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The Christian rock band & tithing

Barren trees in winter sun

During the early 80’s, and I was living in Calgary, Alberta. I was married, and it was rocky, but we were still going to church each Sunday.
My husband played drums, and he’d joined a Christian rock band. I didn’t think they were talented, though I never let my opinion be known. My husband seemed happy, and I didn’t feel there was any harm in his activity.
I hoped his new peers would be a good influence. With his previous band, he did not make me welcome at their rehearsals; the few times I was invited, it was at the behest of the other wives or girlfriends.
I wasn’t impressed with my husband when I had surgery on my right foot. I had broken the foot years earlier, and I had gone to a surgeon begging for help. I was in my 20’s, and after walking a mere few blocks, I was forced to sit on the curb in tears. The pain was that intense.
On the day I was released from the hospital my husband came with one of his Christian rock band members to give me a ride home. My husband told me he and his buddy were going horseback riding. I said I was hungry, as the hospital had given me breakfast but no lunch because the doctor had scheduled me for release. I asked him to make me a sandwich, and he flatly refused to say he wasn’t going to be late for his plans.
His buddy looked down at his feet in shame, I presume? In pain, I hopped on one foot into the kitchen to make a sandwich. The two of them went out the door and watching them leave I noticed something bizarre. My two budgies had wholly changed colours! How could that be I’d wondered? Now is not the time to tell the budgie story.
Meanwhile, going to church gave me hope our marriage could improve and the ‘until death do us part’ stuff would be a reality. More importantly, I was the mom of a three-year-old who was living in the southern United States with his birth father. The church gave me a place to pray for my son to come home.
My son’s dad had never really been a part of our lives – to the point once the child was born he denied being the father. Learning we were planning to move out west he had asked for a three-week visit with his son. I didn’t like the idea, but it did seem logical my husband, and I would have that time to find an apartment and ready the home for my son. Three weeks passed, and my son’s father told me he was not giving my baby back to me.
I was devastated. A few years later I regained custody of my son. Back then there were no agreements between Canada and the United States concerning child custody. To make matters worse, I hadn’t been advised to go to court to gain legal custody of my child. I had no idea that was a requirement – nobody had even mentioned such a thing.
Not having legal custody meant the child could live with either parent. I was in that proverbial boat without a paddle. Shattered on so many levels, going to church was the only hope I had. Surely my faith in God would ultimately make it all better.
It was Mother’s Day, and the minister called all mothers to stand and be acknowledged. I stood and was shocked to see the many stares of disbelief from the minister and his congregation. I was shaking from their condemnations and wanted to sit (in fact my husband was whispering to me that I should stop embarrassing him and sit down), but I knew God wanted me to stand proudly before him.
Later that week a young mother from our church confronted me in the mall. She told me I had no right to call myself a mother if I didn’t have my son at home with me. I was furious and loudly and angrily told her she was a clueless busybody. I went on to say to her it wasn’t my fault my son’s father had stolen my child from me, and she was downright sinful to accuse me falsely. A small crowd had formed, and I wasn’t ashamed by the horrible intense redness of shame that overcame her entire face. I worked in that mall and suddenly was overtaken with a fear that my boss would learn of my outburst and fire me.
The sound of a single person clapping hard diverted me from my thoughts. A man in a business suit was the person clapping and when he saw he had my attention said to me “Good for you. Whether father or mother, when someone takes away our rights to our children it does not diminish our roles as parents.” That man knew my pain. He was like an angel to me at that moment when I needed the support. The young woman scurried away in her shame, and I went to work not caring one way or another if my boss would fire me.
We continued going to church, and I continued to drop our weekly envelope of precisely 10% of the earnings from my job and that of my husband. He wasn’t happy I was insistent on paying our 10% tithe, but I was determined. I’d read the expectation of God in the Bible, and I would be doing my part. The Bible also convinced me my husband didn’t need to believe – it was important I found God, and this saved both of us!
A few weeks after the confrontation in the mall the minister focused his sermon on the sin of failure of those to offer their 10% tithe. Throughout his lecture, I felt the minister’s eyes alighting on my husband and I. My husband squirmed in his seat as many eyes of the congregation stared at us – proclaiming us as guilty! Only my husband had known I had been, anonymously and faithfully, dropping into the collection basket an unmarked envelope. My husband argued with me that I should at least put our names on it so the minister would know we had been faithful after all. Besides, he said, we could use the benefit of the tax receipt. I had argued in the days of Jesus there were no tax receipts. Moreover, as the collection plate had already taken our weekly envelope, there was nothing I could do.
The next week and for the weeks we continued to attend that church I never again dropped in an unmarked envelope or any other envelope. I wondered if the minister noticed the drop in his income and my husband scolded me each week for having a “bad attitude.” My position was this man had centred us out in his church. He and his faithful flock had condemned with their eyes. I didn’t care what they thought of us now.
© Zora Zebic 2015

2 thoughts on “The Christian rock band & tithing

  1. Wonder if the minister ever figured out the connection between the missing envelope and you?

    1. He never said anything to me. If he said something to my ex I wasn’t told.