Friday, June 16, 2006

Divorce Clearance

Since my last post, I became engaged to my wonderful fiance Josh, who I met in seminary. I could write at length about how wonderful he is, how fabulous our relationship is, and how great our engagement has been, but I'll try to stay closer to the topic of this blog, which is theological discussion, and spare you the mushy stuff. :o)

Josh and I have begun to build our future lives together and for us this includes dreaming shared dreams of ministry. These dreams include church-planting as co-pastors and we are excited for the day when we will be able to launch that adventure together. But for the time being we are focusing on serving wholeheartedly at Josh's church while we work toward ordination. For me, this has meant recently jumping back into the ordination process with my former (and now current) denomination. The ordination process is more complicated for me because I have to go through a process known as "Divorce Clearance." I can definitely understand why the denomination wants to know the circumstances of my divorce and why that has bearing on my fitness for ordination. However, it does seem that this process is flawed and unfair in many respects. Divorce is the only life event that is isolated for special consideration in the ordination process. I could have murdered, embezzled, smuggled drugs or prostituted myself, and the regular processes of ordination would be sufficient for me. But since I have gone through a divorce (which I did not want or choose and did everything in my power to prevent), I'm going to experience a much higher level of scrutiny than other ordinands. Josh has suggested that I wear a red letter "D" on my chest when I go for my DC interview with the bishop. :o)

One thing that I'm being asked to do, that other candidates are not asked to do, is to write an explanation of my theology of marriage, and how I would counsel others who are in difficult marital situations. I've decided to share this in my blog, even though it's probably too lengthy for this venue. But before I do, some questions to ponder about divorced people and ministry...

  • What should irrovocably disqualify a person from pastoral ministry? What makes these disqualifiers more significant than other possible disqualifiers?
  • Why does the Church single out divorce as it does? What is the Church communicating by doing this? (Nikky Cruz - made famous by David Wilkerson's The Cross and the Switchblade - was guilty of murder, drug dealing, leading a violent inner-city gang, and generally living a life of complete depravity prior to his conversion. He is ordained in good standing with a denomination that refuses to ordain any divorced person under any circumstances.)
  • If the church takes divorce so seriously, why is the divorce rate higher among Christians?

Just some food for thought, and now I will try to express my theology of marriage and divorce in the next post.

1 comment:

BigMama said...

I'm not sure if your questions were rhetorical or actual, but I'd like to at least give my opinion on the third. (And I'm responding before I've read on, so forgive me if I repeat something you've stated already!)

I think there are a couple of reasons, but the biggest is that while the Church takes divorce seriously, it seems not to take marriage all that seriously. There's much lip service given to marriage without giving it the support that it needs to succeed. The idea of covenant is foreign to many of us in America, while the idea of serving self is quite familiar. So people enter into marriage without any idea of the level of commitment required, and without the support to practically live that out.

I don't know that we need to take divorce less seriously, but instead treat marriage FAR more seriously. We should not be afraid to stand up and call sin IN THE MARRIAGE sin (which is, at it's root the same as all sin -- that of selfishness), rather than simply piling it on after the marriage has ended.