Matthew submitted his story back in 2013 in a series of six comments. In an effort to reorganize stories like his into a more useful and findable format, I have compiled his story into a single post.

Full disclosure: Matthew is my brother-in-law, and currently “withdrawn from” by the Anchorage, Alaska congregation. Jill is my sister, whom I love very much in spite of our disagreement over the church. They have an awesome family, and I’ve respected that they’ve been able to maintain a loving relationship.

August 29, 2013 at 3:36 PM

The option of “Anonymous” allows us to speak without anyone having any preconceived ideas about us and shields us from anyone bringing up our past. We all have one, don’t we. I choose not to be “Anonymous” My past has the good, bad and ugly. I pray that you can learn something from it.

I am a past member, teacher, evangelist of this sect, who is currently withdrawn from. For me it all started when my high school friend took me to a Der Wienerschnitzel, where he introduced me to my wife to be. She invited me to a class and I never stopped going. She is still an active member “teacher” of this sect and she is still the love of my life for the last 34 years.

It is so easy for us to point fingers at each other. Because we are all human, faults are easy to see. When I look back at my participation with this sect I have a lot of memories, things I am thankful for and a lot of things I am ashamed of. I needed to learn to move on and remember that I am accountable for my actions. No matter how many faults another might have it will never make me look, or be, any better of a person. I need to improve my own life and live responsibly before my God. I now worship at the Rose street church of Christ in Anchorage and have for several years.

When I tried to make changes I ended up getting withdrawn from. I spoke out against “May Week” and said it was unscriptural. (This was the straw that broke the camel’s back). To have select members of each congregation meet to discuss what the brotherhood was going to teach for the next year is not biblical. It would be impossible for me to count how many times I was publicly rebuked from the pulpit and in a Bible class. My favorite scripture during these times was Job 21:3 “Suffer me that I may speak; and after I have spoken, mock on.”

August 30, 2013 at 2:33 PM

2nd Post

I am thankful for this page and the FB page that allows different ones to “get things off their chest” and lets us communicate together. This is way overdue. However… all of the anger, hatred, foul language and bitterness, I will not agree with. But I pray that in time we can all work through it. I know it has taken me a long time to get to where I am today and my journey is not done. God deserves a lot of praise for is long suffering with us.

There will be times in our lives, which certain events will happen, that we will never forget. We will remember exactly what we were doing and where we were when it all happened. Like… 9/11, the day the shuttle blew up. All because of the significant impact of the events.

Back in 1977 a few weeks after I became a member of the Stanton congregation, I remember vividly being questioned by two ladies in the congregation (who are still in this sect). They asked me if I masturbated. When I told them no, they said if I did I would be withdrawn from. Later I also learned that they believed masturbation could be a cause for Alzheimers.

Around 1979 was when I found out that some used to tie their children’s hands at night, to keep them from “touching themselves”. They abused their children in this way because they didn’t want their children to grow up to be masturbators. This practice was stopping around the time I learned about it.

I remember (like it was yesterday) while we were in San Antonio, (this would have been around 1984) I received a call from a brother in Odessa asking me what sexual positions I practiced with my wife. I told him, that was not a conversation we were going to have and I never answered his questions. I felt it was none of his business. I then called and asked, someone else (a brother in San Diego) what was going on.

They would also question members to see if they had a “corrupt mind”. If they determined they did have one, then they were withdrawn from.

They have withdrawn from hundreds of members for these three “sins”. Masturbation, defiled marriage bed and the corrupt mind. They also believe now that those withdrawals were unscriptural. It would be safe to say that they have had far more unscriptural withdrawals than scriptural. They believed that those that fell away, after being withdrawn from scripturally, would have never continued anyway.

There past is so very ugly and they try to hide it. They destroyed the tapes of any recordings with these things being taught. They don’t want any of their new converts hearing these things.

I’m sorry for not having a more respectful way of putting this… But was it their Holy Spirit that led them in and out of the “truths” of child restraint, masturbation, the defiled marriage bed and questioning individuals if they had a corrupt mind? Was it their Holy Spirit that kept them united through all of that?

August 30, 2013 at 2:37 PM

3rd Post because it was too long to all be in my 2nd post.

Here is something to take note of… They believe that one of the “ear-marks” of them being the only true church is their belief that are led by the Holy Spirit into all truth and he keeps them united.

It is also important to note that they believe and are convinced that everyone else is lost. All other churches of Christ are referred to as the “off Churches” “Congregations that have had their candlestick removed” (Rev 2:5) therefor they believe God no longer recognized them as being the church.

Here is something VERY important to understand about them… With their strong belief that everyone else is wrong, this leaves them with nowhere else to go. So, no matter what they have done wrong and willingly admit to, it will always be better to stay where they are at, than to go anywhere else.

I will leave you with this scripture…

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9

This is how God feels towards them too. I believe prayer is in order for those we love, that are still a part of this sect.

