Well-Meaning Christians with Simplistic Theology

A Christian friend is no different than any other friend. It breaks their heart to see you suffering, and they want to do or say something to help and encourage you.

But Christian friends have an added concern. They not only worry about you personally, they worry about you spiritually. They worry that what you have been through could cause you to eventually abandon your faith.

So out of concern for both your well being and your faith, (and possibly their own fragile grasp on God,) they can be much too quick to give you Bible verses and answers. In an attempt to encourage you and remind you of God’s ability to make everything right, they may say things like:

• “God works all things together for good.”
• “In the end, the innocent will get justice and the guilty will get punished.”
• “Everything happens for a reason.”
• “Look how many people you will be able to help because you went through this.”
• “Thank God it wasn’t worse.”

These things may be true, but they’re not always helpful…especially if they are offered too soon and too easily.

These responses are attempts to help you answer the basic, nagging question…”Why?!”

It’s important to understand that when it comes to abuse (or any trauma,) victims ask two types of “why” questions. The first type comes early in the recovery process. It may sound like the victim is looking for answers, but they are really just venting their hurt and anger. These are “why” questions that come not from the head, but from the heart.

The second type of “why” questions come later, after emotions have been vented and processed. These latter “why” questions are truly seeking to understand the reason behind what happened. These questions are looking for explanation…not to be confused with excuse…and they come not from the heart, but from the head.

The problem is that early in the process, well-meaning Christian friends try to answer the “why” questions of the heart with theological answers from the head. That doesn’t work. “Why” questions from the heart need compassionate empathy, more than correct theology.

So, when you find yourself faced with a well-meaning Christian friend whose attempts to encourage you are more hurtful than helpful, try focusing on their genuine love and concern for you more than on their swing-and-a-miss attempt to answer the questions you’re not really asking.

2 thoughts on “Well-Meaning Christians with Simplistic Theology”

  1. I like this perspective. It can be so easy to want to lash out these Christian answers. It reminds me that there really is not a perfect response. Looking at it from the other point of view reminds me to be patient and not direct my anger and frustration to well-meaning friends.

    • It also occurs to me that I do not always know what to say either. I need to show the same respect and grace to others that I would hope I would receive if I made the same comments.

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