Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Advising a Letter Writer

posted by xscot mcknight

I have asked for permission from this person to make his [adjusted] letter to me public. Think about it and see what you think is best. What would you tell this person?
Dear Scot,
I have been reading your blog for some time now and want to thank you for it. My wife loves your stuff about women in ministry and asked me to say that to you. Please pray with me as you read the following letter; if moved, please offer any advice you might seem appropriate.
My daughter, a Christian woman married to a wonderful Christian man (William), had an affair with another Christian man. It lasted only two weeks, but they conceived a child. She immediately knew it was wrong, confessed her sin to her husband, to us (her parents) and to our church. Geoffrey, the man with whom she had an affair, was married at the time to Claire who was a teacher at our local Lutheran junior high school.
Now that our grandson, Marcus, is four, my daughter (her name is Rebecca) wants to send him to the Lutheran school but Claire has worked hard with the teachers and supervisors to prevent Marcus from attending that school since every time she sees him she struggles with her husband’s sin and our daughter’s infidelity. The school had promised Rebecca that Marcus would be welcome, but just recently they told Rebecca and William that Marcus could not attend the school. The teachers believe it would just be better if Rebecca and William sent Marcus to the public schools, but we are Lutherans and we believe firmly in a Christian education. Furthermore, we have supported our Lutheran school financially for nearly thirty years. We sent our three kids to this school.
More importantly, both Rebecca and William have been through lots of therapy and William, due to a miracle of God’s gracious power to create forgiveness, has forgiven Rebecca and now Marcus is the pride of his life (and Rebecca’s too). They want so badly to send their son to a Lutheran school.
What do you think we should do? My wife and I so want Marcus to attend our Lutheran school but we are not sure what to do. If we make it a big deal, it will just get everyone all bent out of shape. If we don’t do anything, Marcus will have to go to a public school. (I think you said your father was a public school teacher — so don’t hold it against us for our commitment to Lutheran schools.)
Maybe this is what most comes to mind: Don’t you think a Christian school should work a little harder with Claire at forgiveness? She has clearly forgiven Geoffrey (who used to work for us). Don’t you think this would be a great opportunity for the school to welcome this little boy and show the whole community what it is like to embrace in God’s forgiving, restoring, and recreating grace? Well, I sure do.
I know you must receive letters like this all the time, but if you have time to respond our family up here in the northwoods will be grateful.
We just don’t know what to do. Our pastor thinks the teachers have to be given consideration.
In the peace of Christ,
Blaine Hargrove



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Jenny

posted May 9, 2007 at 4:51 am


Yikes, this is a delicate and difficult situation. While Mr. Hargrove gave a pretty good background on the situation there is information missing that might give better insight as to why Claire is not comfortable with having this little boy in the school. (Has she gone on to have children with her own husband that will be attending this school too for example) It seems like there is space to approach Claire privately and make an appeal for her to have a change of heart. If her heart, and the school’s, cannot be changed, perhaps the Hargrove family will have an opportunity to extend God’s grace and forgiveness, living in hopeful expectation of the good that God has in store for Marcus in a place where they haven’t expected to receive it.



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Nick

posted May 9, 2007 at 5:07 am


I don’t know what I would anser the person, but I know, that if I myself was in Claire’s shoes, I would feel exactly the same as her. Often, it’s easy to tell other to forgive and judge them if they do not meet our standards of forgiveness. Approaching Claire with that attitude is definitly not the answer. Maybe Claire instinctly knows, that being around Marcus will bring back old bitterness to her? Also, forgiveness or not, sin (espcially adultery) has consequences – just ask King David.



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Kyle

posted May 9, 2007 at 5:53 am


It sounds like Claire needs to take a teaching job somewhere else, or work out her bitterness with her husband rather than the parents of her husband’s son. I have to wonder about the wisdom of letting everyone in the community know this poor little boy’s lineage.
And let’s be real – if this family really is a group of faithful donors, I’m shocked that Claire is still teaching there.



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saint

posted May 9, 2007 at 6:13 am


Ouch. Difficult. I appreciate the Hargrove’s concern for their daughter and grandson, but ultimately it is Marcus’ parents who have to make the call – in the best interests of Marcus (and we don’t know if he knows or will know his parentage…or if he will risk finding out on the grapevine etc etc) and their marriage, not to mention the impact on others like the teacher.
I sense that the Hargrove’s feel it is the school’s duty to succumb to their wishes because of their support and their family tradition…but we don’t know if their daughter or son-in-law think in the same way.
My (blunt Aussie) advice?
In the end the grandparents will have to butt out – better to do it by choice rather than circumstance.
Pray instead that both sets of parents and the school will have the wisdom to make the right call. And even if Marcus ends up in a public school that’s not to say he won’t be able to attend a Lutheran school in the future, or if he attends now, might have to leave later. Someone might move, get promoted, whatever.
Also,just because someone goes to a Christian school does not absolve parents (much less others in one’s extended family like the grandparents) from the responsibility of raising their child in the Way. Lots of us survive public school and even loved it.



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Burly

posted May 9, 2007 at 6:34 am


Super complicated. With the obvious being stated, I would say that I would personally not expect the Lutheran School to play the role of church in calling Claire to forgive. Perhaps they should have a role, but should not be expected to function as a church in this matter. In addition, I don’t think the 30 years of support should come with strings attached. I think what I’ve written so far is being kind of hard on the writer of this letter. Not my intention as he has been hurt by sin as the rest of his family has, and I don’t want to pretend my insight will solve anything. As there are at least three sides to every story, I am not comfortable saying anything more.



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Diane

posted May 9, 2007 at 7:13 am


Schools close ranks. Even Christian schools will play favorites. I would hate for the grandson to be subtly discriminated against or resented at the school for causing Claire problems or for coming from a family the school now perceives as a pain in the butt.
Christian schools are run by the same flawed humans as public schools. I personally wouldn’t make an idol of a Lutheran (or any other private) school. I have met many Christians who pour their hearts out as public school teachers because that is where God has called them to be. It is not: Public school bad, Christian school good, per se. There is no garden of Eden in this fallen world.
The grandson’s family seems to want to impose their money and will to have life go according to their preconceived plan. I do too and sympathize with disappointment. However, sometimes life doesn’t go according to plan, and it is at the point that we give up our plan to God that God reaches in to bless our lives. Go with his plan. Personally, as a Christian, I would back off and send the child to public school as this practices turning the other cheek, models submission and trusts God, not an institution. I would see public schools as where God has called the family to be. I would trust that if God really wants the child at Lutheran school, the way will open, and it will be from a place of forgiveness and grace. Maybe if Claire sees humility and submission in the family, she will forgive and welcome the child, and it will no longer be a win/lose scenario.
Too often, as we’ve discussed on this blog, families are all about “my child only and the rest of the world can go to hell.” Maybe this family can see their child and their family as a blessing to the public school community if they can avoid holding noses and really roll up their sleeves (lots of cliches!) and get involved. Maybe God wants them not walled off in a private school but out serving the needs of the wider community. I could go on, but already this is too long!!



