A brotherly kiss upon entering the home of his father was expected and therefore that much more a slap in the face when not received. Troy knew he was in trouble when he entered the living room and found every seat occupied by other brethren from the church.
He’d already had a long day in the sun, missed a shower that morning in his haste to get into the field, was hungry and dehydrated. This was the last thing he wanted to endure but found the situation neither unexpected nor unwarranted. What he had done was wrong in God’s eyes on so many levels.
Craig pulled up a straight back chair and grunted for Troy to sit down, which he did.
Their mother, bless her, brought Troy a glass of water and then hurried from the room. He wished he could follow her. He wished he could be anywhere but here.
No one spoke for several long moments as Troy drank heartily of the water his mother had provided, then watched condensation fall in droplets down the sides of the glass, as if the glass had been filled half hour ago and was waiting as impatiently as the brethren.
“Father, I’d like to offer my thoughts, if I could.” Craig was the first to speak. Great. More condemnation and testimony against him. “As Troy’s brother, my duty is to offer admonition and a call to repentance. Troy has shown me through his actions this morning that his heart welcomes the grace and mercy offered by our Lord. I think that should be our first item of discussion this evening.”
Huh? Troy gaped at his brother. This was not what he’d expected. Craig lowered his gaze and pursed his lips.
“How are we to preserve the purity of the church if sin is accepted with the least degree of allowance?” The man who spoke up was Becca’s father, Timothy. He would be naturally angry at Troy for his rejection of his daughter. “In Galatians chapter five Paul teaches that the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit lusts against the flesh. These are contrary to one another.”
“I agree with the apostle,” Troy choked out through his dry mouth. “But if you will hear me out, you’ll find that this was not the case in my situation.”
“Perhaps we should take a moment to hear Troy’s confession before passing judgement,” another of the brethren said with pointed direction at the man most likely to desire swift action against Troy. All eyes turned back to Troy, who cleared his throat and set aside the nearly empty glass of water.
“As I’m sure all of you are aware, I’ve fallen in love with a woman who is not yet of our faith.” Troy emphasized the word yet in hopes the brethren would acknowledge the importance of sharing the gospel with unbelievers and the acceptance of all children of God. “She loves the Lord and is willing to open her heart to his teachings. She’s willing to come to church with me next weekend. I hope that you will all welcome her into the fold. Because in welcoming her, you’re welcoming me. In rejecting her… you’re rejecting me.”
“How so?” Another of the men frowned and folded his arms across his chest.
“I intend to marry Melissa—”
Several of the men gasped. Troy was shocked that any of them hadn’t figured that out yet.
“—and in doing so will be excommunicated and removed from your midst.”
“That’s not what we want for you son,” one man mumbled.
“Nor is that what I want,” Troy said. “I hope that Melissa will join our fold and we can become one. She and I have agreed that we need to spend a little more time getting to know each other’s faiths before marrying in haste.”
“That doesn’t explain why you were seen leaving her bedroom this morning,” Troy’s father said. He hadn’t realized his dad was the angriest man in the room. Of all people, Troy expected his own father would desire that his son be offered grace and forgiveness. Apparently, that was not the case.
“Father, I never entered Melissa’s bedroom. I was in her cousin’s living room and fell asleep on the couch.”
“Was Melissa with you on the couch?”
“Yes,” Troy choked out.
“Did you sleep together?”
“We slept on the couch together, but we were fully clothed. Nothing happened.”
“Were you aroused by her presence?” His father’s anger was increasing rather than diminishing.
“Yes.” Troy’s admission was accompanied by sobs. He rose from his chair and fell to his knees before his father. “I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.” Troy knew every man in that room would recognize the plea spoken of in Luke by the prodigal son and understand the reference. Troy’s heart cried out for mercy and grace.
“Salvation is not obtained through confession.” His father’s words were wrought with emotion. “But your confession is an outward sign of your broken heart and contrite spirit. Are you willing to turn from your wickedness?”
“I am, father.” Troy sat back on his heels and gazed up at his father with hope of forgiveness.
“The Lord said to the woman taken in adultery to go, and sin no more.” He reached for Troy’s hand and Troy grasped on like a lifeline. Then his father lifted his gaze to the brethren in the room. “And the Lord told her accusers that whosoever among them was without sin should be the first to cast a stone.”
As Troy clung to his father’s hand, he marveled at his father’s warning to those who were here to judge that it was time to back down. He felt like a little child laying his head on his father’s lap and wrapping his arms around his waist. He whispered, “Thank you, father.”
His father pushed him away gently. “Uh… Troy?”
“Yeah?” Troy wiped his eyes and found as much grime on his face as tears.
“You need a shower.” His father wrinkled his nose but had a gleam in his eyes.
“I do. I know.” Troy chuckled and wiped his hands on his grubby jeans.
“Go clean up. Your mother saved you a plate from dinner.”
Troy couldn’t help connecting the double meaning in his father’s command, triple meaning really. His sins would be washed away. He was saved and welcomed among the family. The symbolism was not lost on him, and Troy looked forward to the feeling of being clean again.
Book Club Discussion Questions: I did a lot of research in the Mennonite book titled Bible Doctrine and Practice and tried to provide an accurate example of how a young man might be called to repentance. Having never been a young man, or a Mennonite, I pray I've done the process justice. Pun intended?