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“And They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love, by Our Love..Yes! They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love…”

I sang loudly and proudly  from the top of my lungs in my early teens because I fully believed these words.  To me, Christianity equated to love…love of our fellow human…fellow Christians….and even our enemies.  After all, didn’t even Jesus ask his Father to forgive those who crucified him?

Over the years though, I discovered that even though Christianity was supposed to be about love, that in all reality, it was not.  Even though the Bible I read taught us to encourage and love one another, my fellow Christians, instead, persecuted, rejected, and isolated one another, especially those who believed slightly differently.

I never believed in divorce, but after ten years in an abusive marriage and counseling, I knew I had to separate from my husband.  At first, he moved out to live with his parents as he and I both sought counseling.  He had his counselor, and I had mine.  He admitted to his abuse.  We actually thought that after christian counseling he would improve and we could reunite.  Sadly, it did not go as planned because he actually worsened and became more aggressive and even dangerous.  I, finally, had to get a restraining order on him and file for divorce.

At the time of our original separation for counseling, we were upfront with the church because he and I worked as youth ministers in the Southern Baptist church.  We stepped down from our ministries to work on our marriage.  However, the pastor at the time warned against my husband moving out of the home, even though he was abusive, saying that we were inviting evil into our home.  When I finally got the restraining order and filed for divorce, the church villainized me as the culprit of evil because divorce is a sin.  The pastor, deacons, secretary, and my husband showed up at my doorstep (even though my husband was not allowed within 100 feet of my presence) wanting to excommunicate me for filing for divorce.  They told me that my husband repented of his sin, and I needed to give him another chance.  I needed to forgive him.  I told them that I do forgive him, but I nor my children are safe with him.  They said if I continued down this path that they would be forced to excommunicate me, which would drag this whole thing in front of the church for a vote.  All I could think about was our children and how much something like this publicity would hurt them, so I told them not to bother with the technicality because I was removing my membership as of this minute.

After this, the pastor told the congregation to shun me. No one was allowed to talk to me, or they would lose their ministries and/or be excommunicated from the church.  Meanwhile, my husband was still in fellowship with them at their church.  My abuser. They stood with him, and literally against me. I felt hurt, alone, ashamed, victimized, rejected…. Just paint a scarlet letter on me…Hester Prynne. I was even called Jezebel by them.

The pastor took even a step further, and told the rest of the Southern Baptist Association that our church was a part of about my “Sin.” So…no church in our area would let me in.

Even my parents, my father a Southern Baptist minister, rejected me, and they still refuse to speak with me today almost 16 years later.

Suffice it to say, I moved on.  I grew stronger.  I fell in love again, but it took me awhile to remarry because I did not trust men due to my last marriage.  I’ve been with my current husband for 15 years, but only married to him for seven.  We lived together, first as friends and then lovers, for 8 years before I finally agreed to marry him.   We even already had a child together; he is now 12.  Our marriage, our relationship, the family we have grown together with my former three children, his two, and our one, is the best relationship and family I’ve ever had.  He is my best friend and lover.  Intellectually, mentally and spiritually, we are one.

I know there are Christians who show love, but I rarely see them.  “We shall know them by their fruits…” and most “Christian” fruits bare more dead fruit, rotting in their own stench.  Sad. Extremely sad.

I only hope that love springs forth in me towards others.  I try to show unconditional love: the kind I expected from my parents, but did not get.  The kind I expected from the church, but did not receive.

There are two great commandments: Love God and Love man!  If we have not love, then we are nothing!