Three Taverns Church

Mother’s Day Fiasco

10 Comments

On the Friday following Mother’s Day I wrote a post about my reaction to a woman I saw preach the previous Sunday; the title of the post was “Preaching In 5″ Heels?” In the post I discussed the attire of the woman, whether or not her clothes were appropriate, and my struggles as a recovering pornography addict watching a provocatively dressed woman preach. While I noted in my post that I don’t want to be in the fashion-police business, I did argue that church should be a place where Christians try not to create ‘stumbling blocks’ for other believers. I believe the woman I saw preach was inappropriately dressed, I contend that she was naive, intentional, or apathetic in her clothing choices, and I acknowledge that I should have stood up and left that day rather than sit there and struggle with my lust.

If you don’t remember reading my “Preaching in 5″ Heels?” post, don’t worry: I was ‘asked’ to remove the post by a member of the church’s staff shortly after I posted it. It has taken me seven weeks to reach this point, but at the advice of my counselor I now want to write about the events that transpired that day and the days that followed.

As I noted above, I wrote “Preaching In 5″ Heels?” the Friday after Mother’s Day. The service was on my mind all week and I was wrestling with my feelings on the subject. The more I thought about it the more convinced I became that I needed to share my perspective on immodesty in church, particularly with regard to women who are given the opportunity to preach. Not once did I name the parties involved, the name of the church I attended that day, or anything else that would publicly call out the church or its staff. Yet a member of the church who is a friend of mine on Facebook read this blog, put two and two together, and determined that I was writing about his church.

Some time after 10pm Friday night while I was watching a movie with my wife, my cell phone rang: It was a member of the church’s staff. He said he was “shocked” at my post and though he couldn’t force me to take the post down, that is what he wanted me to do. It was late, I was tired, I’d had a few beers…and suddenly I found myself in a confrontation I was wholly unprepared for. In my state of confusion I agreed to take the post down immediately. This person told me we would talk on Sunday.

Let me pause the story for a moment to make a few comments:

  • I am an American citizen, and I believe our nation’s freedom of speech is one of our most precious and protected rights. It is completely inappropriate for one person to censor another in this manner
  • It is inappropriate to use personal relationships to manipulate others for purposes of ‘protecting’ your church, particularly when you are on the paid staff of that church
  • It is inappropriate to call someone at home because you dislike something written in a private blog. If you disagree with the content of a blog, stop reading it or comment on the blog itself

Needless to say, Saturday was a  nervous day for me: I had never been involved in a situation like this before and I had no idea what to expect come Sunday. However, I was eager to sit down and ‘clear the air’.

We found each other Sunday morning and sat down to talk. Or at least I sat down to talk; he sat down enraged. His face and voice were carefully controlled and masked, but the anger beneath his calm veneer was so palpable that I was genuinely scared. The talk that ensued was angry, hurtful, and threatening. Some of the highlights from the conversation include:

  • “I’ll haul you in front of the Elder Board if you ever do anything like this again.”
  • “You are writing out of your sickness, I need you to see that!”
  • “Everything we do at this church is for a redemptive purpose, including this conversation.”
  • “You cannot write in your blog that you wanted to go in the bathroom and masturbate after seeing (the woman) preach!”

With regard to any masturbatory intentions, I had not said anywhere in my post that I wanted to act out that day; there is a big difference between being ‘triggered’ by someone and acting out. With regard to that being a ‘redemptive’ conversation, it was anything but redemptive; condemning would have been a better word. With regard to writing out of my sickness, being called ‘sick’ by a church staff member shows that person to be insensitive, unbiblical, unprofessional, and abusive of his authority.

I have told this story to friends, family, my mentor, and my counselor. When people hear about his threat to “haul” me in front of the Elder Board, their advice is the same: Do it. Call his bluff. Do it, you did nothing wrong. Demand to take this situation to the Elder Board. He abused his authority, hurt you deeply, and behaved angrily, irrationally, and unprofessionally. Go to the Board.

I regret I did not stand my ground that Friday night, and I regret I did not stand up for myself that Sunday morning but instead took his abuse as an indication of my own guilt and shame.

10 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Fiasco

  1. I didn’t read the first post about the 5″ heel wearing preacher but I read this one and I’m sorry to say that I was amused at first.
    Whoever it was that sat you down and spoke to you about it had every right to be upset. Even in this post you essentially blamed blamed someone else for your weakness. To avoid drawing a comparison to what naturally comes to mind – and further cause any unintended condemnation, I’ll use this children’s story, which is the other side of the story regarding the 3 little pigs. A. Wolfe says all he was trying to do was borrow some sugar. Is it his fault that the pig built his house out of twigs? He made it too easy, how could I help myself.
    If you don’t like that one, when I was 13-14 I went to my churches picnic. All the other girls did not wear a shirt covering their bathing suit so neither did I. Grown ass church men were watching me. Yet I was condemned for their lack of self control.
    You can’t blame the preacher for causing you to be stirred up. What caused you to be stirred up was what you are struggling with. 5″ heels aren’t immodest, they’re stylish. 7″ heels are immodest.

