DIVORCE AND THE PASTOR, PART 2
by David Sisler
After these weekly ramblings have been printed in this newspaper, I post them to my homepage on the World Wide Web. I have received e-mail from Australia and Augusta, the Philippines and Pollards Corner. While researching a particular subject through AltaVista or another of the web's search engines, readers stumble on these columns and take electronic pen in hand. The letters are, as you might imagine, mixed in their approval and disapproval
Brief aside: My "favorite" raspberry came from a woman who called my home, used profanity I rarely heard at a fraternity smoker, told me she had poured her cup of coffee onto my picture, and threatened to blow up my house. All because I had criticized Murphy Brown (I had written about Vice President Dan Quayle's remarks concerning Murphy and unwed mothers). When I reminded her that Murphy Brown was a fictional character who did not exist when the boob tube was switched off, she replied that Dan and I were not fit to be mentioned in the same breath as Ms. Brown. Oh, well.
But back to the web. The two columns which continue to produce the most e-mail are A Ministry of Mistakes about Christian recording artist Michael English (January 7, 1995) and Divorce and the Pastor about the, then, troubled marriage of Charles and Anna Stanley (September 2, 1995).
One of those who responded to A Ministry of Mistakes was Neal Joseph, president of Warner Alliance Records. I had criticized him, unfairly and wrongly in that column. He wrote me a personal letter, and very gently, and with a very Christ-like spirit, told me that I had accused him falsely. He was correct. My comments about him were petty and ill-advised. You can read that column and its sequel and my apology online.
Recently I received an e-mail response to Divorce and the Pastor from a man who used only his online alias, "Jeepers." In that column I asked Dr. Stanley not to leave the pastorate if he and Anna divorced they have since reconciled. Jeepers' situation is not so happy. I'll let him tell you, in his own words.
"I am a divorced and remarried minister. I met a girl while in Bible college back in 1980 and we were married after my first year in college. I graduated with a BA in 1984 and three years later I was served divorce papers.
"I was just beginning my life as a working minister, that is I held down a full-time job and continued to pursue the ministry as a volunteer until a full-time opportunity became available.
"My divorce crushed me. Not only that but the total lack of support I received from my denomination which credentialed me.
"What do you do with a four-year ministerial education and an earnest desire to serve God in the ministry when [according to your denomination, you are ] no longer qualified to serve as a minister?
"Most of the mainline denominations cite the need to maintain High Standards' among their ministers as the reason for not permitting divorced and remarried ministers in their ranks. Am I any less a man or minister just because my first wife was too immature to support me in the ministry?"
That is what Jeepers said.
This is what Jesus said: "God's original plan never included divorce, but because your hearts are hard, he permitted it on the grounds of adultery. If a marriage is dissolved because of adultery, the innocent party may remarry without jeopardy."
Who initially and originally said a husband and wife should not get a divorce? God. Who initially and originally allowed a husband and wife to get a divorce? God. Is there a contradiction there? Yes, there is, and we need to understand what Jesus said. The contradiction is within us you and me not with Almighty God!
Is divorce wrong? It is, unless Jesus lied.
Does it disqualify an individual from ever entering Heaven. It does not, unless Jesus lied, because Jesus said, "Whoever comes to me in faith, I will never cast out."
But where does Scripture say that if a pastor is the innocent party in a divorce, he or she is disqualified from being a pastor? Disqualification comes if remarriage contradicts the Bible's directives.
Jeepers continues, "There are a lot of good men out there who have a call of God on their lives to minister the Word of God and to share His love with others and are being denied the opportunity simply because of their marital status.
"Pray for those of us who wait as spiritual wallflowers, waiting for a denominational conference to get off their duffs and make the necessary changes in their constitutions and by-laws so we can get back in the game."
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 4/18/98
Copyright 1998 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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