Judge and Jury?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by dfwmia, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. dfwmia

    dfwmia
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    I was raised in a small Baptist church and accepted Christ as a teenager. I graduated high school and joined the military and got away from the church for a few years. However, a divorce brought me back and I have been faithfully serving now for about 10 years. I can see how God used that event to speak to me and bring me back to His service.

    After many years as a single, I married again, to a Christ devoted lady. Since going through a divorce though, I have become acutely aware of a stigma that seems to be attached to divorced people. In some ways, it seems to be the unforgivable sin. I certainly know that this isn't true, Christ died for all sins and that includes anything and everything related to my divorce as long as I give it to Him. But after doing that, and moving on, I have run into situations where the church questions and brings up this past experience.

    One example is that my wife now has worked on a church staff. She was interviewed and asked to bring me along as we were a team. The written application specifically asked if either of us had been divorced and to supply a testimony as to what had happened. I was personally questioned about it during the interview as well.

    At one point, we considered the possibility that we might be used as missionaries. In looking over all of the applications for the various organizations, the one common thread was the question and explanation required regarding divorce.

    My question is this. Only on one of these applications were there any questions about sins beyond divorce. These include previous alcohol or drug abuse or abortion.

    It seems that abusing alcohol or drugs in the past or having an abortion doesn't make it to the level of questioning you on an application.

    What is it about the Baptist faith, IMB, etc. that is so hung up on the past sin of divorce? It has really turned me off and I am aware that there are no perfect churches as we are all just God's people trying to serve Him. What if God really does have in mind for my wife and myself to serve as missionaries?
     
  2. Johnv

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    Being divorced and remarried myself, I likewise never understood why many Baptists have this attitude of divorce as though it were the unforvigable sin.

    There seems to be a preoccupation with it in some circles. I never understood why.
     
  3. abcgrad94

    abcgrad94
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    In most Baptist circles, if you've been divorced you cannot serve as a pastor or deacon. There are Biblical grounds for this, one being that a man must be "above reproach" and all that.The only other restriction I can think of would be if they do a background check to determine whether or not someone can work with the children of the church.


    I don't know why you had to be interviewed about a past divorce if your wife wanted to serve on a church staff.
     
  4. Johnv

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    It's a bit of a stretch to apply divorce to a restriction of being a pastor, but okay.
     
  5. dfwmia

    dfwmia
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    I've read the passages regarding that deacons are supposed to the husband of one wife, etc. God's word is what it is and I accept it.

    We were interviewed together as my wife was called as the Children's minister of a large church.

    If you haven't been through the pain of a divorce, it may seem trivial to you but this is an issue. Many others who have walked in these shoes say the same things. As Christians, we aren't the ones to judge, only forgive and love as Christ does.

    If it's important for a church to bring up the divorce issue, at least be consistent and ask about all other past sin.
     
  6. Johnv

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    A scripturally divorced person no longer has a wife. The marriage is ended, and such a person is not disqulified by the passage.
     
  7. dfwmia

    dfwmia
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    I agree with you Johnv, however in a Baptist church, at least the churches I have belonged to, you are still unable to serve as a deacon.
     
  8. abcgrad94

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    Divorce is certainly not a trivial issue, and I do not look down on anyone who has gone through that pain.

    Except for the scripture passages that address certain qualifications for pastors and deacons, I don't think the church needs to be asking about anyone's past sins unless serving in a certain capacity could cause the person to fall again. For example, a church wouldn't wish to make a pedophile a children's worker or a previous embezzler the treasurer over church finances.
     
  9. Thinkingstuff

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    I kind of disagree here. I personally have nothing against a person who is divorsed and never remarried. Its the remarried part that gets me. especially with this teaching
    And this
     
  10. Johnv

    Johnv
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    Well, in my case, my choice was was to remain married and allow my wife to openly shack up with and have sex with another man, or to divorce her. Divorcing her was the morally correct and scripturally permissible thing to do. I see no scriptural reason that such a thing would disqualify a person from the pastorate.
     
  11. Thinkingstuff

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    No because she committed Adultery. That is permissable according to the quoted scripture.
     
  12. Dr. Bob

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    A person who is correctly divorced IS NOT MARRIED. He/she is free to remarry like anyone else.

