Should we make divorce harder to get?

Here is a Valentine’s Day topic, sort of:  The Family Policy Institute of Washington cites a bi-partisan effort in socially-liberal Washington State to extend the waiting period to get a divorce from 90 days to a year:

A bill aimed at lowering divorce rates by extending waiting periods for divorce was introduced in the Washington State Senate last week and is scheduled for a hearing this Friday, February 15th, at 8 am in the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

Currently Washington State requires a couple to wait 90 days before a divorce can be finalized, but SB 5614 would extend that to one year. The one-year period may be waived by the court when either party is convicted of a violent or sexual felony or if one party makes a threat of physical violence against the other party or a minor child.

The bill, with bi-partisan support, also makes information about reconciliation available to couples who have filed for divorce.

The recommendations in the bill came from a study done by William Doherty of the University of Minnesota and Leah Ward Sears, former Supreme Court Justice of the Georgia State Supreme Court. Their study, and the accompanying recommendations, is billed as the Family Second Chances Act

You can read the entire study by clicking here.

Their study found that about 40% of couples in divorce proceedings have one or both spouses interested in reconciliation.

Even a modest reduction in divorce rates nationwide would benefit more than 400,000 children each year and would provide significant cost savings to taxpayers.

via Family Policy Institute of Washington – Washington’s Voice for Families – Should Divorce Be Harder to Get?.

At the link you can find an entire study on the issue, detailing the social costs of divorce, that you can download.

Are there other measures that could be taken that  might make divorce less common?

This has to do with the state, of course, not the church.  Indeed, the state has an interest in marriage, since the family is the basis of civil society.  Some people are saying that the state should just get out of the marriage business, leaving that to the church, but how could the church be in charge of a civil institution that includes non-believers?

At any rate, is there anything the church could or should do to combat divorce?

Or do we just need to accept the reality that what God has joined man will put asunder?  Is it enough to just forbid it?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • tODD

    The first thing I noticed was the odd way in which they tried to sell this idea:

    Even a modest reduction in divorce rates nationwide would benefit more than 400,000 children each year and would provide significant cost savings to taxpayers.

    I might expect that sort of utilitarian talk from secular legislators, but it still sounds odd coming from a nominally faith-oriented group. Are there no downsides to divorce for a couple without children? I mean, obviously there are — for the couple themselves, you know — but I guess they’re harder to sell in this day and age than economic arguments?

    I guess I’m just not convinced by the simple correlation-suggests-causation arguments for economic or educational impact. There seem to be a lot more variables in play than just the divorce rate. Again, maybe that’s a good way to sell the issue to legislators, but not to me.

    That said, my first impression is that this isn’t obviously a bad idea. Veith asks if there are “other measures that could be taken that might make divorce less common”. And, while I’m not sure it’s any better of an idea, it is of course true that one can’t get divorced without first getting married, so one possible other option would be to make it harder to get married. Fewer marriages (or at least making those that happen more deliberate) could make for a lower divorce rate.

    Of course, it could also make people not want to bother with marriage at all in the first place, which is probably not what anyone wants. But then, you could say the same thing about lengthening the waiting period for divorce. Making it harder to get out of just might make some people decide marriage isn’t worth it (so they’ll just keep cohabitating). It has been said that no-fault divorces have had a similar effect.

  • tODD

    Veith also asked:

    is there anything the church could or should do to combat divorce?

    There is … though I’m not sure it wouldn’t cause issues with the church’s main goal.

    I mean, it’s hardly a secret that American churches don’t really treat divorce seriously. It’s easy to preach against abortion and homosexuality, because we know (or at least assume) that those types of sinners aren’t to be found in our churches. But the divorcees aren’t as easy to hide. So preachers tend not to sound quite so fervent when they talk about divorce.

    I’ve never heard of a remarriage being forbidden by a pastor on the grounds that reconciliation is still possible with a former spouse. Have you? And that would seem to suggest that unrepentant sin is parading about in our churches, unaddressed.

    And yet, toeing the hardline, while easy to do (it’s so black and white!) does very much run the risk of failing in our job to show mercy. Whose job is it to decide when a marriage is beyond reconciliation, the two people involved in it, or a pastor who may not even know them very well?

    Divorce is clearly a sign of the presence of sin, but is the church’s only, or even main, response to sin to try to get people to stop sinning? If we think it is, we’ve probably lost sight of our job.

