The pastor stared at his hands as if he were avoiding looking at me.
“Are you sleeping with him?” he asked.
I wondered for a moment if I should lie and tell him no. But lying was as much of a sin as fornication. Maybe it was less of a sin. I wasn’t sure anymore.
“Yes,” I answered. I was tired of pretending, tired of hiding who I really was behind the mask I had worn for as long as I could remember. I wanted the pastor to look at me, to see what kind of woman I had become — passionate, ripe, desired and loved. I wanted the pastor to realise that through the eyes of a man who wanted all of me, including my flaws, I had seen my true beauty for the first time.
The pastor’s eyes remained downcast.
“Then unless you repent,” he said, “and promise to never see this unbeliever again, you are no longer welcome in this church.”
I smiled as his eyes finally met mine. “I can’t repent,” I said, “because I’m not sorry. I’ll let you know if I change my mind.”
As I left the pastor’s office, a new thought formed in my brain.
Who decides when love is right or wrong? How were my intimate sexual experiences any of the church’s business? If there was a God, why did he care who I slept with?
According to the church, my sin was great — great enough to excommunicate me from the congregation and keep me from heaven if I died. God and the church had turned their back on me, and I was utterly alone. The comfort blanket I had clung on to for so many years was ripped out of my hands. To get it back, I would have to forsake the deep, unconditional love of a warm human being. I wasn’t willing to make that trade.
I expected to feel dirty and worthless, to eventually break under the weight of my sin and run penitent back into the arms of Jesus. I was about to experience what I had been taught — that the life of an unbeliever is orchestrated by the devil, that selfishness and greed would turn my heart black, that the sharp rocks of a godless existence would slice gaping wounds in my skin.
To my surprise, none of that happened. The longer I stood with my back towards God, the simpler and happier my life became. In this new world my sexuality was celebrated, I didn’t have to submit to the will of a man, no one questioned my choice to remain unmarried, and the people who became my new friends were kind and tolerant, and delighted in the way we each were different.
My excommunication from the church was designed to be a punishment, a taste of how dark and lonely a life without Christ could be.
But it turned out to be nothing of the sort. The day that pastor sent me out into the wilderness, he opened a door to a brand new, wonderful, difficult, exciting, and meaningful life. And I wouldn’t go back for the world.
Have you ever been thrown out of an organisation for not obeying the rules?
This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge.