Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Until Death Do Us Part: Experiencing Infidelity

One of the things about our particular sect that I've always admired is the very low divorce rate. When I was younger I thought it was particularity beautiful because I had the illusion that people not only stayed together, but that they had wonderful, healthy, beautiful relationships and unconditional love for each other. As I got older I started to hear more and more about the kinds of things that went on behind the scenes. Abuse, control, neglect, apathy, and.. Infidelity. I began to wonder why these things happen if our faith is so great? If Jesus is walking with us, why does He allow these things to happen? It began to be obvious to me that not all people stayed together because of their love and commitment to each other but perhaps because of the social pressure to do so. If they had such deep love and commitment to each other surely these things wouldn't happen, over and over and over. Yes, forgiveness is important but the Bible also tells us "Let us not love with word or with tongue but with deed and with truth." -John 3:17-18

The following posting is from a person who watched her mother suffer from her fathers repeated infidelity.

"I didn't ask to be raised the way I was. In fact I had no say in any of my childhood that just wasn't the way it was. You did what you were told and you believed what was preached high on the pulpit. It was a sin to question whether the things taught were right or wrong. Questions were not welcome. most of us didn't question anything aloud, silently we battled our doubts and fears and just prayed that we would over come them and move on with our lives. I wasn't much of a person to pray, I didn't really understand how to do it. We didn't pray very much growing up. Every now and then my parents would remember to say the Lord's prayer before tucking us in, but between all the kids and their own personal life that usually slid under the radar. We always made sure we said the gospel daily, however. Blessing each other and forgiving the others sins that had been committed that day so we could go to sleep with a clean slate but never once talking to God. I sometimes wonder if we were just so scared of God we didn't dare to ask him directly for forgiveness in case he would deny us of it, thinking our sins were too great.

Actions however, do speak louder than words. I love you is such an easy thing to say. To actually show it and mean it and live by it well, that's a whole other thing. I remember when I was younger my dad would get home from work and would give my mother a quick kiss as soon as he'd walk through the door, I don't remember if he did it every day but I'd like to think he did. As I got older that stopped happening. Looking back with what I know now, I understand the reluctancy to embrace someone who had become a stranger. My mother never taught me about relationships, never taught me about the importance of things like trust, communication, and all those things that are needed to make a relationship work. I watched my parents interactions and thought that was how it was suppose to be. I knew somehow they had a good marriage because they never fought in front of us kids. Whatever was wrong with their relationship they hid very well. As I grew older, it became incredibly obvious to me that something was amiss.

Once I turned 18 and started experiencing life for my own I took a good hard look at my upbringing and realized I had never actually experienced unconditional love, the kind of love you don't question. I guess I was under the impression that if you are with someone, you love them and you should stay with them no matter what unimaginable thing the other person has done. Because everything is forgivable right? I thought love was about staying together, even when both people were not happy. Have your sins forgiven, don't talk about it anymore. That's the vibe I got from my parents.
When I learned the truth of my fathers infidelity I was crushed,.confused, heart broken and extremely angry. How could he do that? How could my mother let him back into her life? How could he raise us the way we were raised, teaching us of "important things" like avoiding music, movies, and unbelievers while he himself is leading a double life; one of adultery? I felt betrayed and I was disgusted by the hypocrisy. I know he is human and we all fall down and sin, but when that same sin happens more than once well, now its a repeat offense and it gets pretty hard to keep forgiving. Is that really what love is?!? How could he do that, not only once to my mother, but repeatedly, after she had accepted him, and loved him anyway, after a complete betrayal. Is this the kind of love they would want for their children!?

Its not a big surprise then, using my parents relationship as a guideline for my own, that the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with would end up cheating on me: completely shattering my world all over again. I'm not saying I blame my parents for my screwed up relationships, but I am saying they didn't help. It's the only model I had for what a relationship is all about.

I believe they didn't know any better. They married at a very young age without experiencing life before getting married and having children. To hear them give relationship advise would just have been comical. Marriage advise? Please! If my dad is even invited to my wedding, which I've debated many times, there will be no microphone time for him!"

