Marriages are being murdered so often that the statistics no longer shock us. As couples both inside and outside the churches separate and divorce, ministers and congregations are hard pressed to decide how they will minister to these bruised lives.
Many Christian leaders have chosen to ignore this touchy subject. One man said, “I have been a Christian for forty-nine years and have never heard a sermon on divorce.” A minister of seventeen years’ experience admitted he had never preached on the topic though he has definite views. Many individuals and congregations are paying the price of this painful silence. Christians want and need instruction. Many of the divorced are being hurt because they remain in limbo while the leaders stand mute. There are some constructive steps that ministers can take to help everyone involved.
1. Take a stand. Dare to furnish guidance based on careful study and Christian conviction. Merely to present all possible views may lead to further confusion rather than light. Be loving in the presentation and anticipate opposition. Many notable church leaders have expounded a position on divorce, among them Martin Luther, John Wesley, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
2. Teach a Christian attitude toward the divorced. Some Christians feel that if we teach that divorce can be forgiven we will encourage it. If this is true, then we dare not teach the story of the thief on the cross or Paul’s conversion. Cyril Garrett reminds us that Christians often communicate judgment rather than forgiveness and consequently fail to be agents of redemption (Adult Education in the Church). Paul Tournier says in The Reborn Person that if a person gets divorced against my standard, “he will need my affection all the more, and this ...1
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