Thursday, August 3, 2017

When the African Adventist Church Hurts the Betrayed

This is true for some of the churches I have personally spent time at over my 37 years, and true of some that my betrayed friends are in in other African countries. I pray it's not true where you are and I can't talk about the American ones. My American friends have all kicked their husbands out soon after finding out, and gotten divorced so have not dealt with the church (non) reactions when still deciding what to do.

It starts with the African mamas who "prepare" their daughters for marriage by telling them that all men cheat. ie. 'So don't get all upset when your husband cheats, my child, it's normal.'

As Christians, we are called to a higher standard. And if your wife can remain faithful, then so can you. There is no normalcy about being untrue. Even God has shown how serious this sin is. I, as an African mama, will tell my daughter I'd rather she remained happilysingle but that if she ever found a man, to not ever force herself to 'endure' any pain from him but to rather take time out to think what her next steps will be in a neutral place where only she will be making decisions (Not other people telling her, "Please don't leave him") and I will support her in whatever the decision will be.

Then there are the churches. Oh. My. Word. I fought tooth and nail against the whole "MenAreTrash" hashtag because at the end of the day, men are God's human creation and I cannot label them thus. I can't even label full on violent racists like Mark Scott-Crossley, why would I label men in such a general way?

Then I saw how in a way, men are violent in ways that only harm women. NOT ALL MEN. But more men than I realised. In yucky, trashy ways, men are violent. In ways that break the soul and beat them down till they feel like dirt. The way a pregnant, unmarried woman will be disciplined (As in censured or difesllowshipped) by the church but the man who impregnated her doesn't even get a verbal talking to. That is yucky.

I know of a wife who after her church leaders already knew her husband had gone astray once, told the leaders of his second betrayal. As church leaders dealing with such an issue, they should have immediately followed the usual discipline rules and called him out on it and worked at finding out how he lost God and how to get him on track again and how they could make sure the fruits showed repentance in due time, and with her testimony as back up to their work and observations.

She called them devastated and weeping. She emphasised how this was now the second time he'd forgotten his vows.

Instead, the leader of the church told her to "love him. Love him more."

What kind of nonsensical response is that to someone whose vows have been broken? This leader went on to say that they were worried about the cheating man's "salvation" so she must be extra kind and love him more.

This is the first time I ever used the sentence

WHAT THE 'HECK!?'

How could they ignore her deep pain and his big sin and put the responsibility of his going to hell on her? Firstly, she can't stop a grown man from losing his soul.

Secondly, he chose to lose his soul when he made the choices he made. Now was the time for them to ask him about his salvation and pull him out of the pit he had put himself into. Why should it be her responsibility when he'd sinned against her ON PURPOSE?

Thirdly, what did he mean by "love him even more?" More than what? Than when she was loving him, sleeping with him, thinking of him, wanting to please him while he was messing around with someone who wasn't his? Not a single one of my friends could have loved their husbands more than they were. And it only got them heartache and gave the husband the ability to choose another's heart instead of theirs. Love does not save a man from the pit he throws himself down.
And it's a violent way of saying, "You obviously didn't love him before, that's why he broke you. You need to improve."

Fourthly, they should have been administering church discipline. That's Christian love. They should have immediately said, "Dude, you have erred big time. God says 'as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, be zealous therefore and repent' and so it is our solemn duty to be His servants on earth. You led another woman astray, that's a big deal. We need to help you but for that to happen, you need to realise how far away you strayed from God."

I remember a couple of years ago an unmarried friend of mine fell pregnant. The congregation did nothing about it. Her mother was like, "What? They're just pretending you guys did nothing wrong? If your church loves you, they will discipline you, like parents do when their children are rebelling. A church that loves you will discipline you."
If the church leaders couldn't actively 'love' this cheating man, why should the wife he betrayed?

Most importantly.
While they were fearing for the "salvation" of a man who had led himself into sin and led another woman too, what about the salvation of the woman who had been injured?
How many times have people left the church because of what other members have said/done/not said/not done? How much more when an allegedly 'godly' man does the unthinkable to a fully faithful, loving, devoted wife who spent her life submitting to him despite her reservations? How did they think she was faring after her faith was shaken and her world fell apart?

I guess they didn't need to think, they could have asked.

But they never did. None of them cared about the standing of her injured soul.

Well, every now and then, she did get asked by the same leader, "How are you now? About that thing? Are you ok?"

Umm, yes. That's super helpful. NOT. And that's all that was mentioned.

The very same leaders who should have according to SOP "suspended" the husband instead asked him to pray in church, asked him to answer questions... It was like some twilight zone where the woman was treated as if she was the guilty one!

Then a few months after the leaders did nothing... The same leader who told her to "love him more" had the nerve to say to her, "I thank God you are better. Now we can come celebrate. Before we didn't know what to do so we just prayed but at least now, you're ok so we can come visit."

Again.

WHAT IN THE WORLD? (Don't want to lose my strict readers with the real sentence I'm thinking.)

"Celebrate" what, exactly? That she no longer looks (though I know she still feels) suicidal? Celebrate that though she married a man who couldn't keep his word, she still functions and breathes despite the pain lodged in the broken pieces of her heart?

What exactly was he going to "celebrate?" That they as leaders got away with not disciplining a cheat?

I don't know.

All I know is.

They hurt her badly. She tried to show them but they are obsessed with praying for her to heal. If they just did their research, or actually you know..had spoken to her, they'd have seen how deep and incurable the wound is. There will be no 'healing,' just an ability to live despite...

I will say it again and again.

There was a reason God used to have adulterers stoned to death.

The wound is deep and permanent. It might scar over but it will ache and pain when something bumps against it, when winter comes along, when someone else talks about their wound.

There is nothing to "celebrate." They can't even say, "We're celebrating his repentance and rebaptism" because it seems he had nothing to repent from.

The sister's church hurt the betrayed and protected the guilty. And I'm very sure something similar happens at many African Adventist churches.

Not once was she asked, "So, what now? Can you bear to live with him after all this? Are you considering leaving or are you going to stay? How can we best support you? How do we try help you heal? Do you need a place to stay while you clear your head?"

They just all assumed she would remain - a victim to be cheated on and lied to again in the future.

Because that's what all 'good' African wives do.




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