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Christian/church dilemma

(18 Posts)
springydaffs Sun 04-Sep-11 13:57:09

Would just like a bit of advice here. I have just started going to a new church and, to my horror, a couple attend who got together in not the best circumstances re he (40s) went off with a young (16) relative of his wife's, which caused grave heartache all round, except for the blissed up couple sad.

It is a very big church and I shouldn't have to see them that often. His ex-wife was in my housegroup at my (small) old church, so the loyalty I feel towards her is strong. This morning I found I was sitting behind the couple and had to move, I was too uncomfortable to be sitting near them, seeing them worshipping etc. I know it is none of my business but my ol' judgy pants are giving me a lot of trouble here - I'm not proud of myself. I feel extremely angry with them and find it very hard to see them together. They have been together for some years now - 3? 4? - and are an established couple I guess. I'm struggling with this and dread if we are introduced by people who don't know I know him, as I would find it hard to speak to them. He was one of the founding members, with his ex-wife, of the old church and it was all a shocking and very upsetting scandal at the time. I know they are God's business but what do I do with myself?

Cocoflower Sun 04-Sep-11 21:25:42

Gosh what a dilema.

I know its drastic but is there any other churches nearby? You dont want your time in Church to be stressful and unpleasant.

AMumInScotland Mon 05-Sep-11 12:32:54

Honestly? I think you need to get over it. They didn't hurt you directly, and I doubt you know all of the details. You certainly don't know what's in their hearts or what they have said to God.

If you seriously consider yourself a Christian, then I think you have to work on forgiveness rather than giving in to judginess. Jesus forgave people a lot more than this, on a day-to-day basis.

If you really can't deal with it, then go find another church - but do it in the knowledge that it is your failure to forgive that is pushing you out, not this couple and what they did.

Sorry to sound harsh, but if Christianity is worth anything, its because Jesus modelled forgiveness and acceptance and asked us to follow him, even though it was difficult.

springydaffs Mon 05-Sep-11 19:20:22

blimey, I've had to forgive a lot worse than this Mum. bish bash bosh - you might like to have a go at forgiving me for struggling with something which has caused appalling hurt and pain - it was the first time I had seen them together, his ex-wife is a dear friend, I was around when she went through the agony of their split. Anyway, let's not be bickering christians. of course i know that that is the aim - forgiveness - but forgiveness, the working out of it, is often a process with the heartfelt aim to achieve it, with His help. As I was typing it out I remembered the Corrie Ten Boom story of Corrie meeting the camp guard who had been instrumental in her sister's death in the camps. She struggled when he held out his hand to shake hers, telling her he had become a christian, oblivious to what he had done to her sister. She knew what she had to do but couldn't do it herself. Don't jump on my back anybody eh, by screeching that the two stories are very different - of course they are - but in each there has been appalling pain caused by others. I don't know what they have said to God in their hearts and it is God's business, not mine. I am, however, sadly human and the pain of something like this is felt far and wide: I struggled with seeing them and need to work through it. I felt reluctant to talk to anyone in the church because I am reluctant to spread gossip.

Cocoflower Mon 05-Sep-11 19:23:03

Forgiveness does not mean condoning IMO. It doesnt matter if someone did not hurt you directly as it shows true compassion, loyalty and sesne of justice to recognise the deep hurt caused to a fellow human being.

AMumInScotland Mon 05-Sep-11 20:02:57

Well, you wanted to know what people on here think you should do about it. And what I think you should do is to forgive them and move on. I'm not saying it's easy - if it was, then it wouldn't count for much would it?

You can stay in the same church as them and treat them as your brother and sister in Christ. Or you can decide that you aren't able to do that, and go elsewhere. What you can't do is stay there and not speak to them.

springydaffs Mon 05-Sep-11 23:13:00

Or I can stay there and say I find it difficult to speak to them - what with all the appalling pain they caused and all. You can forgive someone but be too hurt to speak to them apart from perfunctory acknowledgment imo - human relationships are not all cut and dried. I wouldn't speak to anyone else about it, only to them, and only if it came up. It may not come up.

...but I do give up, I really do: it seems the last thing you can be in the church is human, to take time to recover. Which is a bit rich really. A bit strange. A bit religious . ime it is the religious who 'fall' the most spectacularly.

As it happens I do, technically at least, forgive them, even if it churned my stomach to see them; an older man with a young girl whose hips haven't even properly formed yet - and that's aside from the main theme. They are - or were - in a desperately improverished state to have done what they did. I may be behind the times, things may have moved on with God etc between them: I guess I'm still right there when it happened. I could easily have done something similar but, I suppose, haven't had that particular temptation powerfully waggled in front of me - mainly because I know the warning signs and know how to get out if things are getting into the danger zone (which is way, way before it's at all obvious). They didn't know, or didn't want to know - whatever. What I do know is that there will, just will, be a consequence to what they've done because, listen up, it was WRONG.

