Lately, I’ve been reading a lot on the internet about pastoral abuse. I’m thankful that people are being told about these insidious secrets that are being kept in the very places we seek to find light.
People need to know the truth, so if it’s happening to them they will know what it looks like and will ask for help.
I wish ten years ago that I’d have read as much as I have now, because maybe I would have made a different choice. Maybe I would have known something was wrong. Maybe I’d have seen the darkness hiding deep inside what I believed was my angel of light.
But I’m trusting even now that as God assured Joseph and what the Michael W. Smith song titled Sovereign so soothingly communicates:
“Even what the enemy means for evil, God will work it for our good, He’ll work it for our good, and for His glory.”
I don’t know if my pastor set out to abuse me. It’s not for me to judge his heart…But no matter what his intentions the results are still the same…it was abusive and our family has been going through a period of darkness that doesn’t seem to end.
Our counselor told us recently that it took an average of five years for victims to overcome abuse by a pastor. I pray we are in the minority and get over it sooner.
Yesterday I went to get our mail and glanced up to see the most beautiful rainbow directly over our house. I was comforted that even in this darkness God is the God who keeps His promises. He has promised to those sheep fed on by their shepherd in Ezekiel 34:27 ESV:
And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the Lord , when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them.
When we came to our quaint small church in a town 30 miles from our home, we were bleeding all over the place from hurts suffered at a church we no longer felt safe at. I was still dealing with a long bout of depression that had started after having twins three years before. A wolf had attacked the flock of our previous church and we were seeking the safety of sound doctrine and a strong leader who was not ignorant of the schemes of our enemy.
Ephesians 6:11-12 ESV
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
We believed when we walked in this new church a fresh start somewhere else would enable us to heal. Interestingly enough the very first sermon on that chilly, December morning in 2004 was from I Timothy.
1 Timothy 5:19-20 ESV
Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.
We didn’t know ten years later, we’d be applying those verses in this very church.
The pastor taught with authority and strength and we were comforted by his words. We decided to visit again the next Sunday. He taught on false doctrine and false teachers. The words from the sermon were used greatly by God to assure our hearts that we’d done the right thing in confronting the lies in our previous church.
We started to believe we’d found a safe church home.
The next week when the pastor called on the phone I started to tell him how helpful his sermon had been to us. The following Thursday night he came to visit us. As my husband and I began to talk to him we saw what looked like concern and compassion. We told him about the nightmare we’d experienced in our previous church, also about family hurts we were still dealing with. He listened and consoled us. We began that night to trust him with our hearts.
Our counselor asked us recently why we gave our hearts away so quickly. I’m still seeking to understand that fully.
A couple of months went by and we joined this church that we believed was our safe haven. We immediately loved the people and they loved us in return.
As we settled in I began to email the pastor to get his advice about some things I was struggling with.
At our previous church, my husband and I had been close friends with a couple who had recently left the faith as a result of confusion brought in by someone in my husband’s family who was teaching things contrary to the Bible. I was struggling and wondering if I’d gotten too close to this couple. The husband in particular who’d recently stopped using drugs had talked to me daily as he struggled with confusion about his newfound faith. I had cared so much for this couple and tried too hard to help them I believed, taking responsibility for their faith, rather than trusting God.
Our new pastor emailed me back and told me he’d often gotten too close with ladies in the church he counseled to the point of calling it an emotional attachment. He said it had never effected his relationship with his wife. I was encouraged by this email that what I’d experienced was ok, even normal, and I began to believe that this pastor was going to be exactly what I needed to overcome my pain. Thus the deception had already begun.
A short while after my email communication with him I had a phone conversation with the pastor. He confessed to me that he had developed a “strong emotional attachment to me.” I remember being so swept away by those words. I believed I was special. We began to talk more often on the phone. It wasn’t long before I began to share with him the details of my childhood sexual abuse.
In the summer of 2005, I was having a terrible day. Summers are hard for me, because I believe that’s when the worst abuse occurred at the hands of my adopted father. I yearned for comfort. I’d thought about my new pastors words over and over again, “I have a strong emotional attachment to you.” I know now there was a huge hole in my heart seeking desperately to find someone to fill it. In the meantime, the evil one was setting up a plan that would cause more pain than our family knew was possible.
