Ashtyn Fair Wife of Taylor Fair Pastor at Christ Community Church Reveals how the Church Can be Cruel to Those Who Suffer. Plus is God “Good” When the Pain Comes From His Commissioned Church?

The the blog of Christ Community Church in the Kansas City area the wife of Taylor Fair writes about God being good during pain and she writes about what appears to be infertility issues. The post however goes downhill with “Christianese” and only amplifies ones’ pain and suffering. She makes the claim that walking with God through suffering helps improve perseverance. Is that why the child is molested? Improve perseverance? Is that why a military officer once taught me why rape and sexual abuse is a problem in the military? God wanted to improve my character? This blog post article has some issues the more I thought about it, and this blog post is a response to what is written by Ashton Fair.

All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.

Helen Keller 

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

1 Timothy 5:6 NIV

20191012_133049_HDR

Flowers at the World Trade Center Memorial in New York City

There was a post at the blog of the EFCA’s Christ Community Church that I felt deserved a response. The article was written by Ashtyn Fair who is the wife of Taylor Fair who is the Associate Pastor of the Brookside Campus of Christ Community Church. At the church blog Ashtyn wrote a post about suffering and God that gave me pause and it ate at me as I processed it. The name of the post is called, “Are You Actually Good, God?” and was published on March 10, 2021. The post deals with what appears to be infertility issues between Ashtyn and Taylor Fair and their inability to conceive a child. When I was reading the post Ashtyn talks about the longing to be a parent. Read the following opening paragraphs. 

“I never expected to openly talk about our story until we were on the other side. I had hoped it would never even be our story in the first place. I remember being seven months into our journey and thinking “Surely we won’t hit a year.” I remember being a year in and thinking, “Surely we won’t hit two years.” Now I sit here at two years, and Taylor and I are still longing for God to give us our first child. And still I think, “Surely God will do it this year.”

What about you? What has your path to parenthood felt like? From experience, I’d assume it’s felt isolating, that it’s full of emotional ups and downs, confusion, and even despair. Your grief feels complex and unexplainable to those around you. Your joy is complicated as you hear another friend is pregnant with her second while you’re waiting for your first — you’re happy for her and sad for you and maybe even bombarded with shame because you’re not as happy as you want to be. 

The process of pursuing a family is a physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally taxing experience. Your marriage may feel added tension as you both experience stress while also, you know, trying to make a baby — a real recipe for not a lot of fun. You may harbor anger toward your body for not doing what you think it ought to be able to do. You long for community that can meet you deeply in your darkest season, but instead feel remarkably more alone. You desire to exhaust every option no matter how extreme with the belief that if you just tried hard enough you could control the outcome. You’re asking God questions like “Why?” and “How long?” — and voiced or not, what you are really asking is “Are you actually good, God? Can I trust you?”

Now let’s be honest the evangelical culture can be incredibly cruel to those dealing with infertility. For many evangelicals kids are a ticket to being more accepted by the system. And in a theological system that is so outward image focused its a problem. Its even a bigger problem for a pastor inside evangelicalism because of how evangelicalism makes pastors idols and puts them on pedestals. But there are other issues with evangelical culture. The rejection of single people and the rejection of the elderly. I recall in one evangelical church I was a member of in Wisconsin a person told me directly to my face that I was sinning against God because I was single. I was frustrated and held back from strangling this person who worked with church leadership because it hit a nerve. But getting back to Ashtyn she poses the question of asking God how long will this last. Then the post goes downhill quickly in this blogger’s view.  

 

A “Christianese” answer on Suffering That Amplifies Suffering And Makes it Worse

Then in the post it becomes very “Christianese” when it talks about laying your burden at the feet of Jesus. 

