Faithfulness is important. If you have nobody to be loyal to, then abstinence is key, for many reasons. First of all, keeping your pants on keeps you mostly disease free. STDs are not funny, unless you don’t have one. Then they’re a hilarious consequence to questionable behavior. Maybe that’s immature. Some people have them and did nothing to earn such unfortunate afflictions. My response to that is this- they’re a minority and I feel horrible for them.
That works for intimate or spousal relationships, but what about churches? Once upon a time, I made up a phrase that so far, within my own small community, has actually stood the test of time. I had a man in one of the small groups I was leading who I referred to as a “church ho”. This guy was actively participating in three different churches. He liked the worship at one, the fellowship at another and the preaching at the last. I judged him because honestly, that’s weird, it takes a lot of effort and where I come from, his continuous participation in these congregations meant that he wasn’t being faithful to any of them.
Before I’d made up my mind to leave the congregation I’d been part of for years, I started asking friends about theirs. I even began looking at church websites, trying to figure out what some of them were about. I continually told myself that I was only looking, that I couldn’t actually leave.
I kept thinking about what Jesus said in Matthew 5
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already
committed adultery with her in his heart”
There I was comparing my relationship with the church to a man’s interactions with women again. But I realized that faithfulness isn’t merely a matter of presence. It would be more than a year before I’d split, but clearly, my heart was moving on. Faithfulness is more than simply showing up to the same place and tithing every week. If this was a romance, then I was already a cheater, but any infidelities were entirely contained within my inner-man. According to relationship-people, that is how adultery always starts anyway. There’s a little gem of marital wisdom from a single dude. You’re welcome.
I’m not sure if that was a paragraph of genuine confession and lesson learned, or a condemning admission that could potentially be held against me later. At least I’m honest enough to admit any of that, right? But here’s what I think: your church and your spouse are completely different. And if someone wants to compare church to your family to pressure you into staying, remember what Jesus said about family.
And now, at the end of it all (or at least feeling a little removed), I found a little empathy for the original church ho. Funny how God works, right?
You know, I’m pretty sure “church ho” has yet to make it into the katdishionary. I’ll have to remedy that. You’ve already got the “grumpy ho” entry.
I would be honored to have another entry. Can you use the phrase “ecclesiastically promiscuous” in there somewhere? I think I’m using that in my next post…. 🙂
Church-ho. My new favorite phrase.
I understand what you’re talking about, and how it can feel like cheating on your church when your heart begins to move on and you start looking for someplace else to attend. I’ve been there myself.
At the same time, I don’t believe it’s necessarily a bad thing to feel the need to move on and begin looking for a new place to plant yourself. Granted, many people take this to an extreme and leave after one little offense, but sometimes God does move us on, and it rarely happens over night. It takes months, if not years sometimes, before we realize God is saying our time with one body is done and He has a different purpose for us. That’s not so much cheating as it is hearing the voice of God. Unless you’re just distracted by shiny things and someplace else looks prettier. Then you’re just a church-ho.
Jason, I agree with you 100%. The community and culture I came from would not agree with that. It’s all a matter of convincing myself that it’s okay that I left now… which is interesting. Now, I definitely need to make sure that I find a good place and stay there as long as God wants me there… or else I truly am a scandalous, faithless floozy of a Christian. 🙂
Funny I just did a repost from 2010 titled, Never Say Never. I’ve eaten my words and thoughts more than once. I’m not sure that will make you feel any better, but at least you’re not alone!
“Judge not lest ye be judged”… I always forget that one…
I think American Christians have turned judging into a sport… it’s hard to avoid. BUT, it’s always a healthy reminder…