No, no, not underwear.
(I’ve already done a series of posts about underwear.)
For the letter “U” in the a2z4u and me meme (can you believe it has been 21 weeks already?) I’m thinking about the unmentionables in the church today.
You know what I mean … the turmoil burbling under the surface. The things we only speak of in whispered voices, behind closed doors, only with specific individuals. The stuff you don’t want the rest of the congregation to know. The things you would be traumatized for your pastor or reverend to know about your life. Things you refer to as “unspoken” in prayer requests. Subjects that make us cringe when they turn up in sermons. Problems and questions there are no easy answers to. Topics we’d rather pretend don’t exist in the lives of “nice” church people: domestic violence, rebellious children, emotional and/or physical adultery, racism and bigotry, addictions to drugs, alcohol, work or sports, child abuse, money trouble, depression, bipolar disorder, sexually transmitted diseases…
Seriously, I’d been in the church for almost two decades before I ever heard anyone mention God offering forgiveness and healing for STDs. Considering the number of people afflicted by these ailments, why hadn’t that ever come up before? Because it’s an unmentionable.
Your social background, your personal and familial history, your denomination, and your age all contribute to your idea of what is unmentionable. If you are a writer of inspirational romance, your list of unmentionables is dictated by the requirements of your preferred publisher. If you write for secular publishers, your character’s Christian faith might be an unmentionable in your manuscript. Political associations further define your list of unmentionables, as do the area of the country in which you live, and the level of education you’ve achieved.
Many of the unmentionables from our parents’ generations are no longer an issue, just as exposed bra straps and stockings fail to stir a reaction these days. Things that were hush-hush a generation or two ago, like cancer, miscarriage, and bankruptcy, are no longer kept silent, and that’s a good thing. Thanks to our society’s ravenous interest in politicians and entertainment stars we are privy to infidelity, addiction, mental breakdown, and every weakness and sin and failing known to man (not always a good thing). In accord with the nature of the flesh, we either embrace and accept, or we point fingers and scorn those who fall under the unforgiving lens of the paparazzi.
In my opinion, when it comes to seeking Christ’s grace and forgiveness, what we admit to and discuss in our Christian circles, there should be no limitations, no unmentionables. Jesus didn’t shy away from any topics that came up for discussion … he addressed adultery, prostitution, women’s health disorders (still a whispered topic in many circles), demon possession, divorce, leprosy (the AIDS of the day), and more. I doubt there was a subject He didn’t meet head on with the truth of the Gospel. How did he meet those difficult subjects? Not with condemnation, judgement, and persecution, but with grace, forgiveness, mercy and HOPE.
Do we do the same?
Can the people in your circle of faith, your sphere of influence, come to you with their unmentionables without fear of rejection and rebuke? Have you, have I, created an atmosphere of mercy and love for our children, our friends, our fellow church members and our coworkers to enter? Or are those we love and long to minister God’s grace to hindered from coming to us because they see their troubles on our list of unmentionables?
Lord, help me to love those whose troubles frighten and disgust and repulse me. Help me to love with Your love beyond the unmentionables of my denomination, my generation, and my experience. Just as there is NOTHING impossible with You, and nothing outside the reach of Your mercy and grace, may my ministry in word and deed mirror Your kindness and love. In Jesus’ name.