On that summer day, I’d been sitting on my bathroom floor in an almost hypnotic state, struggling with glimpses of memory from my adopted father’s abuse that were still mostly suppressed, and thinking about my new pastor’s affection for me. I even thought about how wonderful it’d be to get a hug from him. It seemed providential that my phone rang at that moment. My pastor was on the phone. He was very emotional as he spoke to me. These aren’t his exact words, but they were similar to this:
“I was sitting at the barber shop just a few minutes ago and I saw this father getting his hair cut. His little girl was running around him desiring affection until he finally let her into his lap. God put such a burden on my heart for you and how you didn’t get that when you were little.”
I was amazed at how coincidental this was. I told him I’d been thinking about my adopted father’s abuse and how I’d been thinking about him, too. We talked about him showing me the fatherly affection I yearned for. It was decided in that conversation that I’d drive to the church to meet with him for a counseling session.
I remember being so excited to meet him and headed to the church with the kids. He was going to have his wife keep them in the nursery while we met in his office. He told me it was wise and his normal practice to have another female present as we met for counseling.
The town the church was in was also the town I lived in a large part of growing up. I got to town early and decided to drive the kids around in a couple of old neighborhoods where I once lived. As we drove by the three story brick home in what used to be one the most upscale neighborhoods, painful memories of the little girl who lived in that house haunted me. She’d not felt safe even though she didn’t want for anything. The next house in another neighborhood evoked many of the same feelings of not being safe. I felt lost in a sea of memories as I left those neighborhoods and drove to the church.
The nursery was in the back of the church. I left the kids to play under the supervision of his wife and walked to his tiny office at the other end of the hall. I sat down in a chair in front of him and began to talk about the memories that had surfaced as a result of driving through the neighborhoods. He listened patiently. I don’t remember everything else that was said, but I do remember him looking at me and saying, “A lot of people never get delivered, but I believe God is delivering you.” The words offered me great comfort. I’d been so desperate to escape the pain of my past and I believed wholeheartedly that he would be the one to help me do that. Then I remember him looking at me and saying, “I’ve heard a lot of this that you’ve told me(he was referencing previous phone conversations). What did you come here for? What do you want?”
I knew what he was referencing. He was talking about our conversation about the little girl from the barber shop and the hug he’d talked about giving me.
This part is so incredibly painful for me to write. For so very long I believed this was the moment God used to start a process of healing in me. It was the time I started to believe he was God’s provision for the father I’d always wanted but had never had the opportunity to have.
I told him the reason I’d come here was that I wanted to be loved. I got out of my chair and got down on my knees beside his chair and began to hug him and cry. It seemed that moment would last forever.
My counselor told me this was the behavior of a dissociative adult operating with the mind of a child. Something that is often common in adults who have been abused as children. She said it was his responsibility as a pastor to set appropriate boundaries. What happened next caused me to be totally disoriented and swept away by a flood of emotions.
When I got up to leave he looked at me with tears in his eyes. He said, “I don’t understand this, but I love you.”
This was the kind of relationship I’d been longing for my whole life. I declared that I loved him, too and as I left the church that day everything changed. I was a full blown addict to another human being.
The next day he told me on the phone what happened should have never happened. I can still remember the panic I felt that I might lose what I thought was the most wonderful gift I’d ever received. He told me the moment he hugged me he was so afraid he felt like he’d stepped on a rattlesnake. This confused me since he’d told me right after he loved me. He said he’d confessed his hugging me to his wife and she was angry. She wanted me to see a counselor. I’d never been so confused in my life. He’d told me just the day before that I was going to be delivered. I’d believed he was going to be the one to bring me to that place. He said he didn’t think his wife was right. He believed God had done something, too. He told me that he wished he hadn’t told his wife, but that he’d talk to her about the possibility of counseling me over the phone. He called me the next day telling me she had reluctantly agreed.