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Greg Laughery

posted May 9, 2007 at 7:33 am


A painful and soul gutting situation. We need look no further than the OT to see that life can be messy or than to the NT to see that we all need redemption and release from sin and its consequences.
Having lived in Christian community for over twenty years and dealt with many a sin, my own and others, I offer these thoughts, not in wisdom, but in hope for what they might be worth. Reading this letter is to share in something of the plight of these brothers and sisters.
As rightly important as it may be to be Lutheran and to want a Christian education for Marcus, I believe this could take place in the home and church to a significant degree. Therefore, this should not be the priority. It seems to me that Claire needs to be given room on this one – around here we call it structural mediation – not ideal, but sometimes in extremely broken circumstances it may be necessary. That is, ideally the cross could mediate and allow Claire to teach (I assume she is still teaching there) at the same school where Marcus is a student. As this is not the case at the moment – structural mediation -not being in the same space is appropriate, but perhaps, even hopefully, it will eventually lead to a reconciliation where Marcus and Claire can come to share the same space. This “eventually” might be given a period of time (say 2-3 years) and if there was no change and a Lutheran education was paramount, then a move to another place to facilitate that could be an option.
The reality of releasing from sin (which Claire may have done) will not always be able to bring about the reality of reconciliation and shared space. As lamentable as it is, Marcus incarnates, for Claire, the devastating effects of the sin of others, and she needs more time to be able to work through this so that she can possibly or potentially see Marcus in a new way.



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paul

posted May 9, 2007 at 7:35 am


i think public school is the way to go here. Rebecca made a mistake, and has totally owned up to it. That is amazing, nd i thank God for the forgiveness and healing in her family. However that mistake still has consequences (like somoene said, look at King David). Claire may have forgiven everyone, but Marcus would be a constant reminder…like a giant bilboard reminding you daily of your spouces sin.
While it would be great if Claire was ok with Marcus, I do not believe you cannot force that upon her… especially when it seems that you only want this reconciliation because it benefits you and your family (would you be pushing for this type of forgiveness even if you still sent your kid to public school??) It may takes many more years before God’s grace works in Claire in this type of way…



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Christine

posted May 9, 2007 at 7:55 am


I hope that these names are fictitious ones. If not, it seems inappropriate to be discussing their personal lives on a blog read by thousands – particularly since the information being shared is coming from the perspective of an individual removed by one and two generations from the heart of the situation. I appreciate that it is hard as a parent and grandparent to deal with these issues, but I question the wisdom of casting this situation, with names mentioned, for public debate. It’s way too easy for us to weigh in on Claire (#3) or the others involved when we only know one perspective of the story.
I may be in the minority on this one.



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Dan Brennan

posted May 9, 2007 at 7:58 am


My heart and prayers go out to all involved.
I can’t just speak about this in the abstract:
Lord, I ask You would pour Your healing love and grace into those residual sore spots in Claire’s heart and imagination. I also ask for Your sustaining and hope-filled presence for the grandparents. I pray too for the immediate community of all who know, that You may grant them grace, love, and strength to be a light in this broken world. I pray for Marcus, that Your hand may be upon him. May his future story be filled with hope.
At least from my reading of the letter, this would be an opportunity for communal forgiveness and release from the repercussions. It would be a wonderful thing if Claire could release forgiveness in such a way that Marcus would be able to attend. It is a choice she could only make bathed in the Lord’s presence. Forgiveness looks irrational, at least the kind that releases the repercussions looks irrational, because God’s forgiveness towards us looks irrational. But forgiveness is more than just a private choice, or a “private” way of life.
It would be a wonderful Christ-centered practice to welcome Marcus into the community.
It seems from here though, that unless there is a breakthrough Marcus is going to go to public schools and the grandparents will need the grace to practice their own forgiveness and release.



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Scot McKnight

posted May 9, 2007 at 7:58 am


Fictitious.



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Dan Brennan

posted May 9, 2007 at 8:08 am


Greg #7
I didn’t read Greg’s response before my response–happened while I was typing. I would concur with his observation too, about Claire needing room and space to heal and to forgive. I definitely would pressure that space or room. Communal forgiveness is a process. There could be an opportunity for Marcus to re-enter this community down the road.



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Dan Brennan

posted May 9, 2007 at 8:13 am


Big typo…on #12 on space and room–I intended to mean concur with Greg–Claire should be given the room she needs for space and room to worj this out.



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Paul Johnston

posted May 9, 2007 at 8:23 am


Surely, whenever humanly possible, the innocent ought to be spared. What are the reasonably assumed consequences for Marcus if he goes to the Lutheran school?



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Bill Giovannetti

posted May 9, 2007 at 8:26 am


A very sad situation indeed. There but for the grace of God go I.
I would agree with “saint” above who counseled the grandparents to back off, and let the parents decide. They have to turn the pressure off totally. As “saint” wrote, they need to “butt out.”
Claire does not need counsel in forgiveness. Leave her alone. She was painfully wounded thru no fault of her own, and should be given lots and lots of space. She deserves to not have her face rubbed in her husband’s infidelity every morning, no matter how much forgiviness and grace she has extended. I’m saddened by the grandparents’ suggestion that she be counseled to forgive more or show more grace. “Yikes!”
Public school or home schooling are the noblest options here. Take the high road. God, in his Providence, will provide for this precious child (who’s caught in the crosshairs of grownup sin). In my opinion, mom–who has done the right thing in confessing, repenting, and reconciling–can do one more right thing in getting herself and her husband as far away from the “other man” and his family as possible. Give them the space to move on with their lives.
I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong answer here. Just make the situation as healthy as possible for all concerned.
Bill



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B

posted May 9, 2007 at 8:28 am


I think they should respect Claire’s wishes as the consequence for this forgiven sin.



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Simon

posted May 9, 2007 at 8:37 am


Have mercy on Claire.
Rebecca sinned. Yes it is all forgiven (A miracle!) but to rub the consequences of that sin in Claire’s face as a daily reminder is really cruel.
If Marcus goes to the public school to avoid offending a fellow believer, then God will honor that sacrifice and bring blessing.



