Sue and Tom had to move to a new city because of Sue’s job (Tom’s job was flexible allowing him to transfer as well). They had no friends or family in the area and knew no one. They researched a mid-sized church in their new community, The King Jesus Tabernacle, and discovering it held to many of the same biblical convictions as they did, Sue and Tom decided to give it a shot.
At their first Sunday they fell in love immediately. The worship portion of the service was a mixture of contemporary music with a hint of liturgical flavor. The sermon was casual, almost conversational, but thoroughly biblical. The people were friendly, but not over the top.
During the meet-and-greet after the sermon Sue and Tom met another young couple, approximately the same age, named Fran and Ed. Ed was an Internet consultant and Fran was a nurse. The two couples had many things in common. Theologically they seemed to agree on most things and were able to laugh off the things they didn’t agree on. They began to do couple-dates every Thursday. Sue and Fran would often go shopping or get their haircut together while Tom and Ed would have fun debating people they didn’t know on the internet, always in light jocularity. Sue and Tom found their new friends, Fran and Ed, so inspiring, so humble and so in love that they began to view them not just as friends, but roll models. They began to model their own marriage after Fran and Ed’s, looking up to them and watching closely to see how they handled difficulties that would come into their lives.
This friendship was to develop and grow for almost two years until in one swift moment all of that was about to change.
After dinner one Thursday evening when it was the men’s turn to do up the dishes and clean the kitchen (a rotating pattern that was established six months before by Ed’s suggestion), Fran had made a casual comment in passing, while her and Sue were sipping on decaf coffee in the living room, about how much she appreciates her husband’s spiritual leadership.
Sue almost spilt her coffee. “You mean spiritual partnership?”
“Well, that too, of course,” said Fran.
“Too?” asked Sue. “There’s nothing ‘too’ about it!”
Fran could see that she had somehow offended Sue, so she tried to change the subject, but Sue just wouldn’t let it go.
Just then the men had returned from the kitchen and asked what they were discussing. “Fran thinks Ed is her ‘spiritual head,’” quibbled Sue, effectively summarizing their discussion so far.
“You know that’s not true, don’t you Ed?” asked Tom.
Ed tried to explain that the Bible seems to indicate that God will hold husbands spiritually responsible for the spiritual condition of his family. Tom was baffled and tried to explain to Ed that such ways of thinking are archaic, patriarchal, and oppressive and against the message of Christ. When Ed asked Tom if he and Sue could honestly and in good conscience say that those adjectives characterize his marriage with Fran, the conversation came to an awkward end followed by a period of awkwardness accompanied by an awkward good bye.
On the car drive home Sue turns to Tom and huffs, “I can’t believe that! Did you see that coming, because I sure didn’t? He’s oppressive and she’s brainwashed!”
Things were never the same after that. For the next few Sunday’s both couples cordially greeted each other, but it never went beyond that. A few times dinner invitations were extended to Sue and Tom, but schedules seemed to never align. Thursday’s were suddenly otherwise occupied. Fran and Ed prayed that their relationship with Sue and Tom would be restored, but it would never happen. Sue and Tom could never look at Fran and Ed again without imagines of abuse and oppression and suppression burning up in their guts and behind their eyeballs.
The sad part is, for all intents and purposes nothing actually changed.
And yet somehow, everything changed.