Chapter 1

Caution: This Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Heterosexual, Fiction, First, Slow, .

Desc: Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1 - A lay-preacher, disillusioned with his main-stream church, finds himself the focus of a group of 'Seekers After Truth'. CAUTION! Contains references to Christianity, miracles and demons. If such upsets you, please leave this one alone.

I don't know if I can explain the attraction of preaching the Word of God. There are people out there who live 'high on the hog' I think is the expression, because they have a gift. Either just a silver tongue, or because people think the person can heal them. I don't get paid. Make that, 'I didn't get paid', for preaching. I just wanted to communicate the joy and excitement of knowing Jesus.

I preached ... and led worship ... and mended broken bits of church buildings ... and swept floors ... for nearly thirty years. My preaching got the occasional compliment, but very little other feedback.

When my wife ran off with the organist of a nearby Baptist church, I plodded on for a while. The divorce proceeded inexorably and I didn't fight it, but then I discovered online erotica. Some of it was very good. A lot was badly written, poorly constructed, and full of grammatical and spelling errors. A pity, when often the premise, if unlikely, was quite imaginative.

If you can write a decent sermon, you're probably literate enough to write an essay ... or a short story. I set about putting down ... in computer memory ... some of my fantasies. I posted something and made a mistake in saving the piece, so it was incomplete and I was amazed to be inundated with requests to complete the story. That was how it started. I have never been impressed with the attitude 'sex is dirty' ... the attitude which says we should cover up the excellent bodies God gave us. Of course, it is a service to humanity that some people cover up, but that's beside the point. My stories contained things that probably would have raised eyebrows among the people who listened to me on Sunday. Some of them, anyway.

Because of who and what I am, my stories contained religion as well as sex. When I wrote about various difficulties, like losing your partner to cancer, or homosexuality, or polyamory, I was surprised by the positive nature of the feedback from people who had been moved, or encouraged, or reassured by what I'd written.

One day, I wrote a piece inspired by a rather unusual young woman in a different church who I met while doing some repairs around her church. I gave it to her, forgetting that there are people who are ... deeply disturbed ... by explicit accounts of sex, no matter how discreet. It turned out that she ... and her husband ... were among them.

I was summoned to the Superintendent.

It seemed that what I wrote was 'incompatible with my profession'. I apologised to the couple for disturbing and upsetting them, of course, but I failed to see that what I wrote was, in and of itself, wrong or immoral.

Don't get me wrong. I know that my careless, inconsiderate action hurt someone. Two some ones. That it was not deliberate is no excuse. My apology was heartfelt. But to me sex, between two loving, consenting adults is a beautiful thing, a gift of God, and something to be celebrated, not treated as dirty to be hidden away. I suspect my marriage might have been a lot better had I learned more about sex and how to make it good, before we married. Perhaps prospective couples should have seminars on how to make it good for their partner? Yes, I know that learning together is part of the fun, but it'd be better if we started out knowing the basics of foreplay, for example.

Well, for a month or two I just filled a seat. That was okay, actually – I think maybe I had been a bit burnt out. Certainly my enthusiasm had diminished, and it was good to sit back and relax a little, take stock, you might say. During that time, I had time to think about things I'd put to one side; issues of doctrine and dogma, or rules and regulations, that I wasn't entirely in agreement with, but which I wasn't sufficiently bothered by to make an excuse to leave the church. An example is infant baptism. Personally, I can see the logic of baptising, or 'Christening', a baby who is born to believing parents who are actively involved in the church, though I'd still prefer the Baptist system of infant dedication and baptism by choice as an adult. I was very uncomfortable about offering the rite to parents who never attended church, clearly had no idea of what it is to be a Christian, and equally clearly had no intention of teaching the child about the faith as he or she grew up. But that is by the by.

I was a little surprised no-one commented on my more regular presence at my home church, or my absence from the preaching plan, but didn't really worry about it. I did think that perhaps if people had really valued my efforts they would have commented. Anyway, things moved along at their usual rate until the day I met Bill Brown in town.

