’re the dwelling place of the creator of the universe?

That’s not too shabby.

Yes, every local church has its problems.

  • Boring sermons
  • Divisive members that need a time out
  • Shallow commitment
  • And yes, dare I say, mediocre church softball teams

But it’s us. We be the church. Me and you. Not people “out there” than can be objectively criticized, dissected and reassembled again on a disinfected lab table.

We are the church.

And despite all of our easily recognized flaws, out of all the possible choices he had at his disposal, God chose to make us his temple.

We’re the only church lost people have.

There’s no bigger, badder, more awesome model of the church coming down the pike and moving into your town that’s going to save the day.

There’s never going to be a skeptic that tilts her heads and says, “Ah, now there’s the church I’ve been looking for. Flawless, fit, and with that Brad Pitt twinkle in her eye every time she talks ever so majestically about her deity.”

No, we’re the ones who tout Jesus-fish emblems on our bumpers at red lights, then proceed to flip people off when they rev their engines behind us.

We’re the ones sharing half-baked political arguments over the water cooler at work.

The ones with stupid Christian t-shirts and the crappy church signs with sayings on them made up by the lady who isn’t allowed to join any other organization in town, but she’s in charge of choosing statements for our church’s best marketing tool.

That’s us. Yep. Guilty as charged.

Still, to everyone’s amazement, God uses us to help people find their way back to him, not so much because we’re the best team he could field, but because God uses those who show up to play.

And as long as we’re the ones wearing the jerseys, there’s always going to be something we can point a finger at.

Which is why in countless places in the Bible we’re encouraged, as the church, to do everything in our power to point to the One who calls us together, and not to ourselves.

We may be a whore, but the One who calls us together is not.

Brian loves helping Christians live thoughtful, courageous lives. He's a popular blogger, author, and pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=724296252 Theo S Daley Jr

    I agree. We have to be the best children.

  • bblande

    What about not preaching the whole word of God (i.e., hell, God’s judgment, biblical position on marriage, etc.)?

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