Friday, 31 October 2014

Behind Closed Doors

In the years to come, our society is going to face an alarming crisis. This crisis will impact how nations are governed, business is done, and families are constituted. And the cause of this crisis is happening right now behind closed doors...

I've been helping people now for several decades. In that time I have never met a completely functional person! Initially this somewhat surprised me. After listening to the stories of a few thousand people, I've come to realise that we are all dysfunctional to varying degrees. People who appear competent, relaxed, confident, care-free, rarely are. And increasingly over the last few years I've been noticing a concerning trend. Things that used to constitute 'personal problems' seem to have become somewhat normalised and a whole new set of problems now constitute the issues that too many people are now facing. And for the most part these very complex issues are being endured in silence, behind closed doors.

The family home should be the safest place on earth. It should be the place where we associate words like, security, laughter, fond-memories, healing, and rest. The family home is where mum and dad model love, communication, conflict-resolution, planning, dreaming, and romancing. Mums help make a home. Dads help build a home. Together, a Mum and a Dad indispensably contribute what is necessary to make the difference between a house and a home. Ask any single Mum and she'll tell that you that being a solo parent is an extremely tough gig. Ask any wife how hard it is parenting her children when her husband and father of her children won't step up and accept his responsibility to build character, discipline, and life-skills in their home. And I could go one step further and invite you to talk with the wife of an unworthy husband - who abuses both her and her children. I could go this extra step, but I can't. The reason is, such women are difficult to find - not because there's not plenty of them - but because these women and children generally suffer behind closed doors.

What goes on behind closed doors is more than just a physical matter. It involves the intimidation. It involves deep embarrassment and shame. It involves guilt. Abuse takes on different degrees and forms behind closed doors.

The home is where children ought learn to: serve sacrificially, love lavishly, socialise sensibly, laugh lots, and lead courageously. And the growing dire lack of the fulfilment of this ought has given rise to our looming crisis. We now have children growing up not merely in broken homes, but highly dysfunctional homes where they are subject to emotional, physical, social, spiritual, and, sexual, abuse. We Tasmanians went from stunned shock to appalled disgust when we discovered behind the closed doors of one of our own, the mother of a twelve year old girl had been prostituting her own daughter for the past few years to hundreds of men - including men in Public Office, actually charged with upholding justice! The biggest problem with this case is that it is almost certainly not isolated! There is deep pain being felt and inflicted in many Tasmanian homes behind closed doors.

As the children from these abusive homes become adults and take their place in our society as celebrities, business people, politicians, academics, sports champions, they bring with them more than the pain of their abuse. Unwittingly they also bring to positions of influence a highly dysfunctional concept of normality. They attempt to numb their pain, quiet their pain, deny their pain, distract their pain, amuse their pain, but, all to no avail. And what's worse, a good number of them will perpetuate this generational cycle of abuse behind closed doors.
Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

John 8:10-11
The next time you see someone who deliberately looks different - whether it's their heavy mascara, tattoos, piercings, or Gothic fashion, it might worth considering what kind of home they came from. When you hear someone campaigning for something that would have disgusted a previous generation, consider what pain they might be desperately trying to justify. We shouldn't judge too quickly until we know what happened behind closed doors.

All of this is going to contribute to a crisis that should alarm us. Without homes from which leaders can be born to a Mum and a Dad who can then together distil into them how to love, how to care, how to share, how to learn, how to be courageous, how to be honest (even when it hurts), how to work (even though laziness is way cooler), and how to resolve conflict and get along with hard-to-get-along-with people, we are going to have to deal a social tsunami of the most broken, dysfunctional, narcissistic people in human history. This will impact how the next emerging generation views volunteering for not-for-profits (in addition to their day-jobs), giving to charities, serving within a church, donating their time to help run a board of a community organisation, or becoming a self-funded missionary. Increasingly churches who used to 'disciple' new Christians on a pathway to leadership within their church are going to have to disciple pre-Christians and new-Christians to acquire functional life-skills before embarking on discipling them into becoming leaders. These functional skills will have to include how to be sociable (with real live human beings), how to parent, manage finances, appropriate sexuality, diet, and how to read a book. All the while, we will have to teach, model, and train what a life-giving home is so that the next generation has nothing to fear behind closed doors.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Titus 2:3-5
And here's my appeal. Open your doors. By 'doors' I don't just mean that thing at the front of your house, I also mean your heart. We have a few young children from broken homes occasionally come and spend a night with us. For just a brief moment they experience an alternate view of 'normal'. While this happens occasionally in our family home, it also happens every week in our church. We welcome it! Please don't be surprised if you meet new people in your church each Sunday whom you soon discover live in very dysfunctional homes. Please don't just welcome them, expect them. And don't just expect them, pray for the Lord to bring them in! When you see a struggling single mum battling with her crying baby, don't be judgmental - instead take a glimpse behind their closed door and reach out to them - let's open our doors to them. 

The Church was originally founded on multitudes of dysfunctional people coming to Christ and being made whole. One of the most compelling statements of this is found in First Corinthians where the Apostle lists the types of broken people who had ventured into the healing community of the church and been made whole. I finish with the Apostle's celebration of broken people - those who had previously suffered behind closed doors - who had now been made whole, in the hope that we too can see the broken, despairing, abused, lonely, hurting, dysfunctional people of our community come to Christ's healing community of the church - a church not behind closed doors!
¶ Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
First Corinthians 6:9-11
Ps. Andrew

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