There is a dark side to any religion. The Christian church has created a legacy that has seeped into cultures all over the world. The church played a part in hate, racism, bigotry, sexism and abuse. History was pretty grim during the Christian Crusades and during the Salem witch trials, which killed many innocent people in the name of God. More recently, some preached against condom use in AIDS ravaged areas of Africa because of Catholic tradition. We can acknowledge that the past portrays a dark side of religion. Christians can't blame atheism or the devil all the time. We need to tackle our own depravity. People don't want to hear this, but the church has their own mess to deal with before they can conquer the world for Christ. You don't have to hang witches to be a bad witness for Christ. There is plenty of nonbelievers to fill the hollows in the world. We've come a long way from the Salem witch trials and yet, we act in a dark method, refractory to what we read in the Bible. Is the church making us look bad by proxy? Perhaps. Here is how the dark side of Christianity operates.
We love to gossip.We are instructed in the Bible to "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." Gossip is a serpent and can wreck lives, marriages and the body of the church. Words, including the Scripture, are twisted. Facts are exaggerated, and before you know it, people are ready to come to your house with pitchforks. Well, you get the point. It starts out as "Did you hear that Jim is seeing a therapist about his marriage?" The next thing you know is that Jim is going to have a divorce and will get custody of his kids. But gossip is a sin that God takes seriously and hiding behind the guise of Christianity is a cop out. God states in Leviticus 19:16: “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.” Don't be fooled as this happens in the church. George Washington talked about using our words foolishly! “The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”
We fuel division.There was a story that people were upset that a church program was not being expanded to a certain age group of children in aftercare. This created a stir and people started to argue and tempers flared. Needless to say, people left the church over it and things were never the same. The enemy loves to cause divisions within the church and although this was a small-scale example, the force was extremely painful. When our egos are involved, a mess usually follows. It may be worse if you attend a country club church. This "Is a metaphor for a church where many of the members have a sense of entitlement instead of an attitude of service. They pay their dues to get their way. And if they don't get their way on every issue, even minor issues, they may sow the seeds of dissension that lead to a church split," author Thom Rainer wrote.
We murder in our hearts.We don't need weaponry to destroy people and to become a dark representation of Christianity. Religion is always looking out for itself. Jesus wasn't religious. Many difficulties arise in our culture due to the animosity in our hearts. Jesus said: "Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going because the darkness has blinded them." When people perform acts in the name of God, they believe that their hate is justified.
We allow sin to fester.We go to church to learn about Jesus' teachings and to grow together. Yet, we don't call out sin in the pews or in the pulpit. When this happens and we become more concerned about keeping up appearances, we lose our flavor. This can be the tolerance of idolatry, adultery, greed and known sin that is not dealt with. What is the point if we are the same as the world? Jesus famously said: "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."
Christian history is full of dark stories and mayhem. Although we don't use swords or hunt for witches anymore, we do judge, ostracize and hurt people daily. We all need to be careful when we do anything in the name of God because we can go into a disruptive pattern in our own lives. The good news is we can turn the page.