Witness

Is the Church a Whore?

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“The Church is a whore.”

It was said, in passing, in casual conversation, leaving me winded by the kick it dealt to my stomach. He couldn’t have distressed me more if he’d been speaking about my mother.

I’d heard it said before, attributed to both St. Augustine and Dorothy Day. And I understood why he’d say such a thing but . . . .

It’s easy to pass by a woman on the street, see her life of prostitution and give her a label. But whores rarely create themselves. “Whore” is what a man says after he’s sold her. “Whore” is what a man says after he’s used her. He gets to have his way and she’s the one whose identity is changed for it. She’s the one sullied by his greed.

It’s time to confess. If there’s any way that the Church has become a whore it’s because we have sold her, we have used her. We have made her into an army, an institution, a corporation, a factory. We have boxed her in buildings and brands. We have forced her to produce, made her a slave to our ambitions.

If the Church has become a whore, it’s because we have sent her whoring.

If the Church has become a whore, it’s because we have sent her whoring. Click To Tweet

But it’s not who she is.

Our beautiful Ecclesia is both timeless and childlike, always hoping, dancing into new places, longing for life.
She is pure and spotless and lovely, knowing she has been made whole.

She is quietly fearless, humbly courageous.

She will not force herself on anyone but her joy is winsome. Her dance is inviting and her laughter has gravity.

We cannot look away.

She is a healer, a creator, a comforter, singing new things into being, drawing many into her song.

She knows pain but it has not made her bitter, poverty but it has not made her miserly.

She feeds multitudes—nourishing the broken, sending them out rejoicing.

The Church feeds multitudes—nourishing the broken, sending them out rejoicing. Click To Tweet

She will not be measured or caged, but takes on many surprising forms, all true to her nature.

She is gifted and multi-lingual.

Her gracious speech shapes new stories, describing places we long to visit, ways we long to be.

She is never reduced by giving herself away, never emptied from pouring herself out.

She is many things brought together, every color woven into a rich fabric, each part with its purpose.

She is a tree, bearing many kinds of fruit.

She is a symphony, played on instruments of many timbres.

She is All and she is One, a whole household in one Body.

And her heart has never turned from her Beloved.

But she is exhausted from being ravished by the egos, appetites and anxieties of men.

She longs to run free, hair wild, skirts flying, to fulfill her calling.

Will we let her?

[Photo: Brett Thatcher, Creative Commons 4.0 via#YouRadiate]

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