I served for many years as a Pastor in eastern Appalachia. One thing I became most familiar with is that people there can be very passionate about a lot of things. I had been helping a family who had been experiencing marital conflict and a third wheel had been added into the mix. One of the spouses had added a lover into the fray and it was coming to a head. I had driven out to the couple’s old home in hopes that somehow the relationship could be reconciled. The coal pot belly stove kept the place warm as they talked and shared hurts and frustrations that resulted in their present estrangement.
The spouse who had been unfaithful was perplexed. The illicit relationship filled the emotional hole in the unfaithful spouse, but the spiritual side of the estranged spouse knew the relationship could not be sanctioned of God. The husband and wife professed they wanted to work it out so they decided to take a trip to iron out their differences. It then fell upon me to address the lover and tell of these new developments. I chose a central location for us both and as we sat down to talk, I told the individual that my role as a Pastor was to reconcile families not to help tear them apart. I offered, since it was the Thanksgiving holiday, to put the person in a hotel room in order to give the couple the necessary means to pack up and go without added stress and anxiety.
As I sat on the bed in the hotel room, I chose my words carefully. I shared with the lover what God’s ideals and expectations were for marriage. I said, the vows they took stated, “What God brought together, let NO MAN tear apart.” I urged the individual not to incur the disfavor of God by trying too break the marriage. As I prepared to leave, a cloudiness of reason overtook the individual and an anger showed visibly on their countenance. Shaking a finger at me clearly to intimidate me the heartbroken individual stated, “No one will come between us. If they do,” the rest was unintelligible as their voice trailed off.
The warning was clear. A sufferer of Post Traumatic Stress from military service, the individual feared nothing except separation from their chosen “love.” I offered a quick prayer and made my way home. The state of mind I left the individual in, I prayed God would soften their anger. As I lay awake that night, I wrestled with the individuals state of mind. Now that the couple was away working on their relationship, what anger would be manifest in the jilted lover?
Kentucky law is unique. Early on in the Commonwealth’s history, lawmakers had made provision in the law that preachers could carry a weapon to church. The reasoning was based on the frequency of robbers lurking about. They didn’t want offering plates to be easy pickins. Even biblical precedent came to mind from the Bible in Nehemiah 4, when the children of Israel were admonished to keep their weapons at their sides while rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem due to a frequent lurking enemy.
So for the first and only time in my life, I came armed to church. Prior to the service, I gathered my leadership team together and told them to be on the lookout for this individual. Alarmed, they proceeded to tell me that the one person who always carried a weapon was not in attendance today. I allayed their fears then alarmed them anew, when I pulled my revolver out of my pocket. Wide-eyed they asked, “Have you ever used it before?” To which I replied with a wink, “Only at an occasional board meeting.”
I’m glad to say the church service commenced without incident. I never did see the individual again. However I did garner one thing that day that was unforeseen; I never did have any problems at any future board meetings again. I can’t figure out why?