I was at a family event last w/e and there is no question that something could spark up between me and my neice's husband. But it won't. It won't from my end, that's for certain - I have no idea if it could from his end, ie if he would indulge it, but I wouldn't be there to receive it if he did, know that I know that you don't go there (as most people know, thankfully). I am deeply flattered but that lasts about a nanosecond because the reality of such a foul thing, the seismic pain it would cause, just isn't worth it. Not in a million, million years. So I won't be hoping to have just a little bit of time with him at the next family event, won't share a joke with just him; won't corner him and won't let him corner me, as delicious as that would be. It's not difficult to swerve around that particular continent to avoid something like that, as long as you swerve early enough.

thus saith springy.

springydaffs Mon 05-Sep-11 23:43:25

and while I'm on my soapbox - imo it is the world that says 'don't judge, nothing to do with you, move on' but the church shouldn't be like that. We are a family, an army; we are not individuals in individual boxes, but linked: the body. If one sins it affects the whole lot. (look, I just used that word). I'm not saying you go around fire and brimstoning, seeking out sin and casting it out with a booming hell-fire point of the finger - no, but neither do you turn the other way as if nothing has happened, or is happening. The world does that, only to show how non-judgemental they are; nothing to do with the whole but the individual. It's my job to deal with the hurt and the anger and the outrage personally, with God; but it is the church's job, collectively, to address issues like this, to keep track, to find out what is going on. I'm not in the leadership, however, and this situation may well have been addressed. But if I'm going to be part of this church, I need to know that it has.

AMumInScotland Tue 06-Sep-11 11:58:07

Ah well, it sounds like your focus on "What the church should do" is totally different from what I think "a Christian should do". I doubt we'll +either of us manage to convince the other on this one. Do what you feel you have to do.

madhairday Tue 06-Sep-11 12:41:15

This is so hard and I totally know where you are coming from because something similar happened in my old church, and the lady it happened to was also in my home group, and her and her ex were also leaders in the church, this split up two families as he went off with another half of another couple who were also leaders. It caused a great amount of hurt in the church (I don't think it ever got totally over it really) and there was a lot of sadness and bitterness around. I also found it incredibly difficult to be anywhere near this 'new couple', they had left the church but turned up to events and things and it was so so hard, my heart was just screaming 'what have you done', yet they didn't on the surface appear to care very much.

However, God knows the heart, and in these situations I find very much that I need to leave it to God, it's not up to me to judge. There are situations where church leadership should take these types of things further, if there is unforgiveness and bitterness on one side and unrepentence on the other, but sometimes these things should just be left and lived with. I understand in full what you mean about really feeling unable to forgive as such, it is the very hardest thing to forgive people who have hurt someone close to you, esp if they seem unrepentant and unaware of the massive damage caused. But, it really is between them and God.

As for what you should do, well in our case a few left the church over it but many stayed and supported each other and showed forgiveness and love in their actions. The feeling of forgiveness was not necessarily always there but the actions can display it anyway. I had to fight with my feelings on a weekly basis but knew it was important to keep at it. The church is full of sinners and human frailty and this is just one case of it, many others are more hidden but there nevertheless.

I'd say keep being there for your friend, keep asking Jesus to help you be more like him in all you do and think, and give yourself some slack for feeling these feelings.

HTH a tiny bit.

springydaffs Tue 06-Sep-11 13:58:58

thanks all for replies. I'm going to really stick my neck out here: I think it is up to the leadership to address things like this and, if there is no repentence, then the 'couple' should be asked to leave. No visits, no acting as though it's perfectly ok what they have done. This may or may not have happened with this couple, I don't know.

Like your church MadHair, two people went off with eachother, one from two couples, in the leadership at my parents' church. They insisted God had shown them to go to one another, to be together. if you please. It may be one reason why people who do this sort of thing are oblivious to the extraordinary pain going on around them as a consequence of what they've done. We truly do not wrestle against flesh and blood - who would be behind maximum pain and damage on a scale like that anyway.

I forgive eg my kids when they've done something wrong but that doesn't mean there isn't a consequence, discipline. A judge/the judicial system may 'forgive' an offender but a custodial sentence is appropriate for the crime committed. Discipline doesn't mean you don't forgive; also making sure people like this don't contaminate the whole lump doesn't mean they aren't forgiven. I may feel strongly about them because 1. I do (as most people do in situations like this) 2. I am loyal to my friend 3. I am single and could so easily have got up to nonsense like this: I feel enraged that they didn't exercise self-discipline for the greater good 4. like you MadHair I want to shout THIS IS WRONG / WHAT HAVE YOU DONE.

