Monday, April 16, 2007

Joe and Margaret - January

Chapter 4 January

Monday, January 1, 2001

Joe prayed , O God, am I serving Baal? I'm working so hard and yet I'm so attracted to men. My counselor says I need to listen to some other religious leaders, but Pastor Larry brought me into the faith. How can I leave him. I know Margaret wants to leave so she'd be supported but how can I take her away to someone who would not support her. I want to find out about some of these pastors who say homosexuality is good, but how can I do that without having Margaret ask why? And how can I do that to Margaret? I didn't lie to her when I said I was waiting for the right woman and had no sexual experience, but how could I know that being with her would make me desire a man, would bring me to recognize that it was never a woman I was waiting for. Margaret trusts me. Margaret loves me. How can I betray that trust. But we both need to leave. After what Pastor Larry did on Sunday I don’t think Margaret will be able to enter the church without being angry. Pastor Larry promised that he wouldn't refer to Margaret's past, but he did so and to compare her with a redeemed Jezebel even if he didn't mention her by name. What does he know of her past and her cure, and to mention me, when I can't even talk to him about what's bothering me, as an example well that hurt Margaret even more. And my embarrassment isn't humility as he said. I'm not out there proclaiming that I worship another God, but how can I worship a God who condemns who I am.

Tuesday, January 2, 2001

"Joe," Margaret said, "I'm not going back to that church. I can and do admire you even more than what Pastor Larry gives you credit for, but I'm not going in there again to have my past brought up. Even though he congratulates me it is too much to always be the fallen woman redeemed. I've talked with one of my patients. He has a church that he really likes. I want to try that on Sunday. If we don't like it we can go to another church, but I am not going to sit through one more sermon from Pastor Larry. I'm not going to wait for him to mention me. I want to go with you to church, but I'm not going back to that one."

"But Margaret, isn't Andrew your homosexual."

"Yes, he is, and if Pastor Larry is wrong about me, I'm beginning to think he's wrong about Andrew too. The gays I knew from the life were pretty much like everyone else. Andrew is one of the more loving people I know. And he's invited me to his church more than once. And he's not "my" homosexual. He is one of the people I help and he is his own person."

"I'll have to think about going to Andrew's church, but I know you're right about not going back to Pastor Larry's church. I'm having trouble with the way he holds me up as an example. You did more than I ever did and with less support from your friends. You and God got you out of the life."

"Joe I wouldn't have gotten out without you. Don't put yourself down. I've had enough of people carping and hitting on me and I'll not take it when you do it to yourself. You were the one that got through to me about God and I can never thank you enough. Pastor Larry may have provided those sermons about preaching to the wicked, but you got out there and you didn't preach but you gave me the Word of God in a way that got through to me in my darkest hours. You are an example."

Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Joe prayed, O God, I thank you so much, you have hidden me just as the small child Joash was hidden until the time was ready. And Margaret, Margaret suggested going to church with her friend Andrew. And if he goes to church they must be able to do something other than Pastor Larry's condemnation. They must know some way of dealing with the problem. Perhaps I can rebuild a life in the church - a life in more honesty than I've been able to face. O God, I thank you, I can only thank you. I thank you and give praise.

Thursday, January 4, 2001

O God, why does Pastor Larry say such hateful things about gays, I feel like he is ill and dying and I cannot go to him as did Joash. For I know that he would condemn me or say that the love of good woman would cure me. And Margaret is a good woman and I don't want her blamed for not changing me. The only thing she changed was to bring into focus desires that I'd been hiding. If only I could talk to Pastor Larry and not have him condemn me, but I'm having trouble even getting up the nerve to tell him that we won't be coming back.


"Pastor Larry, I'm sorry I got your answering machine. Margaret and I won't be in church on Sunday. You know her work as a care-giver, one of her patient's is dying and wants her to come to worship with him. I know we won't be fed as we are with you, but I think we need to do this as a way of inviting him to our church. I wanted to ask you about this, but he wants the answer now and so I'll say yes, but I didn't want you to worry about us next Sunday."


O God, why did I do that, I knew I was scared about talking to Pastor Larry, but I out and out lied. It's not just that Andrew invited us, but how can I tell him that Margaret will not be back to his church and how can I tell him about my doubts. I used to think of myself as so truthful, but I'm lying to Pastor Larry and to Margaret, but I can't deal with telling them the truth, though I'm going to have to. I know I haven't broken my marriage vows yet, but what happens if someone from Andrew's church recognizes me. I've been to some gay bars and someone may recognize me. And they all seem normal enough and some of them must go to church, if Andrew goes to a church surely there are others. I was so thankful that Margaret mentioned going to his church, but now I'm so scared. I want to tell the truth about my feelings, but I don't know what will happen if I do. What will my family say after I've talked about condemning homosexuals, what will Margaret say when she learns I've betrayed her, what will Pastor Larry say, will I lose all my friends, what's going to happen?!

