My wife and I sat in folding chairs together with the other congregants. It was an early spring morning. In these ancient, rounded mountains, spring means chilly air and bright sunshine hinting that warmth will soon banish winter's bitter wind. My mind wandered back and forth between Terry's sermon and my own thoughts. I wasn't bored. This is just the way my mind and heart work. I am selfish to think my own thoughts when the social expectation is one's outward focus. I constantly connect the outer stimuli with ideas and experiences already in residence within the brain. I suspect the reader understands.
The every word Christian reference Terry had just used, attracted my thinking. The term, in part, had engendered my respect for this group. Its use drew great hunks of Christian practice into a circle of inadequacy and helped explain my lack of interest in things Christian for those many years I rejected Christ. Further and more personally, that some Christianity was not every word, resolved why I had wrestled as high school youth through college freshman with a lack of power over sin. Such lack convinced me at my then age of nineteen, Christianity wasn't viable. Inevitability I would sin again because I wanted the sin. I decided sinfulness was practical, irreversible fact and my true identity.
Now and for the previous three years, I accepted GCC theology as a greater insight into the Bible than was known among denominational churches. Every word had expanded to include the phrases sold-out, hearers and doers, and spirit-filled. Whenever a GCC practice or interpretation of scripture was at odds with traditional theology, one of these three phrases helped distinguish the why we did or didn't do what they did or didn't do. Tying our tongues up being our distinctive difference and, for me, the profound evidence of my connection with the source, the Holy Spirit, which enabled me to resist sin. Resisitng sin was not just the path to holiness in an abstract way. I understood it to be the only way I could enjoy the life I had found in Christ.
Resist I had. Everything about my new family in Christ held meaning for me and supported my rapid growth in spirituality. The teachings expanded my thinking of the nature of God and His work. The worship released my bottled-up emotions in expressions both exhuberant and satisfying; I found a connection with authentic joy. The substantive fellowship was emptying insecurity from the well of my soul, a shaft in my heart formerly filled up by a wrecked, alcoholic family and my years of sinfully manipulating others. The disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and church attendance I adopted gave me needed structure. Most wonderful of all, God strengthened me to choose marriage in faith, and the fruit of that union lifted me all the further into adoration for the Lord Jesus. This incredible woman who loved me sat beside me. I reached for her hand and gave my attention back to the passionate teaching.
The rationale of being every word Christians and hearers and doers of the Word once again reached its logical conclusion. GCC would now do something the unlearned of Christianity had yet to see as significant spiritual practice. Terry explained the elders (he and three other men) were leading the church to adopt I Corinthians, chapter 11's description of women wearing head coverings when they prayed or prophesied. The elders had determined women should abide by this scriptural instruction if they prayed silently or vocally with men present and included whether the gathering was church or a meeting in a home.
Spiritual authority over our family of believers had taught, requested, and I felt so moved. Freida questioned a bit as we drove home. She stated some misgiving with the teaching. We were silent a moment. I was often not sure of what to say in our limited eighteen months together. My father was no example to draw from and teaching from the pulpit created my only framework for decision-making in this relationship where I had a husband role to play. I suggested perhaps her reaction to Terry's words was in part made more intense by her advancing pregnancy. Silence.
Gently I said, "We're sold out, right?" Nothing. I drove through the last stop light before the turn into our apartment driveway. "Sin is more than resisting temptation; isn't refusing to move in obedience to commands in the Word a sin, too?"
After a moment she answered quietly, "Yes."
Exiting the Chevette my wife brought into the marriage, we shifted talking to our growing excitement with parenthood just three months away. I was thankful God helped me know what words to use leading my wife!
Learning true authority seemed an important backbone of life.