Our Journey with the Church
Our journey with the church started before we even met. Since giving my life unto the Lord in 1991, my husband and I have seen many things in the church that have brought us to the place that we are today regarding the church. While attending Northwest Bible College in Kirkland, Washington in 2003, one of the instructors shared upon the story regarding Ruth approaching Boaz to sleep at his feet, that he believed that Boaz and Ruth had a wild night of s*x. Soon after that remark, I left the college for good.
While my husband was in his younger years, he desperately sought Christian leaders in the church regarding his problem with lust. He was always turned away with such answers : “I have that problem too. The flesh can’t be saved. God’s grace is sufficient. I cannot help you.” Not only did he receive such discouraging counsel, his older friends were elders of Reformed (Calvinist) and Lutheran churches, and they intermixed talk about Jesus and women and sex and their lustful desires. It was not until my husband got away from these men, that he was able to start seeing clearly and the Lord led him out of such sins.
While my husband was in a meeting with church board members one day, they were discussing the problem regarding an immodest dressed woman in the choir. Their conclusion? To put pots of plants in front of the immodestly dressed woman in the choir to conceal her legs. He called these plants the plants of compromise.
While my husband used to attend “Men’s Breakfasts” at churches in his younger years, the men would often talk about women in a lustful manner. He found this to be the common talk at any men’s breakfasts that he would attend at different churches.
When my husband and I first got married, our neighbor, an elder at the local church, would always talk to my husband about sex and women. Finally, my husband quit associating with this man.
In 2006 with a year of marriage and a new baby, my husband Matthew and I attended a church for 9 months together. We really loved the people there but as we found before, we started to see that there were grave troubles in the church. The first thing to catch my attention was when one of the ladies gave me an invitation to a fashion show at the Pavilion (a log style recreation building). I never went to the fashion show as I didn’t feel right about going. In succession to several other events, when we finally heard the worship team play “Amazing Grace” in a harsh, grunge, rock style manner, we knew then that we had to leave.
Next we sought out a Mennonite church in Rochester, Washington. We believed that because we had very similar lifestyles as they; not owning or watching television, not participating in things of the world, home schooling, modest dress, etc… We thought that we might fit in better with a church such as this. My husband met with the pastor of the church and after an hour of talking, found that we would not be allowed to be members of the church due to our past of divorce and remarriage. We knew that we had both married “outside” of the Lord’s will in our previous marriage, and with pain, repentance and clean hearts and hands, the Lord put us together in purity in 2005. The Mennonites believe differently, though we have been told and directed by the Lord to marry.
Next, we tried a Brethren church. Again, we felt that our lifestyles and beliefs were a bit different than the common church and were led to find a body of believers who lived as we do. Though we had friends at the Brethren church, we could not attend here either. This church had women in head coverings and then young women (mostly the daughters) in tight and seductive dresses or clothing. It was very uncomfortable to attend a church that was so double minded and in which the younger generation was so worldly and flamboyant.
When we moved to Iowa, we tried an Anabaptist church . We felt such a fondness over our neighbors who invited us but when the subject came up about the divorce and remarriage issue with their pastor, again, we would not be able to be a part of this church. When my husband asked the pastor why the men and women sat on different sides of the church, he shared with him that it was so the men would not get “distracted” or lust after a woman when she would get up to use the bathroom. It confounded us that this was the reason for the separation. This remark revealed to us the hearts of the men in the church. While we believe we need to avoid evil, there is also a place in which we need to have liberty. Though this church appeared to be so clean, the truth of the matter is that their hearts were full of lust.
So, we tried a Mennonite church nearby that was accepting of our past sins that the Lord had forgiven. To my dismay, a woman was sitting to the left of me that had such a short and tight dress on that it was something you would see on a prostitute. The pastor talked about television commercials and such and we finally just got up and walked out. It was then that my husband started calling churches in the area to see if we could be a part of their church family and worship with them. Since we believe that the content on television is vile, it is important to our family that we worship with others who are like minded. Also, we believe that a man in a leadership position in the church should be crucified to the flesh and it’s ways, therefore he shouldn’t lust. For, why should we submit ourselves and be below a pastor who lusts when my husband and myself have chosen to not lust or in turn entice the flesh? So, my husband started calling pastors and asking them two questions, if he watches television and if he lusts. We could not find a church in our area in which the pastor could share that he did not partake of such things.
When we moved back to Washington, we tried another Mennonite church. We still had yet to find a church body of believers who abstained from the ways of the world and had hope in us still that maybe a Mennonite church would be the answer. We knew that there was a denomination of Mennonites that would accept our past, we were just hoping that maybe they would be clean.
Upon our arrival, I saw women in head coverings and high heels. I was brought to a circle of the women as they were sharing some things out of a Bible study. I was struck how all of the women had 3″ or higher heels, mostly spiked in the back and pointed in the front. I then noticed the very brightly colored and highly patterned dresses. It just seemed so strange to see head coverings and high heels. I shared this with my husband when we got home. He hadn’t noticed the heels when we were in church. He couldn’t believe it, though he could believe me about it. He went back the following week by himself to see for himself and talk to the pastor about it. Just as he pulled up to the church, all of the women went walking from one location, past him into the church building. He saw every women with high heels except for one.
During the sermon, all of a sudden the pastor hesitated on what he was sharing and said that he felt compelled to talk about the manner of dress in the church, he shared about not being fashionable. My husband was shocked as he now believed that God really did send him to talk to him about their attire. When my husband was finally able to talk with the pastor alone, the pastor shared that he and the men knew it to be a problem but that they had many troubles in the church with the men regarding the flesh. He then started to defend his ways as well as the men’s ways by saying that the flesh cannot be saved. My husband responded quickly by saying that Jesus manifests Himself through our flesh (2 Cor 4:11), therefore we need not walk in sin. He had little more to say after this.
So, while we have been looking for others who are like minded, we have found few. We do have a few friends scattered here and there throughout the States that believe as we do and live clean lives, but it’s been very disappointing and discouraging to see the true condition of the church today. These years have led me to recently read the writings of godly men and women who lived uprightly and who eschewed evil. I have been in a vigorous place of study lately as the Lord has led me here. I am able to join what I know to be the truth in my spirit (not all Christian men lust and grace does not save the lusting man ), with these Fathers of the earlier church. I have found that even the hymnals are different than that which is written today. Today’s hymnals speak of a life that has not been transformed, a life that is merely saved by grace no matter what sins are committed. The old hymnals speak of a humble and right place in man towards God, a place that speaks transformation, yet reverence of the knowledge that God Almighty can still judge man to hell.
So, while we have no fathers here, no teachers to be found, no pastors that are clean, God has still provided. We read the writings of men who forsook self in order to be pleasing to God. Their walk, their prayers and oftentimes their deaths, would actually be a manifestation of their hidden man. The Lord has provided others before who are much more recent, John R. Rice, J. R. Miller and A. W. Tozer to be a few who we read and learn from though they are yet dead. Their beautiful writings reveal what true, Christian men they were and they nourish our soul and bring hope to it.
It is my hope to impart things that have been led by the Lord that have nourished and strengthened me. It is my hope that there are some others who are so serious about their relationship with the Lord that they want to serve Him fully and go where ever He tells them to go, forsaking all worldly pleasures along the way.