"Hey, Jim; I haven't seen your name on the plan recently."

"No, Bill. I resigned."

"Oh? I'm sorry to hear that. I always felt your sermons had something to say, to challenge, without causing a guilt-trip."

"Thanks! I got so little feedback that I wondered if anyone was bothered at all."

"I'm sorry to hear that. I've been remiss in saying anything to preachers, I suppose. Um ... Jim, have you got time for a coffee?"

I shrugged. "Sure. Where'd you like to go? I've been bereft since Pollards closed."

"The University isn't bad. The coffee is good, fairly cheap, and it's Fair Trade too."

We did that and chatted for half an hour or so, quite generally. Then Bill said, delicately, "I get the impression that you're not entirely in agreement with the church position on certain matters."

I chuckled. "You could say that. Until recently, I didn't think any of it was worth making waves over, but increasingly I've come to believe it's not a bad thing I'm out of the active ministry."

"I'm not so sure about that. I know someone who is struggling with an issue. Would you be prepared to have a chat with him? He needs someone with a theological background who isn't, um ... wedded to the status quo."

I shrugged, and handed him a card with my details on. "Get him to give me a call. I'm pretty flexible these days."

The young man, Philip, looked awkward sitting in my lounge with a cup of tea. I got him talking about inconsequential things and eventually he relaxed enough to get to the point. It was obvious, at least to me, that he was a deeply spiritual young man, committed to a genuine, active, relationship with God. "But I'm gay," he said quietly.

"The Bible forbids homosexual activity," I said, "as you clearly know. But equally clearly, God does not reject anybody. The desire to do something is not a sin. Dwelling on the desire ... like Jesus said, 'looking upon a woman to lust after her is adultery'. But no one thing is worse than any other. Lying to the tax man is as bad as adultery, is as bad as murder. Obviously, there is a legal difference. But to God, the only thing that matters is the degree to which something – even if it's strictly legal – separates you from Him."

"So ... you say ... I'm okay as long as I keep celibate? And don't ... what ... lust after someone? So I can't have someone to love?"

I sighed. "I can't judge," I said. "I know what the Bible says, and I guess you've heard the arguments around the issue. I don't think you can dismiss the Bible out of hand, for several reasons, but I also can't condemn you or lay the law down for you. I'm sorry, but it has to be between you and God."

"Oh," he said, and thought deeply. I didn't interrupt. Then he said, "Mister Bolton,"

"Jim," I interrupted with a smile.

"Oh, right. Jim ... you seem to have, I don't know ... I mean, you won't say anything definite about my situation, but you do seem to be very certain about other things."

"Some of the time," I admitted, "I feel God is saying something very definite to me. Here, all I can say is He loves you and wants you to love him back."

"That's a pretty big 'only'," he said thoughtfully.

"I suppose it is," I agreed.

"I wish I knew Him that well," he said, wistfully.

"He wants that, too."

His eyes widened. "How..."

"Why don't we pray?"

Well, we prayed. I never know what to expect, but certainly nothing seemed to happen at the time. However, the next morning Philip rang, really excited. "I had this dream! I dreamed that I met Jesus! Then when I woke up I was praying, but the words didn't make any sense, I just knew I was praying and I felt so good I didn't want to stop. In fact..." I had to smile as his voice suddenly stopped making sense for a few seconds. "Thank you!" he said, "I feel ... I feel really great! Can I come to see you again?"

"Of course! Any time, just call to check I'm free."

I suppose that was the beginning, unless the beginning was talking to Bill, or ... whatever.

Philip started coming over once or twice a week, then asked me to have dinner with him; he turned out to be a pretty good cook. We'd pray together and became, I think, good friends.

A few weeks after we began meeting regularly, he asked if he could bring a friend. I smiled, and said, "Of course!"

I was a little surprised that the friend was, in fact, a girl. She was possibly the quietest person I'd ever encountered outside a psychiatric ward; she responded to direct questions, but barely audibly and with a minimum of words.