The counseling over the phone was a daily event. We worked through a book by Diane Langberg “On the Threshold of Hope.” It is still one of the most difficult books I’ve ever read. There were so many abuse stories that reminded me of my own. He and I would discuss a chapter at a time and spend hours at the time sometimes discussing what we read. More memories of my childhood abuse surfaced and I’d feel paralyzed by them to the point some days my pastor had to talk me out of getting out of the bed to take care of the kids. Besides what I’m dealing with now, it was the worst time of my life.
I’d become totally dependent upon him. I lived for the next phone conversation or the next time I could stop by the church and get another hug from him when I picked up my older son at school. I’d leave the kids in the car right outside the church and go in just to hug him. I still remember leaving the church and him and feeling like I was leaving a piece of myself. It was the worst feeling ever. I’d call him as soon as I left just so it wouldn’t be so hard. I was so afraid of losing what had become a lifeline to me.
As we progressed through the book I remember coming to a part of the book that talked about appropriate boundaries when counseling abuse victims. We talked about that. He told me if I told anyone what we were doing it’d be considered wrong and he could get in a lot of trouble. I didn’t understand this. All I could feel for him was love and appreciation. He told me he believed our relationship was so much more than a counselor/counselee; I’d become a daughter to him and he’d become a father. It was a special relationship and a gift from God. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that this was true. I believed he was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me.
As I write this I feel such a sense of sorrow and pity for the little girl in me who wanted so desperately to be loved in a healthy way. I can honestly say as I look back on that time I know I was very, very sick.
I remember later that summer after having gone through the Diane Langberg book telling him I loved him so much. We were now reading Brennan Manning’s book Abba’s Child. We were still talking on the phone every day. He had voiced to me several times how he wished he could have raised me as his child. He felt such sorrow over the abuse I’d suffered. In my state, I even asked him if he’d consider adopting me. I was 32 at the time. I was irrational, but nonetheless it shows how absolutely much I was enmeshed with him. One of those days when I was talking to him about adoption he said that he wished he could adopt me, but that he also had something to confess to me that he didn’t understand. He said, “I love you with the kind of love that a man would a wife, too.”
I didn’t know how to respond at first. I was confused. I remember a deep sadness and disappointment in my heart, yet I also remembered that early on I’d had sexually tempting thoughts about him.
From what I’m understanding from Dan Allender’s book The Wounded Heart, sexual abuse victims struggle with ambivalence, especially if their abuse was at the hands of a parent. This ambivalence is a result of their body experiencing pleasure during abuse while at the same time knowing in their heart that something just isn’t right. It results in terrible confusion in the mind of an abuse victim and it doesn’t go away until a healing process occurs.
That day ambivalence was in my heart overwhelmingly. I knew it wasn’t right for him to covet me. Yet, I didn’t want to lose him. I knew I wanted him to be my father, but the shame in me said I wanted something more. I told him I understood that and later came to believe myself that I loved him that way too…He began to tell me we shared a heart and that I was his soul mate.
Thus began the long journey of self-contempt, secrets and shame.
In one of our daily phone conversations, he told me the story of how his daughter when she was sixteen asked him could she kiss him on the mouth. His daughter is a unique, gifted and beautiful woman the same age as me. She and I had become close friends quickly that summer. I felt an immediate bond with her from the beginning. One night with tears in her eyes she’d shared with me a letter her Dad had given her in which he’d told her she was his soul mate. It was obvious how much that letter had meant to her. I had been tempted to tell her how her Dad and I were close, too, but I knew she wouldn’t understand the fact that I’d marry him if I could. The ambivalence continued to confuse me. When I was confused I’d talk to him and he’d talk me back to the place where I believed what we had was a special gift from God where we loved one another in unique ways.
Getting back to the kiss, knowing his daughter was sometimes a little different, I didn’t really take the story too seriously. He said he told his daughter she was being ridiculous wanting to do such a thing and told her that she couldn’t kiss him on the mouth. I remember laughing at how silly it all was. But then he used this story of her desire to help me see that sometimes daughters desired that kind of affection from their dad’s. Of course he said he didn’t understand it. At that point, I began to think about kissing him. I wonder now had his story been a subtle suggestion that he knew I’d ruminate over until I started to desire it. It certainly was the start of a pattern in the relationship.
