SEXUAL SIN SERIES
2017 and early 2018 were a time of testing of our faith which we had never before experienced. We were both raised in the faith for the majority of our childhoods, and since our early marriage had fellowshipped with an assembly of believers local to us in central Main. It was an assembly with whom on the surface we appeared to share much common ground, and we'd weathered numerous congregational splits from a distance in the past but in 2017 some of our concerns materialized into developments which we were forced to become directly involved with. We became aware of child molesters who were allowed to go under the radar; young women who were compelled to sweep inappropriate conversations and questionable activities in the middle of the night under the rug, children who were obtaining sexual information which was inappropriate for their ages, and acting out on other children with it, teens who were consuming pornography and sexually assaulting children to carry out what they'd viewed, and leadership which was not qualified to fill their position under the admonition of the apostle Paul in 1 Tim 3:1-6, yet refused to step down even temporarily, and instead chose to take steps to fortify their position and censure concerns about what was happening.
Of necessity, we sought counsel, yet nonetheless made mistakes; shared concerns while also attempted to give space, attempted to discern facts without judging a matter before we'd fully heard it; strove for accountability yet found ministers unwilling to make themselves accountable and parishoners unwilling to acknowledge what had transpired. We were told everything was fine and concerns were being taken seriously when everything was not fine, as other children would several years afterward attest.
We did fail to perfectly follow a Matthew 15:18 format of addressing grievances, even though to this day we aren't entirely certain Matthew 15 applied to the type of disclosures we found ourselves being confronted with. At some point it became clear that we'd failed to realize for years the direction the fellowship had been headed, from being guided by a plurality of elders as instructed by Paul to becoming a monarchy (give us a king....the very scenario which contributed to the fall of ancient Israel). In the process we were also hypocritical in how we handled and failed to excercise truely righteous judgment without partiality among brethren. We trusting people who were not in fact trustworthy in their motives, even when what they alerted us to was true. We jointly judged other people alongside men who were hypocritical in their judgement.
What we have learned through heartbreaking trial and error is that while each of us are responsible for the choices affecting our own destiny, when even one individual strays into sin, lashon hara, or sexual immorality (or a toxix cocktail of all the above), much more when they defend it, the consequences are bound to be devastating for many others as well. We are called to judge each other as brothers, but are not called to judge those outside the assembly. YHWH will judge them and his judgement in just. However, in our situation, some identifying as "brothers" we found were not actually brothers at all, although that was a concept we fought against for years, and although we sought restorative action and congregational accountability, we found it outside our ability to talk or walk anyone who was unwilling through the necessary steps of repentance. The hardest thing we had to learn is that when sin is among brethren, it must be put out, but when brethren are among a sin (i.e. a given situation which others refuse to handle Biblically) in that situation it is those who are in teshuva which must come out. In our case, this is what was required, and unbeknownst to us at the time, it was a blessing in disquise which spared our children much further heartache which would have otherwise continued being incurred upon them.
It's been 5 years now and we have again found fellowship with like-minded families, although we are now much more guarded in who we fellowship with. The ugliness of reality is that there are wolves masquerading as believers whose intent is entirely inappropriate, and we have children who require shepherding and protection from us.
The fact that much of this, as a small fellowship, involved family, made it especially hard. The fact that we've not since spoken of it for the last 5 years until now, yet those we broke fellowship have done so perpetually, is also especially hard, but each will receive their own reward. We pray on behalf of their families regardless. We're currently in the middle of a transition from Maine to the southern Missouri Ozarks, in major part due to the increasingly liberal polical climate of Maine, and even though many of the moral issues (and even some of the individuals we would have left behind in Maine) are also now there in Missouri ahead of us (the Father will always test you to ascertain your perseverance), we will endeavor to cultivate relationships there with other families who embrace a biblical sense of community where we must welcome the stranger, but also maintain boundaries in the form of watchmen, gates and fortifying walls. You will not have to "dress plain" to fellowship with us, providing you dress modest. Your wives and daughters will not be treated as second-class citizens; they will be permitted to participate as women were in the Tanakh, as long as they follow the guidelines which Paul reiterated of doing all things decently and in order. We will not have to agree on all points. We will have to be walking in teshuva, we will have to be pursuing moral purity and we will have to be willing to judge ourselves, judge each other, be open to exhortation, be willing to live our lives like an open book, and be willing to be held accountable. If you have been called and your heart resonates which what you are reading here, we would welcome a chance to get to know you better, either in the Central Maine Highlands on Shabbat (while we are here), or in southern Missouri (once we finalize our relocation). We are not perfect and in many areas are still greatly flawed, but we are striving to be like Yahshua. Where Yahweh will go from here with this, we do not know, but we must we willing to let the dead bury their dead and follow our Messiah in the path of life.
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