Like a Stripper in Church… Yeah, Just Like It

We all laughed a bit as we continued to tease her.  She was an outcast, not as cool as the rest of us.  We were loitering in the halls, sneaking vending machine purchases that our parents forbade, lest we break the Sabbath day.  She looked like she was about to cry. 

“You guys are so mean!  And especially you two!”  She pointed right at my sister and me.  “You guys are the Pastor’s daughter’s!  You are supposed to be nice!”

My sister and I had just participated in mild bullying only by observation, but with the position of a “Pastor’s Daughter” hanging over our head, the expectation was always much more severe.  We set expectations for behaviors of others, with our own good behavior.  Our lives were looked at as a good example, what other children in the church would be held to.  When we were allowed to get our ears pierced, the rest of the girls showed up their ears pierced.  Our good manners and ability to maturely interact with adults was the bar that the other parents felt pressured to have their children live up to.

I lived in the spotlight.  Every move was judged.  My father stopped in the middle of sermons to correct the way I was sitting in front of the whole congregation.  When we had even mediocre behavior we were judged and talked about endlessly.  When visiting other churches, upon learning my last name, the tone and posture of the conversation would change instantly.  

As a pastor’s daughter, if I wasn’t the female Jesus, church members started throwing stones.  I grew to the point of clinging to a fake perfection, dodging the stones and flashing fake religion.  It was intense.

On the flip side of my experience, when the church had “really bad” visitors stopping by, they were viewed as some sort of hero, for giving God a shot at their lives.  They were met with open arms and forgiveness, and then paraded around for the rest of the world to see how accepting the church was.

I was kicked out of my parent’s home at the age of 18.  I began to visit some churches that were outside of our circle, less strict.  I would get done with my weekend job of stripping, throw some clothes on, and head to church.  Going straight from a strip club into a church service, I was met with open arms.  I transitioned from the highest expectation to the lowest.  No one knew where I was coming from; whether it be from a pastor’s family, or the strip club, but I dressed a bit closer to the later.  I was able to feel the embrace.  

Jesus tell us that He did not come to call the righteous in Luke 5:32.  In some cases the church has taken that to such an extreme that we have abandoned those that silently stumble and struggle right before our eyes.  Recently when meeting with a client, I answered his question of when I was saved.  I told him I was saved at the age of 14.  He chuckled, and then asked me when I fell away.  I then took my turn chuckling and proceeded to answer that question.  This client has no idea of my past, but there is definitely a pattern with the second generation Christians today.  It seems as though  our second generation Christians tolerate the church for as long as they can before rebelling and then hopefully experiencing the grace that scoops them into the arms of Jesus after hitting rock bottom.

What if we started to recognize the abundant grace that is given to those that don’t fall to the wayside?  What kind of grace is more amazing than the grace of a steady walk with the Savior?  How about the grace that keeps you by the Almighty’s side, and does let your foot stumble.  So my friends, as you reach out to the sinners, to the sick, and to the needy, look to those standing right next to you.  Praise God for picking me up from my glaring darkness, and praise God for granting others the grace to avert the darkness.

8 thoughts on “Like a Stripper in Church… Yeah, Just Like It

  1. I think one of the main things pushing people away from the church is when we reach an age where we begin to question the people we grow up being taught to respect. We look at elders from the church who are so focused on how “good” you have to be, and are so busy pointing out how bad everyone out there is. We look in the Bible and see that we are saved by grace. Yes we are called to act in love for our God and love for our neighbors, nowhere in the Bible does it say we are called to be perfect.
    We see the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of some members and sometimes even your pastor or priest, we know it feels wrong and we step back from the church and distance ourselves from the uncomfortable feeling of confronting something we see as wrong especially when we see it from people we have been raised to respect.
    We all sin and such need grace. I’m not saying we get a free pass for making wrong decisions but we can dust ourselves off, say I’ll do better next time, and then say I know I’m not worthy of a relationship with God due to my actions but Jesus told me he’d take the punishment for me. Why would he do that? Because I went to church and sat in the first row? Because I did my devotions and prayers every morning and night? No he did it because he loved us, we don’t deserve nor can we earn it.
    The relationship brought forward through devotions, prayers, and church are our way to say thank you and make sure we do not lose focus of where our salvation comes from.

    1. What is so often referred to as “hypocrisy within,” or “coming from the church,” is more often “neglect by” the church in fulfilling it’s calling.

      In Matthew 28:19-20 and what has been dubbed the “Great Commission;” Christ commands us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus gave this command to the apostles shortly before He ascended into heaven, and it essentially outlines what Jesus expected the apostles, and those who followed them, to do in His absence.

      It is interesting that in the original Greek, the only specific command in Matthew 28:19-20 is “make disciples.” The Great Commission instructs us to make disciples while we are going throughout the world and while we are going about our daily activities. How are we to make disciples? By baptizing them and teaching them all that Jesus commanded. “Make disciples” is the command of the Great Commission. “As you are going,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” are the means by which we fulfill the command to “make disciples.”

      Many understand Acts 1:8 as part of the Great Commission as well, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The Great Commission is enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to be Christ’s witnesses, fulfilling the Great Commission in our cities (Jerusalem), in our states and countries (Judea and Samaria), and anywhere else God sends us (to the ends of the earth).

      Until- and; “make disciples of” those who are suffering, in hospitals, prisons, drug houses, homeless and carrying burdens, they will continue to carry the stigma of hypocrisy.

      All that is needed to confirm is to view our society, adults and children’s’ alike, involvement in gangs, drug, pornography, broken homes. To mention a few.

      May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless and keep you.

      1. Interesting too, you make a good point that we are to “make disciples” as Jesus instructs us to. Throughout Jesus’ time on earth he taught us through His actions what how we should go about almost “mentoring” (for lack of a better term) those that we have discipled. Jesus maintained relationships with His flock as their Shepard. Thank you for commenting, it’s great to have insight from someone who knows the scriptures so well 🙂

      1. I am a pastor of a United Methodist Church and I am greatly impressed by your ability to tell of such a dark history to show off and give glory to the greatness of God’s grace. I also grew up the “Pastor’s Kid” and have been able to relate to a few of your posts. My mother this morning actually asked my opinion on what to do when we try to forget the things of our past. And honestly, I told her that I think about Paul in how he did not forget his past, rather he shared it every time he could because in sharing the darkness of his past, he was able to reveal the glory of God’s grace and forgiveness. Thank you for sharing and I continue to look forward to see where your story goes.

  2. Thank you for reading Rev Joshua! I think of Paul often, “Chief of Sinners.” A lot of us would rather keep silent rather than risk “being judged,” or tell ourselves we are far too sinful to go into the world and preach the gospel. Praise God for His infinite forgiveness, with no human limits!

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