On April 23, 1983 Sharon and I were married. Besides being a beautiful, Christian young lady, she was the perfect pastor's wife. She could type, sing and play the piano! One of the best magazine cartoons I've seen, shows a woman pastor being interviewed by a pulpit committee. They ask her, "so does your husband play the piano?" I know there have been many times that Sharon wishes she didn't play the piano, because for many years she was never able to worship like everybody else, but always had things to do. I accept that as coming with the territory as a pastor, but I realize she wasn't called to be a pastor, she just married one. She has been a huge part of my ministry, while being a godly wife and mother.
Poor Sharon, I am not a romantic. I didn't consult her about her style of engagement ring, I didn't propose to her during a candlelight dinner. I did every thing wrong. I didn't have any money saved up for a real honeymoon. God has blessed us with two fine sons-in-law. They did everything right. Picked the perfect rings, asked my permission first and then surprised my daughters with romantic proposals. It was all very nice and memorable. I was a dope. We never did have a real honeymoon and the 25th anniversary cruise we talked about taking for years still hasn't happened. I am amazed at how quickly time flies.
We had about 600 people at our wedding. Our church was in the midst of a church-wide campaign called, "Please Him" taken from John 8:29. In our wedding pictures there is this large banner above our heads that reads, "Please Him." She always has. When Sharon went back to work after the wedding and showed the wedding pictures to her unchurched co-workers, they thought the banner was part of the wedding decorations. Everything they thought about fundamentalism was true after all.
On Sunday mornings the pastoral staff had to wear suits, ties and white shirts. But dress codes didn't just apply to us men. The wives of the pastors had a dress code too. Ours just applied to church time, the wives was 24/7. Well, thankfully not at bedtime. Pantyhose had to be worn to all church functions, including 4th of July picnics. Sharon had graduated from the church's school so she was used to wearing culottes and no slacks, but dressing up every time you're in public was a chore. Yes, we still believe in modesty.
This is a good time to clarify something. I don't regret my time spent on the staff at my home church. I will be eternally grateful that my pastor hired a 21 year old kid, that he overlooked my blunders. I learned a lot. My pastor was my mentor. We have a good relationship. He taught me a lot about leadership. He taught me to have a high work ethic (as did my dad) and regular office hours. He taught me to have a love for missions and a heart for missionaries. He taught me to have compassion on the sick and elderly. I am who I am today because of my time spent there. I am a pastor because of him. I believe I am the logical outcome of what I was taught. I was taught to love the Word of God. I was taught that the Bible is to be the final standard. I was taught to be an independent thinker. I am all of those, but being that has led me to see things differently. My love for the Word prevents me from preaching man's opinion as if it is gospel truth. It keeps me from holding to the IFB party line. I am not an Independent Fundamental Baptist anymore. I do not want to be in that movement. However, I am as independent, fundamental and baptistic has ever, in fact maybe more so. I know what the fundamentals of our faith are, and they have nothing to do with clothing or hair or music styles, or Bible versions. I am independent enough to stand on what I know the Bible teaches while others who should know better refuse to speak up. I know that Baptists historically were Calvinists.
My time at my home church prepared me to make decisions later in life that changed me. I don't regret that. Later, I will detail how becoming a pastor forced me to confront some of things I was taught to hold dear. I will explain what and why I changed.