Moral Wounds

hadiya-pendletonThe church is for wounded people.

But most of the wounds that unite us involve loss and bitter disappointment.  I was struck over the weekend with talk of the moral woundedness of Chris Kyle who was a professional sniper and the author of American Sniper.  He wrote in that book about his first kill:  a woman with a child who was, in fact, a suicide bomber.  But still, it troubled him a bit to kill her.  Yes, she intended to kill his friends.  But she was a woman with a child.  Unspeakable.

Some said it “morally wounded” him.

I wonder these days if people who are morally wounded show up in churches.  We pray prayers of confession, but do we see ourselves as being morally wounded?

I remember a family with two young children in my former congregation who intentionally arrived in worship after the prayers of confession.  The parents told me that they didn’t want their girls to feel like they were “bad.”  They had “nothing to confess.”


We all have something to confess and the sooner we realize and acknowledge this, the better.  We can’t change the world unless we know that we are part of the problem.

Photo of  Hadiya Pendleton who was shot in a park near her school in South Chicago.  Dear God, who did this?


5 responses to “Moral Wounds

  1. “We all have something to confess and the sooner we realize and acknowledge this, the better. We can’t change the world unless we know that we are part of the problem.”

    More to the point…how do those of us who think we understand confession, who are charged with leading communities of faith, open up a conversation about what is going on when we confess? Have we become part of the problem? Are we failing to interpret our theology in a language that others can understand?

  2. I agree that communal confession is important–and with Sarah’s point that it is difficult to lead well. So many prayers of confession seem too vague, or too petty, or too psychological, or insincere. Of course, it takes more than just getting the words right . . . but good words can help . . .

    This Sunday before our prayer of confession, I may talk a bit about what it means to confess our sins together before God.

  3. What is puzzling to me is why have we come all of a sudden paid attention to this last death. Last year nearly 200 youth (minors) were killed in Chicago. If that isn’t a moral wound, I don’t know what is. We confess on Sundays that we only get fired up about gun violence when someone who is well-adjusted and middle class is involved. We confess on Sundays, that despite our best attempts at collaborating on a solution for this scourge in our city, we are failing. We confess on Sundays that as people of faith we love to talk about love, but the truth is that violence has us by the tail and is shaking us hard. Thank God that pardon comes after confession or we wouldn’t be able to get up in the morning.

  4. Yes.

  5. I completely agree. For me, though, there has always been the struggle to actually leave those wounds once confessed. How do we walk the line between responsibility and unhealthy guilt (genuine question)?

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