Someday You Will Have To Choose In Your Counsel Between Enabling Adultery or Encouraging Divorce.
Is Your Theology Ready For That?
I write this as I reflect upon the trainwreck that is The Village Church pastoral care. Here’s a post to some rather hair-raising stories of spiritual abuse (click here). My hope is that Pastor Matt Chandler and his co-pastors take a serious look as such stories and adjust their theology and practice to avoid creating more. If he was honest in his sermon (click here), I suspect steps will be made to redress these situations.
In this link, you will find a story (Story #4) of a woman who survived abuse and infidelity only to be harassed by church leadership for choosing divorce. I am simply floored leadership would not support her in her decision to divorce someone who was flagrantly living a life in opposition to God’s commands. He was living with another person and having an affair on top of being abusive!
That story strikes me as an example of pastors treating divorce as a completely unacceptable option (thoughts here). It is a theological failure as I read Scripture.
God does not tolerate adultery.
He is clear in both the Old and New Testament such is clear grounds for ending a marriage (see Jer. 3:8, Mt 1:19, Mt 5:32, etc). To insist this lady stay in a marriage where her husband was blatently carrying on an affair is to participate in enabling adultery and abuse. And the fact her story aligns with the first story in leadership’s insistance–that John pursue his ex-wife who was unfaithful so as to remarry–suggests to me a problematic pattern and the likelihood these things actually did happen as horrifying as they are to believe as a pastor watching from the outside.
Divorce is not a good option. No really good options exist after adultery has occured. But I believe divorce is a far better option than enabling adultery and the destruction of the faithful spouse. If God exercised this option with an adulterous Israel (Jeremiah 3:8), why not His people when faced with such serious sin?
Sometimes as pastors we may be faced with situations as Story 4 presented TVC leadership.
Will we dogmatically cling to the marriage covenant between “Believers” as invoilable or will we decide to protect the adultery victim recognizing that divorce may be the best of the bad options left on the table?
I hope more pastor’s theology of marriage and divorce is ready for the day to make such a choice. And I hope they take a stand for holiness and protect faithful spouses as opposed to dying in the ditch over protecting a marriage even God allows to be ended (e.g. Jeremiah 3:8 and Mt 19:9).
***I stress this is just a decision regarding pastoral counsel. The ultimate decision regarding the fate of the marriage remains in the hands of the couple, not the pastor. The husband/wife are the ones ultimately responsible to God for such a decision.