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Five taboos the church needs to talk about



Everyone knows someone who struggles with their mental health, but how often do we talk openly and honestly about it? Community groups like A Nouwen Network are working to connect people and break the stigma that surrounds mental health issues, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.



It’s a big, pluralistic world out there. With so many ideas jostling for attention, there’s bound to be folk in your church community who aren’t sure what to believe anymore. How do they explore these doubts with integrity? Hopefully with the faithful support of a church family; but that can’t happen if people don’t feel safe to voice their doubts in  the first place.



Statistically speaking, if your congregation has 25 people in it, there is at least one lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) person worshipping with you. It might seem like the Uniting Church talks about sexuality an awful lot, but do LGBT people in your community feel comfortable making themselves known and sharing their experiences? When your church discusses LGBT issues, are LGBT people encouraged to take part?



It’s a hairy issue that gets a lot of airtime in mainstream media, but there’s a belief that talking about abortion in church is unnecessarily divisive. It’s good to be sensitive of others, but the lack of open dialogue breeds shame and fear. The exact number of abortions in Australia isn’t known, but a 2011 South Australian Government report stated that one third of South Australian women will undergo an abortion in their lifetime. If someone in your church needs to talk about abortion, would they feel comfortable to do so?


Domestic violence

The leading cause of death and injury in women under 45 isn’t cancer or alcohol or cars—it’s domestic violence. More than one woman per week is murdered by her current or former partner and more than one million children are also affected. Churches place a high value on family, but congregations seem to be leaving it up to church agencies and charities to prevent domestic violence. The right conversation or support at the right time could save somebody’s life.

What taboos do you think the church needs to address? Join the conversation and leave a reply below.



  1. To this list you can add
    1.Divorce – see current statistics on numbers of affected UCA ministers
    2.Lack of attention to scriptural study – see numbers of bible study groups.
    3. The decline in prayer.
    4. Lack of Agreement.
    Now, no doubt, Journey editors will say again, as they have said before, that in these topics the UCA is simply reflecting changes in the general Australian society around it. And therein lies the root of the decline of church membership. The UCA (or at least its present leadership) does not understand the role of being ‘church’; being the ‘called out ones”.
    How can a church exist as a called out body, if its members and its organisation are of the same opinions and in the same situations as the world around it?
    At this time there is, for the church, no reason to be.

  2. Mr Kym Ayling

    It seems to me that if these five topics are considered the most taboo subjects to discuss, we are way behind where society is up to and need to be much more open to tackling real issues otherwise we will be considered irrelevant.

    I believe issues such as; the prevalence of pornography use in the church community, the sexual abuse of children, euthanasia and the deteriorating image of men and fathers in society as being much more important areas of discussion for example than “Doubt”.

    But that is just my opinion?

  3. I disagree. As a culture we talk about taboos all the time. Ad nauseam!
    What our culture lacks is clarity of thinking about them. I work in the secular media and see everyday how poorly the media tries to unwrap and explore these issues. The intent is good but driven by an orthodoxy and lack of curiosity for any world view that does not fit the norm. In a culture that sees all values sets as being of equal value then there is no preferred model. This is a definition of cultural collapse. In our multicultural Australian model all values are subsets of people groups, all people are valuable therefore all values are equal. Except that it is nonsense.
    T.S. Elliot was clear, religious belief informs culture. Some values are better than others. Christ explained the values of the Kingdom of God by first rejecting material values and then revealing God’s kingdom through stories. Those stories revealed very strong value sets that are not multicultural rather super cultural; exceeding cultural assumptions in my view. As a body of believers, a church, we need to get our own house in order before we even try to address ‘taboos’ because I can tell you as someone who works in a national secular media organisation. No one is listening because the Christian Church, as a ‘brand’ has badly damaged its ‘brand’ values!
    If our brand values are ‘all one in Christ Jesus’. If the laws of nature were suspended through the resurrection of Jesus then we need to focus on him not the arguments of the natural world. We need to focus on the truth of the Kingdom of God as it is these values we hold to be true.

    If our guide is “the just shall live by faith” the first point for the Church is to be clear and define our values, live them out and present them humbly.

    Suicide is tragic.
    Doubt is real.
    Sexuality makes some feel uncomfortable.
    Abortion is controversial.
    Domestic violence is appalling.

    These taboos are symptoms of something deeper. They are not the core rather the revealed symptom of something else that is in the heart of man. We need to be focussed on Jesus words and life and believe them. If we don’t then no one else will.

    The wisdom of the Old Testament is not only God’s Judgement but God’s protection!
    The revelation of Jesus is God’s solution to the problems outlined in the Old Testament.

    The real taboo the church needs to talk about is why so many in the Uniting Church don’t really believe in the resurrection of Christ.

    God help us.

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