Friday, January 5, 2001

"Margaret, I know I've been promising this for awhile," said Joe. "I'm going to make arrangements for couples counseling. I know I've kept saying it's my problem, but I know I need to work with you and I'm not sure how. I don't want to do it with the person who's been talking with me about the accident, but I do want to do it."

"Oh Joe, thank you. I just know we can work this out together. I've prayed for you so many times and I want our marriage bed to be fertile so you can have the sons and daughters you've always dreamed of." And then Margaret embarrassed herself by bursting into tears.

Saturday, January 6, 2001

Joe prayed, O God, will I have to remain as isolated as that king who was a leper. Will my faith keep me from expressing my desires as his disease kept him in a house of isolation. How much longer can I live like this? I've got to talk to Margaret and I hope I can do so in the couples counseling. And Pastor Larry hasn't called back about my not coming to church I do hope that's o.k. He brought me to faith and yet at times he seems so far from a man of God, he seems to want everything his own way and talks about how humble he is, but I just don't see it. Yet he helped me know the salvation that comes from Jesus and even if I don't see Jesus' love Pastor Larry mentions it so often.

Sunday, January 7, 2001

"Andrew, you shouldn't be waiting at the front door for us. With your circulation problems it is too dangerous. And before I forget this is my husband Joe."

"Margaret you always take care of people. Good to meet you Joe. Margaret's told me a lot about you and how you met. I've asked one of my friends who has done some ministry with prostitutes to sit with us. Joe, if you'll push my chair, we'll get inside before Margaret can get on me about talking instead of moving."


"Barry and Malcolm are our greeters today. They're celebrating their first anniversary this week. Barry, Malcolm, I'd like you to meet Joe and Margaret, Margaret's one of my caregivers, Joe's her husband.

"Andrew," Malcolm said, "you shouldn't put temptation in our way, bringing such a fine looking man with you to church, but I suppose he's taken with Margaret."

"I didn't know he was that good-looking until just now when I met him at the door, Margaret talks about how kind and gentle he is, but forgot to mention his looks."

"oh you¼., looks just aren't that important. I've met plenty of good-looking men who are worthless and I won't bore you by telling you about them, but Joe is good and that's worth a whole lot of looks in my book." Margaret said.

"You're right, Joe don't mind my teasing," said Malcolm. "I'm either all up or way down and Barry is the one who puts up with all of my moodiness."

And Barry entered in, "And Malcolm has always been able to bring me out of my shyness and what was that your mother said, Malcolm? 'It's alright to admire the beauty of God's creation as long as you go home to the one to whom your married.'"

"Margaret, let's get Joe away from here before his face gets overheated. Joe, I'll take over my chair now that we're over the incline."

Monday, January 8, 2001

"Joe, you've been walking around in a daze today. Are you still bothered by Andrew's church? Or is it something else. I liked that church, but as long as we don't go back to Pastor Larry I'll be fine."

"I'm not sure what it is, I liked the church, the sermon was very centered on the Bible, and yet everything seems so different from Pastor Larry. I was having problems with some of what Pastor Larry said, but this all seems so different." And I'm scared to admit how much I want to go back and how afraid I am to go back. "But I somehow think that I need to hear those differences, maybe one more time, except that I don't know how to handle people like Malcolm and Barry."

"Joe, you didn't know how to handle people like me when we first met, but you did just fine. You listened and you cared and you stayed true to who you were. That's what matters."

Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Joe's prayers lasted all day - O God I give you thanks that there is a place of worship where homosexuality is considered normal. I pray I am not worshipping at one of the high places that distract from your glory, but instead am going to a true temple of God. I ask that I may have a discerning spirit and the strength to move to the truth wherever it may lead me. May I have the courage to talk with Pastor Larry wherever it may lead and may I also talk with Margaret about my feelings.

Wednesday, January 10, 2001

"Pastor Larry," Joe said, "thank you for meeting with me."

"I always have time for one of my faithful parishioners. We missed you last Sunday, but I'm sure you were doing the Lord's work and leading others to Christ."

"I'm not so sure I was leading others to Christ so much as being led once again."

"Now Joe, you have always been a faithful Christian and a leader in this congregation."

"I've been a leader, but I'm not so sure about being faithful."

"But Joe, look at you taking in a fallen woman, a prostitute."

