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主題: 逃離基要派基督教 日期: 2005-11-13
作者: 杜葉錫恩 來源: 本網見證

(本文節錄自以下書籍的第16章:AWAY WITH ALL SUPERSTITIONS! A plea for man to broaden his narrow traditional horizons)

感謝原作者杜葉錫恩 Elsie Tu 容許自由轉載
中文翻譯:抽刀斷水
原載於離教者之家 http://exchristian.hk

我們無法知道其他人的思想和感情,也無法知道我們在年青的時候,是否都曾經歷過相似的心智過程和思想發展。

回顧我最早的童年時期,我想我的第一印象部分來自一位主日學導師,她上課時教導我們,無論我們在做甚麼、想甚麼,神都在看著、聽著;我們在做每一件事之前,都應先停下來聆聽神,祂會指引我們那是對的還是錯的。我不太肯定這是否就是開啟我良心的第一把聲音,或者可能來自對母親的恐懼,她曾斷言假如我們做了甚麼頑皮的事,就會「殺死」我們,而我們並不認為這恐嚇是開玩笑。又或者指引著我的,是自我醒覺的良心。我所清楚知道的,是我擁有一顆非常仁慈的心。當我做了甚麼頑皮的事時,我就會臉紅,所以我無法掩飾。很快母親就注意到我這個會臉紅而露出馬腳的特性,所以當有甚麼打爛或出錯時,她總會第一個查問我。我的姐姐就比我好得多了,當她做錯事時,比我更懂得裝作無辜。

當我是小孩子時,一些思緒總會不時浮現:「我是誰?」和「為何我是我,而不是其他人?」現在看來,這些只是一些不能解答的傻問題,最終我都要接受屬於自己的命運。我亦很想知道人生的意義。

我對事物極度敏感,令我擁有害羞的性格。對於父母經常在家裡吵架,我感到十分羞恥。母親對宗教並不虔誠,但對子女的行為卻有非常嚴厲的看法。她認為小孩不應多說話,我們絕不可以將家裡的事情告訴其他人,所以我保持沉默不語。當母親經常與沉靜和勤力的父親吵架時,就算是我最好的朋友,他們也不知道我們在家所受的痛苦。母親很容易吃醋,但沒有人知道原因,因為父親除了上班和回家外就從沒有到過其他地方。家庭衝突可以使人沮喪,亦令到家人內省、害羞、膽小和卑微。在我八歲之前我們一家住在姨母的家,很多年後她告訴我,我一直都是個開朗和活潑的小孩子,但當家庭不快樂時,那歡樂的泡沫就很容易爆破。為人父母應好好記住這一點。

我在學校極度害羞,老師的一個罵人詞語就能使我充滿了傷害,而我總以眼淚回敬。事實上,老師很少找到理由去責罵我,因為我很服從和喜歡做好我的作業。母親是個永不滿足的人,她總想著搬家,所以當我要參加升中評核試時,我已因搬家而轉到了第四間學校。每間學校的轉變,我都因為要面對新同學、新老師和新課堂而感到極度痛苦。在那評核試中我得到了第六名,令我順利進入中學,在那裡有同樣的同學和老師,我可以安頓下來,去實現我的目標,那就是在學科和體育上都是最好的學生。體育其實是我的救星,它使我從家庭的不愉快中釋放出來。我自己亦難以明白,以我害羞和膽小的天性,如何可以成為班級和學校的領袖生和學校體育隊長,除非我擁有一些我並未察覺到的潛在力量。即使直至現在,我的舊同學朋友,知道我在學校是如此沉靜,對於我竟能在香港打擊貪污亦感到奇怪。

我很喜愛中學生活,甚至我懼怕離開中學和進入大學,而在大學我決定成為一位教師。我原本想將來擔任公務員文職工作,但我的女校長卻不答應,並堅持我應上大學,在那裡我唯一可能而我從不渴望的職業就是教書。站在一班可能是不良學生前面,我懼怕這個念頭。因此對我來說,離開學校就好像由天堂跌落地獄,亦令我有足夠條件被基要派教徒看中。

