Stockholm syndrome is a condition in which hostages develop a psychological alliance with their captors during captivity. Emotional bonds may be formed, between captors and captives, during intimate time together, but these are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims.
Church hurt is real and is a topic that shouldn't be avoided.
According to a study conducted by The Barna Group in 2010, out of those who avoid Christian churches, one of the driving forces behind such behavior is the painful experiences endured within the local church context. In fact, one Barna study among unchurched adults shows that nearly four out of every ten non-churchgoing Americans (37%) said they avoid churches because of negative past experiences in churches or with church people.
The traumatic experiences that are unfortunately witnessed inside the four walls of our community sanctuaries range from marital/spousal affairs to molestation to religious politics. Misplaced priorities and loyalties are questioned by some as church activities outweigh the attention to home which precipitate domestic conflicts - sometimes resulting in marital divorce. These are just some of the examples that I have witnessed first hand.
Speaking of first- hand: My father has been a pastor for 30+ years. I have an extensive history with the church. At one point, I was being groomed to be his successor.
I also am a first-hand witness of several common responses to why one should venture into the space of church-going, even if their past experiences have been unfavorable. Some being (1) "There is no perfect church" and (2) "The church is a hospital". Being that the aforementioned is true, I have to step into the space of those who may become victim - intentionally or unintentionally - to the repetitive and/or rehearsed traumas that are present. Consequentially, one should not feel guilty or be guilted if they decide to move on from church due to these unfortunate events.
Let's look at the hospital concept: We know that hospitals do not require one to stay forever; therefore once you are well, you are given instructions from a trusted and licensed medical professional for post - care, and then sent home. On the other hand, if one is presented with a medical professional who is not competent in the area of specialty and misguides the patient in pre and post care, there is a high probability of re-injuries and short/long term symptoms - leading to possible malpractice.
Furthermore, some in the church can be diagnosed with Stockholm syndrome. They are being held captive by the idea that they can't move on from the church building. You should be free to worship in a healthy, pain-free, trauma-free environment. One famous writer in the bible once said "Whom the Son set free, is free indeed"! If one reads Chapter 5 of Mark in the bible, you will find that Jesus didn't preach going to a building. He preached freedom, wellness, and free from sickness. He famously healed people outside of the church walls.
This blog may strike some chords of Christian acceptance but some times you have to move on from the building and it is ok. Covid-19 has taught us that we don't need the building to connect. It doesn't mean you stop being a Christian. It doesn't mean you should isolate yourself from those whom you love and whom values you share, even if they choose to go to the building. We know permanent isolation is not healthy. You can worship and fellowship and grow with one another outside the walls.
Ask yourself, is there anything holding you captive? Is there anything causing you emotional or physiological harm? Let us hear your voice, our community wants to hear from you! Comment below 👇🏿
Books to be considered for reading:
So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore by Jake Colsen
Forgotten God by Francis Chan
Written by: Q. Edmonds