He and my husband had become close friends, too. They were getting together on a regular basis to go fishing. On one Saturday while my husband was getting ready to fish he left me and my pastor alone in the kitchen. My husband believed wholeheartedly that my pastor and I had a unique relationship. He thought of him as a father figure only for me and was grateful for the help he believed I was getting from him. My pastor had started to call my husband his best friend and a trusting relationship between the two of them had been established. So my husband had no problem leaving me alone in the room with him. It was then I asked him about giving him a kiss on the mouth. He acted like he was hesitant, but then he said, “Okay, just once.” It was very quick but I remember feeling totally disoriented and guilty afterwards.
He and my husband went fishing. I was feeling terrible about the kiss. I couldn’t believe I’d do something so horrible to my husband. After be got home I confessed to him what happened.
I don’t think my husband knew what to say when I told him this. Maybe he just thought it was weird. Maybe he just trusted him like I did and refused to see the warning signals. He told me he appreciated me telling him the truth. He made me promise that I’d only relate to my pastor in ways that I would in front of him, my husband. I made that promise and believed I’d keep it.
When I told my pastor that I’d told my husband he wasn’t happy about it, and later on a fishing trip with my husband he reassured him our relationship was just as a father and daughter. He’d continue, as would I, to tell my husband that our relationship was close but not sinful. On one fishing trip he’d shared with my husband how a lady in counseling had acted inappropriately towards him and made sexual advances. Our pastor told my husband that he’d kept appropriate boundaries with her and he would with me. This put my husband’s mind at ease. It also put mind at ease that he would keep the relationship from going places it should not. I didn’t realize it was already way outside of the boundaries of where it should be.
My counselor told me the other day something I’d never heard before. She said there are no more mothers or fathers other than the ones that raised us after we’ve become adults. We are to grow up and leave and cleave to our spouses and to the Lord. I wish I’d met her ten years ago before this all began. I believe things would be very different.
Dan Allender says this in The Wounded Healer:
“Boundaries are an acknowledgment of my finiteness and a gift of mercy to my soul. I am not insensitive to the fact that abuse victims have often lost the ability to set and maintain legitimate boundaries, nor am I opposed to helping them identify boundary violations and strengthen their ability to set limits. The objective behind boundary building, however, will determine whether it is consistent with loving God and others or if it is merely self-centered humanism. The objective must be to bless the other person rather than to make sure we are not abused again. We are to draw a boundary in order to better love the one to whom we are relating. We cannot wholeheartedly give if we live in fear of another. Most boundaries are allowed to be violated because we are afraid to offend or lose the paltry relationship that currently exists. To love is to be more committed to the other than we are to the relationship, to be more concerned about his walk with God than the comfort or benefits of his walk with us.”
“To love is to be more committed to the other than we are to the relationship, to be more concerned about his walk with God than the comfort or benefits of his walk with us…” I so very clearly see this now! If only I’d seen it then.
In the following months of the same year there was another conversation about a kiss. He described kisses with other women he’d had and how he had kissed two different girls on a hay ride once, describing how he’d taken turns on them. He bragged about how he could tie a knot in a cherry stem with his tongue. I laughed at his ridiculousness once again. Then he started to tell me how he wished he could kiss me with a kiss that expressed how much he loved me. After this suggestion, I started to ruminate on this. Pretty soon we were planning when this kiss would take place. Of course once again he said it could only happen once.
The evening before the kiss I remember sitting in the tub anxiously awaiting the next day when he’d give me this kiss. I felt the Holy Spirit declaring loudly inside of me, “NO!”
I knew it wasn’t right. I remember rationalizing it and then thinking that I shouldn’t do it. But the desire for a kiss that revealed how much he loved me was more than I could resist. I lived, ate and breathed this man. I didn’t think I could live without him. It was insanity. It was an addiction and he was my cocaine. I felt I had to have this kiss…after all he’d assured me it’d only be once.
I think about David standing on top of his castle watching the beautiful Bathsheba bathe. This passionate man after God’s own heart was overwhelmed with a desire much the same as mine that day. I used to wonder how David could do such a thing and how God still called him a man after His own heart.