I suggested a Bible study, which occupied half an hour or so, then we prayed together, though Teri said nothing out loud. However, she was with him again when we met a few days later.

That continued as we met, usually twice, a week, but then I got a call from a man.

"Mister Bolton?"

"Speaking.

"I'm Ben Spencer. Philip Wells suggested I speak to you. He says he thinks you might be able to help my wife and myself sort something out."

"Oh? Well, I'm willing to listen while you talk, if I can't do anything else."

They turned out to be an attractive couple in their early forties, with a problem that initially shocked me. At first, as we chatted generally, I was puzzled; they seemed deeply in love and their eyes continually sought each other even as they tried to be polite with me. After a few minutes, having been unable to detect any signs of stress in their relationship, I took the bull by the horns.

"You wanted to talk to me, and I got the impression there was a problem ... but I certainly can't pick up any strain in your relationship. In fact, you appear to be as much in love as any couple I've ever met."

"Oh, we are," Ben said, "Isabel has been the love of my life since we met, fifteen years ago."

"And Ben, mine," added Isabel.

"But we've both fallen in love with someone else," explained Ben.

I was both shocked and puzzled, and they could see it and laughed. They looked at each other and Isabel spoke. "A few weeks ago, I met an old friend from College. We were ... um... close... at College. I invited her to dinner so she and Ben could meet and I could tell right away they, um, clicked. Well. I was a bit, um, worried. Not that I think Ben would ever be unfaithful..." she glanced at him and I thought I could feel the vibrations of the love in the glance. "But then I thought about it. I mean, I loved Yvonne when we were together at College, but I liked, well, men too and I want children, so I didn't really consider continuing our relationship when we graduated. Besides, we went in opposite directions for work. I knew she liked men, too, though we'd been monogamous in College to reduce stress and complications..."

"When we met," Ben put in, "I saw an absolutely gorgeous woman who, had I not already been married to Izzy, I'd have been after in a heartbeat ... It then turned out she had a brain and we got along really well..."

"Anyway, I thought about it ... and I thought, maybe, we could sort of ... add her ... to our marriage and I suggested it to Ben who was shocked at first, then wondered if it was one of those questions we ask, you know, 'does my bum look big in this?' But I convinced him I was serious."

"It's not the sort of thing that crops up in normal marriages," Ben said, "but I guess you now think we're weird?"

I frowned, but shook my head. "I don't think it's exactly common, but certainly that sort of thing is far from unknown. But it sounds as though you've decided that's what you want to do..."

"No. At least, not definitely. There are issues..."

"Such as?"

"Well, we're Christians, but it's not something our church would approve, and we couldn't discuss it with our Pastor – he'd probably want to exorcise us or something. Then there're all sorts of things about risking our marriage. Philip said you'd listen and, well, talk about it without condemning us. He said ... you know your Bible, and you've studied theology, but you don't just trot out the usual stuff."

"Did he tell you I don't lay down rules? That whatever you decide is between you and God?"

"Well, yes, he did. But he also said you'd lay out different viewpoints and discuss them from theological, social and psychological points of view."

"You know, there's not much about monogamy in the Bible? Saint Paul required his leaders to be married 'to but one wife', but otherwise monogamy is a social construct. There is, however, quite a lot about homosexuality in both the old and new testaments. Personally I find male homosexuality ... or the practice of it, rather ... makes me uncomfortable, but like many men, lesbianism is ... titillating."

The discussion wandered through the territory of several different disciplines, not just theology, but in the end...

"Just remember, when you make your decisions, that 'love is the fulfilling of the law.' And that by 'love' we mean agape, not eros."

"You mean, we need to care about each other, do what's best all round, not just think about physical satisfaction?"

"Yeah ... I think that sums it up."

The following week, Ben and Isabel turned up at our meeting with a tiny, very beautiful oriental girl in tow. Initially shy, she rapidly fitted in and contributed effectively to the discussions, revealing a very sharp intellect and a dry sense of humour.