"Pastor Larry, that's the problem I have. I keep hearing you refer to Margaret as a whore or a fallen woman. You don't speak of what she is now without mentioning the past. Margaret is tired of hearing her past brought up every time you speak of God's power to save even the most wicked. Have you ever talked with her about why she took to the streets?"

"Why do I need to talk to her about that? She took to the streets for the drugs and the money."

"Pastor Larry, it's not that simple. She lived from one hit to the next and got money any way she could, but whatever she was on the street was better for her than her home. When you use her as an example she feels like you are treating her as her father."

"Well, Joe, that's quite a compliment. I do hope that I can be seen as her father in the faith."

"Pastor Larry, did you hear what I said about her home life? To be seen as her father is not a good thing. Her father had her cooking, cleaning, and having sex from the time her mother died, perhaps before. When you mention her as an example she feels like she's right back in that time. That's not a good thing."

"Well, than, Margaret needs to get over that idea of a father and you're just the man to help her do that."

"Margaret has gotten over that idea of what a father is, but sometimes you remind her of her father."

"Joe, you're just the man to disabuse her of that idea. To think I'd remind her of a father that abused her. I'm no such thing."

"Pastor Larry, you have abused her trust. You promised me not to mention her in your sermons any longer, but the last time we were here you all but mentioned her by name."

"I did no such thing and even if I did I was speaking the inspired word of God and how dare she question me or think that I would abuse my office by singling her out."

"Pastor Larry I don't want to argue with you about this, but ¼"

"Good, neither do I. I want you back in church and helping Margaret understand that I am her pastor."

"Pastor Larry, it's too late for that. Margaret is not going to come back to church and even though you've been a guide and pastor along my way - You're the one who brought me to faith - I can't attend here if Margaret does not feel safe."

"So you're leaving this true-believing, Bible-based church for some other pseudo-Christian congregation."

"We are leaving this church, but we hope to find another Biblically-based church and we would ask your blessing."

"You cannot have it. If you were moving you would go with my blessing, but to leave a Bible-based church over some hurt feelings that are unimportant is wrong. You are wrong and I will be praying that you come to your senses, repent and return to us, but until then you have no fellowship with us."

"I'm sorry Pastor Larry, but I have to support Margaret on this."

"Then we shall have one final prayer together, O God, you are the Father of us all and we pray that you will lead your poor bewildered child, Joe, back into the faith which he taught for so many years and that you will curse the whore of Babylon who has tempted him away from you so that she may never rest until Joe has repented of his evil and brought both of them back into the faith. O God I pray that you will rain¼"

"Pastor Larry, I cannot stay for this prayer, you are bad-mouthing my wife who is more honest and courageous than I am. Goodbye."


Joe sobbed as he walked out the church door with Pastor Larry's words echoing in his mind. O God, have I done Your Will, yet I could do nothing else, for Pastor Larry has hurt Margaret. And could I have talked with Pastor Larry about my other feelings, I don't believe so. But oh, I'm leaving my home and I don't know where I'm going.


"Margaret can you hold me," Joe cried, as he came in the door. "I just told Pastor Larry that we wouldn't be back. And when I left he was condemning me to the pits of hell."

"Oh Joe, I'm so sorry." and they stood holding each other for what seemed like days.

Thursday, January 11, 2001

Joe thought, I've accomplished a miracle as great as moving and stopping the sun. I talked with Pastor Larry and told him what I thought. I failed to tell him about my reasons for wanting to leave, but I told him we were leaving and I gave him some of the reasons and I can't stop crying in pain and in joy.

Friday, January 12, 2001

"Margaret, I want to go back to Andrew's church."

"Joe, that's wonderful, but why? I thought you were bothered by it."

"I am, but somehow I know that that is where I need to be for now. It goes against much of what Pastor Larry taught, but still I am more certain than earlier in this week that I need to go there."

Saturday, January 13, 2001

What would Pastor Larry have to say about this passage I wonder, thought Joe. He kept saying that women were not to teach in the pulpit, but here is a woman verifying the Word of God and how did the people lose track of their very own Bible I wonder. But the woman is a prophetess, I wonder how different that is from a prophet? If Pastor Larry's wrong about women being inspired by God, then he could be wrong on other things. I need to go to Andrew's church and test their spirit to see if it is of God or not.

Sunday, January 14, 2001

"Margaret? Could we invite Andrew over for supper some time? How hard would it be for him? Could we get his chair up the front steps? Or would it be too tiring?"

"Joe! Of course we could! It would be hard and we might want to invite someone else or, better yet, ask him to invite someone who knows how to get him around. I work with him at home and just don't know much about how he gets around when he goes out."