我上了大學只有數天,就與其他新同學一起被邀請去參加一個「咖啡集會」,有咖啡、蛋糕提供及舉辦一個講座。我的學院「母親」(負責指導新來的學生,由一些高年級的同學擔任)建議我接受所有團體的所有邀請,但卻一個團體都不加入。我覺得這個忠告不太好,但無論如何我都參加了那個咖啡集會。在那裡我聽到同學講述他們如何決志成為「重生」基督徒,並呼籲出席者照樣做。這對我來說是新鮮的,因為我以前跟父親一樣,都是不可知論者,我並無接觸過基要派。可是我喜歡當日我所聽到的,於是就與一個以前的同學朋友,一起步向前去接受這個新生的禮物。我們都流出喜樂的淚水,因為整個集會都很感動,而那些「重生」的學生亦很友善,看來這就是正確前進的道路。這個經驗確實是令人著迷的,而且有即時的效果。我不再感到沮喪,不再感到空虛。事實上,在這個新接觸的信仰中,第一首我所學的詩歌就十分準確地表達這一點:
「仰視天空色清藍,青翠綠草鋪大地,萬紫千紅滿生氣,無神之眼看不見。」

我整個生命的確改變了。我有能力控制好我的情緒,我對於母親的煩擾變得有耐性,我可以「轉另一邊臉由別人打」,我不再批評別人和與人爭吵。父親對這些改變感到驚訝,但亦很自然地感到失望,因為我立即決定將來成為一名傳教士傳揚福音,因而他對我將來作為國會議員及為低下階層工作的夢想就不能實現。

現在回望起來,對於想像自己能將喜樂的信息傳遍各地,我了解到那時是很天真的。我熱烈地閱讀聖經,嘗試實行耶穌的教導,我亦閱讀關於傳教士的書籍,以此作為看來是終生事業的靈感泉源。這一切都發生在1932年。

幻想破滅的過程是緩慢的。他們告訴我應先完成大學才去做宣教事工,當時但我認為這步驟是不必要的,現在我卻要感謝這個勸告。對於「重生」基督徒一定不可以進戲院、吸煙和做其他事情,儘管這些事我都沒有興趣,但我亦感到失望。其實我都沒有錢去做這些事,但我比較喜歡自己做選擇,雖然結果可能也是一樣。可是當老皇帝佐治五世逝世時,由於那個時代還未有電視,所以母親便叫我帶她到戲院,在螢幕上觀看喪禮過程,那時問題便出現了。我不情願地與母親一起到戲院,但我有犯罪感,因為這違背了重生基督徒的教導,而其實那是沒有罪的,但我就領受了基要主義向信徒所施枷鎖的第一課。

約一年後,我在大學遇到一個年輕男子,他是我們學生會的成員,亦是在基要派家庭中長大的。我在單車棚拿回我的單車準備回家時,這同學總是剛好在那裡出現。我們之後成為了好朋友,我亦發覺他是普利茅斯弟兄會(Plymouth Brethren)的成員,後來我才知道該會是極端基要派團體。我們開始一起散步、一起踏單車,他教了我很多聖經上的事情,但我覺得他對聖經文字的解釋頗為牽強。在他最愛的《雅歌》中,他找到了具象徵的解釋,雖然我起初讀它的時候看來好像很色情,甚至使人尷尬。

他游說我在他的聚會中受浸,弟兄會把那聚會稱為教會。當時間越久,我對一些詩歌中的字眼就感到越來越困擾,例如「你豈有洗於羊羔的寶血?」我覺得這太殘忍,甚至感到厭惡。另外,對於要相信聖經中的神蹟,我亦覺得有點困難。為何神蹟只出現在那個時候和那個地方,但卻不在今天出現?對此我內心亦感到疑惑。當我的良心能解答這些問題,並切實地找到答案後,我才覺得跟隨耶穌的良好教導是沒有問題。

漸漸地我認識到,在弟兄會沒有正式禮儀時,他們仍堅持一些看來完全沒有必要的事情,例如女性必須留長頭髮和在崇拜時帶帽。作為一個簡單的基督徒,這些看來都無甚關係。我亦發現一個常見的現象,就是當弟兄會中的某些成員沒有跟隨這些無用的原則時,他們就會彼此在大家背後談論這些事情。