I see clearly now that His love for us isn’t based on our love for Him, but rather His love for us, love despite our selfishness and sin and it’s a love that it’s all about grace…
The next day I met him before a praise team practice in that same small office where he’d hugged me the first day. Once again I got on my knees. The kiss happened and afterwards I felt as if I’d drunk a fifth of whiskey. I can only remember after that people coming in and trying to act as if nothing had happened. I’m sure anyone there could tell I wasn’t myself. I left that day knowing I had to have another kiss.
A friend of mine described his first snort of cocaine. He said it was the biggest rush and he was instantly addicted. This was the case with this kiss.
I’m not going to share any more details after this point. Ephesians says it is shameful to talk about those things done in the dark, but I will say that was the first of many kisses, and the first of many bad decisions that led to such a large amount of guilt and shame that I became even more totally dependent upon my pastor. He was obviously dependent on me, too, because I was hired as his secretary. Now not only was I talking to him on the phone every day, but I was seeing him most days, too. I even became friends with his wife and my husband and I went over on a regular basis to eat supper with them. Over the years, I began to even eat lunch with he and his wife on a more than once a week basis. The enmeshment was wrapped so tight, I couldn’t see it ever being possible to not have my pastor in my life.
My counselor says I’m a verbal processor. I understand now why it absolutely overwhelmed me that I couldn’t tell anyone what I’d done, and why I needed to talk to my pastor so very much about the shame I was feeling that wouldn’t go away. He reminded me over and over again how I wasn’t condemned, but it just didn’t seem to stick. It seemed no matter how much I talked I couldn’t rid myself of the shame and self-contempt.
Dan Allender says about self- contempt:
“The sexually abused person often carries contempt as an antidote to the bite of pleasure. The first stirring of aliveness or passion in contact with another feels like a venom that may take both parties into a destructive spiral of lust or revenge. One woman informed me, “You don’t know what I might do if I were to think that someone really liked me. I’m so afraid that I would do anything, including something immoral, to keep their approval.”
Thus the journey of immorality to keep approval was obvious in my life.
Over the years he’d make suggestions of things he wished he could do and my behavior was consistent each time, I’d start to pursue what he suggested. He would tell his desires. I’d then tell mine. Then I’d be full of desire and he’d tell me we had to stop. I’d get angry. He thought there was an appropriate place to go where it wasn’t sinful. I know now what an absolute crock of crap that was! He always had to be in control and somehow after a failure I always felt it was my fault. I recognize for him control was more important than anything else. He knew if things went too far he lost control. I just wanted to hold onto him any way that I could.
My counselor said his behavior was just more evidence of more abuse and manipulation. When I think back on those times with him they don’t make sense. But I realize sin isn’t rational, nor is abuse. The only thing I can say for sure is Jeremiah 17 is right. The heart is desperately wicked and past my ability to understand.
After every failure there were tears and sorrow and prayers of repentance that we prayed together. Also declarations that it wouldn’t happen again.
I don’t remember exactly when the outward behaviors that brought me such shame stopped. I think it was around 2011 when my husband was almost hospitalized for a nervous breakdown. I was so wrapped up in trying to help him and feeling that somehow my husband knew on a subconscious level about my behavior and this was causing his depression that I knew it had to stop.
My counselor told us just last week than in a marriage we are connected on a spiritual level and in all likelihood what was going on with me was affecting him.
I remembered all the times I’d asked my pastor if it was possible that my husband knew somehow on a subconscious level. He told me that was ridiculous. He reminded me we were forgiven. I believed I was irrational and had a lack of faith.
I didn’t realize that even though the outward sinful behaviors had stopped that there was still an unhealthy emotional codependent relationship between my pastor and I. I tried hard to call it friendship. He said he just wanted to be friends, too, but I see now it was not nor could it ever be just friendship. Friendships aren’t about control, but about enjoying one another’s company.
Our pastor knew about every aspect of our lives. My husband talked to him about our problems. I talked to him about our problems. My husband and I rarely made a decision without asking him. We both were needy and our pastor needed to be needed. As I once heard Beth Moore say our relationship was “an emotional toxic cockatiel.”