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discokvn

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:05 am


in the movie searching for bobby fisher a scene takes place between the ben kingsley (chess teacher) and joan allen (the mom). the teacher tells the mom that she needs to do certain things in order to help her son become become a better chess player.
one of the things is that her son must stop playing chess in the park. the mother’s response is that her son loves playing chess in the park and she won’t take it away from him.
the teacher’s response is, “it’s just that it makes my job more difficult.”
the mom responds, “then your job’s more difficult”
__________________________________________________________
there is a lot of vagueness to the story so from what i’ve heard here’s my two cents worth, accept the situation for what it is and do the difficult job.
know that you could force the school to take the child. but it’s not a very loving posture. there are rights taken from us and there are rights we surrender. it is more powerful to surrender our rights for a loving purpose knowing that we do have the power to force our will — but it’s not very compassionate. i think by engaging claire and saying we understand your feelings and until you are comfortable we won’t force it — i think shows her compassion for the situation and opens the door to engage the more difficult job.
there also seems to be another difficult job that needs to be done. the reconciliation of the two families. again i don’t know the particulars but it seems to me that this needs to happen. not that this promises to allow the child into the school — nor can that be the motivation — the possibility for grace, mercy and forgiveness to flower and ultimately the reconciliation of brothers and sisters in christ must be the motivation.
don’t know if any of these ramblings are helpful………



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Dan Brennan

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:08 am


Interesting conversation involving a complicated situation.
While I support the need for space and room for Claire, I also find it, um, perplexing, let’s put it that way, that we ( I include myself) are so quick to yield to repercussions and consequences as something from God and should be expected. Yet, we all want mercy and undeserved grace from God through Jesus, we all want the robe and the fattened calf when we have sinned.
This does get into a deep discussion about the layers of forgiveness and reconciliation. It gets into the tension between loving your neighbor, loving your enemy, and what those Christian practices look like in community.



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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:08 am


Wow, tough situation. On one hand, despite her forgiveness, the daily reminder from this child would genuinely be hurtful. We can hope she could process through it, but not require that, as each person responds differently to such wounds.
Further, if the teacher can’t get past it, on some level it puts the child at risk, even from subtle emotional messages- intentional or not. Children can pick up a great deal, so that is a real consideration too.
On one hand, if it is a choice between the teacher and the child being hurt, the child should be the central (but not exclusive) concern. On the other hand, the child’s mother might have to acknowledge that this is one cost of her mistake.
All that to say, I have no idea what I would do.
Peace,
Jamie



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Ben Dubow

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:21 am


While complicated, I think my pastoral advice would be to not send the child to the school and either make pubilc school work, find another Christian school, or relocate for a Lutheran school.
Sadly, the sins of the father…
In scripture, that is seen not as punishment or lack of grace, but as a natural consequence for sin. Grace and forgiveness do not remove consequence.
My prayers for all…



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Krista

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:31 am


I agree with many others that it is best not to force this issue with the school. That would only foster resentment towards all those involved.
The value of a Christian education is not nearly as valuable as raising Marcus in a Christian home, recongnizing that he is learning from his family and watching how they react to difficult situations even now. I think it is more important that he sees (and continues to see) forgiveness and grace and compassion and love than the halls of a one school over another.
My prayers go out, though, for all both families. This is truly a difficult situation.



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Dan Brennan

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:37 am


Interesting conversation on this complicated scenario.
I do support Claire’s need for space and room.
Simultaneously, however, I am perplexed, given, the depth of forgiveness stories and texts along with God’s own forgivness and love towards us, that we (I am including myself in this) are so quick to jump into reaping the consequences or feel that Marcus going to school would not be a compassionate communal choice.
We so appreciate God forgiving us through Jesus with the accompanying robe, fattened calf and the glorious deep grace and love that accompanies forgiveness.
The marvel of Christian redemption it ib the relational sense, is not just forgiveness but to press through to loving our enemies, loving our neighbors, and releasing repercussions in a deep expression of relational love.
Our reaction to this does point to the complex layers of forgiveness and reconciliation.



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Dan Brennan

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:43 am


Shoot.
Have to ask for communal forgiveness here with the typos. This is what happens when I type over a period of time and edit and do not reread before I hit send, thinking I made the corrections.
The marvel of Christian redemption is that in the relational sense, it is not just forgiveness but to press through to loving our enemies, loving our neighbors, and releasing repercussions in a deep expression of relational love.



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Rachel

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:47 am


#15 Bill To see the child would indeed remind her of her husband’s infidelity. And that would be cruel, possible hurt/hinder her ability to keep the marriage going. Her husband’s actions broke her heart and wounded her soul, and “soul wounds” never really go away. Innocent triggers can bring them back and the pain feels as fresh and strong as when the situation began. The child should go to public school, and the grandparents need to back off and allow Claire and her husband deal with this as best serves their marriage. Yes, I speak from experience.



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John W Frye

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:51 am


I agree with those who recognize that there are two kinds or levels of education here for Marcus. There is formal education whether in the Lutheran or public school and the informal, yet “deep” education (like the “dep” magic in Narnia tales) of life in the kingdom. As a grandparent I can empathize with the letter’s author who describes their history with and support of the Lutheran school. Yet,real, consequence-creating sin has entered that history. The grandparents need to back off and give space for the redemptive work of Jesus to work out in the lives of all four parents and Marcus.



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Kristen

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:58 am


It seems to me that forcing the child into this Lutheran school would be setting things in motion for a disaster that would eventually hurt everyone, the little boy most of all (the one person totally innocent of any possible wrong here).
Still, I understand why they would want a Christian education for this child — but is this Lutheran school the only option? I don’t know where these people live but most places have Catholic elementary schools available. It seems that there must be a third option here.



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CAS

posted May 9, 2007 at 10:10 am


What I’m not getting here is this: Doesn’t the biological father have a relationship with the child, which would mean these families already interact?
If these people live in the same community and this isn’t the case, they have bigger problems than where this child goes to school. Are they creating some sort of fantasy about who the father is. I’m confused.



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lewis

posted May 9, 2007 at 10:15 am


Many people do not understand the connection families, especially Lutheran church families, feel towards their Lutheran school. It is a part of their heritage, their hard work, their tears, their heart. To ask a family not to send their child to the Lutheran school their family has been a part of for so many years and to go public, Catholic, or otherwise, would be like asking them not to go home again. It tears it away. I can sympathize with Hargrove’s heart in this manner.
Working in a Lutheran Church and a Lutheran school (they are attached on one campus), I know how difficult it is to consider such options. While this type of circumstance has not arisen in my tenure here, I believe we would welcome Marcus with open arms, meanwhile the Pastor would be working with Claire to listen to her needs and counsel her in thought and prayer.
Claire is absolutely right to request Marcus not be admitted, as he would be a constant reminder to her over the adultery of her husband (or ex-husband, not sure by the letter). However, by pushing teachers and supervisors to her side, she’s setting up an “us vs. them” mentality. That is inappropriate, in my opinion.
Should the school board decide to deny Marcus admission based on the standards they have set forth, that would be appropriate. To deny him admission based on a teacher’s desires, I feel that would be inappropriate.
I can sympathize with Claire. What she went through, no woman should ever have to go through. She is faced with the constant reminder in her mind that her husband’s infidelity had a consequence, and that consequence isn’t something that can be ignored: a child. She can’t even run away from it. Claire’s voice in this matter needs to be heard. But at what cost? Is Marcus’ admission and education denial his fault? Should he be the one to bear the burden of his mother’s indiscretion? By no means!
My personal opinion is that Claire needs to make her concerns heard, then give it up to the Lord and trust that He will guide the administrators of the school to make the proper decision for her and Marcus.