弟兄會的基督徒教友只准與他們組織的成員結婚。也許這是有道理的,因為假如其中一方屬於極端教派,而另一方並不屬於時,這段婚姻就難以快樂。結果,能選擇的伴侶就非常有限,不相配的組合時有發生。我看見一個又一個「弟兄」,在發現另一個更吸引的女人,而她又願意受浸入會後,便取消原來的婚約。

取消婚約的藉口永遠都是一式一樣:這個男人在禱告中得知神叫他們分開。對於被拋棄的情人,以及男人在禱告中神命令他所做的任何事情,神都必須負上責任。由於婦女較低級,所以她們就是取消婚約中的受害者。婦女不會獲得神的啟示,因為聖經說在伊甸園夏娃引誘亞當犯罪,所以婦女的說話是沒有用的,她必須在會中閉口不言,所有事情都要由弟兄決定。

我初信時所伴隨的歡樂正在慢慢減退,而最後一擊就是我和男朋友分開的時候。由於當時他的父母反對他有女朋友,所以我們並無正式的盟約,但我們已約定好在完成學業後便結婚。可是他後來亦發現,神告訴他要取消這個互相協議的婚約。這個衝擊幾乎使我崩潰,我要用上好幾年才從這打擊中回復。我的生命失去了所有的快樂,當時是1939年,戰爭剛剛開始,所以當時的宣教事工根本不可能進行。從那時起我已完全身心交瘁和幻想破滅,這是一個危險時期,尤其是當另一位弟兄向我求婚。我拒絕了他,因為我不想被一個失敗聯合教會的復興所捕獵,同時我知道這位弟兄也是由一個更極端的基要派家庭中成長。

約兩年後,這位新朋友遠道而來,再次向我求婚,並邀我與他一起到中國去,他說他已決定去擴闊他的基要派視野。雖然他是一個非常好的人,然而主要吸引我的原因就是我可以到中國成為傳教士。不久之後,在1945年,我們結婚了。

1947年12月我們起程前往中國,1948年1月抵達上海,然後我們前往位於中國正中的江西省,在那裡有一個弟兄會的傳教中心。傳教團把我們送到牯嶺渡過隨後的冬天和夏天,然後我們在宜豐逗留了一段短時間,最後在南昌安頓下來。南昌是江西省省會,1949年人民解放軍渡過長江後最終就是抵達這裡。

我們所在地區的官員因擔心在我們之中有人是間諜,所以經常查問我們。但是很幸運地,他們都很明白事理和很幫助我們。事實上當時聯合國正於北韓與中國打仗,嚴格來說歐洲人是中國的敵人,可是那些官員並無將我們當成敵人。最後,由於戰火蔓延,除了幾個傳教士之外,大部分都決定離開中國,我們就跟隨著他們到達香港。

假如說我們在中國一切順利的話,在傳教中心我自己和某些教友的關係就不太順利,而他們幾乎全部都懷有頑固的基要主義血統。很不幸地,我的丈夫回復了他對聖經的極端解釋。對於強迫婦女於浸禮前必須承諾,一定要在教會戴帽,由於中國婦女甚少戴帽,我對此表示擔心,但我的丈夫就很不高興。還有其他問題,主要是關於保羅對教會的教導。但比較起更實際的傳教工作,例如弟兄會管理的診所和醫院,我並不覺得這些問題很重要。他們主要的目的只是傳教,診所只是其中一種提供平台用來傳教的方法,這令我感到沮喪。例如其中一個傳教士說,她會開服杜蟲藥給她所有的病人,「因為他們都有寄生蟲」,而假如他們求診時來晚了,錯過了聽道的時間,「我只給他們亞士匹靈」。「他們」當然總是指中國人。我覺得這種態度真是種族歧視。當我抵達中國後發現,正如一個我在印度相識的傳教士對我說,傳教士正確來說就是「有基督教花樣的帝國主義者」。當我們剛到中國時,在聚會中一位「姊妹」告訴我們其中一個重要忠告:「對中國人要親切,但他們有屬於他們自己的地方。」由於他們教導的聖經清楚說明,我們不可以在教會內佔前面位置,所以我回答:「我不知道屬於他們的地方在那裡。」但他們卻告訴我們要在教堂中佔用前排座位。我覺得這裡是中國人的地方,我們是客人,我們無權對中國人作威作福。

