In my last post, I indicated I thought my only real course of action is to leave "exclusive brethren". But since that post, there have been a few interesting developments...
First, my wife emailed a friend in the assembly, to give a heads-up that we're leaving. That was yesterday morning. Yesterday afternoon, her husband stopped by the office where I work (I'm a contractor, not an employee, but I work pretty consistently in this office). I assumed he had come in response to the email, but he hadn't talked to his wife about it: he had not even heard about it. Turns out he had been sent out to the company to make a sales call (they had been a customer of his at some point), and figured he'd say "hi" when he was here. Well, we had a good talk, and he told me some news about some discussions I had missed this week.
Second, I got a call last night from an older brother in the meeting. He hadn't heard we were planning on leaving, but he hadn't seen us in a couple weeks, and was calling to check on us. I told him what was going on, and we ended up talking pretty close to an hour. Of all the discussions I've had with people about perhaps leaving, this one was the best. It's been a long time since I heard anyone say "Yes, that is a real problem" without adding "But there's weakness everywhere". This might have been the first time someone was open with me about trouble in "brethren", with no excuses, no accusations, and no arrogance. And no, he didn't try to talk me into staying, but he did pray with me and assure me of his continued prayers.
Third, this morning I checked my email and had a stack of messages from a friend I highly respect; a couple of them specifically asking me to reconsider leaving. This is not a friend here in this state, but a friend intimately familiar with the "brethren", and one with whom I have been corresponding via email for a few years now. He's been reading my blog (hey, bro!) and wanted to pass that caution along.
Fourth (actually, first), someone I have never spoken to before called me two weeks ago, discussing assembly issues with me. This brother is not in "brethren", but we emailed a few years back. We discussed my situation, because he came out of a bona-fide cult. That was a worse situation than I've ever faced, although not much worse than where some "brethren" have ended up.
So the question is, what to do now? I've discussed concerns with a few people in the meeting; and I've blogged about my concerns. Anyone who's actually been reading this blog has a pretty good idea what my concerns are. But at the end of the day, a couple things were said yesterday that makes me wonder whether leaving is my only option.
I'm impressed by two things at this point: first, at least a couple people have tried to talk to me this week just because they haven't seen me at the meetings in a couple weeks. This is the first real attempt at checking up on us I remember in a long time. That's a positive sign. Second, the conversations that have "arrested me" so to speak were not in any way sectarian. I've heard a lot of nonsense reasons to stay, but over the last two days, I've had some actually helpful discussions. I've been waiting, hoping for some of that for months.
It looks like I have a lot to pray about.