When we last left off Tom was in love with another woman and defiant to criticism. Says he has a right to be happy, he feels no sorrow for the affair and he’s not going to stop. God approves, according to Tom even though the Bible clearly states otherwise. I responded by doing the bad thing, doing what any good fundigelical pearl clutcher feels obligated to do, I go to our mutual Pastor. Now Pastor already knows and says he is going to ‘deal’ with the feckless frolicking fornicators. He goes to both to confront them and gets mixed responses, Alice still swears there was no actual sex going on and tells the Pastor this is no ones business.
Tom tells Pastor pretty much the same stuff he told me, that it’s his right to be happy and not a sin. Tom also tells the Pastor that since he was there the first day that church opened it’s doors he ain’t going nowhere at all. The Pastor can go if he likes but this is Tom’s personal church now.
Pastor later tells me that he’d hear ages ago from Alice and Sam’s last pastor that Alice cheats left and right with any man that looks sideways at her, that Alice and Sam have had this on again off again marriage, to the point where they’d separated for 18 months at one point. Sam always ended up with the kids. It was all too much detail and information for me, I had to start avoiding all parties because I wanted no part of this mess. Too late.
What else can a good, bad or indifferent pastor do? Pastor told Alice and Tom not to darken the door at the church until they end the affair and repented fully, confessing the details to their spouses, Pastor and asking forgiveness of the congregation. Neither of them pay any mind to this at all. They both keep showing up at church, like nothing ever happened in the first place. Alice is still claiming she’s innocent and stupid Sam believes her. Tina IGNORES the affair and acts like all is well even if Tom is shouting out to anyone that will listen that his marriage is over, his reasons for leaving are Biblical and right that everyone just needs to butt out and allow him to do what God has ordained him to do. Tom says that the pastor needs to head for the door, not him. The church grape vine goes nuts and the gossip gets out of hand
All of our interactions with Tom are layered with extreme weirdness in this time. Once we were at his home watching a Disney movie with our kids, their kids and Tina. Tom came in unexpectedly, saw the cartoon Esmeralda dancing in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and flipped his lid. He punched stop and eject so hard on the VCR that I feared he’d break the machine. Gritting his teeth he shoved the tape at my husband and snarled to NEVER bring such sexual content and violence into his home. It wasn’t Christian content! We were corrupting his kids!
We were all pretty much astonished at his reaction to a kids cartoon and just sat there for a few minutes without saying anything as he stomped down to the basement to his home office and his computers and stereo. One of the things I’d always been uncomfortable with during our movie times with the Smiths was the levels of violence in many of the films Tom chose. He’d want to watch action movies or horror movies but now he was going nuts over a cartoon figure dancing?
Days later he called and begged to be lent the film again. Why? Because he’d watched “The 700 Club” and Pat Robertson had given the movie his seal of approval because it was a great classic piece of literature written by Alexander Dumas and it contained scenes of praying, the church and behaving in Godly ways. I told Tom nope, that he’d had his chance to watch it, next time he’d have to rent it from Blockbuster.
That was how it went with him and us. He’d be openly angry now, instead of hiding his anger beneath a false smiling Jesus freak facade. Tom see-sawed back and forth between raging determined to have his way Mr Hyde Tom and trying to be his idea of a Good Christian Dr Jekyll Tom. We were around a lot because both my husband and I were trying our best to help out and support our sister Tina, so we were treated to the Jekyll and Hyde action often as he blew in and out of the house.
No longer did I check my opinions at the door either. Sometimes I would confront Tom those days and ask him what in the heck did he think he was doing? Didn’t he realize he was doing the very self same things he’d always criticized his own father for? I remember thinking that Tom was just going through some sort of dark night of the soul, a midlife crisis. We both thought that perhaps Tom needed us to stand by his side and try to hold him accountable in a gentle way so he’d turn back to the Lord and his family.
All of this served to make me have compassion for Tom. I knew that while he may have been a believer much longer than I it didn’t meant he actually knew better than me. It was a process and he’d fallen off the Jesus wagon. I stupidly determined if we all just loved him enough with the love of Christ, encouraged him, rebuked him, prayed for him that Tom would emerge and be a better real Christian brother. I decided we would try our best to help him see the error of his ways and fix this. How stupid I was, like any of this was really any of my business beyond confronting he and Alice about using me as a cover. But I thought I was being a good Christian. Little did I know..
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Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Roadkill on the Internet Superhighway
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce