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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Pastor (11/30/06)

TITLE: A Man First
By Michelle Burkhardt


A Man First

Karen slipped out of her office to use the restroom, on her way back she sighed with a heavy heart. This past week had been a nightmare and the events stilled circled around in her head. As she rounded the corner into her glass office she could see a book sitting on her desk.” Hmm?” she wondered, “That was not there before.” As she approached closer the title, “Freedom from Lesbianism” screamed out of her. She quickly grabbed the book and shoved it in her drawer. She knew who had left her the book. How could Pastor Ryan do this to her? She had been a part of the church since it started over 15 years ago. He knew of her struggle and he knew of her success. Why, would he leave this book on her desk right out in the open? Her office was surrounded with glass windows, plus, she worked with children. If a parent would have seen that book, she could have lost her job.

Pastor Ryan always appeared to be a gentle, biblical man; yet, lately something had changed. The church had just celebrated 15 years and, unfortunately, attendance was down. Last week, Karen and her roommate, Cindy, had been called into the church office for a personal meeting. As the words rolled out of Pastor Ryan’s mouth, Karen could hardly believe her ears. Was he blaming them for the low church numbers? Did he just tell her she had till February to move out of Cindy’s home? Karen wasn’t the only one under attack. Cindy was told to grow her hair longer, wear dresses and even sell her truck because trucks were for men not woman. Pastor Ryan informed them that even though he believed they were free from homosexuality, he felt the perception was still there and these changes needed to be made or they would lose their church membership. She recalled, when he opened his office door, indicating the meeting was over, he reminded them to let him know of their decision on whether they would comply.

Karen and Cindy had decided, with a few supporters, that the treatment they were receiving from Pastor Ryan and the Elders was not biblical. Karen and Cindy had overcome their sin of homosexuality and the church did not have a right to dictate where they should live, how they should dress, or even what kind of car they should drive. They had separate rooms, wore clean, neat clothes and always conducted themselves in a respectful manner. “God does not judge by external appearances.” (Gal. 2:6) was just one of the verses that Karen held onto; yet, she believed the book on her desk was proof that Pastor Ryan and the church did not believe they were free from that past lifestyle and that they were indeed being judged by their outer shell.

A month later, Karen and Cindy’s membership was revoked and they were even told that they were not welcomed to worship there anymore. Losing the church that Karen had become a Christian in was one of the most difficult times in her life. Didn’t Christ die so that we could be set free? Didn’t Jesus say, “Your sins are no more?” Why, were the church and its leader not remembering that it’s the blood that makes us white as snow, not our own actions? Karen knew she was not perfect and the Holy Spirit guided her to let go of the bitterness that threaten to overtake her. Plus, she knew she needed to forgive Pastor Ryan and bear in mind that he is not perfect either. Christ also died for his sins for he is a man first and a Pastor second. Maybe, someday he will remember that too.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 12/07/06
Honestly, I read through this a few times, and I'm still not sure how to receive it--the content is certainly controversial. From a writing point of view, it's got a few run-on sentences and there's more "telling" than "showing." But--you've made me think, and even made me squirm a little, so as a writer you've succeeded. Keep at your craft!
Shanti Singh12/08/06
This is a tough one. I want to comment on the writing, but it is hard to see beyond the motivation for the writing, so I feel I need to address that. First, it seems as if the MC was on staff of the church, and because of that was held to a higher standard. Even if that is not the case, it is unwise for anyone to put themselves in a situation with such huge potential for temptation. My hunch is that the pastor would not have supported a male and female living together who were unmarried either, particularly if they had been sexually active before. So I don't see the pastor's stance as unreasonable in this case. Yes, we are forgiven, but we are also told to avoid even the appearance of evil. Two former lesbians who had been sexually intimate before and then continued living together after becoming Christians is definitely going to raise a few eyebrows, in the same way that an unmarried heterosexual couple living together would raise eyebrows.
It sounds to me like there is a lot of hurt behind this piece. I'm sorry to read that. I wish you well in your journey in Him.
Sunset Splendor12/08/06
The story moved at a nice pace but the content was a bit confusing. The pastor was clearly in the right to give them a time limit in which to sever cohabitating ties IMHO. However, leaving a book on her desk at work was very un-Christian. If someone has been delivered from a "sin" or negative behavior then they try their hardest to separate themselves from that which caused them to sin spiritually and physically. The main character continuing to live alongside the sin leads me to believe in a matter of time she would've fallen back into that lifestyle.