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Jim Martin

posted May 9, 2007 at 10:23 am


Scot,
When I read this letter, I thought, “This is the kind of real-world situation that exists throughout churches everywhere.”
I feel for the grandparents. Yet, I would encourage them to back away, give space, and be prepared to see their children or grandchildren live with some sort of consequence. It may not seem right, fair, appropriate, etc. Yet, the reality of sin is that is messy and will create consequences we never dreamed. Even the innocent may experience such consequences.
These grandparents are in such a tough situation. They have seen their daughter get into a sinful situation. They have witnessed the damage done to these marriages. Now, they see their grandchild bear some of the consequences.
I would suggest the focus be on allowing time, space, room, for God’s grace to be at work in forgiveness and reconciliation.



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Dan Brennan

posted May 9, 2007 at 10:45 am


Lewis, # 29,
I appreciated this perspective.



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Timbo

posted May 9, 2007 at 10:48 am


I think we should follow the example of Solomon, cut the school in half, and let Claire teach in one half and Marcus attend the other.



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Rick L in Tx

posted May 9, 2007 at 10:50 am


I agree with Lewis that a denial of the boy’s admission should only be based on policy, otherwise it is unethical to deny him. That makes the decision of the school hard. “OK, so your job’s hard”. (Loved the application of the movie clip in the comment above). If he is admitted, that makes Claire’s job hard. “OK, so your job’s hard”. If he is not admitted, that makes the relationship of parents and grandparents to the school and church hard. “OK, so it’s hard”. No matter where you turn, something’s going to be hard, and we Lutherans know what it is to lean on grace. They’re just going to have to do it a lot more genuinely and intentionally.



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Dan Brennan

posted May 9, 2007 at 11:05 am


While understanding the complex scenarios involved, I see Lewis’ scenario unfolding, if this were a place where there would only be one educational choice in a rural comunity. Does this sin make educational choices–a for most families, a way of life not something “self-centered” by any means, a mere option? I think Lewis’ response gets at the heart of a community helping all the wounded carve out a way of forgiveness in and reconciliation.
Where am I in the dark about this is how much space I would give–given what seems to be the current negative communal dynamics going on against the family’s desires to send Marcus to this Christian school.



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ChrisB

posted May 9, 2007 at 11:25 am


I feel bad for the teacher, but it may be time for her to act like an adult. It may be unwise to send the child to that school, it my be unwise to go to the church connected to the school, but if the parents choose to send the child there, the wishes of the parents should win because 1) schools exist for the sake of the student and 2) this is a marvelous opportunity for that Christian community to reinforce that the child produced by infidelity is not responsible for it and should not be punished for it.



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saint

posted May 9, 2007 at 11:27 am


#33 – At this stage it seems the grandparents (grandfather) are most desirous of Marcus attendign the school, we don’t know just how important this is to daughter and son-in-law, and we only have his word about Claire’s actions. He advises his pastor has already counselled against it, and school has changed their mind and refused – and may have refused initially if they knew what they know now. What would prompt the grandfather to now seek counsel from a relative stranger?
What we do know is Claire’s marriage has also been impacted. Does one want her to give up her job too, maybe deprive an entire school community of a good teacher…? Because of whose wishes? The grandfathers? We just don’t know enough.
(And by the way, one might one to say Claire should forgive, but do we know if her husband has repented? Or if they have been able to rebuild trust in their marriage? Does it have to happen at the same pace for everyone? Maybe there are other issues: for example, she may fear that if her husband is named biological father – they would be up for maintenance unless the son-in-law adopts Marcus (they certainly would be under Australian law) – or he may demand custody visits. Or something that keeps the families connected in such a way that is too painful for her to bear at the moment. If Claire’s husband also worked for the author of the letter, it would be like this other family taking over her life.
In any case, it is not for the grandparents to insist that the child go to this school, teacher should forgive, etc etc. They can voice an opinion, their own advice if they have to, but then butt out.



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saint

posted May 9, 2007 at 11:33 am


P.S. We don’t even know if Rebecca has even asked Claire to forgive her etc. It takes two to tango.



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Puddleglum

posted May 9, 2007 at 11:50 am


I hope my advice doesn’t sound too harsh but here it is: You are grandparents. Leave it to the parents to sort things out. Graciously take yourselves out of the equation. Then pray.
Blessings on all, particularly Marcus.
P



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David

posted May 9, 2007 at 12:20 pm


I agree that this is a most difficult situation. Yet, I wonder if the most loving thing to do for Claire is to spare her from the situation – assuming that she is reconciled to her husband, it has now been some 4 years since the terribly painful but brief 2 week affair, and it could (just a stab in the dark) be a choice between a nurturing Christian educational environment and a hostile secular one which undermines what Marcus learns at home. Certainly in my small part of Australia, there is no sympathy for Christian values, yet alone personal faith in secular schools.
Theologically, I have always believed that a Christian community, whether a church, home group, a family, or even school (especially if it sees itself as more than an educational institution) should be a place which encourages and practises the message of reconciliation, forgiveness and restoration. How can we promote forgiveness or restoration if our pastoral practise (though well intentioned) overly protects and keeps us from having to face situations which cause us to call on the Lord to help us live the message of the gospel in the nitty gritty sphere of broken and injured relationships. I am reminded here of Corrie Ten Booms testimony of how she had to express forgiveness at the point where, a few years after the war, she came face to face with a former German camp guard at one of her speaking engagements.
How will we ever learn patience if our patience is never tested? How will we learn to forgive and move on if we never have to face the opportunity to do so- much in the way both couples have presumably had to, by the Lord’s grace, forgive and move on their marriages after the betrayal of trust. I would argue that the pastoral merits of providing Marcus with a positive nurturing Christian school environment and the possibility that all concerned, including Claire, her husband, Rebecca and William may have to draw even deeper to the Lord in order to express the gospel in this situation, may well outweigh any pastoral merit in seeking, albeit in love, to avoid any potential pain by refusing Marcus enrollment – especially if there is no firm policy. Let’s not forget this will hopefully be within the pastoral oversight of the schools leadership which could provide Godly counsel and prayerful support.
Still it’s a tough one. And perhaps considering the reality of our sinful frailty, the ideal above may not be the most ‘loving’ option for the parents with regards to Claire and so the need for an alternative option may need to be explored, trusting in the Lord to honour their decision. It may well as some have said the loving path given that it is a sad consequence of sinful infidelity on Marcus’ mother, Rebecca’s part. They will certainly need prayer and Godly wisdom.