When suffering falls heavy on your shoulders where do you place the weight? Do you tell yourself to pull it together as you strap the heavy load more tightly onto your back? Or do you find yourself at the feet of Jesus with legs shaking underneath you as you drop the backpack of shame, anger, and despair before Him, feeling your body relax as He takes the burden. Do you actually ask for the easy yoke that Jesus offers? Or do you find yourself bearing the weight all on your own, gritting your teeth, and hanging onto as much control as possible?

Then Ashtyn writes about how walking with God in suffering produces good fruit, perseverance and hope. 

Scripture tells us that walking through suffering with God produces perseverance, good fruit, and hope. Meaning these very things are absent when we choose to side-eye God and keep Him at an arm’s length while we carry suffering around on our own. I’ve had plenty of those side-eye moments over the last two years. They come when the enemy tempts me to believe that God can’t actually be good. They come when I see the seventh pregnancy announcement that week and believe the lie that God has forgotten me. They come when I’m tired of feeling all the feelings and wanting to simply shut down and check out.

And she continues to write about God in the context of suffering. Read what is said. 

But I’m going to ask you in the middle of your sadness and frustration to look up at Him. Make eye contact again. Do you see Him?
This God in front of you knows every unsaid word in your heart and does not shame you.
This God you see was there when you found out you weren’t pregnant again.
This God looks at you and knows your questions and anger.
This God longs for you to talk to Him about it.
This God you see is a Miracle-worker.
This God you see renounces all shame the enemy has tried to use to tie you up.
This God, with the kindest of eyes, says “I see your pain. I weep with you. I am here with you.”

I have learned and experienced profound hope and joy throughout these trying circumstances. I do indeed know and believe that God is good, that He is near, and that Jesus is truly our only hope. I have discovered that relinquishing control of my plans (and really, every corner of my life) to a trusting and loving God produces freedom, an unexplainable joy, and peace.

And then there is this paragraph that is telling that I want to discuss below. 

The more we experience our good Father with us at our darkest, the deeper we discover who He is and what He’s like. And that will lead to a new joy, new peace, and new hope. Read through a few psalms and you’ll discover that lament often ends in praise.

 

Lament Does Not Always End Up in Praise

I will start with the last paragraph first. Lament does not always end in praise. In some causes lament can last for the reminder of your life. I learned this in December of 2019, when back in Fresno, California I visited a neighbor in the hospital. Her brother from Oakland was two doors down and dealing with what would be terminal cancer. This neighbor who was close to 100 was frank with me about grief and loss. And she could speak from experience. Her husband had a massive heart attack and died young into her marriage, decades ago. She had three children and buried two due to cancer. And she laid there in bed recovering from some surgery on her foot and told me that I will never get over the loss of my parents. She explained that decades later she is still reminded of what she lost. Her lament was life long because she had outlived her husband and most of her children. She buried almost everyone and yet it was still painful for her. 

 

What Do You Do When the Source of Evil, Pain and Suffering is The Church God Commissioned? 

When I read these stories that ask why they are often tied to issues of infertility, loss of a job, cancer diagnosis or things along those trains of thought. Why is it that I never hear the question of why as applied to church abuse? Church authoritarianism? Ministry misconduct? Or other similar situations? When the church is commanded by God to carry out the Great Commission and instead it carries forward abuse, misconduct, fraud and other issues what do you do? This blog was born out of an incident of spiritual abuse, and I have to be honest, I remain stunned by what some people email me about what takes places in churches. Its far from what is called for and it stuns me that this issue is not discussed more. After all when it comes to the problem of pain, why don’t evangelicals like Ashtyn Fair talk about this in the context of church abuse? Its almost as if people like Ashtyn Fair and other evangelicals want to stay locked in their cognitive dissonance and look the other way when this issue presents itself. I remain stunned by what I have seen in evangelical churches in California, Wisconsin and the Washington, D.C. area. If in passing into the realm of unbelief that is going to be held against my by Christians and God, I’d respond to the charge by telling them to clean up their faith and challenge God and ask, “Is this church the vehicle or your saving message and to keep people from hell? Then act like you care.” 

