Author Topic: One Church, Two Sides: An Interview  (Read 10210 times)

buechler

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Re: One Church, Two Sides: An Interview
« Reply #45 on: February 22, 2006, 11:47:21 AM »
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You are right to raise the question. I certainly have tried to raise it (see my chapter "Clergy and Divorce" in Christian Sexuality: Normative and Pastoral Principles). And, remember here, I speak as a pastor who has been through a divorce. 8th Commandment issues probably apply here, so I will say only that it was not by my choice. That is not to indicate "innocence," only reality. (I am keenly aware of my own failures as a first husband. Thanks to my Old Adam, though, usually I am more aware of hers as a first wife . . . but my Old Adam, as you might guess, is another issue.)

What we Lutherans and other Protestants have slipped into is a generous tolerance of divorce among our clergy, and we have done it most informally. Problematically, Protestants have left it to the secular world. We no longer regard marriage as a public "order" of church life. We have come to regard it as a matter of private choice, and, like the culture around us, divorce as "nobody's business but my own."

But this is not the same as as declaring divorce no longer sin. It is to merely note that what has happened among our parishioners is happening now among our clergy. (Interestingly, tuck this away in your statistical tidbits file, a pastor going through divorce while serving a parish typically will have left that parish within the next 24 months.)

Yet there are several distinctions to be made here:

1) Anyone divorced, in my experience, regards it as the single most defining failure of their life - even among those who divorce for the "best" of reasons, and even among those who have entered into happy, successful second marriages. The residual regret - if not shame - lingers always in the background.

2) No one chatters away about divorce in terms of what a wonderful experience it was, up-lifting and life-enhancing.

3) Most tellingly, few of us are going to "celebrate" the many "gifts" the divorced bring to the faith. Even less will we see synodical resolutions to that effect.

Eveyone recognizes the debilitating effects of divorce (even should they be unable to speak about the "sin of divorce").

So: If there are folks who no longer regard divorce as sin, they are seriously - willfully? - misreading the scriptures.

The question isn't whether divorce is sin. Rather, the real question is always, what do Christians do with sin?

Confession and repentance - those funny old church words - would seem to have some application.

As I indicate in "Clergy and Divorce," were I a bishop (and there are many people in this synod who thank God daily I was only third runner-up) I would be asking an entire array of privacy-invading questions of any pastor contemplating divorce. And I would do this, frankly, with a view toward assessing continued fitness for public ministry, seeking to hear in context those old church words.

That is not likely to happen - me a bishop, or any bishop asking those sorts of questions. Not for want of concern, but because of concern - concern for the clergy family's income, concern for the spouse and children (who not only lose a parent, but typically their congregational connections, too), and concern for the parish in the aftermath of the pastor's divorce. But I think those sorts of questions do need to be asked. And answered.

I hope this clarifies some of my thought.




Russ,

Thanks for your thoughts. As a child of divorce I can give a hardy "Amen" to what you have written.

Peace in the Lord!
Rob Buechler
« Last Edit: February 22, 2006, 11:54:10 AM by roj »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: One Church, Two Sides: An Interview
« Reply #46 on: February 22, 2006, 04:05:11 PM »
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But this is not the same as as declaring divorce no longer sin.

My question is not about unsinning divorce, but about unsinning marriages after divorce.

Why do we no longer consider a couple who have married after a divorce as living in adultery?
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Russ Saltzman

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Re: One Church, Two Sides: An Interview
« Reply #47 on: February 22, 2006, 04:55:58 PM »
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My question is not about unsinning divorce, but about unsinning marriages after divorce.

Why do we no longer consider a couple who have married after a divorce as living in adultery?


Very early, the church made allowances for second marriages in certain circumstances. The Church of Rome has a formal process to annul the sacramental bond of marriage, permitting a second marriage as the result. Lutherans do not.

Nonetheless, beyond the particularities, there are always conditions in human living that make for a state of continuous sin - like, uh, life itself, huh?

In special regard to the divorced and remarried, if the Lord does not despise a broken and contrite heart, neither should the Lord's church.
Russell E Saltzman
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Russ Saltzman

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Re: One Church, Two Sides: An Interview
« Reply #48 on: February 22, 2006, 05:03:24 PM »
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and there are many people in this synod who thank God daily I was only third runner-up [for bishop]


Uh, this should be amended to read "and there are many people in this synod myself most notably among themwho thank God daily I was only third runner-up."
Russell E Saltzman
former editor, Forum Letter
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essayist, https://aleteia.org/author/russell-e-saltzman/
email: russell.e.saltzman@gmail.com
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: One Church, Two Sides: An Interview
« Reply #49 on: February 22, 2006, 07:53:52 PM »
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Nonetheless, beyond the particularities, there are always conditions in human living that make for a state of continuous sin - like, uh, life itself, huh?

