7/18/2011 | Share this article: View CommentsGirls, Girls, Girls
By ex-Pastor Dan --
Flights of Fancy
My last chopper ride was better than anything that Disneyland or Six Flags could ever dream up! I was assigned to Charlie Company, 16th Air Cavalry, nick-named “Dark Horse”. The commanding officer was a Major by rank and a pilot by training. He was sick of sitting behind his desk and had been itching for a chance to “mount-up” as he put it, and get “back in the saddle” of his ‘black’, Huey gun-ship. He had his olive drab (OD) green, standard-issue helicopter, re-painted, with our company icon (the head of a black horse with firey eyes) stenciled to its tail. It was really, really cool albeit not very indiscrete. It was not the most camouflaged war machine – to put it mildly! Major “Insane” Montoya had earned quite a reputation in his three trips to Viet Nam. He could fly most anything that had wings or rotors and a power plant. He fit the description of the “crazy commander” made famous by Robert Duvall in ‘Apocalypse Now’ (“I love the smell of Napalm in the morning!”).
The morning that I was scheduled to leave Can Tho and head to Saigon was the morning that the Major decided was just right for him to join the aerial rodeo with his “Dark Horse”, and have some fun. He arrived on the tarmac with spit-shined boots, black ascot clutching his throat and of course, his black felt hat with golden crossed swords denoting - “Cavalry Baby!” He was all ‘spit-n-polish’ and lacked nothing in his outfit except maybe a real sword sheathed to his side – which we were told, hung in his office, but wouldn’t fit in the cock-pit. With a louder-than-necessary shout of “MOUNT UP MEN!” he leapt into the pilot’s seat and fired up his glistening steed. May I say; there is nothing like being six feet away from a jet turbine as it roars to life!
Almost before the rotors had reached maximum spin, we were off. The major was of the opinion that flying ‘Low and Fast’ was the best defense against ground fire. I assumed that was why we never got above tree-top level for the entire 80 clicks to Saigon. In fact, we had to elevate a couple of times to make it over some of the taller trees that invaded our air space. What a rush! I sat next to the door-gunner on the left side of the chopper. He was matched by a second gunner on the right side. With the genes of Colonel George Custer coursing through the veins of our pilot, and twin 50 Cals pivoting out of each open doorway, I felt a slight surge of testosterone hit my brain. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and my breath caught in quick, excited gasps. For a second I forgot about holiness…… “Holy Shit, this is gonna be fucking awesome!” I thought. I was ready! Jesus was flying co-pilot and I was safe in my chariot of fire. Major “Insane” put the pedal to the metal and we evacuated from the Can Tho Army Airfield, leaving it to the morning mist of a Southeast Asian daybreak. It was December 19, 1972, a day that will live in infamy (at least in my mind)!
I was lying on a dirty bunk in a tiny barracks at the Military Transit Facility (just outside of Saigon) when a message came over the loud-speaker, “Anyone interested in an Air Force flight to the United States please report to the runway hanger ASAP!” My commercial flight was not scheduled to leave until tomorrow, so this invitation did not have to be offered twice! I stripped off my jungle fatigues and put on my dress uniform. I abandoned everything else to the concrete floor of that little bunk chamber and moved out with impunity... I would NOT miss this flight!
I flew home in an Air Force C-5A (a flying warehouse). This aircraft was the largest flying machine at the time (maybe it still is); it was immense! We entered it by ascending a large drop-down ramp under the tail, and made our way to the front, second deck, where we were seated ‘BACKWARDS’! I’m not sure of the Air Force’s reasoning, but we sat facing the rear of the plane. It’s the only time in my life that I have been air sick. But, even nausea didn’t dull the elation of flying away from the war. As we lifted off of that runway, all 200 of us last-minute, Army hitch-hikers roared and cheered. We were actually louder than those giant jet engines that were thundering just outside of our little compartment. I was going home and that’s all that mattered. I had my Bible in one hand, my puke-bag in the other and was safe-n-sound in the world’s largest plane. As the air-sickness slowly faded, I snuggled into the imagined arms of my Savior and drifted off into a peaceful sleep. Visions of ‘round-eyed’ girls and Mexican food danced in my head. Next stop, San Francisco, my parents, and the old Buick to carry me HOME!
GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS!
It hadn’t been that long since I was in the States. I returned home on emergency leave when my grandfather died, just three months earlier, but it seemed like an eternity ago! When you are young, time passes so slowly. You can’t wait to be ten, then thirteen, then sixteen. The wait to get your driver’s license seems endless and as I have stated in an earlier chapter, my year in Viet Nam felt like the longest year of my life! But, it was over! Finally over, and I was home!
