Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gospel Stew | letter from a new Christian

Dear Gospel Stew, 
I am a new convert with a question I am embarrassed to ask in my local fellowship. I hope you will assist me. 
From the very start, I couldn't help noticing the stares as my family entered the worship center. We usually sit toward the front, on the side away from the lead guitarist, which is generally the only area with a block of seats large enough for us to sit together (we could arrive earlier and get seats at the back, but I confess that getting 23 of us out the door on time is a Sunday morning challenge). 
At first I thought perhaps people noticed us because of the way we dressed—we love the beautiful fabrics of our traditional garments—so I took the whole lot on a shopping trip to dress us more like the other worshipers. This may have helped a little, but I still catch people staring. "I must be missing something!" I thought. But what? 
I may have just found a clue. A few days ago, an angry comment to an internet post (I believe I am correct that anger is signified by CAPITAL LETTERS and EXTRA PUNCTUATION!! Right?) Anyway, this commenter said, "THE BIBLE IS PERFECTLY CLEAR ABOUT MARRIAGE!!! contrary to what THE KENYAN says!!!" 
"Ah..." I thought. I know some Kenyans (they seem like decent folk but I am learning that sometimes appearances deceive—which raises a question for a different time, because I am unclear about which times appearances deceive and which times they may be taken at face value...I have so much to learn as a Christian). 
In any event, what this commenter made PERFECTLY CLEAR(!!) in the course of two or three paragraphs—though it causes me considerable pain—may hold the key to unlocking my dilemma. 
So, to the question: Now that I am a Christian, how many of my wives must I divorce? All but one? If so, which one may remain? And how must I deal with the divorced wives? Must they be put out of the household entirely and all at once? And what of the children? Must they be sent away? 
The internet commenter really caught my attention with the words, HOW CAN YOU CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN WHEN YOU IGNORE THE CLEAR COMMANDS OF GOD'S WORD!!! I am very new to all this and there is much of God's Word that I have yet to read. Perhaps the commenter is right: perhaps it is too soon to call myself a Christian. 
As you can probably tell, I find all this a bit overwhelming. I love my family with my whole heart, each and every one of them, but I am learning to love the God of Jesus Christ even more. And I am trusting that One to give me wisdom—through you, I hope.  
Awaiting your reply, I am, 
sincerely yours

p.s. I would also appreciate your insight on how to approach my parents, who arranged these marriages with great care and will almost certainly be dishonored unless I find a way forward that is both thoroughly biblical and "just right" in showing respect for the ones who bore me into this world and sustained me to adulthood.

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