Fashionable Brokenness

I loved this comment in yesterday’s post from TheVeryHungry:

I’ve also noticed a recent trend towards accepting certain more fashionable kinds of “brokenness” (a big buzz concept right now) and I think it would be worthwhile for all of us, including the church to explore what kinds of unraveling we do not find comfortable or OK.broken glass

There are definitely different kinds of brokenness and some are more fashionable than others.

It’s increasingly okay – in some circles at least – to share that we suffer with addictions or difficult marriages or depression.  Some of us speak more openly about our brokenness.  It’s not fashionable to be a heroin addict, exactly, but it’s deemed okay to disclose that we struggle with it in hopes of receiving compassion and support.

There is unspeakable brokenness as well.  Exhibit A: Ariel Castro.  Even his family didn’t know the basics of his brokenness much less the depths of it.  It’s not fashionable/okay to be a pedophile or a person who beats his spouse and/or children.  People addicted to child pornography or torture videos keep that information to themselves.  People who eat people don’t share this as a prayer concern in Bible studies.

One of the ongoing issues for Church World specifically is accountability.  It’s one thing to love unconditionally all the broken people who come through our doors.  But it’s another to say “it’s not okay” when church people are bullies or abusers or haters.  Sometimes we confuse unconditional love with unconditional tolerance.  As followers of Christ, it’s our calling to increasingly seek to be Christ-like.

Years ago, an elder threw a hymnal at me on his way out of an Ash Wednesday Service, and I could “understand” him as an angry guy who got no respect at work, for whom the cultural shifts were disrupting his world.  (e.g. A woman had served him communion wearing pants which, in his world Is Not Done.)  Nevertheless, it’s not okay to throw things at people and he was told so.

So, are some forms of brokenness more fashionable than others?  Yes. Nevertheless even those of us who are not alone in our coke addictions or alcoholism or mental health disorders or abandonment issues would probably rather not have our particular brokenness if we could choose.  Even fashionable brokenness hurts.

3 responses to “Fashionable Brokenness

  1. This is awesome, because I DO think we are on our way to understanding – Not accepting, mind you, but understanding the causes and/or correlations of pedophilia, murder, other “unacceptable” brokennesses, and having more compassion and more insight into helping people live with these demons, just like our understandings of alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, etc. have evolved. This is hard to say publicly, however, because immediately people jump on the bandwagon of “You are just excusing them!” or “You are saying it’s okay!” and even, “You liberals just think anything goes!” To the contrary, I believe the more we understand about what shapes the brains we’re born with, the more we can help people take responsibility for the specific demons they find themselves vulnerable to, as opposed to dividing the world into “good people who might be struggling,” and “bad people who are sinful and unredeemable.” Thanks!


  2. “Sometimes we confuse unconditional love with unconditional tolerance.”
    Loved the post and this was so good for me to hear.
    Thanks for your writing.


  3. Really good.

    Kim Lee

    Director of Spiritual Formation

    South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church

    8601 Bryant Farms Road, Charlotte, NC 28277

    704-544-0404 ext. 117 – office – email

    Sunday – Thursday



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