Wednesday, January 16, 2013
My night in San Francisco... on the radio that is
Your Church: Welcoming or Rejecting?
So, last night my participation in the radio panel out in
expanded from the original half
hour to will over an hour. What a privilege, to be able to try to reach people
with the message about the church’s need for compassion and sensitivity toward
those whose lives have suffered the devastation of divorce. The panel consisted of a San Francisco
Pastor, a Court Mediator, A Christian Therapist for the first half hour, and
then I came in a half hour in and the Therapist had to sign off. If you didn't get to hear it, it is available
as a podcast linked here on the blog. San Francisco
Click on the link for the January 15th show.
However, I’d like to address a couple of things that came up.
The first was raised by the pastor. His theology of divorce is that if married couples lived 100% committed to Christ, there would be a 0% divorce rate, and so the main thing couples need to do is to humbly get right with Christ. Secondly, he believes the scriptures teach that divorce isn't really allowed, except as a last resort in cases of adultery or abandonment, and that after you are divorced, you are to remain unmarried the rest of your life unless you reconcile. This raises all sorts of things, including why my book is needed.
This pastor seemed a relatively kind fellow, and to have good intentions and probably has a good church and ministry out there, I don’t know. But he clearly doesn't understand how the very things he says creates barriers between himself and Christians caught in the garbage of divorce….even though he says there is forgiveness in Christ and that divorced people would be welcome at his church without judgment. The way he stated the part about fully committed to Christ solving marriage problems implies right off the bat that if you are divorced, then you are not as good a Christian as he and the other Christians are who are still married. The logic is sadly faulty. A few illustrations will show you why. If Christians were 100% committed, there would be no gossip in the church, either. Nor would there be church splits. Nor would there be the kind of pride that permits one Christian to look down upon another who thinks differently. If you read Proverbs 6:16-19, or Romans 1:29-30 you will discover that God hates these things, too….but many Christians with the pastor’s attitude choose to focus on God’s hatred of divorce and neglect these areas. They draw distinctions, because as we have all seen, people who are prideful, people who gossip, people who have stirred up church troubles can still end up being leaders in their churches….but not the divorced. Because whether it is directly said or not, divorced Christians are often treated as second class Christians, while any other shortcomings are forgiven and forgotten. Fortunately for us, God doesn't operate that way, just some of His people.
Secondly, the “biblical” perspective he gave is certainly one of the interpretations of the Bible’s teachings about divorce. But it is not the ONLY one. In fact, as a conservative commentary I was reading just yesterday pointed out, from the earliest days of the Reformation, a great many Protestants have understood the scriptures to allow remarriage….yet this individual does not. It sounds like he represents the only biblical position, yet his view flies in the face of some pretty heavy weight biblical scholars, from Augustine to Erasmus, Luther and more.
I’ll put together a blog later that can show you the various biblical interpretations on the topic, there are four. If you are divorced, you become very sensitized to which view people at your church believe, and whether or not they realize there is more than one way to understand those scriptures. And if you aren't divorced, you need to know how you present your interpretation makes a difference, and that there ARE other CHRISTIAN points of view. So, enjoy the podcast if you listen to it. I was honored to be part of the broadcast, and grateful for the opportunity given to me by Craig Roberts and the Lifeline program.
TL:dr Review of the broadcast shows how little things can reflect lack of understanding for divorced, intentional or not, thus driving them away from Christ and the church.