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Syndicated columnist Geneva Overholser believes that churches will eventually approve of homosexual unions. Why? "I think in due time this thinking will change, just as most churches' opposition to divorce, for example, has changed," she writes. Overholser is not alone in this perception. But where did Overholser and others get the idea that most churches no longer oppose divorce? Maybe from the way churches, including evangelical churches, have handled the matter lately. The problem is not confined to one denomination or subgroup. The most recent high-profile example happened this spring, in the divorce of Charles Stanley, pastor of the 5,000-member First Baptist Church of Atlanta. Stanley acknowledged the gravity of divorce when he promised a few years earlier to resign if he were to divorce. But after Stanley's 44-year marriage ended, Gearl Spicer, the church's administrative pastor, told the congregation that Stanley, 67, would continue as the church's senior pastor. At this the congregation stood and applauded. Spicer added, "It is my biblical, spiritual and personal conviction that God has positioned Dr. Stanley in a place where his personal pain has validated his ability to minister to all of us."A prominent friend of Stanley's said he was "deeply sympathetic with the sorrow I know all of the Stanley family must feel over this." How the matter was handled in private, we do not know. But so nervous are we these days about being judgmental, condemning, and so on, few bothered to suggest publicly that Stanley's divorce was morally wrong. Divorce is certainly not the unforgivable sin, and when a couple divorces, it is only right that the church show compassion and understanding—especially in cases where abuse or truly ...

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September 4, 2000

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