I grew up hearing a crude expression as a little girl.
“I was more nervous than a whore in church!”
Believe me. I’ve been the whore in church before. And I find that it is far better to be in that highly celebrated position than it is to be part of a Christian marriage which has been disqualified from ministry because of moral failure.
“I was more nervous than a Christian who committed moral failure in church.” Yep. Far more nerve wrecking and scandalous.
Let me explain.
You see, when a person like me got saved in my mid twenties, I had “sold” my body for things like cheap dinners on dates with men who never even acknowledged my soul. I was living with a man who had zero intention to commit to me outside of my keeping him from being lonely cold in his bed at night. When Jesus wooed my heart to Himself, I gave up that life and ran far away from it, without ease. I didn’t know what my life was going to look like as a follower of Jesus, but I was all in.
Thats the kind of story that is (rightly) celebrated by the church.
As I sit here and write, I recall being baptized and the congregation cheering after I shared what God did to radically change my heart and life completely. I felt loved, welcomed, accepted among the people.
No more hiding. No more secretly using drugs or my body to get me the fulfillment I so badly desired.
In addition to my new life, I had met and married a godly man who was the complete opposite of the ones before him. He was intentional about giving me his last name from the moment we met, committed to serving the Lord and me. It really was, and is, an incredible story about how God plucks people from the pit and places them in the story created by His design for those who love him. (Romans 8:28)
What does it feel like to be a Christian exposed as a moral failure in the church?
Oh. I would rather be the whore in church any day than feel the weight of that shame we carried as we walked back into that same church for the first time since our marriage came tumbling down.
Hand in hand, we walked to the pew on the opposite side of where we used to sit, unable to even entertain the idea of being in the same spot, because we were no longer the same couple who used to sit there.
Limping at best, we parked in the pew, holding hands for dear life.
Though I was angry with my husband, there was no one else who felt more safe in that moment than he did. Its as if the war in our marriage was put aside in order to celebrate a sacred holiday. I “put down my gun”, so to speak, clinging to him and our bloodied marriage.
It was difficult to look anyone in the eye.
This was a church who loved us well, allowed us to serve in worship, cared for our children, poured out time and resources on our behalf. Talk about massive weight in shame to come back, knowing that from a biblical perspective, we were disqualified from serving at any capacity in the church.
All the trust and status we had going for us, no longer served as any form of comfort.
Most friends didn’t know what to say to us. I can understand that. I didn’t know what to say either. My husband and I could only cling to one another and the gospel, relying on the power of Christ and his ability to turn our disaster of a story into sweet redemption.
Which is Jesus’s thing, by the way.
I take this lesson as a great gift. The gift of empathy for those who are lifting their hands high in worship of Jesus, who are so deep in their secret sin it take God’s exposure to set them free. Once they are exposed, they are in need of the utmost care!
Instead of running away in fear of christians who are found in their mess, let us run toward them, offering them the hopeful assurance that it was God’s mercy on their lives for Him to expose them, reminding them that the gospel is ever as powerful for the newly converted whore in church as it is for the saint who has utterly rebelled against the God he loves.
For this is true;
“Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8