Bitterness & Truth-Twisting

“You do love to poke the hornets’ nest, don’t you?”

A dear friend made this comment to me in good humor after she read one of my recent blog posts. To be clear, I don’t love it — but I’m not afraid of it. And oh boy, did I take a giant whap at the stinging, buzzing insects with yesterday’s post.

Of the myriad of responses I received (both public and private), I was able to categorize them into two main subsections: The people that were horrified over what happened to me, and the people that were horrified that I was talking about it.

From that latter group, the main thought expressed was that I’m just bitter, and that I’m twisting the truth to drag someone’s good name through the mud.

Am I bitter? If hurt, sad, traumatized, and a little bit angry equals bitter, then by all means, label me as such. However, I did not post what I did out of bitterness or resentment. I did it because I feel that I have been treated, and still am being treated, abominably.

I did try to keep this private. Was I supposed to post all the private communications back and forth that lead to my hand being forced to say something publicly in order to protect my integrity and reputation? Did y’all want to know that I begged the elders to hold My Pastor accountable for his un-pastoral action toward me? That I begged my husband to see how wrong it all was? And that after all that, I begged for some time and space to be left alone so I could regroup and figure out where to go from there, and that in spite of my pleas, the weekly and sometimes daily haranguing continued?

Had these people taken the thought and care to listen to my concerns, rather than jump to unquestionably defend the man that felt like it was his God-given duty to inform my husband of a rumor he’d heard that I was leaving him before talking to me about it, this might have all turned out differently.

But it didn’t.

When it became clear to me that we’d reached an absolute impasse, and that no reconciliation between this church and myself could be reached, I attempted to resign.

I received a lengthy response from one of the elders condemning me (again) for not being a good little girl and going to My Pastor and the consistory to allow them to hear my story and help me fix my marriage. I’m paraphrasing, obviously, but geez louise the cognitive dissonance is astronomical. The letter also said, “… It is impossible for us to grant you your request.  One cannot simply resign from a church and we can’t release/transfer your membership under these circumstances … simply bailing on [name redacted] is not an option as much as you wish it was (sic).”

Side note: I did meet with this man several weeks ago, and told him my ‘Biblical grounds’ for divorce — grounds that every other trusted, Christian male I’ve met with has said, “Yup. You’ve got grounds.” He said that he didn’t believe I did, but I should come share with all the elders the heartbreak I’ve experienced and let them judge for me. Because that’s encouraging.

Anyway, since apparently I’m not allowed to resign, and I’m currently ‘in sin’ by not letting these guys decide for me whether or not I have a right to make my own life decisions, I’m going to be excommunicated.

What this means is that they will eventually get up in front of the entire congregation, where my children still attend every other week with their father, and announce to all that I am an unrepentant sinner, and will be “suspended from all privileges of church membership, including the use of the sacraments.” Our church order (Article 55) says my offense will be explained, which as far as I can tell is that I filed for divorce without their permission.

Which is why I wrote what I wrote, and why I’m writing what I’m writing now.

Now as to this whole “truth-twisting” business … this is the truth of what I’ve been going through. It is raw and bare and ugly, but it is factual. Shedding light on a situation doesn’t mean I’ve twisted it.

There are plenty of people that defend My Pastor’s actions, and that’s their choice to make. Everyone has his or her own definition of what constitutes intolerable behavior, and I understand that many feel that My Pastor was acting out of love and kindness by reaching out to my husband about his wayward wife. If you choose to defend this man, go ahead and do it. But don’t try to pretend like I’ve twisted the truth by sharing my perspective.

For those of you that feel I’m dragging his name through the mud … what name? I have never made publicly known what church I attend or who my pastor and elders are. I’ve even untagged myself on Facebook when other members have checked me in. I haven’t kept that information private for any reason other than that my husband asked me to, and I respected his request.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m very busy bitterly starting a new job, decorating my new house, catching up with old friends, rediscovering the true grace and mercy of Christ, thinking up fun summer activities for the girls, and painting my toenails.

Comments

  1. Stephen says:

    I hate the church is treating you like a bad employee. You said I quit and they said you can’t! You can and you did leave. You tried to go through proper channels and they treated you like the little woman who needed to be submission. It clearly states that submission works both ways in the Bible. Good for you. If you wanted to be treated like church property you would have become a muslim!

    stephen

  2. This church sounds terrible…I hope you find one that is more accepting and understanding. I can’t imagine my church behaving in this way! I’m also sorry to hear about what’s happened to you — what a hard, horrible situation. All the best.

