Christianity today wants churches to reduce the stigma of divorce. Marriages that end in divorce are already nearly equally as common as marriages that do not end in divorce. According to statistics, up to 45 percent of first marriages end in divorce and second and third marriage divorce rates are much higher.
The problem is that society has already reduced the stigma of divorce reducing marriage to a nearly self-service commodity that can be traded like used cars. And with the advent of “gay marriage,” the term “marriage” has practically lost all meaning.
However, in conservative Christian circles, the institution of marriage has remained relatively sacred and most Bible-believing Christians believe in the sanctity of marriage, the seriousness of it, and the permanence of it. Again, that’s Bible-believing Christians. In fact, biblical grounds for divorce (for Christians) is exceedingly rare in the Christian worldview. Yet, Christianity today wants to make it more palatable.
In an article recently penned at Christianity Today, Ryan Burge asks, “But have churches been effective at reducing the stigma that comes with ending a marriage?”
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Over the decades, divorce has become common enough that it affects every corner of American society—including the church. Congregations have to balance their convictions and their sense of welcome, upholding the institution of marriage while still offering a supportive place for those who are going through divorce.
But where does he get that the Church is responsible for “reducing the stigma” that comes with divorce? Shouldn’t there be a stigma?
Of course, because — as the Scriptures clearly teach (Malachi 2:16) — God hates divorce.
Burge argues that churches that teach that divorce is a sin and don’t allow divorced people to serve in leadership roles can place an “especially heavy” burden on these individuals. However, Burge does not address the biblical disqualification of divorced people for elder positions.
Here’s the bottom line. Divorce is sinful and God hates it. And when the offending party in the divorce — primarily, the one who abandons or commits adultery remains impenitent ultimately leading to divorce — should be disciplined by the Church and only upon repentance should be allowed back into the body of Christ. Of course, there are times when the repentance is too late to save the original marriage. Perhaps remarriage has already occurred.
Divorce is not the unforgivable sin, but it is sin, and the Church has no business reducing the stigma of sin. It’s there for a reason — because God hates divorce.