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Jan

posted May 9, 2007 at 12:23 pm


This child was born of love….aldultery is wrong, a commandment was broken and Marcus was conceived. Our number one commandment is LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Love this child and let him attend school. LOVE ONE ANOTHER. PERIOD. No if, ands or buts. LOVE ONE ANOTHER. We can question this situation forever. Are the sins of the father passed onto the son? Is Marcus to be blamed for how he was conceived? Bottom line…LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Step up and DO IT! No one said it would be easy, but if Claire LOVED Marcus’ father, however briefly, then it follows Marcus should be LOVED. Period. Step up and LIVE THE WORD Claire. Be the very BEST you can be and LIVE what you TEACH! You are an ADULT, not a child. Take responsibility for your actions and do not turn your back on what is right. Marcus needs your wisdom, so show him by example what LOVE means. The past is gone and you can do absolutely NOTHING about it. What matters is NOW, TODAY, this moment…so be the beautiful Christian person you are and LOVE MARCUS. Teach him as you would anyone else and quit blubbering about the past or how much seeing him will hurt you or WHATEVER! Jesus Christ LOVED everyone…he didn’t care about anything except their soul and he loved them. Good example to follow, huh?? BELIEVE ME when I tell you we are tested beyond our comprehension…and I don’t want you to think I’m being harsh. I don’t feel worthy of love…but if Jesus forgives me and loves me, then doesn’t it make sense I should forgive myself and pass on His teachings? LOVE ONE ANOTHER Clair. LOVE yourself. JUST DO IT!



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My 2 cents

posted May 9, 2007 at 12:45 pm


Having an open adoption in the family, I resonnate with #27/CAS. This child must indeed know the birth-father sooner or later. Usually, you have to build the trust bank from which you withdraw early in the child’s life, or you will not have anything to withdraw later. That’s a separate issue, but I hope that is addressed.
Rambling: Teachers love children. They give out hugs and encouragement unflaggingly everyday. This is part of their art and science of teaching. I hope and pray for this teacher to work through a form of reconciliation for this child. I am afraid we can only pray for her to be free of this burder she is carrying around. That is God’s work to take care of in her, if she allows. And I hope she does for her own sake and health.
Not sure if there is a RIGHT/AIRTIGHT answer here for the schooling of this wonderful child. There will be many opportunities for these families to make the child’s life complicated or grace filled. This is one.



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My 2 cents

posted May 9, 2007 at 12:47 pm


how come you never misspell anything until you press “submit” on the internet?



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Phil Monroe

posted May 9, 2007 at 12:49 pm


I like Simon’s (#17) response. There are consequences of sin that cannot be removed in this world. Volf says we work toward that but can’t always make it happen. I wrote a similar kind of post about ministry to sex offenders in church. See here: http://wisecounsel.wordpress.com/2007/05/04/missional-church-ministry-to-sex-offenders/. The offender/sinner’s repentance will also consider providing much grace to the victim rather than looking to one’s (or one’s childrens) rights.



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Tom K.

posted May 9, 2007 at 12:57 pm


The clearly compassionate reconciliation the grandfather sees in his (once-philandering) daughter and her husband is a joy to behold. Let’s hope he sees things clearly there. That sort of reconcilation rarely lasts longterm. If this is one of the special relationships where it does, then Hallelujah. Perhaps rightfully, the grandfather says little about the relationship he knows least about, that of the teacher and her (once [?} philandering) husband. It’s been four years now. How’s the compassionate forgiveness going over in that relationship? If we can assume that the best is happening there, wouldn’t the child’s presence at school also be a constant reminder that we are all capable of love and forgiveness? Wouldn’t the child benefit by having a concerned virtual step mom at school with him, whether he knew about the relationship or not? Probably more to the point, perhaps things are still not going well with teacher and husband, and so this “reminder” of past sin brings unresolved conflicts in the teacher. If so, she would benefit from dealing with these, whether it means complete reconciliation, its opposite – divorce, or something in between. My point – this is really their problem (not the grandfather’s family problem) and I would argue that action on their part is required.
The reversal of course by the school is the most lamentable thing in this. I can only infer from their change of course that they see something amiss in one of their teachers over this and are trying to protect someone they value on staff – presumably for compassionate reasons, but perhaps for self-serving reasons as well (it’s hard to find good teachers). Instead, the school should be helping the teacher resolve her issues, and offer a heartfelt welcome to a little boy who already by age 4 has made many grownups come to grips with forgiveness, compassion and even justice.
I believe the little boy’s family – all generations, should press the case with the school, not only to let the grandson in (perhaps eventually – give it some time) but to press the case for counseling for the teacher and her husband. The teacher needs to be ready to welcome the boy, or come to grips with not being able to do that, and move on or otherwise remove herself from interaction with the boy.
My thoughts and prayers are with you all, especially you, gramps.



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David

posted May 9, 2007 at 1:06 pm


I found Phil’s (#41) comment “the offender/sinner’s repentance will also consider providing much grace to the victim ..” very helpful in think about this. And yes, I agreee with Volf that we cannot always this side of heaven erase the consequences of our sins. My only question is, what of Rebecca’s husband? He too is a victim of both his wife’s and Claire’s husband’s offence. What consideration of grace should he be afforded to him and his gracious acceptance of Marcus and desire to offer him what he considers the best schooling environment? I have heard much concern about Claire as the victim, but what of William? It does make it very hard when we do not know the situation and the motives of all concerned.



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Tom K.

posted May 9, 2007 at 1:28 pm


On rereading the grandfather’s letter, I see that it appears the teacher and her husband WERE (my emphasis) married at the time of the affair. So the teacher apparently has aleady divorced or separated from her husband – the father of the little boy – in the four years since the affair. And she is still troubled by the little boy’s presence in her life? It’s even more clear this is the teacher’s problem, and the issues are lingering. Perhaps, grandpa, as a supporter of this school, it might be time to help your favorite Lutheran High School to come to grips with counseling issues for its employees. It may help the school be ready to welcome your grandchild as perhaps a first-grader instead of preschool.



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Elizabeth Chapin

posted May 9, 2007 at 2:01 pm


Romans 15:1 If our faith is strong, we should be patient with the Lord’s followers whose faith is weak. We should try to please them instead of ourselves. 2 We should think of their good and try to help them by doing what pleases them. 3 Even Christ did not try to please himself. But as the Scriptures say, “The people who insulted you also insulted me.” 4 And the Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us by giving us hope. 5 God is the one who makes us patient and cheerful. I pray that he will help you live at peace with each other, as you follow Christ. 6 Then all of you together will praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s hard to tell from the letter who has the stronger faith, but it appears the teacher’s faith is not strong enough for her to feel comfortable with the child in her school. We who are strong must not only bear with those who are weak, but we must also help them grow. Should the child’s parents and grandparents please themselves by making sure the child attends the school of their choosing? Should the school administration please themselves by keeping the offended teacher happy? Perhaps the most healing thing for the teacher would be to learn to love this little boy – for love covers a multitude of sins.
I pray for all involved in this situation, but especially the grandparents – would they be willing to continue to support the school out of love for this teacher who has rejected their grandson? Perhaps an act of grace on their part would serve to soften the teacher’s heart.