In special regard to the divorced and remarried, if the Lord does not despise a broken and contrite heart, neither should the Lord's church.

Are you saying that the adultery of a remarriage is a state of continous sin? That it is not different than my many continuous sins, even though I've not suffered through a divorce or remarriage?

I have met very few remarried Christians (especially remarried pastors) who have a "broken and contrite heart" over their remarriage. (They certainly feel that way over the divorce, but I'm centering on the sin of adultery in the remarriage.) Most are very pleased with the new spouse. They thank God for the spouse. They had the church bless this new relationship.

I'm sure that you can see the parallels with the topic under discussion.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2006, 07:56:09 PM by Brian_Stoffregen »
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Samuel_Zumwalt

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Re: One Church, Two Sides: An Interview
« Reply #50 on: February 22, 2006, 08:32:08 PM »
This is such a tiresome strain like a one note samba.

Scripture never has anything positive to say about same sex relationships.

As for divorce, we are clear that Scripture speaks a clear word about God's original intent for human relationships in Genesis 2 and again Jesus quotes in Matthew 19.

As for remarriage, it is a dubious interpretation that you continue to tirelessly put forth that every instance of remarriage is continuous sin.  Indeed, in one of several much earlier adhominem attacks, it was stated that each time a remarried person has sexual intercourse is yet another act of adultery.

Scripture is not so clear that there are no cases in which remarriage is unavailable to divorced persons that indeed have repented of their sin.  In instances in which the divorced person has been abandoned or has had the relationship broken by an adulterous spouse, it can be argued from Scripture that there is an opportunity for remarriage. Not all of the texts forbid remarriage in every instance (ie, an argument made from Mark alone is not sufficient evidence to the contrary).

The Roman Catholic Church, again, has found a way through this by its annulment process.  Because marriage is not a sacrament in the Lutheran churches, we are left either with a libertine approach or the kind of draconian approach you suggest. There needs to be a better way of handling the issue of divorce and remarriage than the ways that are most often suggested.  Divorce is a sin but not an unforgivable sin.  The question is when is remarriage permissable.

Trying to equate the analogy of same sex relationships to heterosexual divorce and remarriage simply doesn't work based on the scriptural evidence.  But that never stops you from repeating this same old one note samba.


Michael_Rothaar

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Re: One Church, Two Sides: An Interview
« Reply #51 on: February 23, 2006, 07:49:22 AM »
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Profound words, and, you may not know this, but you might still be a bishop yet...


I'm curious. Was this just a cute aside to Russ, or is there some serious attention being given somewhere to the question of who might be a supportable presiding bishop should Bp. Hanson choose not to seek, or not receive sufficient votes to be awarded, a second term?
Mike Rothaar
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Eric_Swensson

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Re: One Church, Two Sides: An Interview
« Reply #52 on: February 23, 2006, 12:26:34 PM »
Don't do cute asides, myself.

I wasn't thinking about what you seem to be, for PB. In my mind, if efforts to organize and present the lay people with the information of what is truly going on, there wil be few incumbant bishops. Someone like Russ, a traditionalist who maybe came in third, will be a frontrunner when motivated delegates attend assemblies.

However, now that you mention it, let's float the "Russ for PB" balloon and see if it is shot down or not.

Russ Saltzman

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Re: One Church, Two Sides: An Interview
« Reply #53 on: February 24, 2006, 11:47:35 AM »
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I have met very few remarried Christians (especially remarried pastors) who have a "broken and contrite heart" over their remarriage. (They certainly feel that way over the divorce, but I'm centering on the sin of adultery in the remarriage.)


I question what you intend by that. When it comes to a second marriage following divorce, it is impossible to regard the present joy without giving equal regard to the profound sadness that preceded it. While giving thanks for the present, one must also pay a necessary homage to an unhappy past. Only the dull would regard it in any other light. And only the narrowly pedantic would chose to split hairs about it.



Russell E Saltzman
former editor, Forum Letter
former columnist, www.firstthings.com
essayist, https://aleteia.org/author/russell-e-saltzman/
email: russell.e.saltzman@gmail.com
Facebook: Russ Saltzman