Question:

Hi Jeffrey,

I am sorry I trouble you with so many questions. It's not that I am not well studied, I just seem to find myself in situations where I question the actions of others and not sure if I am handling it the way God would have me handle it.

I have been a Christian for twenty years and have been an active part of the work here with my local congregation. My husband and all my children have been baptized, praise God, but they have not all remained faithful. My husband left me permanently 10 years ago, so me and the kids and God have managed to get this far. Because I don't have a husband in the church, nor do we have any elders, it is up to the men to make the decisions which I understand and believe to be scriptural.

My youngest daughter, who is 15, has struggled with many things and she was sexually interfered with by a man in the congregation for five years, and she is now pregnant -- not by him. She ran away for about six months, though "kept in touch," and she is now home. As she is becoming more aware of her impending future, she realizes she likely needs more help than her boyfriend is going be able to provide. She was baptized when she was 13, praise God, but has struggled greatly within this congregation between the sexual interference, bullying by other members' children, as well as general isolation.

My issue is this: With her recent return to the home she knows she must attend classes and worship. She is trying her best to do that but is challenged as I mentioned. Recently in a men's meeting it was assigned for two of the men to talk to her about what her intentions are with the church. She was approached on a Sunday after worship to meet immediately in one of the classrooms. She came to me and asked me to go with her, which I said of course I would, but I couldn't do it at that moment and let one of the men know. He looked confused. Later when I got home I called the other man, who I have known for about 15 years and asked why I wasn't included in the meeting arrangements as she is after all my daughter, in my home. I was told it has nothing to do with me. That my 15 year old is now an adult because she took it upon herself to go out and get pregnant. This upset me for many reasons too long to list. It maybe obvious to others, but mainly because she is not an adult and I am her provider and mother and because if I had a husband this stuff would never happen. Needless to say the conversation ended not so great and I haven't been back to church since.

I have such a hard time with the bullying that my family has been through over the years mainly because I am a single mother and men are predators by nature. I am unprotected and have battled this on many levels for years, and some men of the church are not excluded from this number. I have also tried to resolve the many conflicts that come my way by talking to my brethren about what is going on, but it does not always achieve the desired results. I get myself further labeled as being divisive, trying to be a man, trouble making, and liar. Our preacher goes as far as to use me and my life and family as part of his sermons and not in a good way which has left my children in tears and struggling to keep going. One of children married into preacher's family, so it is tough on her too, as she often feels stuck in the middle.

I am very troubled and this is on my mind all day, every day. I love our Lord Jesus and our Heavenly Father and have faith that He will help me through this, but I am not a bench-warmer. I have taught classes for years and have been a faithful member, so I am not sure why all of this continues to happen.

There is no other faithful congregation in this city. I have traveled 150 miles to worship with another congregation in a neighboring city. I am seriously considering moving closer to this congregation and making the commute to work here in the city.

I don't know if I made any sense at all, but I guess my question is this. Do I continue to worship where I cannot resolve these issues and just put up and shut up? Is this the devil ripping me and my family apart or is it God saying it's time for me to leave and work with others where I can continue to grow?

Please help. My daughter has only been back for a month, and I have only missed one worship service but it is not something I want to do, but I just don't know what to do. I am so angry.

Thank you,


Answer:

I don't know your congregation, but it is unproductive to call the men who are struggling to deal with a difficult situation (just as you are) bullies. Nor are men predators by nature. The Bible calls the wicked predators, not a particular gender. The men in the congregation have made some mistakes, which is not surprising. Few people have really sat down and thought about the ins and outs of difficult situations as your daughter has created.

Your daughter is a minor who thought she could rush becoming an adult. In the process she made a lot of mistakes and sinned. The result is that she is now a minor who is pregnant. The men were incorrect. She is still a child. Unless the men thought that you might be a cause of some of her problems, which is unlikely, they should have included you. I suspect that they were trying to give your daughter privacy to speak her mind freely without worries about what you would say.

If I had to hazard a guess, problems have been building up between you and members in this congregation, which have not been properly resolved. I cannot serve as mediator because I'm too distant from the situation and I'm not a part of the congregation. For the same reason, I won't take sides, especially in a situation where I only hear from one side.

Because of this I can't advise you whether the situation is hopeless where you currently attend. It is quite possible that you will find a similar situation in the new congregation, other than it might take a few years for the problems to build up. If it does, then I would suggest that you take a good hard look at yourself as to whether there is something you are doing or the attitude you are carrying that is causing this to happen. If it doesn't follow you, then that would be a clue that the problem is more likely with the people in the other congregation.