When we moved to a new house closer to the church and my husband got away from some unhealthy family relationships, the relationship with my pastor normalized a little. I still talked to him and saw him several days a week at the office, but I wasn’t as needy of him because things were better in our family.
Over the next couple of years the physical aspect of the relationship with my pastor had almost come to a halt with the exception of some hugs and kisses. I really think we’d both reached a place where we didn’t want to go back to that.
Around the summer of 2012, my pastor told me he was retiring. I was devastated. I still believed I needed him every day. I’d tell him I’m too dependent on him. He declared to me one day that he never wanted to hear me say that again. He said I’d be fine without him.
In 2013, when the new pastor came I was so afraid and full of doubt. For the first time in years I wasn’t able to go to my pastor for whatever bothered me. The new pastor was right out of seminary and was sympathetic to my fears that I’m sure he believed were just from learning how to work for someone new.
Over the months of having a healthy relationship with my new pastor, and comparing it to my previous relationship with my former pastor, the scales began to fall off my eyes. Over those months without my former pastor I grew emotionally stronger and able to depend on the Lord more. I began to see the unhealthiness and idolatry in my relationship with my previous pastor, however my husband and I were both still friends with he and his wife and I was friends with his daughter, my kids and his grandkids were friends. I still made it a point to text my former pastor daily. There was still this part of me afraid I couldn’t make it without him. I really believed I’d carry the secrets of our unhealthy relationship to the grave as he’d asked me to promise numerous times.
This year, there was a resolution our church adopted that protected children from sexual abuse. This resolution was read in a staff meeting with my new pastor and our youth intern. I got so emotional during the reading of it that both of these men knew something was wrong and didn’t attempt to counsel me on their own, but rather advised me to see a counselor.
During my first session with my counselor she asked what had happened in my life to cause me to call her. At this point, I’d carried the secret for too, too long. It was a cancer that had eaten away at my soul and I knew I had to tell her to get better.
When she told me the relationship with my former pastor was predatorial and abusive I was shocked and distraught. So much so that I told my new pastor after that first session and I think he was as shocked and distraught as I was. Yet, he assured me he and the Lord still loved me and I was forgiven. Amazingly when my new pastor and myself told my husband he forgave me, too.
This is far from the rest of the story. As a matter of fact, I’m quite sure this is just the beginning of a new story of grace and restoration that the Lord is writing for me and my family. However, I’d be a fool to say it hasn’t been the most painful thing I’ve ever been through.
Bringing the truth out into the light delivered me from years of darkness and deception, so truly I’ve experienced a major deliverance, but it certainly didn’t come from the secrets in my former relationship with my pastor as I believed for so long that it would.
If there is one thing I have learned in all of this it’s there is no good that comes from the things we hide or the relationships that we believe have to be kept in the dark. Those little deceptions we allow our loved ones to believe about us, those little white lies we tell each other that we believe make everything easier, are only the pathways to larger deceptions and the slavery of sin. Nasty things like mold and mildew and fungus’ grow in the dark. A friend of mine heard on tv the other day that monsters live in the dark. She wrote it on a sticky note and showed it to me. I knew only too well about those monsters.
Beautiful healthy things grow in the light. Integrity is being the same on the inside as it is on the outside. Courage is the ability just to be able to be honest. These are the qualities I hope to grow in as I begin to live my life in the light.
Someone told me the other day that in calling my relationship with my former pastor an abusive relationship that I was shirking responsibility. I hope that guy never really screws up in his life. Can I just say this? If I wanted to shirk responsibility I never would have told the truth. If it wasn’t abuse when I went to my pastor for help and he didn’t keep the proper boundaries, then what was it? I’m not going to defend myself. I’m forgiven. Jesus is the only defense I need.
Paul’s admonishment to the Ephesians sum up my story so well. In this light there is pain, but there is also beauty I couldn’t see before. As Glennon Melton says in her video on vulnerability (http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NHHPNMIK-fY) life is brutal and life is beautiful…she called it “brutaful.” But if you don’t live in the light, you’ll never get to see it. Just know it’s never too late to start by simply telling the truth. It has indeed set me free.
Ephesians 5:1-14 ESV
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”