September 1, 2013 at 6:01 PM

4th Post

I will start this post by saying that in my beginning; every new convert was questioned on masturbation and taught it was wrong. I might add that I still believe that we need to refrain from such behavior.

Now, another day, I will never forget. March 11th 1998. This is the day my Dad passed away suddenly with a heart attack. On this day I was at Sam’s Club shopping when my phone rang with my Mom on the other end of the phone. In her emotional pain she told me what had happened. Two months prior she lost her Mom and now her husband, my Dad was dead. All I could do was sit down on a pallet and cry.

I flew to the Stanton area to be with my Mom and family. As we were arranging my Dad’s burial, I was told that I needed to go back to Anchorage and worship with them. I was being told I needed to worship with my home congregation even though the Stanton congregation was right there. This was going to require me to miss my father’s burial. My family was willing to postpone his funeral so I flew back to Anchorage; worship with my home congregation, then flew back for his funeral. I will always remember, when I first told my Mom, I could not stay. She asked me why I could not stay and worship with the Stanton congregation. That’s when I told her, as I had been taught, it is written, “But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” -Matthew 8:22. I will never forget her cry and tears.

September 2, 2013 at 8:41 PM

5th Post

Sweetheart (Erin) you are right about Matthew 8. That’s just what I was taught and the way they applied it to me was cruel and wrong. I believe they have changed that teaching and application to Matthew 8 also.

Another event I will never forget…

My withdrawal. It was on a Thursday night after our non-member class. My wife and I walked in with some non-members, right about the time the class was supposed to start. Immediately the preacher and a lady took me into a back room to talk with me. They told me that after the non-member class the congregation was going to have a meeting to bring up withdrawing from me for what I said, the last weekend, at a Sunday night fellowship. I asked them a question (I don’t remember my specific question) and they said, “We don’t have time to talk right now, we need to start class”.

This is what I taught at the fellowship “May week was unscriptural and it was like the Baptist convention.” Furthermore I said “We can’t read in the Bible where the older ones from each congregation are to meet to discuss the teaching and practices of the brotherhood for the purpose of keeping us united.”

Now back to Thursday night. When the meeting started, the preacher said he wanted to first paint a picture of me because he didn’t believe the congregation knew me like he did. So, before going into what I said that previous Sunday evening, he spoke for about 15 minutes accusing me of things he believed I had done. He then spoke about what I said at the fellowship and then asked if there were any questions. At that point I wanted to address everything he had falsely accused me of, so I raised my hand. He called on me and I began to answer for myself on the first accusation he made about me. I said, “The first thing you just accused me of is believing that the older ones in our congregation are holding a specific brother back from teaching the older kids class” (I might add here that neither he or anyone else had ever talked with me about this).

I told him “I didn’t believe that and I had never thought it.” At that point another sister interrupted and said, “This has nothing to do with Matthews withdrawal and we didn’t need to talk about it” so I was stopped. I raised my hand again and when he called on me I began to talk about his second accusation against me and I was immediately cut off by another sister who said the same thing, “this has nothing to do with Matthew’s withdrawal and we didn’t need to talk about it.” So I was stopped a second time, for trying to answering for myself, the accusations laid against me. I raised my hand again and he called on me one last time. I asked “can I answer for myself for the things I said at the fellowship for the reason you are withdrawing from me?” He said “no” and I was then withdrawn from.

There never was any scripture given to try to show the “May Week” to be scriptural. Not at that meeting or any time thereafter. I continued to attend for around 1 ½ years before I left for good.

I consider this day to be one of the greatest days of my life. I continue to thank God for setting me free. I believe that my life is proof that anyone can make it out of there.

He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. Psalms 111:4

September 27, 2013 at 12:43 PM

6th Post

There were two other days I will never forget. These two days happened several years after my withdrawal. Two of my boys, on different days, a few years apart from each other, were baptized into the congregation in Anchorage. They both, at their different times, meet up with me to tell me that they were going to get baptized. This might sound odd, but with both of my sons, we just cried and hugged each other. Neither one of them wanted to let me go. Those were the longest hugs ever. This was because we both knew that they would never hold any more conversations with me. No more camping or playing basketball or anything with Papa any more. As I said before, I am literally reminded every day of the bondage that is a part of those congregations. I believe I still have to reap what I sowed and I believe God can work a miracle in their lives also. I told my first boy that God was merciful with me because he led my out of those congregations. I said, “You are so much like me and I believe God will help lead you out of there too.”

Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. -Psalms 51:8-13

I do not want anyone to feel sorry for me, because God has been very good to me. I have so much to be thankful for and I know that my journey is not over. This is just what is happening in these congregations today.

I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD. -Psalms 104:33-3

Here is a link to my own study on Stanton’s mistaken understanding of withdrawal. It does not necessarily represent Matthew’s opinions.