Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Modern Day Widows

Dear Church-

I think we've got some problems that need addressing.  They're not easy problems.  They're messy and they make us feel a little icky.  They point to something being wrong, some kind of internal sickness.  They're hard things to admit and face and deal with head on, but we have to.  We have to deal with this stuff.

This year my "Christian" husband left me unceremoniously after committing adultery.  He backed up his abandonment with some ridiculous old testament verses, and went merrily on his way to a new church without any reproach or reprimand from it's pastoral staff.  Live and let live, and don't offend your brother, right?

Maybe if I was a lonely little statistic this would simply be the rantings of a wounded woman.  But you see, I'm not alone.  I've watched too many "Christian men" cheat on their wives and leave them to raise their children and shift through life alone.  Some provide financial support, some don't.  Some see their children, some don't.  I wish I could say that in my own smallish circle that I could count the number of women this has happened to on one hand, but I can't.

That's a problem.

Something is broken, church.  Something is damaged and sickness has crept in.  Somewhere along the way something has gone terribly wrong.

These are worship leaders, deacons, elders, and pastors of your church.  These are men that profess to love God, but remain unrepentant.  These are men that are still allowed to sit in the pews on Sunday morning and lead the church in worship while they remain unrepentant and in sin.  What's up, church?  Where did we go wrong?

We spend a lot of time talking about women's roles in our sermons.  What women should and shouldn't do.  That we should obey our husbands and submit to their headship.  Cool.  Biblical stuff.  Let's not stop covering it just because it's hard.  BUT, and this is a big but, let's not forget to teach it in context and hit the responsibilities also commanded to the dudes in those passages.

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church.

Oh snap.  That's a lot heavier than we've made it out to be.  Without turning this into a lengthy sermon that I'm really not qualified to preach, I'm going to unpack that for you.

Christ loves the church sacrificially.  Without condition.  While they are disobedient and rebellious and spitting in his face.  Christ loves the church no matter what.  There are no conditions when it comes to his love.  It doesn't stop because we aren't meeting his expectations.  It doesn't end because we're just not doing enough to make him happy.  God help us broken sinners if that were the case.  We'd all be doomed.  Christ loves the church because the church is his bride and his inheritance and his family.  Christ loves his church despite themselves.  Despite their foolishness, selfishness, greed, and sin.  Because he promised that he would never leave us or forsake us.  Oh, how he loves us.

We don't deserve it.

The bible never tells us that it's ok to leave our wives if they stop living up to standards that have been a bit perverted over the years.  It never tells us that husbands are to love their wives only if it makes their own lives more enjoyable and happy.  It certainly never tells us to love our wives only when they are fit and happy and cooking you elaborate meals because that's what you deserve.

Where did we go wrong?

My heart is so flipping burdened by this, and even more so because it seems that the church isn't.

You're called to take care of the widows and the orphans.  Unfortunately in today's day and age, women are being "widowed" by selfish husbands who have convinced themselves that they are the only people that matter, because their wives are supposed to submit to them because they are the head of the household.  I'm the widow of our generation.  My friends who have been left by juvenile and self-serving "christian" men are the widows of our generation.

I don't say this lightly.  Believe me, I know what I am saying.  I know what I'm charging you with, church.  I know.  But the thing is, you've helped make us.  The abandoned, alone, and struggling mothers who woke up one day to a shattered reality and a disturbing feeling of shame over something we did not choose.  Your silence has helped make us.  Every time you knowingly let an unrepentant wayward husband into your fold without question or correction, you make us.  Every time you preach submission without also preaching sacrifice, you make us.  Every time you allow a newly single mom to fall through the cracks because you don't know how to approach the situation, you make us.  Our husbands may not have died, but they have left.  They have left, and you have been silent.