  3. ‘grounds that every other trusted, Christian male I’ve met with has said, “Yup. You’ve got grounds.” ‘

    I can only think of one ‘ground’ that’s that open and shut.

    Matthew 5:32

  4. All of this just makes me so sad. You claim not to be bitter or angry, but almost every word of your blog pertaining to this issue, which should really be private, sounds hateful, sarcastic, and hard hearted. And continues to sound so, when most of the people who disagree with you simply want to see reconciliation and restoration between you and your husband.

    When you use a public blog to air dirty laundry, you invite the opinion of everyone, when the only ones that really matter are the Lord’s, your family’s, and your pastors’ (who are really only mouth pieces for the Lord–yes, pastors are still just sinners too). It is sad that online support from a few strangers (who only know one side of the story) seems to matter more than the potential hurt/sorrow this causes to those closest to you, who are actually experiencing what’s going on.

    No church or marriage is ever perfect (not even close). That’s why we have Christ, and His Word. I honestly see, from reading your own posts, that your husband and church community are simply trying to hold your marriage and family together. No one is perfect and I am sure there could be many ways in which people involved in this situation could have done better–but even reading your own accounts of the situation has shown that they’ve tried (and are continuing to). And sadly, trying is something you yourself have said you are no longer willing to do, despite vows to the contrary.

    Thankfully, we all have Jesus, who upheld his vow to us, by his perfect life, death and resurrection. He is the Great Reconciler and I pray that you have reconciliation in your life too. Thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

    • Your intimate knowledge of the situation is quite amazing. I like how you are able to know with absolute certainty that she is the one in the wrong and that the intentions of EVERYONE ELSE involved are entirely pure (as pure as people who are “just sinners too” can be anyway). Brava, LIsa, brava. It is indeed a rare gift to be able to truly know the hearts of others.

      Also, please actually READ the blog before responding to it. She very clearly states that she is angry and upset.

  5. I don’t claim to know your exact situation so I won’t make a comment on your decisions and I do understand that a blog is meant to speak out on what is going on in your life etc. I would not normally write anything, but it breaks my heart to see that because of what you have written, there is a pastor who’s character is being assassinated. I would like to tell those who have made such hateful comments about a man they only “know” through your blog: This pastor is the most gracious, loving and compassionate pastor I have ever met. We have had problems with a couple of our older kids, and he met with them. Our son chose to go on his own and my daughter was asked by us to meet with him. They were both dealt with and loved and shown grace by this man who is being portrayed as something he is not. He has a true pastor’s heart. Every Sunday as he preaches the word, he leaves us with the hope of the gospel and with God’s great love for us. When he met with our daughter (not a young child, but a young lady), he treated her with gentleness, and the gospel. And did he remind her of the vows she took as a member? Of course. He has to give an account for the souls entrusted to him. This is the only church our family has attended that really feels like a family. All of us are sinners, and he would be the first to admit he is one of them, but this blog has many people jumping on a bandwagon of making judgements on one of the best pastors I have ever been able to sit under. My children, including the ones who had to meet with him, came away with a greater sense of how the church is supposed to work and that we are a family. In a family, we are individuals and yet we are united. There is love, and there is accountability. And the husband, wife relationship is to be a picture to the world of Christ’s relationship to the church. The world is definitely watching. How sad that though no names are mentioned, a man of good, godly character is being slandered. As a Christian I am to be governed by the word. Ephesians 4:29-32 might be a good place to start, and on to Proverbs 18-especially as it addresses the power of the tongue in bringing about life or death. One day we all will have to give an account for the words we have spoken. Our salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, but oh how our sin grieves God’s heart. As believers we are to edify and build each other up. Do we do it perfectly? No! But when we disobey how The Lord calls us to treat one another and when we disobey His word? He calls us to turn away from our sin and obey Him. His word and the men entrusted with teaching it are to be respected and submitted to. Our hearts and Satan deceive us; God will not. For those of you who have judged a man you don’t know? It would be better to simply let Jenny know you are praying for her, and show her the love Christ calls us to show all believers.

  6. Hi Jenny,

    I wish the best for you. I didn’t attend church from 1969 to 2003 because I kept running into attitudes that you encountered. People were too quick to judge. I went to the Bilyl Graham Crusade in 2003 and started attending church with a friend the next Sunday. It was a Conservative Baptist Church, but it was a loving caring church and not like the reputation that Baptists have (mostly from the media). I have since switched churches and attend a large mega church in El Cajon (which is affiliated with Southern Baptist). They are also a loving caring church. But, due to the size of my new church I can remain somewhat anonymous.

