Empathy: A missing ingredient

Marjorie:  You never tell me that you love me Frank!

Frank: That’s just not true I told you last week and the week before that!

Frank missed the point, Marjorie wanted to feel his closeness, maybe a hug, she wanted to be assured that he loved and cherished her. With all the life stuff he was feeling distant to her. In a sense Marjorie baited Frank, hoping for a response……other than, “that’s not true”.

With my “Hello Church” page I purposely did a similar thing. I said about the church that I felt that it was on a sandbar and next to useless. I guess I was fishing for a response. I will assume that at least some readers read this and felt offended: “No hang on I’ve been working hard, doing God’s work and your telling me I’m useless!” For those people who responded thus…you are being like Frank and missing the point. Yes the church does a lot of things, and does some things real well. That does not mean everything is right – there is a growing number of people that are feeling ……..shit about how the church is at the moment.

I think this is what Katie and Martins blog is referencing to in “When people walk away from the church” We are not only losing people from our church we are hindering them from entering.

My first few pages about love and bigotry (have a read if you haven’t) was me writing down where I think some of the problems lie. Firstly – Love. This is a big one so I am sure I will bring it up again. For now I want to talk a bit about empathy ‘cause I think empathy is a pretty large part of love*. The ability to think about how someone else might feel, a connection with them, more than compassion….hope you get the idea. Now imagine if you are a woman who is a born leader, or if you are great at sermons or Pastoring, you feel as though God has blessed you with gifts for service but the only thing you are allowed to do is make tea and scones and go on the Sunday School roster (providing you use lessons written by men). Imagine how you might feel.

Imagine if you are Gay and the church keeps telling you that you have chosen to be this way, you have celibacy forced on you, you will never have someone to share life with. How would this make you feel? I am afraid that on these two counts the church is severely lacking in empathy.

I also wrote on bigotry. Bigotry is wider than just things like racism (IMHO) it is an attitude that affects many things. Eg We have the creeds and confessions, we know how to worship! We know how to do church! Our arrogance shuts out other information because we KNOW! We all suffer from attitudes of bigotry to some degree. The church has a severe problem with the LGBT community and it is hurting far more than just the gay people. It needs to stop.

Many people who don’t feel part of a church community quietly disappear, I am not about to disappear, I intend to be a voice for those who aren’t permitted to have one.

*Jesus incarnate is all about empathy

2 Responses to “Empathy: A missing ingredient”
  1. lcamyopinion says:

    I agree that empathy is what is lacking and it seems to me to be the thing that drove Jesus. Whatever it is thats missing, someone better do something quick smart. There are probably less that 20 000 Lutherans worshipping on any given Sunday now. Someone in Adelaide told me that realistic predictions give the church perhaps as few as 10 more years before they are really quite irrelevant (numbers wise). That doesn’t concern me so much. What will be will be. What does matter is who gets help and who gets hurt along the way.

  2. AB says:

    Not sure I can handle two blogs at once. I think my head might explode!

    I think sometimes ‘our Church’ can be well ‘Mmm… Pathetic’! Not really the empathy you were looking for???

    Seriously though, when one can’t see the forest for the trees because we are blinded by our Bible Blinkers, then one can’t show empathy because we fail to connect with the other person. It is only when you reach out openly and freely that you can show true compassion. Jesus always thought about the person in front of Him, before anything else. He showed LOVE! He felt, with all His being for that person.

    If we close ourselves off and stop ourselves from being vulnerable then we lose sight of that connection. I fear that the Church might be doing just that.

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