The Johnstons had been members of the church for fifteen years before the pastor or any of the elders suspected that there was trouble in the marriage. And that suspicion arose because of an overheard conversation in the parking lot—one of the elders’ wives was looking for a dropped baby bottle in the back of their van, and was down on the floor boards out of sight. And as the Johnston car was parked right next door, it was impossible not to hear the fact that Cherise was haranguing her husband Ken over his intermittent porn use. The phrase thundering hypocrite was used. Apparently something said against it in the sermon, and the fact of Ken’s nodding along with that righteous sentiment, had set her off.
The pastor naturally made an appointment with Ken the following Tuesday, and it was one of the most spiritually effective meetings he had ever had with a parishioner. Ken confessed everything completely, got that right with God, and volunteered a handful of other things he needed to restore, including several instances of significant dishonesty at work. The transformation in Ken was remarkable, and the pastor said he had never seen anything quite so striking or complete. He began meeting with the pastor weekly for instruction and accountability.
The surprise came about six months later when Cherise filed for a separation, and started attending another church. She was angry with the church, and with her husband, and also with the world. A friend of hers, who saw her a few times after she moved out, helped the pastor connect the dots, as he was completely baffled. “Oh, there is no mystery about it,” she said. “Cherise could not handle living with a man who wasn’t in the doghouse. She had no handles.”
All the characters and situations in this Fifty Ways series are entirely fictional. The patterns being described, however, are not entirely fictional, and will no doubt be recognized instantly by any experienced pastor.
Image from Unsplash, by Mantas Hesthaven, @mantashesthaven