Can I be honest for a minute here?  I'm not totally sure what I am asking you to do about all of this.  I'm really not.  Obviously I am asking you to preach just as heavily, if not more so, on the responsibilities of the husband in a Godly marriage and what that looks like as you preach on wives submitting to their husbands.  I'm sure I lost a few of you there, but I'm going to keep going.  Because some of you are probably still reading.  Still sticking around.

I'm asking you, as a whole, to set programs and protocols in place to help single moms.  It's a terrifying reality to find yourself in.  The vast majority don't choose it for themselves.  The vast majority don't know how to ask for help or what kind of help to ask for because they are drowning in grief and worry and the new reality of their situation.  Have something in place for them.  Don't make them come to you.  Go to them.  Tell them how you are going to help.  Pay for their counseling, set them up with a career counselor, help them with education.  Set them up with childcare once or twice a month so that they can get things done or just sleep, for crying out loud.

I'm asking you to stop your silent agreement with these men who unrepentantly leave their families.  You have all too often made yourself complicit in their sins by failing to do the hard thing and address it with them head-on.  You do not want to be held responsible for that.  You really don't.

I'm asking you to make sure that you treat these modern-day-widows with love and respect, and don't put shame on them by making them somehow second-class citizens within the church.  We didn't ask for this life.  Please do not treat us like prostitutes or pariahs.  (The fact that it shouldn't matter if we had been prostitutes is another sermon for another day.)  Don't shove us to the back because it makes people uncomfortable that there are single mothers in the congregation.  God forbid.

I am, above all, asking you to get your head out of the sand and acknowledge that we have a serious problem here that seems to be hitting epidemic levels.  To call for some serious prayer and fasting and God-seeking to see how the modern church and it's culture have contributed to this incredibly serious issue.  Take responsibility where you should.  Humble yourself.  Become more like the God we all serve and sacrifice.

If your congregation doesn't have a single mom in it, good.  But it probably will.  It's probably going to happen, and pretending that it won't isn't going to help anyone.  This isn't a worldly problem, this is a christian problem.  This is happening over and over and over again in supposedly christian households within the church.  This will, unfortunately, probably be something your congregation will have to grapple with at some point.

This is such a huge issue.  There's no way I can even begin to unpack a sliver of it.  It's massive, and heartbreaking, and real.  Let's start treating it as such.  We modern-day-widows are raising the next generation, and we are often doing it alone, with very little support.  Our kids will probably pick up on that one day, and shame on the church if it causes those children to fall away because all they see is apathy and inefficacy when their families were hurting and in need.

I've posed a lot more problems and questions than I have solutions.  I know.  But I'm just one woman, one woman left by her "christian" husband, trying to make sense of this new world.  I probably sound a little angry, and you know what?  I am.  But I'm also just so stinking ashamed that we have let this become the problem that it is.  That we have raised up a generation of entitled, selfish, cowards instead of Godly men.  It's got to stop.  It has to change.  You have no idea the hearts and lives and souls at stake.

Fast.  Pray.  Fall on your face and ask the Lord to lead you to some kind of understanding.  Some way you can change this.  Some way you can help the Church do what she was meant and called to do- to take care of the widow and the orphan.  Because they are God's beloved.  And they are worth it.

1 comment:

  1. But if we're being fair let's also call women to be repentant of the things they did leading up to this. Let's call "christian" women to not just blast their ex husbands online without sharing both sides, without sharing the things they've done behind closed doors. A simple "I haven't been perfect" isn't good enough. If you're going to drag someones name through the dirt then we,as your audience, deserve to know both sides. Have you been "christian" through this? Did your husband really just up and leave, or did he try for years to make it work? Did he ask the church for help and not get any guidance? How do you know that the church he now goes to has welcomed him without conversation regarding what's happened? I've seen a lot of fingers pointed for all the public to see in your blog, and i'm not saying your husband didn't fail you, but if you're willing to put blog post after blog post after blog post about him and what he did, why not dedicate one entirely to what you did, or what you are still doing that isn't so "christian" either?
    A "christian" guy who tried for years.