Maybe victims of these actions need to be able to say their piece? And we are all victims of it, every one, if it went on in our church: it hurts us all.

Cocoflower Tue 06-Sep-11 14:18:12

I realise the hurt you feel, but sadly they were already at the church. I don't think you can demand they leave.

We were in a simalarish situation where we tried a new church out and found one of the prexisting member was someone DH had restraining order agaisnt.

We felt it best we just left.

sarahtigh Tue 06-Sep-11 15:27:56

God does not ever tell people to do what His word has expressly forbidden in this case adultery, when they said god told them too they are being a bit delusional , no-one can say God told me to sin, but we all sin and are liable to sin, it is often much harder to forgive someone hurting someone you love they someone hurting yourself

it is the leadership's job to administer discipline in a church, this normally takes the form or withdrawal of right to take communion (excommunication)be in any teaching role , so no longer teach sunday school help with youth work play guitar be in choir etc. but welcome to attend services hear gospel but all discipline is with the aim of repentance and once someone has truly repented they must be accepted back into fellowship with certain things it may mean into communion but not leadership
Discipline can not really take the form of asking to leave. in my last church adultery would be a minimum of 2 years suspension then reinstatement only on repentance, no repentance no reinstatement;

as you have just started going to this church is it possible there has been some form of discipline and they are attending but you do not know? as it has previously been dealt with and the details maybe confidential, from what you said OP it does not appear they have any leadership role in new church

for cocoflower that was really the only option to leave very wise

nokissymum Tue 06-Sep-11 15:34:52

you really are just going to have to let this one go. Its not for you to reprimand them. Though i agree this appaling/despicable behaviour.

You have 2 options:

Be determined to deal with your feelings each time you see them in church by remmembering the Lord's command to forgive.
Or
Do the above and Find another church, if this is going to continue to be a thorn in the flesh for you.

May His grace be with you at this time.

eaglewings Tue 06-Sep-11 15:44:39

While I don't agree with adultery, I think we spend far too much energy on sexual sin and forget the other teachings of Jesus, such as our use of money, not being jealous etc.

This couple did the wrong thing by getting together when one of them were still married. They did go to another place to worship leaving the wife free to stay in her home church. If you continue to go to this new church you need to talk to the pastor, but remembering that we all fall short of Gods standard but some sins are more visible than others

springydaffs Tue 06-Sep-11 21:05:57

I agree totally with what you say eaglewings and am very aware of personally not being in a position to throw stones.

Can I clarify that I am not saying it is my role to 'discipline' this couple. i am not in leadership. Also, it may have been done already, I don't know.

However, If I am thinking of becoming a member of this church then I would need to know where they stand on something like this. Re: if the church know and eg haven't taken steps, whatever, on something like this then I wouldn't be able to come under the authority of the leadership. I know the pastor, we are the same age, we have social links - I could approach him. i'd have to be vague though ie vague about the actual couple but concise about the issue re what do you (your church) do if there is an adulterous couple in your congregation; what do I do if I meet them and was party to the awful pain they caused and am finding it hard to know how to handle it.

I'm also not sure if I agree that if someone is there first then they have first dibs: church isn't a club! it's the body of Christ and comes under his authority, not who walked through the door first.

eaglewings Tue 06-Sep-11 21:35:23

Sorry if I gave the impression that as they were there first....

What I think I meant was that they did at least move church and gave your friend space.

You don't have to be vague, you knew the man before he left his wife, you want to know how to handle the situation. The pastor should respect this honesty withoutvgiving away confidences.

Personally I like to be part of a church that can forgive as long as true repentance has happened.

Pray you get the chance to talk this through and come to the right decision

springydaffs Tue 06-Sep-11 22:33:41

I think he left the previous church because he was thrown out eaglewings.

Just talking this through ... I'm feeling bad about my friend. We don't really see one another any more - both moved - but I feel disloyal. I want to honour her iyswim. IN angry moments I don't know why the pair didn't just piss off, instead of hanging around, buying an apartment in the same city (they had a choice of not only cities but countries, actually). My friend absolutely dreads seeing them, bumping into them. I wonder if i should talk to her? arrange to see her and talk about it? That looks puny written down - also, don't want to get into a slagging session about them either. What to say? That I've seen them and I'm struggling. Maybe I'm wanting to ask her permission? I don't know sad

yes I will pray - have already of course - but preparing the ground too iyswim, talking to a select few, possibly talking to the leadership (I do quake at that bit tbh).

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