Sunday, April 22, 2012

Christian Divorce - part 2

*disclaimer - I am not divorced. nor am I getting divorced. nor am I a theologian. these are simply my thoughts on the subject

So what about divorcees within the church? What happens to them?

Well, many conservative Christian pastors will not perform marriage ceremonies if one or both parties are divorced.

The idea being that it is impossible to know whether or not their previous marriage was Biblically justified, so in order to prevent from the appearance that they support divorce in all instances, they refuse to perform re-marriage ceremonies for anyone.

Personally, I have no problem with that. I think we're all just trying to do our best, so if a pastor thinks that's the best way to do it, so be it.

I can say that when FireMan & I were engaged, I was a little worried we wouldn't be able to find a pastor to marry us.

I was fine with not having our ceremony in a church, but I was standing my ground on having an ordained man of God perform the ceremony.

And we finally did find someone, who was absolutely perfect.

But... I digress. After all, finding someone to perform a wedding ceremony is just one of the struggles divorced Christians find in the church.

Probably the next largest issue, is whether or not they are permitted to serve in the church.

There are a multitude of reasons for this, ranging from being afraid to look like they're supporting divorce, to not wanting to set a bad example (if you want to volunteer in any children's or youth ministry), to "the Bible says so" (which almost exclusively is in response to being in an ordained position).

The first two... well, let's just say I have yet to find a verse to support this.

But the last one, well... let's take a look.

The verse used to prevent divorced members from serving in official church positions are these:

"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; ... Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well."    -- I Timothy 3:2,12 

Now... I am in full support of this verse. To me, it's pretty clear. A bishop ("pastor" in most churches today) or deacon must be "the husband of one wife". Clearly to hold that office you must be a man, must be married, and must not be a polygamist.

As far as whether or not this verse addresses those who were divorced... I say it does not. And let me explain why.

Let's say you would be willing to make an exception if the divorced man had a Biblically justified divorce. So I'm not even gonna address that.

I'm only going to speak to those whose divorced could not be justified Biblically - let's say he divorced her because she was too annoying & got fat on him - could he, at any time later in his life, hold the office of pastor or deacon in the church? Even if his divorce was a sin?

I say that as long as he is currently married, then "yes".

And my reason for this goes back to what it means to be saved from your sin, to have accepted Christ as your Saviour.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."    -- II Corinthians 5:17

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before"    -- Phillipians 3:13

 "Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more"    -- Hebrews 10:15-17

God has told us that in Him we are a new creature, that He will not even remember our sins. It advises us to forget what we have done in the past, and look forward to our new future in Christ.

Everything in the Bible tells us to look forward. Even when we slip up, to keep trying, keep moving forward, there is no life in looking backward.

How can we, as men, make a rule about anything (including church office), based on someone's past offenses? If they are presently making an earnest effort to follow God's will, how do we as men find ourselves a better judge than God?

One thing that has baffled me is that Christians will accept other sins without reserve - we welcome the repentant thieves, drug abusers, fornicators, and even murderers - yet somehow hold divorce as the unforgivable sin. Oh, your lips say you know a divorcee is forgiven, but how can you truly believe that, if you still put restrictions on what they can or cannot do within the church? That is not forgiveness. That is forcing someone to continue to pay for one bad (or not) decision from their past.

Even our secular definitions of to forgive indicate you cannot hold someone accountable for something that is truly forgiven:

to forgive:
- to give up all claim on account of
- to cancel a liability of

If God has given up all claims of divorce (spiritually), and has cancelled all spiritual liabilities of divorce, then how can we as Christians, who claim to believe the Word of God, hold them accountable and base our rules on something God has wiped away?

Well, it seems to me we can't. Not with any legitimacy anyway.

Once again, I know there are plenty who disagree with me, on all sides of the argument, and that's okay. These are simply my thoughts on the subject.

As always, thanks for checking in!

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