    • Hi JB, thanks for your comment. As I noted in this story, I acknowledge that what I should have done was leave the church. That was my bad for sure. I don’t think I blame anyone for my weakness at all; in fact, I think if you read other posts in this blog you’ll see that I own my particular issues fairly well.

      Having said that, do you agree or disagree that Paul’s argument regarding idol meat and ‘stumbling blocks’ applies to the situation of inappropriate attire in church in general, and this situation in particular?

      Also, I think you may have missed the point of this particular post. My 5″ heels post discussed the issue of inappropriate attire; this post did not, except to set the story up for what happened the following Sunday. That confrontation between myself and the church staff member was absolutely inappropriate in my opinion. Do you disagree?

      Finally, based on your overall tone, your condescending use of a ‘children’s story’, and your use of profanity I believe that you are experiencing a strong emotional reaction to my post. Would you mind expanding on that a bit? What is it that makes you upset about my post?

  2. Pingback: Mother’s Day Fiasco « rabidmongoose | Gifts 4 Mother 2012

  3. I go back and forth on this one. I try to imagine if I were to post something similar, knowing a handful of people from my church read my blog…I’d like to think it would me handled more gracefully than it was in your case.
    It seems to me that the guy’s anger was born out of embarrassment over how the issue was brought up. You had suggested that the preacher likely caused issues for many men in the audience, and suddenly this guy feels threatened – like you’re calling the integrity of the whole church into question. (in a public blog no less). I think if I were to post such a thing, and my pastor read it, he would probably contact me and say that he wished I would have come to him and discussed directly, because maybe I have a point and something needs to be addressed.
    BTW – JB’s analogy of the wolf and the 3 pigs?? Flatter than a stack of watered down flapjacks. I don’t get it.

    • Hey legionwriter, I go back and forth as well. I almost didn’t write the first post, and part of me wishes I hadn’t…but then again, I’ve been such a people-pleaser in the past that this is becoming a great learning and growth opportunity for me.

      I understand why the staff member got angry, as well. Hey probably did feel threatened, and that’s OK. I can’t control him or his feelings. Should he have handled our conversation better? Probably. Is he human and prone to sin and error? Yes, just like me. Should we have grace for one another? Yeah, I think Jesus would probably agree with that.

  4. This is your blog and you should write about whatever you want but you should write to your audience. You have a hand in creating your audience by choosing what to write about. I’m still confused as to whether you regret the post (which I didn’t get to read) or regret taking it down. Either way, if you feel inspired by God before you hit publish rather than your ego, you’ll probably always do right by your audience. As a person in recovery (and a woman), I agree with a lot of what JB said. We can never blame someone else for our triggers because triggers are so subjective. I’d love to read the original post.

    • Hmm…I guess if forced I’d say that I don’t necessarily regret writing the post, any more than I can regret my need to be in a recovery program. Do I wish life were easier? Sure. But would I choose the easy path & destruction over the more difficult path and salvation? No, not anymore.

      I definetly regret taking it down.

      As I said in my reply to JB, I agree that I shouldn’t ‘blame’ other people for my triggers, and if you feel that’s my point then I am not communicating effectively. The purpose of the original post was to foster a discussion regarding ‘stumbling blocks’ in the church related to lust. Like I’ve said, and conitnue to say, I should have left the church that day.

      Anyway, thanks for your great comments!

  5. Pingback: When God Speaks Through Dreams « rabidmongoose

  6. RM, I’m jumping in late on this again, but I had to take time to reply to those who might not have had the chance to read the original post. I absolutely do NOT think you were assigning blame to the woman preacher for acting as a trigger to you. As a whole, though, I honestly don’t think that women realize just how much their attire can cause their Brothers in Christ to stumble, particularly in church. We like to feel that the church is a safe place, a sanctuary, but for those of us who struggle with lust and pornography, the temptations don’t stop at the church doors. I think what you are getting at (and I wholeheartedly endorse) is that women simply need to be more aware of how their wardrobe decisions affect their Brothers in Christ. And for those that ARE aware and still choose to dress the way they do, they really need to examine their hearts and pray that God will help them to address this issue in their life, to help them to be more sensitive to what causes others to stumble.

    And yes, I think you should’ve left the post up. But that being in the past, I would not re-post it. Unfortunately, there will likely be future similar instances through which we can continue to discuss this topic. God bless!

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