  • Helen K.

    tODD@2…..yes, I’ve heard of a remarriage being forbidden due to a possibility of reconcilation with the former spouse. I lived through it. I agonized about the decision more than the pastors I sought counseling from. And this was years ago….prior to my Lutheran days.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    There needs to be a separation with regard to motivation for divorce. A divorce because your spouse cheated on you or is abusive toward you is quite different than a divorce simply done out of convenience.

  • Tom Hering

    My parents divorced at a time when they had to live apart for a year before a divorce could be granted, after a trial. And a legal separation wasn’t all that easy to get either. The waiting period didn’t make the enmity between my parents any less nasty, or the whole thing any less traumatic for me and my siblings. If anything, the waiting period exacerbated the situation. So I’m personally doubtful that waiting accomplishes anything good for anyone involved. Like the passing of most laws, it would just make us feel like we’ve “done something” about a problem when we really haven’t. Not in any way that matters.

  • Elliott

    “Are there other measures that could be taken that might make divorce less common?”

    Eliminate no-fault divorce.

    That single act will make divorce far more rare and marriage far stronger. It is is the single best thing the state could do to get rid of frivolous divorce.

  • Joe

    tODD @ 2 asked “I’ve never heard of a remarriage being forbidden by a pastor on the grounds that reconciliation is still possible with a former spouse. Have you?”

    Yes and I seen pastors take very seriously their counseling role when a marriage is in trouble. Thanks be to God for good pastors!

  • kerner

    Elliott @6:

    Or, eliminating no-fault divorce could make marriage more rare and divorces more traumatic, as tODD and Tom H have pointed out, respectively. I fear that this is one of those times in which the culture is driving the law more than the law is driving the culture.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Our Lutheran Confessions expressly allow for, in fact label this as one of their grievances with the Roman Church, that the innocent party in a divorce should be allowed to remarry. Remarriage is not a sin.
    Admittedly today, when you have people running their mouths to the effect that there is never an innocent party, this is one area of the confessions that is often overlooked today.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Divorce, its a problem.
    The thing is that the divorce rates don’t even come close to recording all the divorces that take place, in that our marriage records don’t show all marriages that occur. A large portion of society does not find it necessary for the courts to recognize their relationships, and therefore do not consult the courts in the dissolution of their relationship, which for all intents and purposes was a marriage, couples that have moved in with one another, have children with one another, have been sharing the financial burden with one another, basically having the same relationship as any married couple.
    I’m not sure, but I think this has everything to do with the divorce laws as they are on the books. Men have very little incentive to get legally married today. It is an awful lot like betting it all on red. They have little to no chance of getting the children unless the mom is on crack and this can be proven. But the whole thing is a mess.
    I don’t know that making divorce harder to get is going to solve anything. In Italy, before modern laws making divorce a little easier, couples didn’t get divorced legally, they just went and shacked up with the one they “loved”. I don’t really like the concept of no fault divorce, but anymore, I’m not sure what the answer is.
    I think things could be done to make the children custody a bit more equitable. I am much more understanding of prenups…
    All love and romance aside, as a friend of mine recently said. Marriage ought to be approached as a business partnership with benefits. There is wisdom to that.
    As far as what society can do to change or stem the tide of divorce? again I think the law is largely impudent here, what is needed is a cultural revolution that begins to cherish marriage, honor vows, and perhaps begins to understand that it isn’t about Valentines day.

  • Jack

    Is this really that difficult?

    How can one expect a people to respect the institution of marriage when that people has no respect for life, itself?

  • Joe

    I think the Church needs to take the lead in reshaping our over romanticized ideas of love and marriage. Marriage is a vocation filled with obligations and duties flowing between the spouses. Its not all about thrills, and goosebumps and sky rockets. Don’t get me wrong, you can have those romantical things in a marriage, but that is not what marriage is or is about. Its about service to your neighbor. Its about being Christ for your spouse at the very moments when your own self interests would tell you to get out.

    We need to reset our concept of love and marriage and the Church needs to be the voice that does this.

  • Steve Bauer

    Joe @ 12 +1.

    When the Pharisees approach Jesus with a question about divorce, He does not engage thm in a nit picking harange about what kinds of divorce are OK and what kinds are Bad. He says, “Moses gave those laws because of the ‘hardness of your hearts’”. We’re going to do what we want to do and any Law laid down just becomes our own plaything for legitimizing what we want to do.

