2016-11-29 by Object of Contempt
I sat in a smallish, crowded room with approximately 10-12 other men. They were there to “discipline” me. My wife was not present. She had already given them all the information they needed in order to conclude that I was a crumb. I had been dealing (unknowingly) with CPTSD for years, and had previously told them of the withholding of affection, and the quiet contentiousness of my wife, the triangulation with in-laws, etc.. That was inconsequential. They yelled at me, called me a liar, told me how marriage works (only takes three minutes), told me my depression was a fake (I’d already been without a real job for about 5 years. I was mowing lawns and pulling weeds). I was just a lousy man. They dug for anything they could actually call a sin, and told me I had to confess a long-past sin, and “other sexual sins” (which didn’t exist) in order to participate in communion. They derided me and railroaded me with complete contempt, ignoring any responsibility to confirm the truth of what my wife said (most of it was true… but she left out important parts).
In the meantime, my wife was in a different room telling several of the wives that she was afraid to go home with me. Not only has there been no physical abuse, there has never been any threat or even joking about hurting her. She is not afraid of me. She knows for a fact that I would never hurt her. Never.
We no longer attend that church. Haven’t yet found a church that isn’t overcome by the implicit belief that anger is wrong (even when they say otherwise). It is assumed that I am mean, wrong, sinful because I’m against the was emotionally. I’m still not out of the woods in terms of eviction. I’m willing to work, but I’m incapacitated in terms of facing the search for a decently paying job. It shames me even before other “believers” look down their noses at me.
With that context, I went to a local coffeehouse yesterday afternoon. I bumped into the son of one of those men there. He is in his mid-twenties, and asked intently how things were. Since I hate the way secrets affect groups of people, I explained what was going on and why we’re not attending that church. I couldn’t avoid explaining that his dad and brother were part of the problem.
During that time, his father walked in. As usual, he extended his hand to me as if nothing were wrong. I refused to shake his hand. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I have been candid and direct about why I am indignant and will not even pretend at being on good terms with him.
Now, I expected this man’s son to be somewhat surprised that I wouldn’t even shake hands. He loves his dad and was offended that I don’t respect his dad. And this is where Christian culture rears its very ugly head.
I was not angry because his dad made a remark I didn’t like. That’s ridiculous. The issue was even broader than the contempt and direct abuse that I was subjected to. The fact is that this is the point where my wife became strong. She had successfully used the men in this church to punish me. She saw that she could completely crush me. There was no point at which she was told that she was doing anything wrong. She still acts covertly, but she doesn’t pretend towards me nearly as much.
The man’s son saw my action as “payback”, rather than protecting a boundary. He saw my anger as bad, but his dad’s contempt didn’t register. The effects of my refusal were considered awful, but the destruction of my spirit and my family were easily glossed over. The command to forgive was on the tip of the tongue, but the command to repent was forgotten. The fact that “God is love”, is always remembered. The fact that God is just and hates those who are oppressors is a mystical fact to ignore. Love is about being nice instead of being about valuing a person.
This is the subtle way post-modernism affects even churches with conservative doctrines. They replace the godly use of the intellect, and they replace it with feelings. The potential for hypocrisy is fertile in this environment, and the awareness of the hypocrisy is almost nil.
God’s ways are not man’s ways. I am still looking for His ways, and will not give up what He has already given me.