“You should be grateful…
…that we allowed you to keep your ministerial credentials.”
-A Denominational Official/Pastor
While not an actual direct quote from someone, I did encountered this sort of sentiment when dealing with evangelical pastors regarding my divorce and profession. Such thinking was “justified” usually by referring to the sub-culture where old-school, (fundamentalist), evangelical denominations would end a minister’s career permanently if he got divorce. The circumstances of the divorce did not matter.
Contrary to Scripture (e.g. Proverbs 17:15):
Adulterer and adultery victim were treated alike.
I found and continue to find such sentiment and practice both insulting, unjust, and ungodly. Yet this sort of thinking continues to this day as I have seen it enshrined in an updated document dealing with an evangelical denomination’s stance towards divorced pastors.
Think about it:
Do we thank people for not wronging us?!
Thank you for not stealing my pension. I know some accountants do.
Thank you for not beating me up. I know some people have violent tempers and go around beating up random people.
Thank you for not hitting me with your car as I crossed the street. I know some people do not obey traffic lights.
I give those examples to explain how absurd this sort of mindset is. It is a serious blind spot. Instead of making it a point of pride, denominations ought to be ashamed that such unbiblical, unjust, and ungodly practices like stripping divorced faithful spouses of their ministerial credentials were ever viewed as acceptable within denominations claiming to follow Christ.
In fact, I will state it even stronger:
I believe an apology to faithful, divorced ministers is in order on that number!
It was wrong to treat fellow ministers as morally suspect for the moral failures of their (former) spouses–i.e. the adultery and/or abandonment of their now former spouses (see Ezekiel 18:20).
It was wrong to attack faithful divorced ministers siding with the Accuser who already attacking them through their adulterous spouse and company.
It was absolutely wicked to have a formal policy removing ministerial credentials of all pastors who experienced divorce. Such a policy would have meant even God could not be a minister in that denomination for He divorced Israel over her adulteries (e.g. Jeremiah 3:8).
This mindset needs to change. Instead of patting oneself on the back for having a way for a faithful, divorced spouse to remain a minister, a godly denomination ought examine itself for ways it was complicit in sinning against faithful spouses–namely, faithful spouses who were also ministers.
So, the question is rather:
Why aren’t you ashamed and decrying that it was ever acceptable to unjustly bar a faithful, divorced spouse from being a pastor?