“You’re not doing enough for God…so take your thumb out of your mouth, change your diaper, get out of your pew, and start serving…get involved in…” were snippets of an actual sermon at a local Baptist church on mother’s day. The Baptist pastor was angry and loud. I was glad we hadn’t brought guests. It was enough just to get the family to church. First, convincing the husband. Then, confronting two teenage girls who wanted to do typical teenage things. Then finally, making the unsettling decision to leave our mentally retarded teenage son at home alone because there is no one to watch him and he cannot sit through a church service.
I began to ponder all the Martha tasks I do that keep me from serving God. Like working full time as a nurse to support our family, so that my husband, who has had fewer employment opportunities, can get our son on and off the special-ed bus. Working outside the home in, yes, a secular job, has helped us avoid the welfare lines, where 1 in 3 people in our state subsist (and even more in our church). It’s surprising though, how many ripe soul-winning opportunites there are at work. Patients are very ready to hear about eternal life when they’re just about to pass from this one.
Another Martha task that keeps me from the Lord’s work is raising 3 children. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, shopping, cooking, yada yada. My son was finally toilet trained at age 13, but still goes through about 4 shirts a day. At age 17, he doesn’t dress himself or do his own personal care, yet he towers over me. It is very difficult to take him anywhere or have guests in our home. Putting him in a group home would free us to serve the Lord. Or, we could just drop him off at the pastor’s house and see how much HE gets done for the Lord.
I pondered the thousands of dollars I had given in tithes and offerings over the years. I pondered the years I had spent in prayer over our son’s condition, and the deafening silence as the condition remained the same, and the seizures continued, and his peers left him far, far behind and are now considering colleges, and marriages, and careers, while he will spend his days crawling on the floor in front of a TV, playing with a baby toy. He has never had a friend come to the house, has never been invited anywhere. He will never have a girlfriend. The nevers stretch on and on into the future. My campaign of petitions to God on his behalf have been like a cloud of gnats before the grill of a truck. Some prayers just don’t get answered – let’s get real.
I pondered my “selfish” enjoyments, such as health and fitness. I thought getting involved again in endurance sports would be a good way to confront middle-age, rather than putting on the pounds, adding doctor visits to the schedule, going through the divorce, then being added to the church’s prayer list. I notice how unhealthy and unhappy the people in my church look, particularly the women.
How do women in the Baptist church who “drink the coolaid” even get out of their own way? Pare yourself down to meekess, submission, and dependancy, and yet do great things for the Lord. This is not inspiring, or even interesting, to anyone considering Christianity, yet they wonder why there is little church growth. Does a man have any business telling any woman what to wear or how to behave? We’re not children. Yet we hear this from Baptist preachers all the time, and the women remain cowed and silent within their spiritual burkhas. It bothers me to see Baptist women give up their careers or not even bother to pursue one. They might work and do something interesting with their lives – until marrige happens. Then if the husband has health or employment issues, they praise God for public assistance or a MLM opportunity. How spiritual.
Hopefully I can ignite an intelligent dialogue about the role of Christianity in the modern world, because I believe there is one. I am just sick of all the nonsense, contradiction, and hypocracy that I’ve had to endure from the “church” since I’ve accepted Christ as Lord and Savier. I want to be part of a Christian church without turning into one of the Stepford Wives.