Monday, March 19, 2012

Radical support for a pastor’s betrayed wife

Desert flower (public domain)
The next time you’re tempted to criticize or judge the wife of a powerful man whose sexual indiscretions have been made public, first read this blog post titled Love and Lent: How my faith was formed in the midst of betrayal, by Carol Howard Merritt, published in the Christian Century a couple of days ago:

"I saw him in the parking lot with her. I think he wanted to get caught," my mom's hushed voice bleeds with betrayal. Unlike most gossip, this conversation doesn't have the quality of a listener, hungry for salacious trivialities.  The whole house feels on edge, as I sit on the couch in an adjoining room, straining to hear.

I'm fifteen years old. I missed church that Sunday morning, but I'm catching up with what happened in the service through my mom's one-sided phone conversations. The instant mom hangs up the phone it rings again. She's in a t-shirt and shorts, walking back and forth with bare feet on the cork kitchen tile, reciting assorted facts and collecting others. 

The bits and pieces come together. Our pastor had an affair and confessed it in his sermon. He stood up in front of the church and let the gathered members know that he had succumbed to temptation, but he was ready to just "move on." 

The shocked congregation is not so ready to just move on. They want details. They demand to know exactly what had happened, how long, and with whom. The elders and the pastor schedule a meeting for that evening. As the sun goes down, my father leaves for the gathering of leaders. 

My mother paces the kitchen a few more times. Instead of grabbing the phone again, she picks up a big basin and places our plushest guest towels inside of it. Then she yells out to the quiet house, "Car-ol! Let's go!" 

Note: Carol Howard Merritt, is a pastor at Western Presbyterian Church, the author of Reframing Hope and Tribal Church and the cohost of God Complex Radio. Her blog Tribal Church is hosted by the Century.

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