    Remember the rules of grammar in what Jesus said - the exception "except for sexual sin" applies to both sides of the sentence. It is sinful to be divorced "except in casses of sexual sin" and sinful to then remarry "except in cases of sexual sin"

    Jesus spoke to the woman at the well as said that she had been married to 5 "HUSBANDS" and now living with a man not her husband.

    In other words, she had not been married ONCE to a "husband", then living in adultery with others. These men (until the last) were all legitimate husbands.

    I personally think divorce/remarriage is not the REAL issue. An elder or a deacon is to be "above reproach" with a good testimony even to those outside the church. THAT often disqualifies the divorced man.

    Ten years of faithfulness is probably the MINIMUM for a person who went thru a divorce. My church would probably wait longer to be certain of the testimony and impact of that man's divorce.

    Hope this helps
     
  13. Thinkingstuff

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    I think your right about the "real issue" however, what makes a divorce a "correct divorce?" I don't know I think what Jesus said was pretty clear.
     
  14. Johnv

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    Well, since that marriage ended more than 10 years ago, and since I've been in a solid Christian marriage for the last 5+ years, there's nothing that would scripturally disqualify me from the pastorate, at least not in regards to the issue of marriage. The fact that I'm ugly and my mother dresses me funny, sure, that might disqualify me, but the fact that I was married before would not.
     
  15. Thinkingstuff

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    I still hold to my statement which would not exclude you.
     
  16. Johnv

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    Given how some pastors dress, you might be right.
     
  17. dfwmia

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    How about someone who had been hooked on drugs for several years, found the Lord and repented? That person is apparently qualified to be a deacon. But I originally wrote this not regarding being a deacon, but in terms of serving as a layperson, or as a spouse of a children's minister or as a potential missionary. The IMB or church or whoever is the sponsoring agency wants to dig into the past and then decide as judge of a person who has committed a previous sin.

    If this were Old Testament days, then OK. However, why did Christ come and die? Even if my divorce were unscriptural, if I realize I was wrong and give it to Jesus and ask forgiveness then I am clean before God. Not because of my willingness to admit wrong and repent, but because Jesus was willing to die to allow my admit wrong and repent through Him alone.
     
  18. abcgrad94

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    I don't see how a divorce could make you ineligible to serve as a layperson. or as a spouse of a children's minister. That doesn't make sense to me.
    You also mentioned they questioned your wife about having an abortion? Even if someone did drugs, got divorced, had an abortion or got pregnant before marriage, that doesn't disqualify them from serving as a layperson. That sin is under the blood and is not addressed in scripture as a guideline for service.

    Sounds to me like some churches might be adding to scripture.
     
  19. dfwmia

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    They didn't ask about an abortion, or previous drug abuse or anything other than a divorce. That was the point I was trying to make. If any of these organizations find it necessary to question about divorce, why not ask about drugs, abortions, pornography, etc.
     
  20. Benjamin

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    I'm going to post something posted long ago here from RJPrince who obviously has studied this in depth, as I think it is wortt the read. It is long and will take a couple posts, my apologies for taking all the space:

    Re the whole Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage issue... (From some of my earlier studies)

    This is not a simple issue, simply because it is difficult if not impossible to respond to the great intensity of emotion surrounding this subject. I am going to start in 1Cor 7 and look at other passages from that perspective.

    The whole chapter of 1Cor 7 is crucial to understanding Paul’s additional regulations and concessions concerning marriage. His teaching is the last word on the issue and he adds to what we have from the OT and to what the Lord has said as recorded in the Gospels. Any teaching on marriage, divorce, and remarriage that fails to consider 1Cor 7 is incomplete.

    That Paul is answering questions regarding singleness, marriage, divorce, and remarriage is clear from the context. Paul starts off with, “concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1Cor 7:1). This seems to be a response to the question “Is it a good idea to remain single?” Paul responds, “If avoiding sexual sin requires one to marry, get married. And after getting married meet each others physical needs, except for mutually agreed on seasons of prayer and fasting. At the end of the time consecrated to the Lord, resume marital relations, lest you fall prey to Satan’s snares”.

    Then Paul states his preference that those who can handle singleness, stay single, but this is not a command (v. 6-7, see also Matt 19:10-12).