    “In the beginning it was not so.” The problem isn’t divorce, according to Jesus. The problem is that we don’t know what marriage is. The one thing the church could do to improve the situation (at least for the curch) would be to teach what Genesis 1 & 2 say marriage is to counteract all the bull our culture is telling our children it is and that Christians in this country have pretty much swallowed hook, line, and sinker.

  • Dr Luther in the 21st Century

    There is no easy answer to this question because we are a stiff-necked people. I understand the desire to make divorce harder so that there are fewer divorces, but at the same time I wonder how helpful it is. As others have noted it isn’t going to stop the determined and will only prolong pain for the by-standers. And on the flipside it does make it harder for somebody to get away from an emotionally abusive situation (they are very hard to prove). My solution is, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    I don’t know that it’s a good idea to make divorce that difficult; certainly in the Biblical examples, both Old and New Testament, the actual divorce is not difficult. The NT requires unbelief on the part of the leaving spouse or adultery on the part of the one being left, but does not tell Christians to slow the process down. The OT mentions that a man may find some “uncleanness” in his wife (I think this generally means “fornication”), and divorce her fairly simply.

    What we can and ought to do governmentally, however, is end the subsidies that encourage divorce like the marriage penalities in the tax code (one is in Obamacare), stop reserving Pell Grants for single mothers, and stop subsidizing daycare. Another thing to help marriage would be to limit college loans to those who have a statistically good chance of graduating–allowing young people to actually get started in careers and families they’re suited for, instead of hitting the streets a few years later forty grand in debt, with a bunch of expensive habits, and without a degree.

  • Dr Luther in the 21st Century

    @15 Bike, I don’t see how limiting college loans would help divorce rate. Sure financial stress is a leading cause for divorce, but I doubt college loans play a factor. They are too easy to work around when financially strapped. In fact, they are the easiest option to change when facing cash flow. Also, how do you pick who is statistically likely to graduate?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Funny, how people are open to use government clout when it will accomplish their own goals/ideals/beliefs, but attack it ON PRINCIPLE when someone else wants to use government clout for their goals/ideas/beliefs.

    Bror is quite right in his assessment here…..

  • kyle madson

    This legislative measure may produce some results as far as the k-dom of the left is able. Dr. Veith asks, “is there anything the Church could or should do to combat divorce?” Dr. Veith, you also answer this question in a profound way in your recent book, “Family Vocations”, ending chapter three when you assert that “divorces don’t happen because of an absence of the law. Divorces most often come about because of an absence of the gospel” – the forgiveness of sins produced and provided in Christ and mutually shared from husband to wife and wife to husband. There IS something the Church can do. . . nourish marriages with the forgiveness of sins in Christ. God grant it !

  • kerner

    Bror @10, Joe @12, Steven Bauer @13:

    +1 all around. There are a lot of conversations we wouldn’t have to have nowadays if we as a culture had a better idea of what marriage is.

    For anyone who cares about details like this, in Wisconsin there is a mandatory 120 day period between service of the summons and the final hearing. And in all cases, there has to be a court hearing at which at least one party has to be present. You can’t just sign papers and go your separate ways, even in the simplest of divorces. Then, even though the parties are divorced, there is a six month prohibition against them marrying again anywhere in the world. But I have no idea whether this time trouble and/or expense involved in getting divorced in Wisconsin has the effect of discouraging divorce.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Reading these comments, I do wonder if many Lutherans have the problem of over-romanticized notions of marriage? :)

  • http://pekoponian.blogspot.com pekoponian

    Making divorces more difficult to obtain will not fix disfunctional families. That said, I am very biased as a child of divorced parents. It was not a drawn out or messy procedure and it happened when I was a toddler, so I have no memories of my parents even being together. I have always felt profoundly “broken” as a result of my background. The church -does- need to step in more often and counsel people, although I’m not certain that will prevent the Old Adam from seeking his own way. My mother had no desire to remain committed once things were not going her way and my father had no deisre to compromise for her. They both could have been helped by therapy, but I doubt they would have consented. Forgiveness is about the only thing that can save any marriage, I think. Sorry this became a rant.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Dr. Luther; let’s start with the last question first. From what I’ve seen, it’s straightforward to determine who doesn’t who doesn’t have a statistically good chance of graduating by determining whether they require remedial classes. If they do, their chance of graduation is only 17% or so. So if SAT and ACT scores indicate remedial classes are needed, the student is very unlikely to get a degree in six years.