34 comments:

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    1. Anonymous, I am reposting your comment here because I believe you intended to reply to this post, and as comments are added yours gets shuffled down. -M. David

      "And understandably so! Good grief.

      There are consequences for every action. Repeatedly violating your marriage vows results in people not trusting you, including yes, your wife and kids. That is not being "bitter". That is just the way it is.

      The Laestadian brand of forgiveness is a farce. It just gives people license to keep doing wrong over and over again, and they get to use the forgive-and-forget-stick to beat up on anyone who doesn't let the matter drop.

      The example that parents should set is to put each other at the top of the list of people to love and protect and cherish. Not to put them on the ground and trample them because you can get away with it. Doing that will leave scars that last a lifetime, sadly, and there are no do-overs, no going back to try and get it right.

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  2. Maybe I am completely naive, but I dont think this is SUPER common. Yes, marriage is not a bed of roses, but I do believe people are learning to go to others for help and advise in these kinds of situations, and separations are becoming more common, even if we don't belive in DIVORCE.

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    1. No it's probably not super common but it's not ok.

      Galations:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

      14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

      15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

      16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

      17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

      18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

      19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

      20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

      21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

      22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

      23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

      24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

      25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

      26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

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    2. My understanding of this portion is this:
      If we are of the Spirit and we are Christ's, we have crucified the desires of our flesh and no longer wish to fulfill them. We seek the things of the Spirit the greatest of which is love. We desire to show love. By accepting Christ we accept that He has won that battle for us and we no longer have to fight it. We desire to follow Him and allow Him to use us to do His work and show His love. If we have the Spirit, our Light and His love will shine through. We are free to do all things but we no longer want to fulfill the desires of our flesh, which are not to "watch tv, listen to music, wear makeup, ect, ect" but the things of the "flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

      20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

      21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like..."

      Who is more powerful satan or our Lord? Faith does not need to be such a battle if we accept that Christ has already died for our sins.
      If it is such a battle perhaps you do not truly believe and accept that..

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  3. Do you really think things are better "in the world"? There are SOOO many women who stay with husbands/boyfriends who cheat and beat them time and time again! When you love someone you forgive them, anything, no matter what.

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    1. I would argue that if you love someone you do not hurt them over and over and over. Maybe it is not the wife that should seek counsel on how to forgive but the husband on how to stop doing those things. Maybe he should use his God given mind to think about what he is doing instead of just continuing to have no self control. Just a thought.....

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    2. I agree that the wife should not need to forgive over and over, I am just saying that this can easily happen outside of the church, that sometimes it is not just the 'pressure to stay together' that keeps the wife with the husband, but actually that she loves him, even if he doesnt love her, and keeps hoping that things will change

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  4. Yes I do think you are naive. The help and advice you will get from a minister or the board is that the woman is wrong and she needs to suck it up and do whatever it takes to make the man happy. People don't talk about it to everyone they know, so people who are not in the situation don't know. Would you broadcast that to all your friends and family? Maybe you would. But most women in that situation would feel beaten down even more than they were already, and not want to talk about it publicly. If they have a pack of kids, their options are probably limited, specially if they got married right out of high school and don't have a job. What are the choices for a woman like this? a. suck it up. b. leave and live even more on nothing than they already were. what about the kids? if you leave your husband and he stays in the church, who is going to get all the support from the church? He could be the biggest jerk in the world but if he stays in and you go, prepare to be treated like you are the one who screwed up.

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    1. God does not favor men over women, He made us all. But somehow it is the wife's responsibility to make sure the husband is satisfied. It's always the woman's fault, because Eve ate the apple right? So now we are doomed to suffer and take the blame for all kinds of wrong doings. Even though "there is neither Jew nor Greek, nor slave nor free, nor man nor woman for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
      Personally I find the idea of such a spiteful and bitter God quite repulsive and rather human and somehow can't bring myself to have any desire to worship such a God. Seems like such a great God would get over it by now. Certainly doesn't sound like the teachings of Jesus or the new testament.

      John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

      17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

      18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

      19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

      20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

      21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."