 

How “Christianese” Adds to the Pain and Complicates, After All There Are No Simple Answers

Spiritual abuse is a hard topic, its a hard topic just as the problem of pain or the problem of evil. But what makes these issues harder is when simplistic Christian answers are given. These are complex issues and the simplistic approach just doesn’t work. Let me illustrate. 

This God looks at you and knows your questions and anger. 

This doesn’t do much good when you are met with silence. I often think that many evangelicals have a faith too small to deal with these situations so what happens is that they imagine that God knows your questions or anger. My question is what type of loving God responds with silence. Ashtyn has communicated her desire to be a Mother, and Taylor no doubt would like to be a Father. What type of loving parent would stay silent when their child is harmed, or hurt? I always ask evangelicals why do you let God off the hook on these theological problems? Can’t God defend himself? Or is he incapable of defending himself? Let me ask more questions. 

This God, with the kindest of eyes, says “I see your pain. I weep with you. I am here with you.”

Again I am amazed, God sees your pain and yet he does not engage? When my Mom’s medical crisis was dragging on why didn’t he pop up in the hospital room at 2:00 a.m. when I was there helping Mom? What about the couple of times I prayed for five more years? And he responds by being silent? Why is God cruel? Is this a form of spiritual pornography for God where he gets his jollies in watching his created suffer? If in his marriage Taylor treated Katlyn with the same amount of silence I experienced form God, well this blog would predict a divorce between Taylor and Katlyn, as such a marriage would not last under those circumstances. 

 

Suffering Produces Perseverance and Hope? Is That Why I Learned Why Rape and Sexual Assault is a Problem in the Military – For My Character Development?  

The last point I want to make deals with a comment about how when you’re walking with God suffering produces perseverance and hope. Really? That’s why suffering happens? 

  • Is that why God allowed a preschool teacher to sexually abuse people in a preschool class? 
  • Is that why God allowed a shooter to go into an elementary school in Connecticut and killed 26? He wanted to show the families of Sandy Hook his love and allow them to focus on their need for Him. 
  • Is that why God allowed a civilian jet liner to be turned into missiles on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001? For people in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere he wanted to produce perseverance and hope? 
  • Is that why evangelicals in the United States rallied around a demagogue who allowed for hundreds of thousands to be needlessly and unnecessarily killed in a pandemic? Not only is that Pro-Life but is that what the pandemic is about God building up people’s character? 

This blog was born out of an incident of spiritual abuse. Is that why through a serious false accusation God allowed me to learn why rape and sexual assault is a problem in the military? To develop my character and teach me perseverance? If that is what following God and having faith is about, then the best thing one can do is fire God and give him the middle finger with joy. That is a God who is a psychopath. Its not a God worth worshipping or following. And if following a God like that takes one to heaven then this former evangelical is eagerly looking to hell. This is a blunt response I know. Evangelicals who live within the bubble struggle with these thoughts that come from someone who is outside the bubble. Again this blog has a lot of respect for Christ Community Church in the Kansas City area but I think they are better than this article. 

3 thoughts on “Ashtyn Fair Wife of Taylor Fair Pastor at Christ Community Church Reveals how the Church Can be Cruel to Those Who Suffer. Plus is God “Good” When the Pain Comes From His Commissioned Church?

  1. I just wanted to add to your “Is that why God” list:

    Is that why God allowed six million of his CHOSEN PEOPLE (including babies, toddlers, grandparents, etc.) to suffer and die in the death camps of World War II?

    Like

  2. I recall in one evangelical church I was a member of in Wisconsin a person told me directly to my face that I was sinning against God because I was single.

    SALVATION BY MARRIAGE ALONE.
    Where the instant you say “I Do” you get your tidket to join the other grown-ups at the grown-ups’ table and all those singles now have to serve YOU. Even if your wife is nothing more than the necessary piece of equipment to become MARRIED(TM). Lot of insane pressure and bad craziness there.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.