其實從一開始我們在中國旅居時,我經已意識到,面對比我們擁有古老很多的文明,我們正在這裡的人面前驕傲自大。當看到這個情況時,我內心就很不舒服。當我們其中兩人提議邀請一位中國導師一起午飯時,其他人就告訴我們弟兄會對此會不高興。假如我們一定要這樣做的話,那我們必須與她分桌而坐。其中一位弟兄會成員甚至誇耀地說,除了他的中國籍工人之外,在中國數十年來他都沒有邀請過中國人進入他的家裡。

當我對耶穌教導的簡單解釋,和他們所教導的保羅戒律開始分裂時,很明顯地我與他們已格格不入了。中國內地教會(the China Inland Mission)的婦女擁有更廣闊的思維,我和她們建立了友誼。但當我開始和她們定期喝茶時,其中一個年長的弟兄會成員叫我不要再見她們,因為保羅已告訴我,羊群甚至不應與來自不同教會種類的人一起喝奶。

我重回那明顯與我格格不入的教會,這當然是我自己一個錯誤的決定。在這個完全令我不安的環境裡,我竭力地嘗試保留我的理智。我已放棄跟隨耶穌教導的自由,並努力學習基要主義,估計我應該會接受保羅的極端思想。但是,基督徒不是應該理所當然地跟隨耶穌訓誡的麼?於是我將這個疑問向弟兄會提出,但他們告訴我,耶穌的教導只是給當時的猶太人,而我們這教會則必須接受保羅的教導。但是保羅聲稱是耶穌的門徒,我不明白為何兩者會不一樣。

從1951年我們抵達香港後開始,我已完全幻想破滅了,但由於我仍尊重我的丈夫,我並不想破壞婚姻。在香港,我很享受協助管理一間診所。我很快地學會了少許廣東話,所以在診所裡我就負責翻譯。當時有很多小孩子都沒有機會接受教育,因此我提議開辦學校,但卻再一次事與願違。教會雖然答應,但它的條件是我們只能教聖經。傳教士都送他們的子女讀多些書,但對於中國人來說,很明顯只讀聖經就經已足夠。後來我勝了這場小仗,只要優先教聖經科,教會就容許學校教其他科目,因為我們的目的就是要增加信眾。

但這件事已經損害了我和教會的關係。我看見越來越多事情,剝奪了我決定自己事情的自由,使我無法再留在這間教會。我的丈夫總不斷提醒我,是夏娃令到亞當犯罪。我沒有反駁,但我覺得亞當一定也是軟弱的,所以必須承擔相同責任。但我從不與丈夫吵架,這是當時我看到母親無止境的吵架而對自己許下的承諾。我寧願死也不吵架。

最後,我在教會站了起來,說我不能接受他們的教導。無論任何一個婦女站起來講任何說話,都會引起一陣騷動,因為保羅曾經教導:「婦女必須在會中閉口不言」。對他們來說這句說話就是這個意思,儘管其他基督徒只會將這句解釋為訓話,因為有些婦女經常在教會崇拜時喋喋不休。我才不管哪個才是正確的解釋。雖然對我丈夫我真的感到抱歉,但我依然宣佈我已下了決心離開教會。我以為在離開聚會的那天,我會流下悲傷的眼淚。但出乎意料之外,重擔從我的肩膊上跌落,而我則感到從未有過的輕鬆,我真正地鬆開那些一直把我拖向瘋狂或自殺的枷鎖了。

回復自由後,面前有很多艱巨工作正在等著我。我現在必須找一個新的生命、一個新的方向去支撐自己,那也是一個孤獨的方向。而且我決定彌補多年來,在聚會中我浪費了的所有光陰。由於聖經被認為是我們主要的閱讀材料,我曾被剝奪閱讀這世界正在發生甚麼事的權利,這也和艾得蒙‧高斯(Edmund Gosse,英國作家)所經歷的一樣。他告訴我們,當他與父親在弟兄會的基要觀點上決裂時,他是如何開始接受文學教育,當時他甚至對莎士比亞和英國詩人也一無所知。