      That tells me God loves us and does not want us to suffer. Seems that such a person who would teach that women should suffer has a bone of arrogance pride and maybe hatred and wrath and believes that man is better than women. Doesn't seem very loving.
      Again I will add, Galations 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

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    2. Have you personally gone to the board/minister for help and advice in this kind of situation? If not, then I'd have to say you have no right to make a claim like this. I am not saying that anyone should talk about it with everyone they know, if they are not comfortable talking about it with anyone within the congregation, then they should go to a marriage counsellor. There are many who understand the importance of staying together when possible, and know when to advise that a SEPERATION would be best for everyone. I think a woman seperated from her husband could get a lot of help and support from the church, even if there are still way too many gossipers.

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    3. Uh, yeah, I have personally done this. Are you implying that it doesn't happen that way? Have you personally gone to the board for help in this kind of situation? Because unless you have personally done it, then I'd have to say you have no right to imply things like that.

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    4. I don't want false information out there and the way you had it written implied that it was all hypothetical, I am really sorry to hear that this was not the case- it truely makes my heart feel sad. I, personally, have not experienced infidelity, but have had a lot of help and support from Ministers in other matters.

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  5. If you stay with someone who cheats on you and shows by his actions that he doesn't love YOU, and you stay because you made vows and "love" him, believe me. it doesn't make you right. it makes you miserable.

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  6. I am a victim of infidelity myself. Born and raised laestadian as was my spouse. The church has absolutely no clue as to how to deal with situations of this nature. I never went to one person on the board or a minister about it. They do not have the educational expertise to counsel. When a person goes through something like this, they can actually begin to suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome. I know this because I have it. No board member or lay minister would ever have been able to provide me with the tools to cope. Also the laestadians are know for our gossip circles so I felt safer not breathing a word about it to anyone. I also had friends who had gone to certain speakers for guidance in marital matters and the outcome made the situation worse. The forgiveness of sins is great but it is also a bandaid, hiding the true healing that needs to be done. I really wish the church provided better pre marital counseling on this issue. Everyone is too prude to discuss. It's a very real issue and it happens more than you think.

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    1. I am so sorry you went through this. I am sure it could not have been easy, but I hope that you can find a way to open up to someone you trust and start working through such a tough time. It sounds as if you are still a member of the church, so I really hope you can speak up about this need. How can things change if we do not know what problems are out there? If everyone is afraid to talk about it-nothing will change. You do not need to tell everyone that you are a personal victim in order to get others help and support in this area. I think there are many who feel there is need for more 'sex education' and this could easily be included in that topic.

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  7. Just to clarify if anyone is confused... This is not my personal experience, but someone else's and I do not agree with divorce in 99.9% of situations (can't think of any situation where I would agree but someone else might be able to..) I think a separation is ok and neccesary in many situations. I think it is becoming more common as well, I know several couples that were/are separated.
    I feel there is so much focus on what everyone else is going to think and this idea of being of one mind and one Spirit and doing what "The Mother" wants that the issue of "what would God want us to do" gets put on the back burner. People lose focus of healing wounds because they are so busy trying to cover them up and be like everyone else. Not in just this scenario, but in many, many aspects of our lives. It's not neccessary to confess our entire lives in front of the whole church, but it's neccesary to admit unhealthy situations to ourselves and others involved and to seek necessary treatment for them. I don't think people are doing it intentionally but it tells me something is wrong when the first thought that comes into many people's mind when a situation arises, is "what will people think?" Or they deny it because they don't want it to be true. Living a life like that will prove to be extremely unfulfilling. Is what other people think about us each as individuals or even the way we think about ourselves and our own lives important to God? He sees the truth and He sees our hearts, our intentions, and our minds. We can't hide them from Him, and trying to hide issues from ourselves or others is completely pointless and only serves to infect those wounds. I don't feel God cares about outward conformity or appearances and I don't believe that One Spirit, means mindless conformity, with the exact opinions and lifestyle. I personally believe "one Spirit" means we all love, care about and accept each other, even if we are different. But, I could be wrong...
    If God wanted us to all think the same way, talk the same way, dress the same way, live the same way, ect, ect, then maybe he would have just made us all the same? Faith shouldn't feel like something that goes against God given mind and nature. And I don't mean our flesh, I mean our selves and the essence of who we are as individuals.
    1 Corinthians 12:
    "25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

    26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

    27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."
    The whole chapter is wonderful and I would advise its reading if anyone is inclined.

