In my first post about my adventures with Campus Crusade, I began with tale of flowers, group dates, and not-quite-flirting. Things went south after what I’ll call “the knee incident.”
Part 1 gives a more detailed summary, but to recap: I was having a great time with the Bible Study, especially the women. I didn’t know it, but people began to suspect that I was scouting for a wife. After inviting Marcy out to lunch because she seemed depressed (FYI these aren’t their real names.), I lost my balance as I rose from my chair and used her knee to brace myself and regain my balance.
I didn’t know it the time, but after I left Bible Study on the night of the knee incident, a huge argument erupted in my wake. On one side were Barry and Jason (again, not their real names.) Barry saw me stumble and insisted that grabbing Marcy’s knee looked like an accident to him. Jason didn’t see any of it, but he was my closest friend in the group, and he couldn’t imagine me doing something so crass.
On the other side were all of the women. A third guy (we’ll call him Dwight) didn’t witness any of it but figured that since my salvation was already in doubt, the women were likely telling the truth. I’m not sure who saw what when it happened because the incident wasn’t a big deal to me at the time. As far as I was concerned, I slipped, stumbled, got back to my feet and said my goodbyes for the night, so I wasn’t paying attention to who saw what. The only reason why I know what the guys saw is that they were willing to talk to me about it.
Jason had to describe the incident to me from Marcy’s viewpoint (that is, that I was making a blatant move on her, and I had unsavory plans in mind). It wasn’t until he went through the details a second time that I started to piece things together and remember how I had lost my balance. I learned that Jason had given me a passionate defense, and he thought that anyone who distrusted me was “whacked out of their minds.” He also filled me in on the whole “they don’t think you’re a Christian” warning, but at that point I wasn’t surprised. Not only did I not speak Christianese, I often had to ask for translations, and in evangelical circles it’s assumed that the initiated know the lingo.
What happened next reveals a lot about the eccentricities of an evangelical group like Campus Crusade. In spite of the distrust that had grown against me, I wasn’t asked to leave the group. If anything, they wanted me to stick around because I was surely unsaved, and gosh darn it, Campus Crusade’s mission is to take in the unwashed like myself. Since no one wanted to tell me off, I showed up at the next Bible Study knowing things might get ugly.
My reception was chilly but civil. I figured I could pull Marcy aside after prayer requests, talk to her about it, and apologize. Marcy didn’t have the same plan. At the end of prayer, everyone congregated into the kitchen, so I asked her if I could talk to her. She wouldn’t acknowledge me, so I told her that we needed to follow scripture and take the Matthew 18 approach. Normally I wouldn’t pull Bible quotes out like that, but I figured a little Christianese might help heal things up, and I genuinely did want to apologize. When she didn’t respond, I started to apologize there in the kitchen. She looked at me as if I was nuts and walked out of the house. In her absence, I was able to get the women’s side of things.
While they trusted Marcy’s version of the events, the women had determined that it was largely her fault that the knee incident happened. Because she had agreed to a private lunch with a man (especially an unsaved man), and because she was wearing short shorts that revealed her naked knee, my temptation was forgivable. This put me in the odd spot of defending Marcy, so the conversation turned into a bizarre meta-debate where I was arguing that a woman should be allowed to wear shorts and not expect to get groped, yet at the same time I didn’t actually grope Marcy. But no, they determined that it was Marcy’s responsibility to not dress so seductively, and provided that I kept my hands to myself and stopped treating the Bible Study as a meat market, I was welcome to stay. I protested about this depiction of course, and that’s when I learned that they viewed my flowers-and-dinner routine as an attempt to thin the herd.
The final word on my behalf – and the one that ultimately smoothed things over and led to the women forgiving me -was Kaitlyn’s. Kaitlyn was the painfully shy women who first invited me to the Bible Study. As she explained it, she figured that I accepted her invitation to the Study because I was attracted to her, and my decision to send flowers to a party she hosted somehow reinforced her suspicions. Now, don’t get me wrong: Kaitlyn wasn’t at all attracted to me (she had her eyes set on Dwight). But somehow all of these events led her to believe that Marcy couldn’t be of interest to me because she was my real target all along.