但我和高斯不一樣,我不是一位詩人。我開始做父親一直希望我做的事情,就是為低下階層請命,打擊不公正和貪污。可惜父親永不會知道,因為當我們身在中國時他經已去世。但是每當我回想起他的說話,他的影響力依然在支持著我。同樣地,杜學魁也支持著我。他曾經是我們教會的成員,我和他分享了很多相似的思想。學魁當時並未察覺到他對我的影響,但他使我領悟了很多,包括我們外國人對其他人的驕傲自大,還有我們對其他國家人民的輕視。他對生命的哲學,喚醒了我以前久違了的理想。

我希望我已完成我的分內事。當我從基要派的折磨中康復後,我的健康亦康復了,容許我能彌補浪費多年的日子。我希望由到達香港後到現在這五十年間,我的生命都是有價值的。

我的生命已接近尾聲,在離開這個世界之前,我只想試圖向年青人指出完全依附於基要組織的危險性,無論那組織是宗教性或是政治性的。基要派只會傷害自己和傷害別人,它一點好處也沒有。只要擁有開放的思維,和在不傷害別人的情況下保持我們思想自由和行動自由的決心,我們就可以倚靠自己的力量和自己的努力,去面對一生中所有的問題。我們無須去信靠人為的醫治、所謂的神蹟、令人生畏的教義。無人知道神是否真的存在,但我們可以保持思想開放,只要我們在這世間做好事,我們就無所畏懼。只要令其他人快樂,我們就可以令自己快樂,以及獲得美滿的生命。

就算這本書只能拯救到一個年青人,避免他捲入那些能使個人生命受挫、破壞家庭或社會的基要派或別異教派,我都覺得寫這本書所花的時間和精力都是值得的。


(原文如下 / Original Version)

It is impossible to know the thoughts and emotions of others, and whether we all as youngsters pass through similar mental processes and thought development.

Looking back to my earliest childhood, I think my first impressions came partly from a Sunday School teacher who told her class that God is watching and listening to everything we do or think, and that before we do anything we should stop to listen to God, who will tell us whether it is right or wrong. I am not sure whether that was what first opened the voice of conscience in me. It could have been fear of my mother, who promised to "kill" us children if we did anything naughty, and we took the threat seriously. Or perhaps it was my own awakening conscience that guided me. What I do know is that I had a very tender conscience and whenever I did anything naughty I could not hide it because my face would blush. My mother soon noticed this tendency of mine to "give the show away" by blushing, so when anything was broken or something went wrong, she would first question me. My elder sister was much better than I at looking innocent when she was wrong.

As a child the thought kept occurring to me, "Who am I?", and "Why am I me and not someone else?" This last now seems to be a silly question which could not be answered and eventually I just accepted my lot. I also wondered much about the meaning of life.

Being extremely sensitive made me shy, and I felt very ashamed that my parents so often quarrelled at home. My mother was not religious, but she had very strict views on how children should behave: they were to be seen but not heard. We must not speak to others about affairs at home. So I remained mute and even my best friends knew nothing about our suffering at home as my mother constantly quarrelled with my quiet, hardworking father. She was jealous of him but no one ever knew why because he never went anywhere except to work and back home. Strife in a family can dampen and make them introspective, shy, timid and humble. Yet my paternal aunt, in whose home our family lived until I was eight years old, told me many years later that I was always a bright and active child. But the bubbles of joy are easily burst when the home is unhappy. Parents would do well to remember this.

At school I was painfully shy, and one cross word from a teacher could make me choke with the hurt of it, though I always fought back my tears. In fact, teachers seldom had reason to scold me because I was obedient, and loved to do my work well. My mother was a restless person, always wanting to move house, so by the time I was due to sit the eleven-plus examination, I was already in my fourth school because of moving around. Each school change brought the agony of meeting new classmates, new teachers, new lessons. Yet somehow I managed to come out in the top six in that examination, enabling me to enter secondary school where I could settle down with the same classmates and teachers, and achieve my goal to be top student in both academic subjects and in sports. Sports in fact were my salvation, a release from unhappiness at home. How I managed, with my shy and timid nature, to become class and school prefect and school sports captain, is something I cannot myself understand, unless there was some latent strength and had not yet come into my consciousness. Even now, old school friends wonder how I came to fight corruption in Hong Kong since I was so quiet at school.

