XXXI: Scarlet

i’d make the rough assumption that many protestant churches, at least once a year, cover the topic of adultery; as illustrated throughout the Bible. Namely, most notable in the Old Testament with the Ten Commandments, and along with the ammunition that is frequently utilized (and used for overkill) when tackling divorce, homosexuality, and everything else that a church member isn’t “guilty” of out the New Testament.

Am I close?

Pardon the rough tongue-in-cheek exasperation of thought, but last Sunday our church also did our yearly uncomfortable deed of covering the same topic. I knew it was coming, and I had hoped that something would come up that Sunday that would prevent me from arriving at church during the sermon. I’m only being honest with thought.

The preacher opened up in similar fashion, simply stating that he didn’t enjoy covering the topic because we’re all failures in the department of adultery. The Bible speaks clearly about how this specific set of sins is most notable to the damage of one’s self in comparison to other ethical and moral issues noted most evidently in the basics of the Ten Commandments. It’s a timely topic, it’s a hot topic, and by no means is it an enjoyable topic to discuss within the present day church. We hate being at fault without excuse; that most certain includes me.

Now, the sermon was presented in comparison with The Scarlet Letter and the scandal of adultery that themed the entire story. It was a solid theme to go off of and tied into the content very smoothly.

I only give you the layout of the sermon, so that analyzing a specific piece would make a bit more sense.

I’ve come to notice that as time progresses, we have ‘hot spots’ within the world of sin that we (church) enjoy analyzing in detail. Nowadays it tends to be on marriage in the sake of same-sex marriage. When I was younger it was most definitely the awkwardness of speaking on divorce and roles within a church based on the past transgressions of an individual pertaining to this specific commandment, noted again in 1 Corinthians.

Just goes to show how themes don’t change, but topics can.

Our church is doing a more indepth study on homosexuality and same-sex marriage in the coming weeks. However, that didn’t keep the preacher from giving a hint of the emotion behind the topic. He made it very clear, as I do also agree, that same-sex marriage isn’t Biblical. That’s right where I tend to stop. However, as he continued (non-ranting by the way), I started to watch the actions and demeanor of the people surrounding me. Several of them were nodding their heads in agreement, occasionally you’d hear a gruff “Amen” from the back (note: vacant during times of which we talk about persecution for faith, but I digress), and overwhelmingly there were many facial expressions, if they could talk, would sound something like this:

That’s right. Being gay is wrong. I can’t believe people do that. Shame on them.

That, obviously, is not speaking to the vast majority of the individuals in the building (I hope), but to those noted around me. It was at that point I felt like I was wearing an “A” across my chest. Not necessarily pertaining to the exact conversation at hand, but again the overall theme.

Ten years ago people would have been shaking their heads in the context of increasing divorce rates, and the taboo of that happening inside the church. That’s where my internal conflict connected in that moment. I was wearing an “A” because if a sin is a sin, and all are equal in the sight of God, then that technically would make my divorce the same weight as someone who is in an openly gay marriage. Right?

That would mean that the people nodding their heads, with an occasional “Amen”, and that terrifying image engraved on their faces, could be doing so…at me. I’m not gay, but I’m a sinner…especially in the world of adultery. That’s my biggest scar, a blazing “A” that’s seared into my chest. What if they knew that about me before the sermon? Would people still look at me the same? Would they nod in agreement? Would you hear an “Amen”? I don’t know. I don’t know if the perception of an individual changes within a church body when skeletons from the closet are found and viewed.

I was uncomfortable.

I am uncomfortable.

I felt unclean and unworthy amongst the masses of the spotless and the clean. It hurt, it even hurt to hold my wife’s hand, wondering what the people would think if they knew that she wasn’t my first? How much it hurts living with that realization every day, that many of them can’t comprehend. Truly, I wish I could use the card of, “I wasn’t a Christian when I was divorced, so it doesn’t count now that I’m clean in Christ”. However, I don’t even have that to my name.

i’ll tell you why I think this specific scenario played out the way it did.

If we could rewind time twelve, thirteen years ago. I’d be sitting in the congregation at the church that I grew up in. This time of the year I would have been leaving for a mission trip, heading to church camp, or preparing for Vacation Bible School. I would have been sitting in that pew, listening to the preacher talk about adultery, and when he hit on the main topic of divorce…

I would have nodded my head, said “Amen”, and my face would have read the following expression…

That’s right. Being divorced is wrong. I can’t believe people do that. Shame on them.


One response to “XXXI: Scarlet

  1. Pingback: Mobile Minutes: Moves Like Jenner | Signing On The X

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