    Ephesians chapter 4 is great too.
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%204&version=KJV

    Sorry got a little side tracked. :)

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    1. I think you are spot on here. How can we change things so that people are not so worried about what others will think and will seek help when neccesary? I don't think the church ever intended for this to be the mindset and to leave people in suffering!

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    2. I started to reply but it got REALLY long so I decided to post it as a blog on it's own.

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  8. Often in sermons we hear about the faults of the world, and divorce is one fault that is continually brought up as an example of how the world is in comparison to we believers. I struggle with this because I feel its casting other sinners (the world) in a "more sinful than us" light. And that's self-righteous.

    When we get married we vow to love and cherish our spouse before God. We don't promise not to get divorced. Just because we don't get divorced, doesn't mean we haven't broken our vows to God. We are no better in this area, or more moral, than those in the world. There are many relationships in the church where loving and cherishing was left by the wayside years ago, but will never end up in divorce. Not because the couple is following their promise to God, but because the peer pressure of the congregation does not allow it to happen.

    Divorce is merely a legal formalization of this broken promise. The sin of lost love usually happens many years before a divorce, and in the case of Laestadians, rarely ends up in divorce. So divorce or not, the marriage vows are broken and some live many years in this state. But since our church is so focused on external issues that are visible to others, the matter of whats truly going on in the heart can get forgotten.

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    1. We vow to love and to cherish until death do us part. I don't think there is anything wrong with divorce, per say, but rather the remarriage as marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman. Not this man today and that man tomorrow. Unfortunately, our 'church society' has not lost its social stigma of divorce and separation as the rest of the world has, but they are becoming more common, and in time this will change. Yet I think there is also a small reason for this stigma to be there, NOT to scare people into remaining in a harmful situation, but to try to help people understand that just because you don't always see eye to eye with your spouse in some matter, or at some stage of your life, does not mean that you cannot find a way to agree to disagree or compromise or work through this and rediscover your love for that person-yes, this can happen. Sometimes it takes a temporary separation, sometimes it can be found by taking a breather from life and more time for each other, and occasionally it cannot be found at all.

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  9. And that is the crux of the problem with Laestadianism in general. A complete focus on external issues that really have nothing to do with faith, but everyone believes that the external issues do have to do with faith. It is rather just expected conformity to belonging to a particular group, that is erroniously called "faith matters." The LLC has replaced the importance of the congregation over God or the Bible. It has basically replaced God with itself. That is why when people have questions the are told to ask another member or older person, rather than to look to the Bible for answers. That is why when person leaves the LLC, a person is considered that they have left God. Have they really left God when all they have left is membership to the LLC? They have given up faith in an organization, but havn't given up faith in God or the belief that Jesus died for everyones' sins? A person is not even allowed to pray to an all powerful God, who has the power to do anything, for forgiveness, but must ask another LLC member for forgiveness. God and the LLC are not one and the same. The LLC has a term for this position which is basically God..."The Mother." Is this "mother" biblical. Is it at the same level as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? People in the LLC don't realize it, and would deny it when it's pointed out, but for them God and the LLC are basically the same.

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  10. Yes. When asked why we don't do certain things I have heard "because it was decided by The Mother" I just want to take a moment to point out that "The Mother" is made up of entirely human beings. It seems almost like it has become a false God with more authority than His word. We are told "The Mother" is led by the Holy Spirit.

    Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    Just want to point out it says self-control... Not group control. Thinking it's ok for kids do things like tell other people they're unbelievers and are going to hell because they're wearing nail polish, does not sound like any of that. Or calling other people part of the devils army, spawn of satan, telling our own children we can't be close to them because they don't act and think the way we do? That doesn't sound loving, gentle, peaceful, kind does it?
    Judge not lest ye be judged. We cannot know a persons heart so we cannot judge them. God looks at their heart, I don't think he cares about their fingernails. Only God has the authority to judge. It is our job to love. And it's wonderful by the way :) judgement is a heavy and oppressing cross to try to bear. When we realize we only need to worry about loving others as far as our behavior towards them, it's rather incredible! :)

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    1. Does anyone actually think its okay for their kids to tease others in this way, or is it that the kids fall into the sin of feeling better then these other people?? I think many, many mothers rebuke their kids for these kinds of statements and use that same arguement that it is not for us to judge, but for God! I remember being rebuked in this way by my own mother. Wow, so many of you grew up with a very different and hurtful view of what I was taught growing up in this same church. I am no longer a member, but feel I came away with so many values that I cherish today (like kindness for others as it is not my job to judge).

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    2. I have heard parents say "well kids will be kids" or think their child has precious childlike faith and knows the difference between right and wrong when what they are actually doing is judging someone on the way they look. I have heard kids say (not neccesarily in the presense of the person)
      Eww look at that person, and their mother say I know it's gross isn't it, aren't you glad we don't look like that?" Even though the person may not be able to hear you, the child is still going to think its ok to make judgements on other people based on what they look like.
      Someone told me a story about a woman who told them that their 7 year old child came home from school crying hysterically because a girl in her class told her she was an unbeliever and not going to heaven because she was wearing pink hair extensions and nail polish and that those things were sins. The girl who said that went to the same congregation I did.
      There was another story I heard about a girl who was being picked on and left out by other girls at church because she was "weird". She was listening to Justin Beiber. That is not the Spirit of The Lord.

      I don't think Jesus meant "tell everyone else what theyre doing wrong" when He said to be a Light onto the world.

      I don't blame anyone, it's simply become a viscous cycle. Children pay attention to the things their parents say and do and will follow in their footsteps. We all need to think about the kind of example we are being to our children. Actions speak louder than words.

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    3. I was saying the spirit of The Lord is not to leave someone out and be mean to them. I couldn't find any bible text containing Justin Beiber.

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    4. Valid point M. David. I guess I have to admit that I have also heard these types of comments. I agree that I don't think we should feel we have the right to tell everyone what they are doing wrong, but we should be a light by simply being an example of Gods love in the way we lead our own lives. I would agree that in this way we are not doing so, and that yes, it is a vicious cycle that should be stopped. So, my next question is, if we would rebuke someone for saying this, would they defend it?

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    5. I would like to hope not but I am not sure. I wish there was more discussions on things like treating others with love, being a Light and personal faith, instead of talking about topics like movies, music and makeup.

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    6. I agree . There is too much focus on our sinfulness. Yes be aware of it, but to totally focus on that gives room for the enemy to invade our thoughts more. Be the hands and feet of Christ. Love others, help others, tend to the heart issues instead of being so focused on petty non-important issues.

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  11. I don't think that there is total focus on our sinfulness-I think there are friendly reminders that we all fall, no one is better than others, and that thinking you are better because you dont fall into the same sins as everyone else is also harmful. But that is just me, and maybe I just have a personality that doesnt take it to heart as much as some others might. On another note, these "issues" are basically what caused the last heresy, so do you think that maybe we just got stuck in a rut of explaining why we see movies, music,tv etc. as an area that is best avoided, and now that people are becoming aware that it is over-focused things will change? Or is it that, since people are so focused on NOT talking about this, it is misconstrued as they don't understand so it is talked about more and more.....? Just a thought...

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  12. The church needs to let people make those decisions for themselves instead of trying to control everyone. God gave us a conscience for a reason.

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  13. seems refreshing to belong to a place of worship that rejoices in a faith/God rather than focus on control of others

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  14. I guess I will just respectfully agree to disagree as I feel there is a lot of rejoicing done within the church and I simply don't see the focus being on controlling others. I guess I have had a different experience than you have. I'm not trying to say that your experience is wrong, I am just saying that has not been my experience, I have never felt like anyone was trying to control me.

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