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BeckyR

posted May 9, 2007 at 2:25 pm


Aren’t the kids going to have questions of why one is going to the Lutheran school and the other to public school? I would think a whole different 3rd option needs to be done, Lutheran school not involved, for the questions to not come up.
The parents are the parents and it’s up to them to take care of the situation. It may be the real pastoral counsel needs to look at why the grandparents are trying to influence the situation. Now, that’s weird. The kids(now the parents) have left mother and father and mother and father need to honor the leaving and cleaving. And back out.



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Rachel

posted May 9, 2007 at 2:28 pm


#39 Jan, Don’t presume by just telling someone LOVE, it automatically happens. Don’t put a time frame on someone’s ability to forgive and “move on”, because it truly isn’t that easy. As I read everyone’s comments, it amazes me how easily everyone thinks Claire’s acceptance of this child should be. She will learn to forgive and move “as God’s grace allows” and it could possilbly be that includes God realizing Claire and Marcus in the same school is not what’s best. Don’t assume Claire’s faith is weaker, or she needs more counseling. Maybe her faith is as tough as God’s grace, but it doesn’t include Marcus in her school. Don’t assume in any tough situation that God’s grace includes God saying “Get over it already.” Grace happens in God’s time schedule, no one elses.



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Dan J.

posted May 9, 2007 at 2:40 pm


AS I read this letter I see no attempt at reconciliation with Claire. No mention of Claire getting counseling. If I am reading this correctly, Claire loses her husband as a result of this affair and now her job is being jeopardized. To say she should work a little harder at forgiveness is a childish response. It fails to recognize the price she has already paid. As I read scripture we are to consider the weaker Christian’s conscience and not do something if it would offend them. I think forcing Claire to accept Marcus at her school fails to love as we would want to be loved.
I think another thing that needs to be addressed here is that Claire is not the one looking for advice. Therefore the advice given must be addressed to the correct people, and be for their perspective. We cannot address Claire here only the grandparents. To say Claire needs to do something denies responsibility. Maybe the grandparents could meet with Claire, not to change her mind, but so that they can develop some compassion for this poor woman and what she has been through and change their minds. Until there has been some compassionate dialog with Claire this is just selfishness. Our job as Christians is not to examine another’s motives but our own.



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Dana Ames

posted May 9, 2007 at 2:43 pm


I don’t know what the most loving and wise thing is in this situation. I do know God is about redeeming it all.
I also know, as an adopted child, that blood ties do not necessarily a family make. I am grateful for the physical attributes of my birth parents- and in the totality of who I am, I am *more* than my physicality/genetics. My biological father was married to someone other than my biological mother when I was conceived; no matter the condition of their love, I was conceived in the perfect love of God, who is the Source of life, in Whose image I am ultimately made. My “real” parents were the ones who actually parented me.
I also have a very close friend who was the offspring of a man not her dad, with whom her mom had an affair. Her dad was always her dad, and she was able to work through and forgive them all. Her mother died in her arms.
All involved need to be very careful about how much they tell Marcus, and at what point/s in his life they do so.
Dana



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Jennifer

posted May 9, 2007 at 3:07 pm


Becky #47 and Others…
I cant understand why so many people have suggested the grandparents should back out.
This whole issue is very difficult. I would want the parents involved to have as much input and support from the people they are close to as possible. It just seems funny to me that listening to the advice of strangers on a blog seems okay, while listening to the advice of the grandparents is treated with suspicion.
I think we all need people in our lives that we go to on issues and allow them to help form our decision – people you form deep bonds of trust with because they know you so well. Why in the world would you want to take that away from someone?



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MikeS

posted May 9, 2007 at 3:20 pm


I haven’t read all the coments above, so I’m sorry if someone has already mentioned this or trashed it so thoroughly that I’m an idiot for posting, but my thoughts and reactions run as follows…
First, what a classic, no-good scheme the devil, the flesh and the world have brewed up here. Northwoods = small town, close family connections, public community relationships, i.e. everyone knows more than everyone else’s name. No matter what counsel is offered, the pain involved will be intense and less than exquisite.
Second, if this letter is all I have to go on, I would counsel humility, humility, humility to the grandparents who have written this letter. I don’t know the other people involved and they have not contacted me so I could not appropriately offer advice on what they should or should not do in this awful situation.
The grandparents are hurt by all of this as much as anyone, but they need to back up a bit and realize that more people are involved than their own family and reputations. So my counsel to them is to humble themselves in a Christ-like manner before their family, their church, their community and the teacher, by modelling not just forgiveness but compassionate and empathetic grace for the pain on the other side of the equation.
Third, this letter leaves me with the impression that this isn’t about the grandkid getting into school as much as it is about grandparents’ not getting their way in community relationships. I pick up a strong taste of look at how we have forgiven and moved on, why can’t that person? It’s all about me (without saying it so many words.
So a letter is written to an authority (Scot, tag you’re it!) asking for help to make things right. It’s like asking Ann Landers to tell my spouse to stop snoring, pick up after the kids, pray before every meal, and stop mixing colors in the washer.
No matter what Scot says in response, he’s going to be disliked. The issue is how to promote Christ-like humility without being there in person.
Sorry if that sounds harsh, it’s not meant to be, but if this were presented in a visit in my study, all I would see would be red flags waving.



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Peggy

posted May 9, 2007 at 4:10 pm


I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ quote which became the title of an amazing book: severe mercy. We are witnessing a severe mercy here…as severe as adultry and as merciful as love and grace. As severe as “consequences” and as merciful as forgiveness and reconciliation.
There can be no bullying of any of the parties here. “Love does not insist on its own way…” This would be a good time for all of us to reread 1 Cor 13…and pray that the Holy Spirit would increase his love in all of our hearts…so that the severe mercy might be as severe as death to ourselves and our own desires and as merciful as a friendly reminder that we are all to be agents of reconciliation.
In this case I am looking to mercy rather than justice…and only the Holy Spirit will be able to sort out all the details in all the of the hearts.
Let’s trust him together and earnestly pray.



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Dave Wells

posted May 9, 2007 at 4:39 pm


The poor teacher, that we are even having this discussion.
It seems they want the best for the child and they want the child to have a Christian (Lutheran) education… but at the same time they don’t want the child to go to a public school. “I humbly suggest you can do both”. (Watch the movie about William Wilburforce) Send the child to a public school and maintain engagement with Christ through the contemporary issues he faces as he grows and learns (of course on a kid level), if the parents and grandparents are that focused on the child’s well being then conversation about school should flow freely, this can only be positive when held in the environment of a Christ centred family.



