Center for the Study of
CHURCH AFFECTIVE DISORDER
TRAUMA CAUSED BY ABUSE AND MISTREATMENT AT THE HANDS OF AGENTS OF THE CHURCH: Our hearts naturally go out to the victims of cruel acts, and steps should be taken to minister to those who are victims, discipline the perpetrators, and continue to reform the Church. These tragedies, however, are of a different order than CAD and require serious attention of a different sort, more intense and far more in need of professional treatment.
BEING TICKED-OFF AT THE PASTOR, KEY MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION, THE MINISTER OF MUSIC (OR FILL IN THE BLANK): This is the condition most frequently misdiagnosed as CAD. The immediate presenting symptoms are similar, but the etiology is quite different. Being ticked-off begins with and remains a matter of personal offense. Usually those who suffer from this malady are unaware of having ever given offense themselves. In some cases, simple forgiveness will cure the situation. In still other cases, a Three-Step Program is the course to follow (Get over it; Get real; Get a life). Alas, most will pass on both of these remedies. Offense collecting is another popular hobby in the Church.
THIS BRINGS US TO A MORE PRECISE DEINITION OF CAD, which is based on a perception that there are broad patterns of behavior and thought within the Church that tacitly deny an ecclesial vision based on a good working knowledge of scripture and theology. Put another way, it is a perception of the Church either refusing or unable to be the Church. CAD is the response to this perception resulting in a persistent and conscious discomfort somewhere on a continuum between disappointment and heartache. There are certainly some elements of forgiveness and the Three-Step program in the suggested course of treatment, but it is probably handled best in dialogue over time.
The bottom line is this: If a complaint about the Church is not based on a good ecclesiology, it is not CAD.
THIS GIVES RISE TO THE QUESTION, IS NOT SIN AT THE CENTER OF CHURCH AFFECTIVE DISORDER? Of course it is. After all, we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. In the above bottom line, we do not say that good ecclesiology causes CAD. When good ecclesiology is mixed with hubris and an insufficient love of neighbor, CAD is almost certain to follow. We would not need dialogue, struggle, and admonition if sin were not present. CAD is a common disorder in the midst of the famous formulation by Martin Luther: Simul Iustus et Peccator (both saint and sinner).