So much did I love secondary school that I dreaded the thought of leaving and going to university, where it was decided on my behalf that I was to become a teacher. My own choice would have been a quiet pen-pushing job in the civil service, but my headmistress would have none of it and insisted I should go to tertiary education, where the only career possible at that time was teaching, a career I never wanted. I dreaded the thought of standing in front of a class of students who might be ill-behaved. So leaving school was like falling from heaven into hell, and that made me ripe for the picking by fundamentalists.

I had been at the university only a few days when I was invited along with other freshmen to attend a "coffee squash" offering coffee, cakes and a talk. My college mother (as we called the senior students who were appointed to advise freshmen) advised me to accept all invitations from all organisations, but join none of them. I thought that rather bad advice, but anyhow I joined the coffee squash. There we heard students testify as to how they had become "born-again" Christians, and called upon those present to do likewise. It was all new to me because, like my father, I was an agnostic and had not heard of fundamentalism. However, I like what I heard that day, and along with a former school friend, went forward to accept the gift of new life. We both wept tears of joy, because the whole meeting was emotional, the "born again" students were very nice and friendly, and this seemed to be the way to proceed. The experience was indeed ecstatic, and the results immediate. I no longer felt depressed, no longer had feelings of emptiness. In fact, the first song I learned in new-found faith was exactly true:
"Heaven above is softer blue, earth around is sweeter green; Something lives in very hue; Christless eyes have never seen."

Truly, my whole life changed. I was able to control my temper better, I was patient when my mother nagged me, I could "turn the other cheek" and I stopped criticizing or arguing with people. My father marveled at the change, though naturally he was disappointed that his dream of my one day becoming a Member of Parliament and working for the underprivileged would not be fulfilled because I immediately decided that I would one day be a missionary and spread the good news.

Looking back now, I realize that it was naive of me to imagine that I could take the joyful message everywhere. I avidly read the bible and tried to carry out the teaching of Jesus. I also read about missionaries as a source of inspiration for what seemed to be my life's work. This all happened in the year 1932.

Disillusionment came slowly. First I was told that I should finish my tertiary studies before going to the mission field, a step which I thought unnecessary, though now I am thankful that such advice was given to me. I was also disappointed to find that "born-again" Christians must not go to the cinema, smoke and do other things, in which, actually, I had no interest anyhow. I preferred to make the choice myself, though the result would have been the same. In fact I had no money to do these things. One problem arose, however, when the old King, George V, died, and my mother asked me to take her to the cinema to see his funeral on the screen, for in those days television was unknown. Reluctantly I did go with my mother, but felt guilty because of the teaching given to born-again Christians. In fact there was nothing sinful about it, but I received my first lesson on the chains with which fundamentalism binds the believers.

About a year later, I met a young man at the university, a member of our student union and one brought up in a fundamentalist family. This student always appeared at the bicycle shed just as I arrived to get my bicycle to go home. We became good friends, and I discovered that he was a member of the Plymouth Brethren, a narrow fundamentalist group as I was later to discover. We began to take walks and bicycle runs together, and he taught me many things from the bible which seemed to me far-fetched interpretations of the text, his favourite being the "Song of Solomon" of which he found symbolic explanations, though at first reading it appeared to me to be very sensual, even embarrassing.

He persuaded me to be baptized into his assembly, as the Brethren call their church. As time went on, I became more and more troubled about the words of some hymns such as "Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?" It was too gory for me, even abhorrent. I also had some difficulty in believing the miracles in the bible, and I wondered within myself why miracles happened only at that time and in that place, but not today. Following the good teaching of Jesus was no problem as my conscience answered to that and I sought to carry it out to the letter.

Gradually I learned that while the Brethren have no formal ritual, they do insist on what seems to be totally unnecessary, for example, that women must grow their hair long and wear hats to go to worship. It seemed quite irrelevant to being a simple Christian, and I found it was common for members to discuss behind each other's backs any member who did not follow these useless Brethren principles.

Christian brethren were expected to marry only within their community, and perhaps that made sense in that a happy marriage would have been difficult if one partner belonged to the narrow sect and the other did not. Consequently the choice of a partner was very limited and unsuitable matches often occurred. I saw one after another break off an engagement when the "Brother" found a more attractive woman willing to be baptized and join the assembly.

