Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ecclesiastical - Prenuptial

I know that this whole concept might sound odd. But, based on what I recently went through as I tried to leave my old church, I felt like it was the smart thing to do.

I am attending a two week "Exploring Membership" class at my new church. At the end of the first 2 hour meeting the pastor asked if there were any pressing questions from the group that she could answer then, or work on for next week. She gave the example that many new people wants to know how the church stands on certain theological issues.

I thought for a while . . . but then I had to ask the following question;

You know, I hate to even bring this up. Here I am getting ready to join a new church, but I must ask, what would happen if I decided to leave in a few years? In other words, how does this church see my commitment to join? You see, some in my last church perceived my joining as the same commitment of a man marrying his wife. Therefore, this must mean my leaving is the same as divorce, and the leaving for another church is the same as betrayal (or adultery).

The pastor looked at me oddly, then she answered.

Oh. Good heavens no. I just had lunch today with a couple that said they were leaving. The hard thing was that they were also leaving The Church, never to attend anywhere again. I would have been delighted if they had chosen another church in town to attend and that wouldn't have bothered us all all. Certainly a church membership is nowhere near the same as two people getting married.

I did want to have lunch with them and I wrote them an e-mail promising if they would have lunch, that I would not, in any way, attempt to talk them in to coming back. But I just wanted to communicate to them that I love them and support them and that they are leaving in peace. I didn't say this as not to put guilt on them, but I am concerned about them because they don't want to go to any church and I will be praying for them.

It made me feel better. But it was an awkward question to ask, the same as asking a woman to marry you, but then talking about the congruency plan if later you want to divorce her.


Recovering Alumni said...

Well, thats comforting. I guess I just wonder why you even have to make a membership commitment at all? If you go there and have relationship, isn't that enough?

MJ said...

Certainly not joining is an option and something I considered. Why did I choose this path of membership? Honestly I'm not completely sure and I may not be fully aware of all of my motives. I mean, some of it may be old-fashioned guilt (false guilt) of not being officially a member.

Part of it has to do with my wife. She is doing her best to make it in our old church. It has become very weird for her there. They pretend that I never existed. If I don't join a new church, it will more proof for the old church that I've gone over to the dark side and they will give Denise more pity. Maybe that's another facet of guilt, but I'm doing it to try and make life a little more easy for my wife.

Recovering Alumni said...

Sorry to hear they are giving your wife a hard time. :(

Anna A said...

Sounds like you have a good place to be.

Eagle said...

Welcome to the club MJ!! :-) When I left and became an apostate I wonder how much gossip took place at times. It's not uncommon for such behavior to occur. Many times people do such because they they feel threatened and for some leaving is a direct challenge to everything they believe. When I doubted and had a hard time MJ, people I was close to didnt know how to act. I was evangelized, others pulled back, etc.. Bottom line evangelicals need to be in control of their situation and's what makes that faith work. What throws a wrench in it is when someone comes down with cancer, someone is overwhelmed with doubt, someone's daughter comes out as a lesbian, etc.. That shatters the bubble. I hate to say this but before I was an evangelilcal I was invovled with the LDS and I see so many parallels between the two cultures.

keo said...

Sounds more like asking the woman's mother how she would feel about you divorcing her daughter someday, instead of talking directly to the daughter before you married her -- and while on the rebound from a previous relationship breakup. Awkward, indeed, and probably hasty, IMO.