My girlfriend had dumped me while I was in Nam. It had hurt like Hell. Like no pain I had experienced so far in my 21 years on this planet. I thought that I would never get over it, but alas, I was already over it! I was home; I was horny; I was un-attached; I WAS READY FOR GOD TO BRING MY WIFE TO ME! Even though I had been sure that Cassie was ‘The One’ for me, God had other plans (or else it would have worked out). I must have missed something - something that He saw, which I couldn’t. I was convinced now that God knew what He was doing by separating us. “His ways are above our ways”, I would muse (with the apologetics firmly underway). Anyhow, “there were lots of fish in the sea”, as my daddy used to say. It was time to move on. It was time to start fishing!
Sin was NOT to be tolerated, and SEX was the Biggest of them all.Our church had a thriving Youth Group when I returned from the Army. The number of teens and young adults numbered as high as 80 - 100 at some of our Saturday Night ‘CLUBS’ (what our Saturday night youth gathering was called). We would play volleyball as our co-ed sport while the guys would team up to play basketball or baseball. We had an incredible facility at the Oak View Full Gospel Lighthouse. It was the largest complex in our little town. It consisted of a two-story Church Building with the Pastor’s home and Evangelist’s Quarters (above the garage) across the parking lot. Out back there was a large Fellowship Hall (also used as a Daycare), sports court and grass field. Brother Mac always said that Youth was the life of his church and he loved having a huge youth group. The church poured a lot of money into their Youth Outreach, knowing that the youth of today would be the tithers of tomorrow!
There were untold numbers of marriages that sprang from that youth group throughout the decades. I must admit, in a life that was filled with ‘Legalism’ and many ‘dos and don’ts’, ‘CLUBS’ stood out as the only ‘FUN’ we were allowed to participate in. There was NO dancing; NO movies; NO worldly music; NO mixed bathing; NO girls in pants; NO make-up; NO long hair(for boys); NO drinking; NO smoking, NO Rock-n-Roll……and of course, NO SEX allowed! But somehow, we managed to have a lot of fun. Just being together with your peers - those who knew what it was like to be laughed at, because you were different - was comforting. At CLUBS we weren’t weirdos, we were all in the ‘In Crowd’. I had been mocked and called a ‘wall-flower’ in High School, but in the fellowship hall of the Lighthouse, I was the MAN! The ‘Godly’, single, good-lookin Man, looking for his bride……….Who would it be? …… “Oh God, lead me to the one that You have picked out for me, and please let her be hot! In your precious name I pray, amen.”
At 21 years old, I was still a virgin! I had come very close to losing my virginity before I went into the Army. Prior to Cassie, I had a long relationship with the step sister of one of my best friend’s. She came from a broken home and had big self-esteem issues; issues that I exploited to my full advantage. She had not been raised in the church like I had been, and was much more experienced in ‘sexual’ matters. I came very close to having sex with her when I was just 17 years old. That natural act would have ruined both of our lives, since we would have been forced to marry. Even without pregnancy, our guilt would have forced us to confess our horrible sin, which would have precipitated a ‘shotgun’ wedding. Sin was NOT to be tolerated, and SEX was the Biggest of them all. Pre-marital sex was the cu de gras of all sins. There was no forgiveness for sex outside of marriage. The only way you could be returned to fellowship with the Lord (and the church), was by getting married - therefore allowing God to ‘Bless’ your union. I can’t number the marriages that sprang from this scenario, and almost ALL of them ending in eventual divorce. Lives ruined, children separated from parents; un-happy & scared families; guilt-ridden and sentenced to a life of misery – all because of the brainwashing we had received as children and teens.
Now, at 21 and ready to start my life with a Christian partner, the search was on. Cassie was out and the field was wide open. With hormones raging and marathon prayer sessions of begging God for a mate, I launched into a frenzy of dating. At College I would lust after the ‘hippie-chicks’ and ‘artsy-studious’ types. At church I went through almost every female of dating age. Every Saturday night, after CLUBS, and every Sunday night after church, I would have a different babe in my 1967 Chevy Malibu SuperSport 396. I got it with bench seats in the front so the girls could sit right next to me, with no console in the way. In those days, it was cool to have your date sit very close, with her arm around your neck (at least that’s the way it was done in Southern California); something that was difficult to pull off without bench seats! Even outside of the church world, I was becoming kinda cool! (not really, but in my own warped mind... I was the man!)