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BenH

posted May 9, 2007 at 4:41 pm


Ok, maybe I’m being way to simplistic. It appears on the surface anyway that the Grandparents “Know what is right for their child”. The comments in the blog have either confirmed this to be true or challenged the Grandparents to consider the situation beyond their own perspective.
What I find interesting is have we considered seeking God and His will in this situation? What is God’s plan for young Marcus? Maybe it is an agent for healing for Clair, Maybe it is to be a light in public school, Maybe something else… God can do wonders with brokenness!
Not trying to sound like “easy answer man”. But I wonder how often we put our personal desires first and dress them up with “biblical basis” when in fact they are not necessarily of God but of ourselves; justified.
I like how Peggy(#54) ended:
“… only the Holy Spirit will be able to sort out all the details in all the of the hearts.
Let’s trust him together and earnestly pray.”
Peace.



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Dan Brennan

posted May 9, 2007 at 5:29 pm


Nice comments Peggy, # 54.
I hear Rachel is saying in #49–that’s important. That perspective is needed. Elizabeth’s observation is also important. I don’t think within the grand framework of Christian forgiveness and reconciliation that they are off base in asking the questions they are asking Scot. I see this much bigger than grandparents wanting is what right for their grandchild. I see Tom K.’s point of view.
In this immediate situation without knowing more details (and I think I would ask a few more questions before I gave advice)I would give this advice to the grandparents:
1. You must put attempt to put yourself in Claire’s situation. This is a deep wound and she’s still in anguishing over this.
2. Yes, while not forcing or bullying Claire for one second(this clearly would not be an option) the Christian community should be practicing and modeling forgiveness and reconciliation.
3. It’s not unreasonable, given Lutheran convictions, that you gently ask those in authority for the school to reconsider their decision without pressuring them. This could be a positive but hard dialogue.
4. It’s their responsibility to be at peace with all men if possible. Our dreams die hard, and sometimes in our immediate personal community we have kill our darlings.
They may have to do that after the dialogue in 3.
5. Given a no, for Marcus, after the dialogue (or perhaps the dialogue never takes place) they must trust God to redeem this story, Marcus’ story, Claire’s story, and all who are involved.
Given the contents of the letter, I’d go with that.



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kris

posted May 9, 2007 at 6:13 pm


I would like to hear Claires story before answering this, we have just heard one side.



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Cliff

posted May 9, 2007 at 7:18 pm


I think the grandparents need to seriously reconsider their own involvement in this issue. They should not be the driving force behind any decision.
In any discussion of protecting the innocent, Claire has to be considered in that category. She did nothing to bring this about and is deeply injured. I do not blame her for taking action to protect herself by aligning the school decision makers with her. That is smart politics and not inappropriate. It would hardly be appropriate to not tell anyone until the deal was done!



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CAS

posted May 9, 2007 at 7:40 pm


Okay, it seems from the comments and a reread of the letter that the biological dad is out of the picture.
But, Cliff, four years after the event, this woman still gets to hold everyone hostage to her pain—and not only that, but she also gets to widen the circle of condemnation for her rival’s failure, and she gets to punish a child. How long does she get a pass on this kind of behavior?
Not that the parents might not be really pushing it with the need to send the child to this particular school. That’s pretty nervy. Besides, given Claire’s influence, I wouldn’t want my child in that environment. They should and find an alternative.



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Scot McKnight

posted May 9, 2007 at 7:43 pm


OK, there’s some confusion here … Geoffrey, the biological father, is not out of the picture. He and Claire are still married. Doing well.
But, I don’t know if he has a fatherly relationship with Marcus.



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CAS

posted May 9, 2007 at 7:51 pm


Well then, Scot, I return to my original point. It sounds to me like these folks have some unfinished business to deal with. … and perhaps this conflict is presenting them with the opportunity to address it for the sake of a child that will eventually discover the truth and perhaps want to know his father.



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CAS

posted May 9, 2007 at 7:56 pm


sorry for the super run-on sentence



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Christine

posted May 9, 2007 at 8:56 pm


Early this morning I posted my quick reflections on this particular “column” about advising a letter writer, and my concern that these might be real names. I now know they’re not.
But even so, I was left with a niggling sense of dis-ease that we’re discussing this. Now having read through all the comments, my initial uncomfortableness with this still stands. We ARE only seeing one side of it. We know nothing of Claire’s circumstances, yet that hasn’t stopped some folks for judging her rather harshly. It’s also interesting to note that a number of posts addressed the sin of Rachel, but have virtually held-harmless the FATHER of the child, Claire’s husband. Does he not have an obligation to the child, too? Or is it all up to Claire?
And, really, do folks at Rachel’s church ALL publicly confess their sins? Does a person who is obese stand to confess lack of self-control or gluttony? Does a couple stand to confess that they may not be slow to anger in their interactions with each other or their children? Or is it again, a bit like the scarlet letter when it comes to sexual sin?
There have been some wonderful posts which have been permeated with compassion.
I guess, ultimately, I’m disappointed that this letter has been posted to the blog. What does the grandfather do with it? Say, “ah, ha! This person thinks Claire is bitter, this one thinks she’s holding the school hostage to her pain, this one thinks she should get over it.” And beyond that, HE is not the major player in this drama, so I wonder how those involved would feel if they know that their story is now online with a host of folks judging one or another of them? Was it HIS story to take online? Sort of a glorified “Dear Abby” if you will?
We’re only seeing ONE viewpoint, yet that hasn’t stopped most of us from either telling the grandparents to “butt out” or Claire to “get over it” or
question the school’s actions. WE don’t know ALL the facts and, therefore, I think it means that we tred gently and carefully before we utter any of our opinions, which sometimes, mine included, seem oh-so-all-knowing.



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Scot McKnight

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:08 pm


Christine,
Thanks for this comment, and your thoughts here were in my mind when I was preparing this post. The details are sufficiently disguised to have raised an important issue for us to converse about today — and just your attention to Claire is a step forward because that observation forces all to think through the issue more completely.



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CAS

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:53 pm


Christine,
My impatience is directed at the familiar theme of this story–children being made to carry the burden of adult misdeeds and/or being used as pawns in adult power games.



