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« Are Apes Worthy of Human Rights? | Main | ’Pretty Much Precisely’ »

March 29, 2007

Feel the love

Christianity Today has a great article online about how churches can help individuals reeling from the impact of divorce, in a way that offers healing and models God's love in an appealing way.

After decades of feeling like any mention of divorce signaled acceptance, churches are now waking up to the ministry opportunity they have and are hosting divorce recovery workshops that are available to anyone in the community, not just churchgoers. As unchurched people are given practical tools and loving grace to navigate through the stormy aftermath of a divorce, many of them experience the warmth and community of a church for the first time. One workshop leader was quoted in the article as saying, "When people feel that we're serious about what we do, they'll say, 'Tell me about your church.' A lot of people come to St. Andrew's because they see something authentic here. They see genuine caring and love, and they want to be a part of that."

We live in the midst of a broken, hurting world populated by broken, hurting individuals. It can be frustrating sometimes to see the results of that brokenness in the sin and cultural decay all around us. But it is precisely into this broken, hurting world that we are called--to be God's instruments of grace and mercy, to be that city on a hill, that lamp on a lampstand. Divorce recovery workshops for parents and children are so powerful because they are a merciful act in an often unmerciful world. It's encouraging to me to see the church responding to the brokenness of divorce with grace and love--and to see those who experience that grace and love finding healing for their hearts and their souls.

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Comments

Michael Snow

Divorce recovery workshops new? Churches have been doing this for a couple decades--all part of the Church's failure to stand against unbiblical divorces.

Two decades ago when my wife deserted me and the children, it was a church divorce recovery workshop where she hooked up to an adulterous lifestyle.

Churches make no distinction between the one abandoned and the one who was faithful. Just invite them all to work through the divorce rather than stand against it.

[For the story, click link (name) below]

Kristine Steakley

Michael,

It is terrible and inexcusable that your wife left you and had an adulterous affair. However, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Churches need to reach out in love to people who are lost in their sin. (Um, if they didn't, we'd all be in big trouble.) It was the Pharisees, you'll remember, who shunned the sinful to keep themselves unsullied. It was Christ who reached out to sinners, even adulterous women, with grace and mercy. The church can do this, like Christ, in a way that does not compromise doctrine. We often err by forgetting either grace or doctrine. They must both be held strongly.

Michael Snow

WHAT bathwater?

As I said, divorce recovery workshops have been around in the church for two decades.

But churches have yet to teach what Jesus taught about divorce.

And as one secular columnist observed regarding the churches attitude to homosexual unions: Speaking of Christian opposition to homosexual 'marriage' : "I think in due time this thinking will change, just as most churches' opposition to divorce, for example, has changed."

Labrialumn

Unfortunately, these 'recovery' workshops appear most specifically to approve of adulterous 'remarriages,' rejecting nearly 2,000 years of Christian teaching and at least 5 teaching passages in the New Testament forbidding remarriage while your spouse yet lives.

"temptation and sin will come, but woe be to those through whom they come. It would be better for them to have a millstone tied around their necks and be cast into the sea, than to cause one of these little ones to sin."

CLH

Feel. the. Love. ... Anyway! If any Point readers want to read more about this topic Kristine bravely raised, be sure to subscribe to BreakPoint WorldView magazine: The June issue will include an article that addresses churches and divorced individuals. Call 1-877-322-5527.

Kristine Steakley

Labrialumn, the guy you quoted is the same guy who shooed away a bunch of men who wanted to stone a woman caught in the act of adultery by reminding them of their own sin. Was he saying open marriages are okay? Hardly. There is a way to stand strongly against sin while still holding firmly to grace. Of course, Jesus was the only human to ever do this perfectly, but the rest of us should at least try. As a child of divorce, I applaud churches that attempt to find this balance, particularly as it applies to divorce.

Jodi Gemma

I have just finished 2 sessions of helping to lead a DivorceCare recovery group at my church. I find the DivorceCare materials extremely biblical and real - or in other words, full of both truth and authentic grace. It's one of the best ministries our church offers (and we have a lot!) simply because it reaches out to a community in great need, ministers to and loves them, and points them to Jesus - regardless of whether they were the "victim" or the "cause" of the marriage break-up. Several attendees have come to Christ through this outreach - and many others have renewed their faith. And I am already excited to see what will happen in Session #3. I can't speak to any other divorce recovery groups because I haven't been to them or seen their materials - but DivorceCare is a great one and well worth attending no matter what the circumstances of your divorce were or how long ago it might have been.

I love seeing churches who are addressing this need - not only because it's a great outreach, but also because it touches so many people in the church too. Yes, every church ought to maintain a strong stand on the fact that God hates divorce. But if it's happened or you can't help that it was done to you, the church needs to unequivocally say that God does NOT hate divorcees. Even if one was the "cause" of a divorce, the last time I checked the Gospel He was still welcoming prodigal sons and daughters home with open arms.

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