    Now, the question of why limiting student loans to students with a reasonable chance of graduating would help marriage; although it could be a question of debt, I would argue it’s really more of a question of prolonged adolescence that’s all too common in universities. So if you take the 35% or so of students who really don’t belong in college and tell them that they’ve got to make other plans, you’ve nudged them along the path of adulthood a few years before they otherwise would have been. Part of those adult responsibilities is family life, no?

  • Grace

    Jack @ 11 made an important point:

    “How can one expect a people to respect the institution of marriage when that people has no respect for life, itself?”

    The reason there are no moral values is: people have forsaken God, they don’t care about anyone but themselves. If God isn’t first, and the center of ones life, there is no solid ground. Marriage won’t solve a moral problem, nor will a divorce. Look at our country, it embraces abortion, as Jack states.

    In the state of California, there was a time when the waiting period for a divorce to be finale was one (1) year. There also had to be a good reason for divorce, not just “irreconcilable differences” which in essence is; no-fault divorce. Adultery, mental illness, physical abuse, and child abuse were viable reasons to seek divorce –

    Today, there is no reason, it just IS.

    Divorce isn’t the only problem. Today more people have no interest in marriage, they don’t feel bound to bother with it. So, if it doesn’t work out, they pack-up/split-up, one takes the children, find an attorney and try to sue for child support.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @22 Yeah not seeing it. I know too many non-college folks. Many of them never progressing past age 14 responsibility wise. I am not saying it is true across the board, but just telling somebody they can’t go to college isn’t going to make them grow up. Also, statistically speaking you are lowering the chance they will ever marry thus increasing live-ins.

  • Grace

    For many Valentines Day is difficult. My goes out to everyone.

    Bryan @ 20 “I do wonder if many Lutherans have the problem of over-romanticized notions of marriage?”

    It’s not just Lutherans Bryan, it’s most people.

    pekoponian – - @ 21 ” Forgiveness is about the only thing that can save any marriage, I think. Sorry this became a rant.”

    “Forgiveness” and dependence on the LORD, that’s the only way it will survive. Your story wasn’t a rant, it was from your heart – very well stated.

    God bless and comfort everyone today, who’s heart hurts.

  • helen

    tODD @ 2
    American churches don’t really treat divorce seriously. It’s easy to preach against abortion and homosexuality, because we know (or at least assume) that those types of sinners aren’t to be found in our churches. But the divorcees aren’t as easy to hide. So preachers tend not to sound quite so fervent when they talk about divorce.

    Way back when a clergy divorce meant removal from the roster, Pastors preached against divorce more fervently than they do now that the divorced and remarried are likely to be their “brothers”.

    Mark 10:6-12 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,[a] 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
    10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

    Some Pastors will tell you that Mark is the earliest and most accurate of the teachings of Christ on this subject. [It's also the hardest to live with, if one party has already got his/her next partner.]

  • helen

    Recently I was told that one of our young friends, a seminarian, had a number of sessions of “pre-engagement counseling” before he and his girl friend decided to marry. Now, perhaps he wanted to be sure that she knew what she might be getting into, in becoming a Pastor’s wife (not an easy calling!), but I think more serious talk with teenagers and college students about what really matters in choosing a spouse might slow the divorce rate down a bit.
    [And if some older friend/Pastor would spend a little time ascertaining whether both the pair are equally sure of their commitment, or whether something else is “driving the ship”, that might help, too. Sometimes I think the prime motivation for marriage is that “Everyone’s doing it this year and we’re left out!”
    Down the road, “everyone’s divorcing this year and this marriage is getting a little stale, too.” And so it goes.

  • Grace
  • Gary in FL

    Helen @ 26 Why do you put the word brothers before the citation from Mark in scare quotes? Should divorced pastors no longer counted among the brethren? Do mean to say their Calls are no longer valid, or suggesting their Christian faith is now dubious?

    I absolutely agree with the judgment of Mark’s Gospel being the earliest and Jesus’ words concerning divorce therein to be the most demanding to apply. In Mark’s Gospel Jesus prohibits divorce absolutely, without any circumstances justifying exceptions. Now what was the point you were trying to make by citing it?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    It’s worth noting here that Marks’s account in Mark 10 does not ignore the issue of adultery. Our Lord clearly noted that the reason to prohibit divorce is that it pushes both spouses (Matthew says the victimized spouse, Mark the victimizer) into adultery.

    Now in the case of Mark 10, what do we say if adultery has already occurred? I think that even a literal understanding of Mark 10 would suggest that divorce is acceptable, but not mandatory, if the relationship has been breached by adultery.

