Guest post by Ian.
Since my wife and kids are still actively involved with this group, I am going to use pseudonyms instead of actual names. Other than name changes, this a true story, learned through observation and stories from the pulpit. I use terms like sin and immorality because I am holding this church up to the standards they claim to follow.
Once, there was a man named Charlie. From what I heard about him, Charlie was a good man, kind and hardworking. Charlie met a young girl named Beth sometime in the early 30’s. Charlie’s desire was to become a pastor and Beth seemed to be inclined to go along with this dream. Friendship blossomed, and at the ripe old age of 15, Beth became pregnant. Oops, Charlie and Beth weren’t married. This was easily fixable; so, off to the wedding altar they went. Charlie became a preacher who, from all accounts, was a well-loved and all around good guy. His grandkids, who I know well, loved going to see him. They never remember him being angry or saying a bad word against anyone. Charlie had several children, the oldest one named George.
George lived in Missouri most of his life. He grew up in church, learning all the things a pastor’s child should. As George grew older, he met a girl named Sue. As far as I know, George didn’t have any desire to become a pastor in his younger years. I do know that George attended a local college for some time. I also know that George and Sue fell in love, got married and had a son. Wait, actually, George and Sue had sex, Sue got pregnant and then George and Sue got married, because that will immediately fix the problem. George ended up joining the US Army and served a little over 20 years. He was awarded the Silver Star among other medals and retired a Sergeant Major.
George doesn’t talk much about his Army days. From the pulpit, he would tell us, as a cautionary tale, that he did smoke and drink, though he doesn’t do these things now. He told how friends would try to get him to “commit sins”, but he was able to keep himself separate. Interestingly, George’s stories of personal commitment come from the time period when he had achieved rank, in the rowdy days of the 50’s and 60’s, I often question how an outspoken Christian was able to gain promotion. Back then, life in the military was much different from now.
While in the Army, George “surrendered” to the call to preach. Upon retirement, George returned to Alaska to pastor a church he had once attended. At this church, George raised his 4 children. By all accounts, the middle two did OK. The oldest got involved with drinking and partying and the youngest followed the same path. These children, along with other children that attended the church, became known throughout the community as partiers. At this time, although we weren’t attending the church, I was in a Christian school that had several of the church’s kids enrolled. My aunt hung out with one, in particular, who I personally knew as a party hound. This legacy of immorality seemed to flow through this church. Child abuse of all kinds happened there, many drunks were dealt with, as well as other stories best left for another day.
George’s oldest son eventually moved away. Stories of his problems floated around the community, continuing the legacy of immorality. George’s youngest daughter, Mary, continued the legacy close to home. Mary married a man who continually accused her of adultery. My feeling is that this is because Mary was quite promiscuous before marriage. Mary ended up getting a divorce from him. Mary spent time in at least one out-of- state alcohol rehab clinic and I think she went to a second one, but it was quietly dealt with; she was the pastor’s daughter after all.
Mary was caught red-handed, more than once, sleeping with a man she wasn’t married to. She was put out of the church several times for it, but was quickly restored to fellowship; mommy wasn’t about to be deprived of her daughter. These occurrences were quickly put to rest by sweeping them under the rug.
Finally, Mary got pregnant by Doug,who was another pastor’s son. Doug and Mary were married, which is a story unto itself. Doug and Mary finally divorced because Mary finally couldn’t keep up with Doug’s “worldly” lifestyle. Which is funny, because Mary did the same kinds of things Doug did, only now she couldn’t keep up with Doug’s worldly pace.
Mary finally married for a third time. After a time, Mary’s oldest daughter Paula married a guy and continued to go to church. During the church going, Paula and her husband started down their road into debauchery. I won’t name everything; suffice it to say drunkenness and sexual sins were part of their life. Paula and her husband split up, with the husband being the one who stayed in the good graces of their church.
The husband was welcomed into Paula’s mom’s house. He would stay the night so the kids could play with Grandpa and Grandma and the other kids. One night, Mary had a funny feeling something was wrong. Upon investigation, she discovered her second daughter, Julie was sleeping with Mary’s estranged husband and had been doing so for a while. ALL of the blame was put on the husband since Julie was just 18 and had obviously been seduced. Julie was quickly forgiven by the church and all was buried under the rug, once again. I don’t believe for one minute that the husband was innocent, but the pastor’s granddaughter was given a pass just like his children were.
So, this is the legacy of Charlie, a man of God. I have some suspicions that another of George’s daughters got caught up in the sex trap, but that story is never mentioned and questions are discouraged. At least two of George’s other grandchildren were sexually active before marriage and have had multiple marriages. In the interest of full disclosure, I am married to one of George’s granddaughters. Before we were married, there was a lot of kissing and petting, but no intercourse. I will even admit to being the one who instigated things. I only say this to let everyone know that I am not perfect.
I write this because people speak of a spiritual legacy. This story tells of another kind of legacy. This is the legacy of problems being swept under the rug and never dealt with. This is 70+ years of the same kinds of problems in one family. And the reason nothing was done is because this was the pastor’s family. Both of the deacons in this church had similar things go on with their families. Again, these “incidents” were quickly and discreetly dealt with. Criminal actions were quickly and quietly dealt with. One of these deacons was on the verge of going to jail for fraud and theft, but the charges disappeared and no mention was ever made of this again.
My father, along with several others, were marginalized and driven from this church because they dared to call these people to account for their actions. If people had been forced to confront their actions, maybe these problems would have been stopped in the first generation. Instead, multiple generations have been affected and the problems persist.
This is just one IFB/Sovereign Grace church. I’m not saying this is the only church that has had these problems. I know there are many others like this. This is just my experience with family and one church.