Monday, January 15, 2001

O God, I feel as if I am going off to Babylon. Is this a curse because I was unfaithful to you and to Pastor Larry. He brought me to the riches of faith and even though I've tried to be faithful to you, O God, my Father, I'm straying from what Pastor Larry taught me. I don't know how this can be and how I can stay faithful, but the more I've prayed the more I've come to think that it is your desire for me to leave Pastor Larry and to explore my feelings, and, oh, if I'm wrong I'll be going to hell. Pastor Larry was my father in the faith and he's cursed me and condemned me until I come back and I'm unsure how to deal with it. My therapist says that it's good for me to explore other congregations, but does he know what I'm going through, what I've gone through to leave this congregation that cared for me and brought me to faith. I don't know that he does. And how can I go to couples counseling with Margaret when all my desires are to leave her. I promised to protect her and care for her when we got married and going to Andrew's church makes me think I cannot stay with her for the rest of my life. How can I break my vows and be a good Christian? Aren't I doing what Pastor Larry said I would do if I left the church. O God, support Margaret as I go through this time. I've not been her husband and while I've not been unfaithful I've not been faithful. And I've grown, but what I've had to give up to grow. When I married Margaret I thought faithfulness to her meant only having sex with her, but my feelings, oh my feelings I've not been faithful to her with those. Did I love her, or did I just love the idea of getting married. Her feelings about sex helped me not to look at the issue of sex, but in that not looking I did not see my own feelings. O God help me, help Margaret. O God, I don't know what to do¼.

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

O God, I now know how blind I've been, can I open my eyes to your Word. I concentrated on all the little errors and called them lies, yet I've been living a lie. I remember how I wanted everything to be exact and was scrupulous down to the penny, but was I a Pharisee tithing the mint and the dill and ignoring the greater law that you gave us? I was, I was. O God I know that you will forgive me, but can I even ask Margaret's forgiveness. And how can she forgive me. I helped her and promised to be there for her but I've not been there for her. And if I act on my desires and feelings I will not be there. How can I abandon her? How can I leave her? How can I forget her? She is my Jerusalem and how can I sing the Lord's song if I let myself be taken to Babylon.

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Oh, God, my love for children, I want to help raise a family and how can I do it without Margaret. You describe the descendents of Adam in I Chronicles and I cannot help but be one of them, but how can I carry on that tradition without a woman in my life and how can I remain faithful to Margaret with the feelings that I have. I've not really acted on them, but I haven't gotten rid of them and hours of prayer do not do that and hours of therapy do not do that and I can't talk to Pastor Larry and I'm scared to talk to Margaret. O God, help me.

Thursday, January 18, 2001

O God, I cannot continue without talking to Margaret. Help me. I've told her I'd go to couples counseling, help me. Give me the courage to go there and the strength to tell her of my struggle. Let my desire for family encourage me, so that I can be with her and she can be with me.

Friday, January 29, 2001

"Margaret, I've got the counseling session scheduled for next week. You did say that Thursday afternoon would be o.k., didn't you."

"Yes, Joe, that's o.k. Oh thank you for scheduling the counseling."

Saturday, January 30, 2001

Oh, God, you keep giving me these lists of men to read. The lists of the descendents of this man and that man. And how can I join them. I can't. But I've got to talk with Margaret. And can I do so in our couples counseling. Of course I can wait, but I'm waking up now and I wonder if Margaret notices my dreams. And we've stopped having marital relations even though I know Margaret wants them. And Margaret does want children and I do so want to have children, but how can I have children with Margaret without feeling any desire for her. O God, help me. Help me. Help.

Sunday, January 31, 2001

"Joe, do you like Andrew?"

"Yes, I do and I like his church. I see them being open and honest in a way that didn't happen in Pastor Larry's church. Who in that church would say that their relationship was in trouble. I certainly was scared to talk about all the problems I've been having since my accident."

"Oh, Joe, so do I. I've always liked Andrew. And going to his church, seeing others talk about successes and difficulties. With Pastor Larry everyone had to be perfect and I know how far short I fall. Pastor Larry kept talking about being perfected, but every time someone showed they weren't there yet they got hit with a condemnation. I don't want to be condemned every time I mess up. I want someone to help me make it better. And I never got that from Pastor Larry. I got that from you."

"Margaret, how can you say that. I've put you through so many difficulties and I'm still not talking about our problems."

"But Joe, you told me you weren't ready to talk and you were working on it. And I trust you to keep on working. And besides, haven't you made an appointment for us to get some help in our marriage."

"You're too good for me."

"And you're to good for me. Now let's get going before we're late to church."

"Margaret, I think that's the first time in a long while that you've been ready to get to church."

"Well, I know that I'm not going to be held up as an example of the bad woman redeemed and that's wonderful. I have the joy back that I had when you brought me to faith."

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