    For that matter, what ought we really assume in the case Paul describes of the unbelieving spouse leaving in 1 Cor. 7? In a society with clearly defined roles as the Roman, what can we say about the man or woman who leaves their spouse? I’m guessing it means that they’re working on lining up a new one, to put it mildly. In short, adultery.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    One thought on #29; the divorced are not necessarily not believers, but absent the criteria declared by the NT–adultery or abandonment–they may be in significant sin and in need of repentance. Pastor, layman, whoever. Again, let’s keep it Biblical. And yes, a pastor going through divorce does need to consider his calling, and his church needs to consider it, too. Obviously if he’s the adulterer or abandoner, it’s pretty clear. If its his wife, perhaps not as clear, but one needs to ask the questions.

  • Grace

    There is much more to 1 Corinthians 7

    10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

    11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

    12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

    13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

    14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

    15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

    16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
    1 Corinthians 7

  • helen

    Gary @ 29
    I was trying to differentiate siblings from “brothers” in the ministry there and to point out that it’s harder to preach against divorce when another pastor in your circuit may be divorced and remarried. A generation ago, a divorced pastor would have been removed from the roster, and be therefore, a layman. (His confessor would know about the state of his faith. I don’t presume to venture there.)
    You have got my point about Mark; he does not record Jesus making any exceptions.

    Grace @ 28
    You quoted Matthew; I quoted Mark, who is also in the Bible.

    I have read a Master’s thesis (LCMS M. Div.) which suggests [if I remember correctly; it's been awhile] that the “fornication” mentioned in Matthew would have occurred before the marriage. In the Old Testament, you can find the legal directions for a man who marries and discovers on his wedding night that his bride is not a virgin. [There was also law for the man who made such an accusation untruthfully, by the way.]

    [All this is a little different than the modern attitude that womyn have as much right to sleep around as the men do... which may be true, but not the direction they are coming from!]

  • Grace

    Helen @ 33 “I have read a Master’s thesis (LCMS M. Div.) which suggests [if I remember correctly; it's been awhile] that the “fornication” mentioned in Matthew would have occurred before the marriage.”

    Helen, most pastors I know have doctorate degrees which are higher than a Master’s degree. My father had one. What you are suggesting cannot be proven, nor is it, or has it been in the past been the bench mark of a Biblical divorce. The Scripture is very plain.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I still think Matthew is the earliest.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    And being a divorced and remarried pastor, I think any simplistic reading that says well Mark is earliest and most likely what he meant, to the exclusion of what is said elsewhere in the gospels is a very dangerous way to proceed. I also think that the fact a pastor is divorced has not bearing on his ability, or qualifications to be a pastor.

  • Joe

    Bror – I very much agree with everything you said except, ” also think that the fact a pastor is divorced has no bearing on his ability, or qualifications to be a pastor.”

    It could matter depending on the back story … I think it would be more accurate to say, “the fact that a pastor is divorced does not mean he is necessarily unfit to be a pastor as he may have been the victim in his divorce.”

  • Grace

    Bror,

    I’m interested in what you’ve shared above @ 36. Do you believe that whether it was the husband, or wife who committed adultery, has any bearing on a pastor continuing to serve as a pastor? If you chose not to answer, I understand –

    I have no intention of starting any sort of troubling conversation with you, on this particular subject.

  • Abby

    “This distinction [between law and gospel] must be observed all the more when the Law wants to force me to abandon Christ and His Gospel boon. In that emergency I must abandon the Law and say: Dear Law, if I have not done the works I should have done, do them yourself. I will not, for your sake, allow myself to be plagued to death, taken captive, and kept under your thraldom and thus forget the Gospel. Whether I have sinned, done wrong, or failed in any duty, let that be your concern, O Law. Away with you and let my heart alone; I have no room for you in my heart. But if you require me to lead a godly life here on earth, that I shall gladly do. If, however, like a housebreaker, you want to climb in where you do not belong, causing me to lose what has been given me, I would rather not know you at all than abandon my gift.”
    Martin Luther, quoted in C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel (St. Louis, 1928), pages 46-47.

    Romans 4:5-8 “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. Just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works. ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sins.’”

    I may be wrong here. But I believe in deep grace.

