Moral Morass

A friend recently said that his brother, who is training to be a Baptist pastor, has got engaged to his soon to be third wife. The second marriage only lasted two years.

It brought to mind a conversation with another former Anglican priest friend a few years back who had just exited the Anglican Church. One of the deciders for him was the fact that the Anglican Church seemed to have virtually no agreed standards when it came to marriage. He commented that a church known to him had recently advertised for a priest, and in the ad were the words, ‘marital circumstances not an issue.’ Not too long ago this would have meant that the parish was happy to accept either a celibate man or a married man.

Now, my friend explained, it meant, ‘We’re not asking any questions about your bedroom situation.’ He said in his Anglican deanery there were not only homosexual men living together in the vicarage, but a lesban couple, a woman who had left her husband and family, another woman priest who was co habiting with a man, a man who was divorced and re-married, a woman priest who was a single mother and one situation where two homosexual men lived in the vicarage with a single woman.

He said the most shocking thing was that both laypeople and clergy not only didn’t raise the matter, but they seemed surprised that anyone should think there should be a problem at all. I thought he was exagerrating, but he insisted that the situation he described was fairly typical.

Is this the situation within the rest of the Protestant denominations? I hope not. I believe conservative Evangelicals side with Catholics in upholding traditional moral values, but am I right. Is my friend’s Baptist pastor brother a liberal Baptist, or are even conservative Evangelical denominations getting leaky?

The complaint will be that we Catholics are not ones to throw stones, what with our own sexual scandals, but there’s a difference. Sure, we’ve got pink seminaries and pedophile priests, we’ve even got our homosexualist activists, but what we don’t have is a wholesale acceptance of the twenty first century dating game. At least we’re on the record as supporting the traditional view of marriage and celibacy for the clergy. We value chastity, sexual purity and faithfulness in marriage.

We may not live up to the ideal, but we haven’t thrown the ideal out the window.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13547891717102923592 houseofsims

    Is this the situation within the rest of the Protestant denominations? I hope not. I believe conservative Evangelicals side with Catholics in upholding traditional moral values, but am I right. Is my friend’s Baptist pastor brother a liberal Baptist, or are even conservative Evangelical denominations getting leaky?I grew up in Baptist churches in rural north Alabama. While the folks in those churches would be very much against any kind of homosexual activity and heterosexual non-married co-habitation, I have seen the divorce issue recede in importance in my own life time.Most conservative Baptists would still probably frown at an “ordained” man (Pastor or deacon) being divorced (that whole “husband of one wife” thing.) However, it seems that divorce among lay preachers and the folks in the pew are just accepted as facts of life. Now that I think about it, all of the licensed, non-ordained preachers at the last SBC church a attended, save myself and another man, had been divorced and remarried with no scandal among the faithful.It seems to be treated like a bad thing that happens to you like a tornado or an illness and not a moral failing. Worse, I’ve even seen divorce and remarriage treated as a viable solution to various marital and family issues.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    For those without a larger authority structure, the divorce issue is a very thorny one. (Mind you, for those of us with a larger authority structure it isn’t easy)I can remember this coming up in the Fundamentalist Bible Church in which I grew up. The pastor’s brother in law was divorced and then wanted to re-marry in church. The fundamentalist pastor (a BJU graduate) decided this was okay and the wedding went ahead.

  • Anonymous

    I honestly can’t understand what’s so shocking about anybody sleeping with anybody in any protestant tradition. In the case of the Anglicans, their church was founded on HVIII’s lust. When you build on sand like that, why be surprised when the house falls in?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02913080191630768461 tony

    I believe that most Protestant denominations (or non-denominations as is more likely the case) have cermonies to “celebrate” divorce, as well as special recognition (classes, meeting groups, ministries, etc.) to divorced, re-married, soon-to-be-re-married,or thinking about maybe re-marrying but now only dating/co-habitating/shacking up, etc).A culture that has accepted the idea of the “throwaway” marriage has little ground to stand on when confronted with the “marriage” of two men, two women, a man and a sheep, or whatever.Either marriage is a binding sacrament (“what God has joined”) or marriage is an agreement/contract/pledge to make sex more convenient.You can’t have it both ways.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07265339947157901798 Joe

    Let me tell you, the above comment reflects total ignorance about “most” denominations. Having belongd to several, I have never witnessed or heard of such ceremonies. And given the rampant abuse of anullments, I think the tone here would be a bit less judgmental.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Thank you for your comment Joe, I hope the original post wasn’t judgemental, but I think some commentators are veering off in that direction!


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