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BeckyR

posted May 9, 2007 at 9:56 pm


Becky here Jennifer. It was my sense that the parents hadn’t gone to the grandparents for advice. My sense is that the grandparents wrote Scot about what do we do. I think there’s a place for the grandparents to be the shoulder to cry on and say “there, there,” but the problems are with the husbands and wives involved, and since they are adults, I think it’s the grandparents place to say “we’ll be praying for it all,” and extend the shoulder to cry and lean on, but let the parents work in out. There’s a line between support and wanting to have a hand in controlling. I sensed the grandparent(s) to have stepped over the line to trying to have a hand in by controlling. As parents of grown children, I think we must have them work out their own problems. We may sit back wanting to be involved and advise, but I think we muxt let them work out the problems. We certainly can support by loving, if that be the shoulder to cry on or lean on, but not in telling them what to do. Well, now, I think I repeated myself here enough. (-:



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Cliff

posted May 9, 2007 at 10:02 pm


CAS (#60): I don’t know that I would want to be hard and fast on how long Claire needs to heal. I do know that if I betrayed my wife even once, we would probably be looking at decades. Four years is not very long. As to ‘punishing the child’, I hardly think that this one Lutheran school is the only, ONLY place that Marcus can go to get a great Christian education.



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Ross

posted May 9, 2007 at 10:40 pm


Hi Scot
A useful reminder of the pain that people have to carry around with them and of course it’s every difficult to advise anyone without meeting them.
But Claire surely has had enough to deal with without having to leave her job. And surely Christian compassion and forgiveness would demand that she not be put through more pain? Isn’t coming to terms with our sin also about coming to terms with the consequences of it as well and that means that options previously open to us may not be any more. Forgiving William may mean accepting that Marcus may not be able to go to the School he otherwise would have gone to. Finally, if Marcus were my son, I am not sure I would want him to go to a School where this has become such a public subject of debate. Find another Christian School is, I think, the bottom line.



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Dan Brennan

posted May 9, 2007 at 11:06 pm


One of the most maturing and most difficult experiences I ever had in my Christian life was to learn how to forgive someone I hated, someone I felt hurt me deeply, within the context of a job. Not only forgive them but I prayed through surges of anger and hate that the Lord would give me a love for this individual. It wasn’t my choice to begin with, but once I was faced with it, I had to deal with it before the Lord. If you were to ask before I had to deal with it, I would have said I would have wanted to avoid contact, etc. But afterwards, I am now glad it happened the way it did.
I do think we lament with Claire without for one second minimizing her pain and betrayal, with the ultimate gesture and move is to begin an even deeper process of forgiveness and reconciliation than what is presently happening. I do agree with kris that it would be important to hear from Claire. If we can’t encourage (I’m not saying pressure, push, or manipulate) deeper forgiveness and reconciliation in scenarios like this,(here I am not hanging my hat on a specific call on *which* school) how do we ever show the world that we Christians can love our enemies?
I realize much wisdom is needed in reconciliation. But I continue to be perplexed by a seeming need for hanging on to repercussions–when so many of the Gospel stories involve a release from the repercussions and beyond that reconciliation.



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CAS

posted May 9, 2007 at 11:10 pm


Unfortunately Cliff, sometimes life doesn’t afford us the opportunity to have all our wounds healed before we must do the right thing.
It sounds to me like Claire is playing a dangerous victim game that will eventually backfire on her. Her husband doesn’t see his child. Why not? (The school drama makes me think this is her preference.) She’s rallied others in her Christian community to act against her husband’s child, or at least caused enough tension to make them aquiesce to her position. That’s powerful stuff. I wonder how they and Geoffrey really feel about this?
I think tough love is in order because these types of situations left unresolved only get more entrenched with time. Decades do go by … and the harm done increases exponentially.



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Jeff Moulton

posted May 9, 2007 at 11:44 pm


I’m not sure I have any better solution, but there is a problem that I see in how we are going about this discussion. I see euphemisms being used for Marcus; he’s an “infedelity”, a “reminder”, an “example”.
To borrow from the pro-lifers (who ever thought I would do that) “He’s a child, not a choice (or an infidelity, reminder, or example).”
Yes, I understand that we are seeing only one side (and that with an extra degree of separation), but the language we are using is only confusing the issue. Whatever else he may be, Marcus is not an infidelity, he is not a reminder, he is a son, a child. I am disappointed with this community that we have sanitized him so.
I am also very disappointed that we have people telling the grandparents to butt out. We have grandparents trying to be a vital point in the lives of the rest of the family, and some of us are suggesting that they should butt out? If you have such a disdain for active grandparents, send them to me! My son lost one of his four 28 years before he was born. I would gladly take a substitute for him.
Now, with reservations knowing that we are seeing an incomplete picture, I think Claire has some, this is going to sound mean, growing up to do. I think it is likely that she does view Marcus as an “infidelity”. At some point, she needs to face up to the fact that that is her problem; not the school’s problem, not Marcus’ problem, but her problem.
Is the husband at home? Are you telling me he is LESS of a reminder? She’s forgiven him enough to stay with him, but against Marcus she’s holding a grudge? Maybe I’m dense, but I just don’t see where she can move forward with her husband, but not with Marcus.



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BeckyR

posted May 10, 2007 at 2:03 am


Just to make it clear – I’m not saying the grandparents should butt out, that is, I’m not saying the grandparents should not be involved. It would be great for the grandparents to support the decision making process the parents are going through, that is, as the parents are deciding what to do, support them in it. That is different than telling their kids, the parents, what to do. What got my attention were 2 things : 1) the grandfather wrote, not the parents, 2) the mention of their financial support of the school. That appeared to me to be an attempt at control – we’ve given money so you’re obligated, or at least, it should hold some power in the situation.
Not tell the parents what to do, support them as they go through the decision making, yes.



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Shannen

posted May 10, 2007 at 8:33 am


This is a difficult situation for sure. I can’t tell by the letter, has Rebecca offered to sit down and repent to Claire? It seems she has apologized to everyone but Claire. I ask this because repentance aids forgiveness (not always immediate) and that may be the first step in healing, as we see with Rebecca and her husband. Also, sometimes the consequences of our sin go beyond our repentance. I’ve had to learn that lesson the hard way. Repentance and restoration do not always wipe out consequences. It may be that because of Rebecca’s affair (sin), Marcus will have to go to public schools.
Forgiveness can not be demanded, or rushed; it is a process. One’s requirement to act like an adult may stifle the forgiveness process.
Above all, remember that the “battle” belongs to the Lord. He has the big picture, and so many times I’ve gotten in the way by insisting things go according to my goals, dreams, and plan. I always screw things up when I start meddling in God’s plan for my life and my children’s lives. It’s hard to give up a tradition and a dream. It may be what’s required at this time. Time…it can reveal what we don’t understand today.



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Brian

posted May 10, 2007 at 2:40 pm


Forgiveness is not the only issue to be considered. I can certainly understand how Claire could forgive all but not want to have to live every day with a reminder of a very painful chapter in her life. Are the grandparents being selfish in not considering Claire’s feelings? The issue was certainly not broached in the letter but it seems important to me.
My advice would be to send Marcus to a different school and show compassion to Claire and, quite possibly, to Marcus.



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