The excuse for breaking off an engagement was always the same: the man had been told by God in prayer to break off. God had to take responsibility then for a jilted lover, as well as anything a man did at God's command in prayer. Since women were in an inferior position, they were the ones who suffered from the broken engagements. A woman was not expected to get messages from God because the bible says it was Eve who tempted Adam to sin in the Garden of Eden, so a woman's word was worthless, and she must remain silent in the church. All decisions were made by brethren.

The joy that had accompanied my conversion was being sapped away, and the last straw was when my boy friend, with whom we had a bond and expectation of marriage when studies were over, also found that God had told him to break off the mutually agreed engagement, though nothing formal had been agreed because his parents objected to his having a girl friend at all. The shock of that nearly broke me, and it took years to recover from the blow. All joy had gone out of life. It was then 1939, and the war had just begun, so missionary work was at that time out of the question. By then I was totally devastated and disillusioned. It was a dangerous time, especially when another of the Brethren asked me to marry him. I refused, on the grounds that I did not want to be caught on the rebound of a failed union, and also I knew that this brother was also from a fundamentalist and even more narrow-minded family.

About two years later, the new friend came a long way to ask me again to marry him and go to China, saying that he had decided to broaden his fundamentalist views. It was mainly the hope of going to China as a missionary that attracted me, though he was a very good person. Soon after, in 1945, we were married.

We set out for China in December 1947, arriving in Shanghai in January 1948, then made our way to Kiangsi Province, Central China, where the Brethren had a mission station. The Mission sent us to spend the rest of the winter and summer in Kuling, and later we spent a short time in Ifeng before finally settling in Nanchang, the provincial capital, as the People's Liberation Army crossed the Yangtze River and finally reached Nanchang in 1949.

We were fortunate that the officials in our district were very understanding and helpful, though they frequently questioned us, probably because they feared some among us might be spies. In fact as Europeans we were technically enemies of China because the United Nations was fighting with Chinese in North Korea. However, they did not treat us as enemies. Finally, as the war progressed, all missionaries with few exceptions decided to pull out of China, and we came with them, settling in Hong Kong.

If all was well with us in China, things were not going too well at the mission station between myself and some of the Brethren, most of whom were of the tough fundamentalist breed. My husband, unfortunately, reverted to his narrow interpretation of the bible, and was very unhappy when I expressed my qualms about forcing women to promise before baptism that they must wear hats in church. Chinese women seldom wore hats at all. There were other matters mostly connected with the teaching of Paul to the churches which seemed to me of little importance compared with the more practical work of the mission, for example, in the clinics and hospitals run by the Brethren. It upset me that their main aim was to preach, and clinics were only a means of providing a platform for preaching. One missionary, for example, said that she gave all her patients medicine for worms, "because they all have worms", and if they came late for treatment and missed hearing the preaching, "I just give them an aspirin". "They" always meant Chinese people, of course. To me the attitude was truly racist. One missionary whom we met in India put it correctly, as I discovered on arriving in China, when he said that missionaries were "imperialists with a Christian twist". One of the first pieces of advice I received from a "Sister" in our Assembly when we arrived in China was, "Be kind to the Chinese, but keep them in their place". I replied, "I don't know where their place is", because the bible they taught clearly said that we should not take the front positions in the church, yet we were told we had to occupy the front seats in our church hall. I felt that this was the land of the Chinese and we were guests, with no right to lord it over the Chinese.

In fact, from the beginning of our sojourn in China, I sensed that we were arrogant to a people with a civilization much older than our own, and I felt uncomfortable on seeing the situation. When two of us requested that we might invite our Chinese teacher to lunch, we were told that the Brethren would not be happy about that, and that if we did invite our teacher, we must sit with her at a separate table. One of those Brethren boasted that in his decades in China, no Chinese had ever been invited into his house – except his servants, who were Chinese.

As the rift between my simple interpretation of the teaching of Jesus and their teaching of Paul's precepts grew, it was clear that I could never fit in with them. I sought friendship with women of the China Inland Mission, who were much broader-minded, but when I began to have tea with them regularly, one of the elder Brethren told me that I must not meet again with them since Paul had told me the flock not even to "sup" with those of a different kind of church.