    Don’t give up on God and I encourage you to find a new church. When you first announced your separation you asked for prayers that God’s will be done. Perhaps God’s will is to expose your critics.

  7. train wreck survivor says:

    To all the party’s involved “If you find yourself in a fire , put down the gasoline”

    Jenny,
    As some one you know and some one who cares ,I have no doubt that talking to the pastor and elders would be incredibly intimidating and one of the best places to gather support when you feel condemned and alone ,is through the blog .Its becoming obvious that people are now choosing up sides and beginning insult one another. Its really sad to watch! Perhaps there’s a better option. First take some time ,then go find a couple of mature Christians that know their bible that you trust and will stand by you side, literally. Then take them with you and face this thing head on . Better isnt always easier . But running away makes you look guilty

    To the pastor and elders ,l call my self a train wreck survivor because 15 years ago my engagement to my first love imploded .But its what followed that almost killed me. I watched as girl who was heart broken and scared ,questioned her faith and ,asked for time and patience so she could think things through. Instead of patience and time, the big stick of christian discipline was brought out and the more they tried to drive her back into the fold ,the more they drove her away. she lived 15 years staving for Christ’s love,but the damage done by His church kept her away .She darkened the door of a different church afew weeks ago “praise God”. ….. No thanks to a pastor and elders who didn’t understand ,”You can beat a sheep back into the fold”

    To the pastor and elders ,I am strain wreck survivor. what

  8. Chris Bando says:

    I am so thankful to The Lord for His appointment of our Pastor/Under-Shepherd. In my 30 years as a Christian, he is the first Pastor I’ve seen that graciously takes serious, his obedience to Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders & submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. (to God) Let them do this with joy & not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

    It is comforting to have our Pastor/Under-Shepherd watching, warning, leading & feeding our souls by the weekly preaching of the gospel. It also brings great personal comfort to have access to our Pastor for wisdom to help us navigate our family through the difficulties of life, manifesting Christ’s love, care & concern with grace.

    • From Jenny and other commentors over the past week or so, this sounds like a conservative, orthodox (maybe reformed) church from some of the language that has been used.

      So I agree with Chris, as far as a pastor or elder who is conducting their shepherding in a loving and scriptural way. But no believer is called to follow a pastor/elder blindly, particularly those that abuse the power of the office entrusted to them by the Lord himself.

      Romans also states “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” This presupposes that the leaders IMITATE Christ to the congregation (being a doer of the Word). No matter what sin Jenny committed, the pastor breaking Matthew 18 is not following Christ’s scriptural imperatives for conflicts. If the pastor did break Matthew 18 and other scriptures in dealing with this situation (particularly when dealing with church discipline matters), the leaders in his church should call him to account for his actions. They should at least try to get to the bottom on his actions. If they do not, they are yes-men (men-pleasers) and are acting in a hypocritical way. They are allowing the pastor (whom I assume faithfully proclaims the gospel according to your statement above) to get away with a “do as I say and not as I do” kind of action.

      1 Timothy 3 also states that an overseer or elder/pastor should be “…. self-controlled,….gentle, not quarrelsome….” Sounds like the pastor (and maybe other elders in the church) should consider this scripture because they are called to a higher standard of account.

      Lastly, Jesus knew that the Pharisees were more concerned with pleasing men than God. It sounds like there is a certain amount of men pleasing in and among the leadership. The leaders of any true Church of Christ are to hold one another accountable and not “look the other way” or deny confrontation (even with a pastor) when appropriate for the protection of the congregation (notwithstanding Jenny’s own actions and responsibilities as a believer).

      Of course there are two side to every story, but there is no excuse for a pastor to act this way and for elders to “bury” it. If that is the case here, it is cowardly and unscriptural leadership condoning disfunction.

  9. Your pastor sounds more like an Islamic fundamentalist than an American Christian minister.

    And your church “excommunicates” people? Seriously? I hope you have enough self-respect to find a faith community that will treat you with the support and care you deserve when going through personal crises.

    There are many churches out there, and thankfully in this country you have the freedom to make your own life choices without crap from sanctimonious “Christians” who only interesting in using religion to further their beliefs in repression and subjugation.

    • Anna, are you unfamiliar with Acts 5 and 1 Corinthians 6? God takes “sin in the camp” just as seriously these days as he did in the early days of the church. I encourage you to become familiar with Scripture rather than basing comments on “what seems right” to you (Proverbs 14:12).

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