I must admit, I was horny ALL THE TIME! Of course I know now that my aroused condition was very normal for a 21 year old virgin, but then, it was the bane of my existence. My body was screaming one thing and my mind (my brainwashed, sanctified brain that is) was whispering constant warnings! “Even your thoughts can be sinful”, my little voice would admonish. “If you lust after a woman in your heart, it’s the same as having committed adultery with her!” “Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” I would cry out to God as I began every prayer session. I was racked with guilt. I would try to find ways to make masturbation seem less sinful by thinking only of my “future” wife! I would create scenarios in my mind of having sex with my “preacher’s wife” while masturbating (I had given up trying to stop jerking-off, something that I contend is not possible for the male of the human species). To try and ease some of the guilt, I had come up with a kind of “Holy Horniness” scheme. If the sinning was really in “the mind”, then I would purify my mind by only thinking of sex with my wife……TADDAH! Spanking the monkey was no longer sinful! It was brilliant! The only catch was this, the identity of my “mental-image wife” kept changing. Each time I started a relationship with a new girlfriend, I would have to divorce my old “picture-perfect mate” and replace her with my new, “future wife’s photo”. It became mentally exhausting and my little voice of guilt would not stop hounding me. “You’re not fooling God”; “You’re still a wretched sinner”; “God will not bless you with a wife as long as you are committing this terrible sin”; “God will not continue to grant you forgiveness because you are not serious about repentance”, etc., etc. And so it went; month after month, for the next two years. I would attend classes at our community college during the school term and in the summer I’d work at the church (I was the Jr. Assistant Pastor of the church by then). Almost every evening I would court the most available females of our congregation. A constant battle raged in my mind. My spiritual man warred with my carnal man. On Sundays, Mr. Spiritual reigned supreme, but from about Wednesday thru Saturday night, my carnal appetite was winning the war.
A VOW UNTO THE LORD
Between my home church and other churches in our organization, I must have gone through 20 ‘relationships’. Some were no more than a couple of weeks or even one-evening-stands (can’t call them one-night-stands since I never slept with any of them). Some went on for weeks or even months. Many were repeats – just to make sure that they really weren’t the right one (in reality it was because they were hot! I would ask the Lord, “are you sure this isn’t the One? She kisses so good, and that body could provide such wonderful ‘blessings’!). All the while I was becoming more and more desperate to find my ‘Pastor’s Wife’. I needed to find a nice piano player……….I was sure that the Lord had her waiting for me, but where and WHEN?
After a couple of years of this kind of torment, I finally settled down with a sweet gal that had been in our church youth group for several months. She had been dating one of my best friends but they had recently broken up. I moved in on her with my buddy’s blessing. He had re-connected with his life-long sweetheart who had recently returned from Life Bible College in Los Angeles, so he had no more interest in Meagan. She was a dark haired beauty of Greek heritage. We had a very good relationship and I really liked her, but she didn’t play the piano. Hmmmm? Oh well, there was time for her to learn. We were really falling for each other and of course that brought out Mr. Carnality. We would ‘make out’ (my generation’s term for kissing and necking) for long periods of time. Through the months, our sessions became more and more passionate. I was 23 years old, she was 21, and the hormones were raging! One night, in my apartment, we got very close to the ultimate SIN! I had fumbled with her bra, but with her help, I had managed to get it off of her. She was ready and willing but somehow, right at that moment of decision (three steps past the point of no return – rounding third base and heading for home!), I mustered the will power (with God screaming in my head – STOP, STOP! YOU ARE SINNING! STOP!!) to call a halt to it. She put her clothes back on and left in embarrassment and anger. It was over for us. I had blown it! I had hurt a wonderful woman! I had failed my Lord…….again! I was a wretched sinner!!
I couldn’t take my double life any longer. I had to do something drastic. I was God’s servant and I was making a mockery of his Grace and Forgiveness. I must come to grips with my SIN and change my evil ways. I knew of Bible characters taking VOWS unto the Lord, but I didn’t ever consider that it was for modern Christians (except for Marriage vows). I came across a book (author unknown) that talked about Christians making Vows to the Lord and the power that it could release in your spiritual life. Well, this sounded like the kind of thing that I needed. The Power of a Vow released into my situation……that was the answer! That would be my Salvation.
“Lord, I VOW unto thee: I will not kiss another girl until YOU reveal to me… my wife. I make this promise upon the terms of death. You may strike me dead if I break this Holy Vow unto Thee…….Amen.”
I made that vow and I meant it with everything that was within me. I was committed and determined to never break it... and I never did!
Next Time – “The Blessing of a Lifetime”