    Verse 8 introduces a word that appears nowhere else in Scripture but here in this chapter. The word “unmarried” (Greek - agamos) appears four times, in verses 8, 11, 32, 34. It is distinguished from “widows” “wives” and “virgins” (v. 8, 34). It is defined in verse 11 as one who has “depart[ed]” from her husband – “Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” The word “depart”, Greek word - cho(w)idzo(w) means divorce. Jesus uses this word to refer to divorce in Matt 19:6 – “What therefore God had joined together, let not man put asunder.” I believe it is wrong to understand the departing as anything less than full divorce. Some have argued that Paul allows for separation, but not divorce in this chapter. Such an interpretation fails to take into account the Lord’s use of the word and that cho(w)ridzo(w) is used in other Greek literature to clearly indicate divorce. The idea of a “Biblical Separation” that is less than divorce is a modern explanation that has no support from either the Greek or ancient custom. Paul defines “unmarried” as a wife who has departed from her husband or a husband who has “put away” his wife.

    This is important to understand that Paul tells us that he is adding to the teaching of the Lord Jesus from verse 12 and on. – “to the rest, speak I not the Lord”. Just as in verse 10, Paul told us that the command to remain married is from the Lord.

    Jesus has given some clear instruction and in my judgment Matthew 19 allows divorce and remarriage for “fornication”, or more broadly, almost any “sexual sin” (Greek - porneia). No doubt many will disagree with me here. But I will explain more fully after looking at the OT.

    The original passage that the Pharisees quoted in attempting to force Jesus to side with the conservative Rabbi Shammai, or the liberal Hillel, was from Deut 24:1-4. Shammai allowed for divorce only for adultery and Hillel allowed for divorce for almost any reason. Hillel’s view was certainly the most popular but if they could force Jesus to choose one over the other, then the other crowd would be against Him.

    The Jews understood the Deut 24:1-4 passage as a “command to give a writing of divorcement” (Matt 19:7). The AV wording can also be so understood – “then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house” (v. 1). Jesus replies, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered (emphasis added) you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so” (Matt 19:8). Jesus corrects the perception that Moses commanded divorce.

    The actual Hebrew sense of the Deut 24 passage is as follows: “When a man takes a wife, marries her, AND IF he finds some uncleanness in her, writes her a bill of divorce and sends her out of his house; AND IF she goes and marries another man; AND IF the latter husband divorces her, OR IF the latter husband dies, THEN she may not return to her first husband.” The passage regulates the divorces that were already being practiced by the Jews as learned from either the Egyptians or the other nations. ONE VERY IMPORTANT POINT TO NOTICE HERE: God does not regulate that which he forbids! God regulates the practice of divorce, He does not forbid it. Of course, neither did He condone it.

    Three other important points to notice here. 1) There is no thought of a betrothal period in Deut 24. 2) The divorce did break the marriage, and 3) the second marriage is recognized as valid since the man who takes her next is called “husband”. The argument that “divorce does not break a marriage” (Gothard and others) and that ANY future marriage is therefore adultery fails to stand from the very first mention of the practice of divorce and remarriage. AGAIN, God’s regulation is not prohibition, it is tacit permission. God tolerated the practice, even though it was against His original plan. Why? Because of the hardness of their hearts (Matt 19:8). His original plan was one man, one woman, one lifetime, period. Then sin entered the picture and God finally grants this concession regarding the practice – after a divorce and another marriage, a woman may not go back to her first husband.

    Why is the Deut 24 passage significant? BECAUSE it is impossible to understand the NT correctly without a correct foundational understanding of the OT. The OT is the foundation upon which the NT stands. Jesus words must always be understood, interpreted, and reconciled in light of what we find in the OT.

    Many have suggested that the Jesus’ use of the word “fornication” indicates that the divorce occurs during the betrothal period. Joseph was prepared to divorce Mary upon learning that she was pregnant. It is true that divorce was required to break the betrothal even before the marriage had been consummated. The question remains, is that what is in view here in Matthew 19?


    The original passage that was used to introduce the passage has no thought of a betrothal period anywhere in the text. The fact that a return to the first husband would be “defile[ment]... abomination... [and] sin” seems to clearly rule out any idea that the marriages had not been consummated. Some have argued that the use of porneia rather than moichea suggests that sexual relations prior to marriage are in view. This understanding of the word “fornication” is naive and not in line with its use in either the NT or other ancient Greek literature. The word porneia is much broader than moichea and would encompass any kind of sexual sin, including adultery. The argument that adultery could not have been meant in Matthew 19 since the Mosaic Law provided for stoning in that case fails to take into account that the Jews were no longer allowed to carry out that sentence because of the Roman occupation.

     

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