Looking back, I found myself in a leadership position without seeking, or indeed, thinking about it. As far as I was concerned, we were just a group of friends 'seeking after Truth'. I never had any thoughts of making what we did more than that. But six months on, we were regularly a round dozen – a nice number – plus two or three who couldn't come every week because of their work patterns. But I was shocked – twice shocked, in fact – when Teri asked to speak. Now, she'd opened up a little and would speak from time to time, but she was still very quiet.

"Jim ... everyone ... why can't we meet on Sundays?"

"Because I want you all to be a part of your local church," I explained (not for the first time).

"But my church is so big, and apart from Philip I hardly even recognise people. If it wasn't for him I'd have stopped going months ago. Besides, they talk a good talk, but it's not acted out."

"I'd have to agree," Philip put in. "It doesn't help that there're often disparaging comments about, you know, alternative lifestyles." The italics were clear in his voice.

"I learn more in one evening here than in a year's sermons at our church," someone else put in.

"All we need is a large room and a piano," another said, "Beth and I both play."

"But..." I started. Then my eyes were caught by Teri's. There was determination there, and certainty. I looked at her, really for the first time. "People ... I'm a bit worried about this..."

"We can tell," Ben laughed. "What's so frightening?"

"Authority," I said, "oversight. Who's in charge? Who's the leader? How do we make decisions?"

"You are, without a doubt," Isabel said, to nods and sounds of agreement all round.

"Qui custodiet, ipsos custodes?" ('Who will watch the watchmen?')

"God," Teri put in, quietly.

"Beg pardon?"

"You taught me ... us ... to listen to God. You listen to God, too, and we test what you say. Usually you're right and if someone's not happy, they'll say."

I thought about it. "I suppose you're right. You do correct me..." I looked at Teri, and saw her, as it were, for the first time. Average height, bit on the slim side, pointed chin on a triangular face surrounded by hair that was that reddish brown you see in some mahogany, actually, more red than brown; a rich colour. Brilliant emerald green eyes. "If we do this," I went on, "where do we meet?"

"We've got a biggish lounge," Ben said, "and you'd be very welcome. Why don't we think about having lunch together afterwards? We've got a big kitchen, too; no problem as long as people don't mind eating off laps..."

As we talked about it, we found that we had a couple of guitar players, Isabel and Dick, who was married to Beth and played piano as well. Beth played piano and flute. We wouldn't be short of music. Ben said he would organise a lap-top and data projector and get e-song books and a licence to use them in 'public'. We were all set.

Except, "Do we need some rules?" Philip put that in.

"I don't know," I said, "do we? You mean like ... what? No divorce? No multiple partners?"

He coloured, knowing I could have said something about homosexuality. "No, not like that. I mean, most of us are here because we were ... sort of 'out of tune' with regular churches."

"I think all of us are, in one way or another," contributed one of the others.

"I think this is something we need to think and pray about," I said, "and take time to explore. The problem with rules is that they can become a club to bludgeon people with. I agree, I think, that that we need to try to be sure that our ... fellowship ... is of people with shared standards and fundamental beliefs, but how to effect that? I don't know."

There was a short silence before Teri spoke again. "I think it's something we have to sort out, but I don't think we have to do so right now. What I suggest is..." she paused, as if groping for the right words, "think and pray, and meet Sunday morning with a one or two line summary of what we think ought to be the basis for our ... fellowship. You know, like the early Church summarised their core belief in 'Jesus is Lord'. Perhaps a single verse of Scripture that sums up our thoughts..."

There was a thoughtful silence, followed by general agreeing noises.

"It sounds as though everyone thinks that's a good idea," I said. "I certainly do. Let's do that. Meet at ten? At Isabel and Ben's?"

Everyone agreed and it was only after they'd all left I realised I hadn't included Yvonne's name with Isabel and Ben.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Consensual / Romantic / Heterosexual / Fiction / First / Slow /