My mistake, of course, was my own, that I had gone back into a church where obviously I could not fit in. I was trying to preserve my sanity in a situation where I felt totally ill at ease. I had given up my freedom to follow the teaching of Jesus, and was expected to accept the narrow concepts of Paul as studied enough about fundamentalism but had taken it for granted that Christians followed the precepts of Jesus, but when I questioned the Brethren on that point, they told me that the teaching of Jesus was only for the Jews of this time, while we, the church, must accept the teachings of Paul. I could not understand why the two should differ, since Paul claimed to be a follower of Jesus.

By the time we reached Hong Kong in 1951, I had already become totally disillusioned, but did not want to ruin my marriage because I had no personal disregard for my husband. In Hong Kong, I enjoyed helping to run a clinic where I was interpreter because I quickly picked up a little Cantonese. Then I proposed opening a school for some of the many children who had no chance of education. Again I was up against a brick wall. The church agreed, on condition we taught only the bible. The missionaries themselves had sent their children for higher education, but apparently bible teaching alone was good enough for Chinese. I won a little in this battle and was allowed to teach other subjects provided the bible was given prior place and that our aim was to win converts to our church.

But the damage had been done. I saw more and more that I could not continue in this church which had deprived me totally of my freedom to make my decisions for myself. My husband always reminded me that Eve was the one who led Adam into sin. I did not retaliate as I felt, that Adam must have been weak to succumb and must take equal responsibility. But I never quarreled with my husband, a promise I had made my self when I saw the misery of my mother's endless quarrelling. I would rather have died than quarrel.

Eventually I stood up in the church and said I could not accept their teaching. There was quite an uproar that any woman should stand up and say anything at all, because Paul had taught, "Let your women keep silence in the church". To them, it meant just that, though other Christians interpret those words to have been just a reprimand because some women used to chatter during church services. I do not care which interpretation is correct. I declared my resolve to leave the church, though I really felt sorry for my husband. I expected to leave the meeting that day shedding tears of sorrow, but to my surprise, a heavy burden fell from my shoulders, and I felt more free than I had ever done before. I had truly been loosened from the chains which had been dragging me down towards insanity or suicide.

Regaining that freedom meant a lot of hard work ahead, because at the age of 42 I would now have to find a new life, a new way of supporting myself, a lonely way, and moreover, I was determined to make up for all those lost years that I had wasted in the Assemblies. Like Edmund Gosse, I had been deprived of reading what was going on in the world, as the bible was supposed to be our main reading material. Edmund Gosse tells how when he broke with his father on the same point, the fundamentalism of the Brethren, he had to begin his education in literature as he knew nothing even about Shakespeare and the English poets.

But unlike Gosse I was not a poet, and I began to do what my father had always wanted me to do, to speak up for the under-privileged, and fight against injustice and corruption. Unfortunately my father never knew this because he had died while we were in China, yet his influence still assisted me as I recalled his words. Andrew Tu, too, assisted me. He had been a member of our church and we shared many similar ideas. Andrew was unaware at that time of the influence he had had on me. He taught me so much about the arrogance we westerners show towards others, and how easily we misjudge people of other nations. His philosophy of life revived my former ideals.

I hope I have done my part. Having recovered from the ordeals experienced in fundamentalism, I have recovered my health to allow myself to work to make up for wasted years. I hope my life has been useful in the 50 years since I arrived in Hong Kong.

My life is nearing its last years, and before leaving this world I just want to try to point out to young people the danger of becoming totally attached to any fundamental group, whether religious or political. There is nothing good in fundamentalism, only personal hurt and harm to others. With open minds, with determination to retain our freedom of thought and action, provided it does no harm to others, we can face all the problems of this life in our own strength and by our own efforts. We do not need to trust man-made remedies, so-called miracles, intimidating teaching. If God exists, no one can honestly know, but we can keep our minds open and fear nothing provided we do good in this world, and in making others happy, we make ourselves happy and able to live fulfilling lives.

If this book can save one young person from becoming embroiled in the fundamentalism or cultism that can wreck individual lives, and destroy families or communities, I shall feel it has been worthwhile spending time and effort to write it.


連結本網 離教者之家 2004-2016