Wednesday, December 14, 2005


The young lady was having martial problems. I heard of her through a church member who was employed by her father-in-law. Counseling is not my strong point and I felt hypocritical talking with someone about their marriage when mine was a failure but, I agreed.

When we met I asked her to explain the problem. “My husband drinks and keeps beer in the refrigerator.”

As we talked she explained that she attended a certain church. I recognized it as a very fundamentalist church. While in college in a larger city she “backslid” and began going out with friends and drinking and enjoying the fun life typical of many young adults. In was during this time that she began dating her husband-to-be who happened to live in her home town which is a small town of about 2,000 people.

They were married, graduated and returned to this small town. She reverted to her previous life of attending church and living the straight and narrow. The problem developed when her husband continued to be himself and chose not to attend church with her. Ironically, her father-in-law was a doctor known to everyone in the small town. He had the reputation of being an atheist – which he wasn’t. Her husband’s choice was not a surprise to me. I knew her father-in-law. He has courage and integrity so I assumed the son was probably like the father.

I questioned her. “Does your husband drink too much? Does he ever get drunk? How is he with the children? Does he treat you well?” In response to all questions she described a good father, a loving husband, a man who never drinks to excess, a man who sounds like a fine person.

I asked one final question. “Are you afraid that some church members may visit you and see the beer in the refrigerator?” To her credit, she answered honestly – “yes”.

Since church and the Bible were extremely important to her, I pointed out passages related to alcohol. The Old Testament contains psalms that sing the praises of wine. Jesus turned water into wine – excellent wine. The apostle Paul advised Timothy to drink wine to alleviate an upset stomach.

I summarized my opinion by saying “It sounds like you are very lucky. You have a good husband. The problem appears to be your fear of church members and what they may think.”

I didn’t tell her what to do or give her advice. She was intelligent and educated. She didn’t need advice. Unfortunately, she had attended a church that ignored parts of the Bible or tried to explain certain portions in a way that fit the church’s preconceived beliefs. She attended a church that focused on “thou shalt not” and missed the passage shouting “everything that God created was good!”.

The meeting ended. I never met her again. Later, I heard that her father-in-law said that over the next few weeks she changed dramatically. He saw sides to her personality that he had never seen. She began to blossom and grow.

It’s amazing how liberating, rewarding, fulfilling and life-giving our existence becomes when we focus on the good things, turn a deaf ear to those who would tell us how to live and let our hearts, minds, values and experiences lead us.

In my opinion, religious people should have faith that my Creator will lead and guide me without their assistance. Churches should celebrate with me rather than dictate to me. For me, the unforgivable sin is not unbelief but fear. I choose to be unafraid and live my life with or without the approval of other people. I wish I had chosen this when I was young. My life would have been dramatically different and much more wonderful. The past is gone and unchangeable but the future -- the future will be wonderful!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's totally true... so many people show God as a loving God, but strangely they accuse actions or behaviour saying that God wouldn't like that. But it's God who'll show me that it's not the right thing to do if it's true!! Cause by doing what I do I'm not trying to attempt against God, so if I'm wrong without knowing it, God's who will show me the right way. But some people cannot understand this and start fearing you with Hell and eternal suffering... It's so pittiful and wrong to make people believe with fear. It's what people did many centuries ago, and they were so wrong, so why are there people who still do it?? I'm frustrated with them. Thank you for the post, it was such a good one.

12/14/2005 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

Excellent. Well written, and for me, quite timely. I'm slipping back into a search mode. This fits very well with where I am looking at this moment.


12/14/2005 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Lucindyl said...

Concerning churches and the damage they can do...






12/14/2005 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Gaye said...

"Churches should celebrate with me rather than dictate to me." I completely agree; and fortunately have found such a place.

What I would've given for a spouse that drank beer and kept it in the refrigerator--yet didn't abuse it.

I'm working on this approval thing--it's a major obstacle I have to overcome--and I HAVE to; my happiness depends on it.

12/14/2005 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

You continue to astound me with your wisdom and perspicacity. And you ask why we read your blog?

12/14/2005 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew May said...

I agree with everything all of you have said, I had extremely bad experiences like this when I was growing up in my parents church.

It made me quite bitter towards "those types of people" for sometime. But I got over it.

"It’s amazing how liberating, rewarding, fulfilling and life-giving our existence becomes when we focus on the good things, turn a deaf ear to those who would tell us how to live and let our hearts, minds, values and experiences lead us."
--I could not agree more, you really do have great insight...very wise man you are. :)

12/14/2005 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I choose to be unafraid and live my life with or without the approval of other people."
I finally figured this out at 40. I finally chose to be the authentic me, the one who is sensitive to others but does not let them dictate who I should be. God directs me as He sees fit. I don't need others to tell me, He does it all on his own, thank you. I too, have grown and blossomed.

12/14/2005 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Bonita said...

Another wonderful post, and I've read it several times today realizing that fear is such a demon. I wonder how much of it resides as a part of one's disposition, or if it is learned. I do know that all over the world people live in fear, all kinds of fear. What a blessing to remove it, or at least modify it to some degree.

12/14/2005 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Thank you Paul. It's good to sense that we are all growing bit by bit.

12/14/2005 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger Round Belly said...

God did not give us the spirit of fear.

Have I not commanded thee to be strong, of good courage, be not afraid, for the Lord they God is with thee withsoever thou goest?

He also told us to not do things for the praise of the world

12/14/2005 10:41:00 PM  
Blogger kathy said...

I enoyed this post. yes a little wine is good. even modern medicene says this is true in moderation.

12/15/2005 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Melody said...

Such wise words and so timely. Thank you!

12/22/2005 10:57:00 AM  

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