  • helen

    Bror @ 36
    The thesis I mentioned is 350 pages, including extensive documentation in end notes. I’m not competent to write such a thing so I am not going to try any more to recreate its arguments. It is an in depth study of the subject, not the “official position” of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, so there’s no danger it will become “law.” ;)
    But, historically, as I said, “no divorce” was the rule for Lutherans, not only Lutheran pastors.
    (Your “history”…my “current events”) :)

    Grace @ 34
    I know quite a few pastors with various degrees. If you are earning them in our denomination, you usually study for a Master’s first and a Doctorate later, (which, in fact, that Pastor did).
    Then we have some “honorary” doctorates. Those who deserve them are conspicuous by not using the title.

    P.s. How did I, Google, or this site get a British-English spell check!? It’s not happy with ‘honor’. :)

  • Grace

    Helen @ 40

    I am very well acquainted as to how one earns a Master’s, doctorate and honorary degrees are bestowed, and why. Any educated individual most certainly has this knowledge.

    .

  • helen

    Grace, you are absolutely right! :)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    To answer your questions, frankly it is the back story that matters, not the divorce. Yes if the pastor is cheating on his spouse this gives reason for removal, whether or not his marriage survives. And this is the rub, as until as of late, it was the divorce that mattered and not the back story. In other words, affairs would be brushed under the rug if the marriage survived, but if a man’s wife up an left for no reason he could stay in office. I once knew a pastor whose wife lived in a different zip with her boyfriend and he stayed legally married so as to continue his post, because if he divorced her, he’d lose his job and that wasn’t too long ago.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    And being as this is an issue close to home, I’ve read quite a bit on the subject. I’m at variance with the historic position of the LCMS on this, and I don’t much care. The historic position was wrong.

  • kerner

    Still and all, I’ve seen a few disconcerting things in Lutheran circles. I’ve seen teachers at a Lutheran grade school divorce their respective spouses and marry each other, and I think they are both still teaching. And that is not the only example I’ve encountered of something like that.

    Another event that struck me happened back in the 1980′s. One woman of our congregation got divorced and remarried within the congregation. One Sunday morning both of her husbands were ushering, and it just seemed that something was wrong with that picture.

    I’m not really going anywhere with this, except maybe to observe that we seem to have let whatever scruples we had about divorce fade away. I don’t know the details of any of those kinds of stories. But I think it is interesting that life just kind of went on pretty seamlessly.

  • Grace

    Kerner,

    I have witnessed a few pastors who have been unfaithful to their wives. All of them have been a great surprise to those who have known them, OR have attended their churches. It appeares two divorced, the other two stayed married.

    In all four cases the pastors were relieved from their pulpits. One started some sort of church, another has a ministry, but no church – the others? …… I have no idea what they are doing. In all cases it was shocking and painful to all who knew them.

  • helen

    Dr. Scott Murray’s Memorial Moment addresses this topic today (Feb 15), with a quote from Martin Luther as well as his usual Bible passage which today is 1 Corinthians 7:1-11. I do not know how to copy him here, because of the graphics, but anyone interested can find it at MemorialMoments.org

    Kerner, among my friends in the clergy is one whose wife left him. A divorce followed; he’s remarried and has another pastorate, but in another state. (I”m sure the man who wrote the thesis had some discussions with him about all this; they are friends, too.) It’s a fallen world, as I could also attest. The repentant Christian lives in the forgiveness of sins.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    For reference, Hellenized Jews like Paul tended to use the word “porneia” (as does the Septuagint) to refer to any intercourse outside of marriage. There are other terms to specify what kind of porneia is going on if necessary, but in that culture it’s a very broad term.

  • Grace

    Bike @ 48

    Bike @ 48

    Jesus made the point of “fornication” in Matthew 5:32 which has nothing to do with Paul, – it’s a broad term, if you choose to make it so for yourself, and give a loose interpretation, or none at all, that identifies it as sexual. It reminds me of what was said not so long ago as what is IS? Sex is just what it is. When people start to play with the word “fornication” it plays right into arguments that give rise to dissembling that which is written in the Word of God, ie: weaken its true definition.

    In Hebrew the word “fornication” definition is:

    fornication
    idolatry:–fornication, whoredom.
    whore, (commit, fall to) whoredom, (cause to) go a-whoring, whorish.

    That is very clear, “whoredom” –

    But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
    Matthew 5:32

  • Revrnge Weapon

    “… what God has joined man will put asunder?”

    Looks like that contrary to his own dictates, the Lord God is joining together a lot of people that frivolously divorced and then remarried. This kind of churchian behavior is one of the reasons why I quit going to church. The LCMS is no less disingenuous than the other churches. It’s beginning to look like Christianity is a rude joke.


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