Americans Are Dying At An Alarming Rate, And The Church Is Afraid To Talk About It
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Health and Wellness

Americans Are Dying At An Alarming Rate, And The Church Is Afraid To Talk About It

Will these alarming new statistics cause Churches to break the silence?

Americans Are Dying At An Alarming Rate, And The Church Is Afraid To Talk About It

A report released this week revealed that life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2018, partly due to a rise in drug overdose deaths and suicides.

According to the CDC, drug overdose deaths have more than tripled since 1999 and have risen 16 percent per year since 2014.

In recent years suicide has become the second highest cause of death among US residents ages 10-34, and the fourth highest among ages 35-54.

No socio-economic class or region of the country is exempt from the scourge of opioid abuse and a rise in mental illness. It happens among the rich and poor, black and white, rural and urban, liberal and conservative. As legislators scramble to implement solutions, the rest of America is left with an increasing sense of hopelessness.

Addiction is recognized as a disease by the medical community, but fighting it is costly, and our current healthcare system cannot compete with the surging rates of opioid addiction.

Access to mental health treatment varies from state to state and is primarily reserved for the economically stable and insured.

The statistics are only an outline of our nation's pain. Families, friends, coworkers, classmates, and neighborhoods suffer as part of the collateral damage from tragic overdose and suicide deaths.

These issues plague news headlines and ravage communities, but we rarely, if ever, hear them discussed directly in Church.

In an increasingly divided nation, pastors are afraid of getting "political" at the pulpit and driving away congregants. So instead we listen to sermons about personal salvation, loving our neighbors, and strengthening our faith through adversity; discussion about troublesome issues such as mental illness and addiction are saved for podcasts, newscasts, and even social media.

And while the former topics are important, the latter press at the forefront of our minds, affecting us deeply and personally.

The Church's influence on these troubling statistics could be pivotal; the problem is she is afraid to speak vulnerably on these topics.

Church attendance rates in the United States are in decline, and more churches are striving to stay "relevant" in a post-Christian age. Some churches add snappy graphic design, contemporary worship music, and pastors in jeans and t-shirts to make Sunday services more approachable and suited to modern life.

But if we really believe that our God and his gospel are still life-changing and relevant to humanity, we shouldn't be afraid to speak overtly about the issues that plague our society.

Part of the problem with the Church's silence is confusion between the terms "political" and "partisan". Increasing suicide rates and overdose deaths are human issues affected by legislation and thus deemed "political". Politics are a part of the human experience, but partisanship is not.

Partisanship encourages adherence to one of two opposing belief systems that are more centered on maintaining power than on the people affected by their beliefs and policies.

Pastors and church leaders can talk about mental health, substance abuse, and other "politicized" issues without engaging in the false dichotomy of Team Republican vs. Team Democrat.

So churchgoers, pastors, prayer warriors, and worship leaders, I urge us to lean into talking about even the most difficult topics. Don't let them be taboo. Don't let your congregation wrestle with these issues in silence. Take courageous steps towards connecting your faith with issues in the news, starting with addiction to opioids and staggering rates of suicide.

Our God is powerful, mighty, loving, and just. Do we truly believe in God's power, given unto us, to bring healing and mercy to the world? Or will we continue to sit in silence on the sidelines of our country's suffering?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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