by Tamara Schmerse
Part 3 of 17
I had always remembered something my mother had said when I was younger, about her only regret was not sending me to Sunday School like she had done, because I had never learnt the “fear of God”. So I figured, especially since my parents and I had been estranged for almost two years when I ran away at 16, that me becoming involved in a Church would be welcome news to her. Imagine my surprise then, when the news of my upcoming baptism, was met with screams of horror.
“But Tamara, we are NOT Baptists!”
she kept repeating, as if I was telling her I wanted to join a bikie gang or underworld crime syndicate. She pronounced the word like it hurt her tongue. It felt like becoming a “Baptist” was the lowest, most embarrassing thing I could do to my family. Needless to say, neither of my parents attended my baptism, which hurt me a great deal, and confused me even more.
Especially since my Bible college classes were teaching me, among other things, that we indeed were NOT “Baptists”, that there was no such thing as a Baptist, that we were all “Christians”, no matter which Church we attended. If we believed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we were saved. That was it.
Genevieve’s mother was my teacher for the first two years, and then in my third year I was given to a different lady, so that the new crop of Young Christians could go through the same course I went through.
This was where my fairytale view of the Church started to slowly unravel. The first thing, let’s call her Mrs Williams, felt the need to teach me, was that everything Mrs Taylor had taught me was wrong. It was all her opinion, you see. She had been saved in a Pentecostal Church, and that tended to taint her view of things a little.
So Mrs Williams proceeded to teach me a different spin on the texts that were sent down from Sydney.
The first such difference that came up was on the subject of Creation Science. While Mrs Taylor used a great deal of material from Answers In Genesis in her classes, Mrs Williams thought the whole thing was “silly” and shouldn’t be focused on.
“No one has ever been saved by Creation Science”
she said on more than one occasion,
“and no one ever will be.”
I stopped short of telling her that I had been saved by Creation Science, and from what I had seen outside the church, the concept of Creation Science would open a great many eyes indeed to the concept of the existence of God.
The first time I began to doubt the wisdom of my second teacher was when we came to the subject of sex. Mrs Taylor had always been frank and open in her classes on this subject. But Mrs Williams, a significantly older lady, would only lend me a book that gave a very flowery and delicate treatment of the subject (forgive me I cannot remember the name, I only remember that I had never seen anything that skirted around a subject so much without actually saying anything about it), and then ask me if I had any questions, which of course I didn’t, and that was it: subject closed. The part that stuck in my mind was after I handed her the book back. She looked at the cover for a second, and then mentioned that maybe she will put the book on her 18 year old daughter’s bed that day, so that she could read it when she got home from school. She was old enough now to start learning about that part of life. I could only clamp my mouth shut and look at her incredulously – did she really think an 18 year old girl who had gone to a public school didn’t know anything about sex??
And then the first time I started to notice the “imperfections” in my teacher was when I realised she had a plank in her eye, which was only brought to my attention by her constant chatter about the specks in others’ eyes. She was a gossip. You would walk into her house, and before you even had a chance to sit down you would hear all the latest private information on every member of our small church. She was always quick to criticise others, and it only became apparent to me after she had caused me to doubt the salvation of almost every person I knew there.
From that point on, I almost began to doubt hers.
So my vision of the church as being the perfect place where everyone was good and honest and I would be safe from all life’s problems was beginning to crumble around me. And that wasn’t the only thing crumbling – my marriage was going through a very difficult time, and my enthusiasm for the church, not to mention the mixed lessons I was learning there, were only making it harder.
Part 4 can be read by clicking HERE.